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Life in Uniform by Amit Lodha: a book review

life after clearing UPSC and adventures of an IPS officer

It happens that when we prepare for any exam we think that once we crack it, our life will be better. One more test, one more raise in the salary and for sure glory is all ours and we can actually have some fun in life. It’s the generational conditioning that leads us to this situation. I remember how my parents used to tell me to study for your 10th boards and get good grades so that you get into your dream school, study hard for your 12th boards for a better college. It continued till a point where I started feeding my brain with the same thoughts. One more essay to submit, one more internship and surely better days are waiting for me. Then came the UPSC preparation.

The sheer pressure that I put on myself for cracking the exam and forgetting what about life after that. It always happened. One exam opened the door for yet another one because the chase never stops and the shortsightedness of not living in the moment and failing to see the bigger picture took everything down. Nobody talks about that part, what about after you are finally into the service and hopefully will stay put in it till you retire. I am talking about the lifelong struggles and the work that officers have to do. If you are wondering why I am talking about this part then let me explain to you one more thing. All the time I was reading “Life in the Uniform” I was thinking if I ever gave a thought about what I am going to do after I crack the exam. Sure I wanted to serve the people and that was always my automatic answer. I remember how my mother once told me “but even politicians and everyone in the community serve one another, what makes you different?” I always kept that thought aside and focused on my studies (that’s my escape route). If anything this book did to me other than telling me stories filled with leadership and a positive mindset, it fixed my lens and made me question why I wanted to prepare for UPSC and what made me leave it. You see, the books written by leaders or officers specifically from the armed forces are not about the adrenaline rush but it’s more about having and developing leader-like qualities. The person grows while they are in service and the path they lay serves as motivation for the next generation. Amit Lodha opens up his heart on how he transformed from an IITian who didn’t go for placement but opted for UPSC instead and how during the preparation he faced self-imposed hurdles, the temporary gratifications if not controlled, would surely make him fail. Oftentimes we hear that we have more things to divert our mind from studies and work but it’s not true. He clearly told us how he would often spend time watching tv or chatting with friends. The honesty he showed us made me connect to him instantaneously. He showed us the less talked about the life of LBSNAA and NPA, the daily rigorous exercises, studies, and how strict the trainers are. These stories are not always shared. We only get to see the brighter side, forgetting that the brighter side only exists if one sheds enough blood and sweat behind it. During his tenure on various posts in Bihar Police, he talked in an elaborate manner about how one needs to navigate in limited resources. I am pretty sure the scene is more or less the same in other states too.

One of the data published by PRS India states that the state police are overburdened with 24% vacancies (almost 5.5 lakh) and there is only 137 police personnel per lakh while the UN-sanctioned number is 222. Working smoothly and ensuring lower rates of crime is a difficult and humongous task on its own. Amit Lodha shared not just his success stories but also his learnings. He also shared how preconceived notions often destroy professional relationships. Talking about relationships, he never missed out on mentioning his family, especially his wife. And in all honesty, he shared that sometimes he couldn’t support her the way he wanted to. There are so many things to learn from just one book. Above all is how crucial it is to be ethical and never bend down in front of corruption or intimidation along with staying humble and never letting the power and position affect you. This book made me think. I guess in everyone’s life there’s a pivotal moment that redirects them, just like how going back to his grandparents' home helped him devote himself to the preparation and how this book is helping me to rethink my priorities. Success comes with responsibilities and the author shows us how not to shy away from them.


Amit Lodha is a decorated IPS officer holding the rank of inspector general. But before he rose the ranks in the service, he was an IIT graduate who was struggling to find his true purpose. In this book, Lodha tells us how he turned his life around and studied for the UPSC exams. He also tells us how he trained to be an officer and had the most memorable beginning to his career, in Bihar.

Punctuated with his signature humor and adventure-packed stories on everything from solving a kidnapping to handling a mob, Life in the Uniform gives us a chance to experience an IPS officer’s life through his own eyes.

Life in uniform by Amit Lodha is published by Penguin India and to order your copy buy here.


Amit Lodha is an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer presently holding the rank of inspector general (IG) of police. Over the course of his career, he has been a part of a number of successful operations, including the arrest of gangsters and the rescue of kidnap victims. He has been awarded the prestigious President's Police Medal for Meritorious Service, the Police Medal for Gallantry, and the Internal Security Medal for his work. Amit enjoys playing tennis and squash and is an ardent fan of Kishore Kumar. He regularly writes for the Times of India blog. He can be reached on Facebook and Twitter (@Ipsamitlodha7).

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