Source: The Hitavada      Date: 31 Dec 2017 10:26:07










Better policing is a national demand as most common people who have to deal with the police have a forgettable experience. No one wants to go to a police even in dire needs because they not only fear inaction but are also scared of backlash, false cases and abrasive behaviour.

THE welfare of the constabulary and adequate budgetary allocation for police forces in various States is a ‘neglected’ subject and is not given priority, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said recently while inaugurating a ‘Visionary Summit’ hosted by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) in Delhi.  Rijiju said he visited various police mess in States and the situation of their constabulary and training centres was also not up to the mark. He also asked the police brass to think of measures like having an independent police complaints authority, so that police credibility was enhanced and the common man did not need to go to a Minister seeking justice and for getting a policeman to act.

“Why should the society as a whole feel that unless some pressure is put (on police), justice is not going to come. Why is this perception developing?” Rijiju asked senior police officials attending the conference. He said the police could not be “complacent” anymore and it had to respond to challenges like the advent of social media, terrorism and radicalisation of the youth. Rijiju further said after the 14th Finance Commission, Central funds for police modernisation and others had been delegated to the State Governments but reports in this context were not “very rosy”. Police modernisation is a long circulating buzzword on which, unfortunately, little decisive or permanent has been done over the years.

Now that the Centre is disbursing funds towards that direction is a welcome beginning, but what if the states don’t take the idea seriously and work towards it? Policing is largely a State subject and it falls upon the respective State Governments as to how well or badly they manage their forces. No wonder in some States the police are smarter, better equipped, resourced and attentive to people’s needs and concerns, while in others they are mired in corruption and inaction.

Better policing is a national demand as most common people who have to deal with the police have a forgettable experience. No one wants to go to a police station even in dire needs because they not only fear inaction but are also scared of backlash, false cases and abrasive behaviour. The police, in general, need to do a lot to improve their image. For this, the babus and administrators have to cooperate. It ultimately lies in the wisdom of our leaders and efficiency of our bureaucracy to improve the situation of policing in the country. As the Minister said, first we need to improve the facilities to the police. Most cops are overworked, ill-paid and under tremendous pressure from diverse groups, from seniors to Ministers.

Unless this culture of using and misusing the police goes, it will be hard to expect fair policing. Adding to their woes, most cops are equipped with obsolete guns and other equipment which are bereft of the capability to thwart attacks or give adequate and adept retaliatory response in case of assaults by antisocial elements or criminal gangs. No one reports or pines over how many policemen get injured or lose life in operations.

The State cops or their family hardly get those facilities and perks which their Army or paramilitary counterparts get, though they suffer the same or greater operational and professional hazards. These de-motivating factors keep the police irritated, grumbling and uninspired to work. This also leads to the rift between the police and common citizenry as their social mapping differs so drastically.

Unless the police get a more humane atmosphere and work culture to flourish and nourish in, how can we expect much from them? There is hardly much counselling programme available for lower rung cops to distress or motivate them. There is hardly any creative pursuit or vocational outlet they are encouraged to engage in; nor do they have the time to. This is a systemic failure the genesis of which is the colonial tradition of administration where there are arbitrariness, abuse and a culture of feudal obedience but little democracy and space for debate and interaction where the problems of each strata of the police are given an honest hearing and redressing.

It is a very cloistered and rigid top-down management model which is oblivious to the ground level situation and the regressive ecosystem the lower cops have to work in. This culture of corruption, inefficiency, lethargy, suppression etc is so interrelated and ingrained in the system that sporadic efforts by good administrators or leaders don’t make much of a cut and the larger picture doesn’t change.

To change the larger picture a major overhauling is required which needs innovation, vision and honesty.  It needs police sensitising, smart and efficient use of the best persons at their best positions which could get the best out of them. It needs to be spruced up arms and ammunition and communication equipment for better intelligence gathering and retaliating and combat capability.

The police need better in-service training and regular updating of their capabilities matching new age challenges. Greater technological access and infrastructure for the police are needed. The cops need greater security for them and their family. They need incentives for good work. They need motivation and relaxation. They need to spend more time with their family. Vacant posts need to be filled urgently to lessen the burden on the police.

Political leaders must abstain from using, pressuring or influencing the police. They must be given the mental space to work judiciously and effectively and bullying leaders or their stooges too should be brought to the book. Similarly, errant cops must be questioned and their misdeeds or wrong actions accounted for. This will flush out the corrupt from the system. If there is fear of quick action from the higher-ups, the work culture will improve.

Police alacrity and honesty is very important for making society a better place. The whole judicial system largely depends on police action and their probe and any mismatch or botch-up there derails the possibility of fair justice delivery. This only emboldens the antisocial elements and in the end, we all suffer, the country suffers, her image is battered, her possibilities blotted and fear and insecurity reign supreme. By the way, one bad policing has a cascading effect on several aspects of society. Time the Centre took a clear and strong stance towards this important pillar of society and strengthened it into a robust functioning facility that the common man could trust in and affiliate with.