Vol. 6 | Issue 4 |July 2012
police reforms amitabh thakur
Matter of trust
From internal problems to political control to peoples’ distrust, an Indian policeman has to face the worst from all sides. Some suggestions to improve the situation.
When we discuss a topic such as ‘what ails Indian Police’, are we not making a fundamental assumption that there are things which are not well with Police in India? Is it not too sweeping and overwhelming an assumption?
Hence, it does not seem completely irrelevant to discuss whether Indian Police is performing up to its own satisfaction and to that of the people it caters to. Since I am a police officer, it would not be right for me to comment on whether the police organisation thinks the police departments are functioning efficiently and effectively or not. About the politicians, we all know when and how they rate the police organisation. If a political person is in opposition, to him the police force will be part of an extremely biased, repressive, regressive and inefficient ruling power structure; but, if the same person comes to power, he becomes a great supporter of the police organisation, generally defending it to the hilt. As for the people of the country, from whatever little interactions I have had with them, I can say with confidence that the common man in India does not rate Indian Police very high. They have a large number of grievances against the police, including partisan behaviour, arbitrary acts, haughty, indecent, uncouth and brazen attitude, ruling power orientation, abject corruption, lethargy, being unscientific and non-professional and so on. Based on these, we can easily conclude that there are many aspects where the Indian Police can make improvements so as to gain a better perception among the people.
If I am asked to make a list of the things that ails Indian Police, it would go like this (not necessarily in the order of their severity):
Policing as a branch of knowledge and study is still not widely recognised
in India. We are still in the process of having a separate Police University.
Non-professionalism: For certain reasons, we have still not recognised the police organisation as an independent and professional body. It is still treated as generalised work. Thus, police as a distinct profession having its specific requirements has not been universally recognised.
Lack of academic recognition: Policing as a branch of knowledge and study is still not widely recognised in India. We are still in the process of having a separate Police University. There are very few places where policing as a branch of study is taught. If at all, it is generally tied with topics likes criminology.
Political and administrative control: Since police has not been recognised as a specialised branch of administration, it still is under political and administrative control. It is assumed that every smart person can act like a policeman and hence every administrative and political person has an innate believe that they can and they shall control the police department for their better functioning.
Lack of resources: It needs to be accepted that there is a very wide difference between idealism and pragmatism. Idealism says that a police officer who has the heart of a lion and the brain of a fox can deliver wonderful results; hence resources, infrastructure, paraphernalia, etc., don’t really count. But in reality, only a brave heart and a sharp brain can’t do a thing as long as it is not properly backed by all possible resources, modern gadgets, infrastructures, financial back-up, etc. This is a major aspect where police leaders are often seen wanting. For various reasons they accept the situation as it is and are often not seen taking the required initiative to ameliorate it. Possibly this is because police leaders think that if they become too demanding, they would be considered weak, inefficient and useless leaders and would be replaced by others in the queue.
Lack of manpower: Other than the material resources, Indian Police is numerically much less than the desired number. As has been often quoted, the number of policemen per lakh population in India is much less than that in the West and it needs to be increased. This is an important factor that affects the performance of Indian Police and the police leaders need to accept this reality.
Lack of proper facilities to the policemen: Even today an average policeman has to live in barracks which are often in shabby and poor condition. He has to struggle for his basic requirements, is not well-paid, has to work for pretty long hours in the most abominable conditions, does not get leave as and when required and is generally disgruntled with his job. Similarly, his promotional avenues are limited and the level of job satisfaction is poor. This is bound to adversely affect Indian Police in a big way.
Lack of proper facilities means that a policeman is generally disgruntled with
his job. Also, his promotional avenues are limited and the level of job
satisfaction is poor.
Exploitation in the name of discipline: There is an internal problem that the lower level functionaries of the police department face from superior officers. It is about the improper behaviour, exploitation, punishments, harassments that these policemen face in their professional life. The result is that a sense of distrust develops within the police department and this has an adverse impact on performance.
Distrust of Police Department: A huge distrust is shown towards the members of police force by the common people, as also by other wings like executive, judiciary and legislature. Most of the laws in India begin with the fundamental assumption that Indian Police cannot be trusted. Thus, confession before a police officer is not recognised, nor does the statement of a witness before policemen have any legal worth.
These and many other related issues ensure that Indian Police does not perform up to its fullest measure and up to the satisfaction of the masses. The remedy obviously lies in discussing each of these factors in the open and arriving at definite decisions regarding each of the inhibiting factors. But, isn’t it much easier said than done? g
(Amitabh Thakur is an IPS officer from UP)