Dr Shakti Kumar Gupta
Policing in India is a very important and felt need of the society. This has been existent since many centuries and the mandate of Police organizations is to ensure that law of land is abided and a peaceful society exists for its citizens. India is a very unique country with high population parameters; wide spread cultural diversity and varied economic strata. Subsequent to economic liberalization and advent of Information Technology the pace of life has also changed for the citizens of this country. However along with economic development, improvement in quality of life also comes a society with its inherent challenge of moral and financial turpitude leading to increase in crime graph of the country and the workload of Police personnel. News channels are full of issues pertaining to crime and degenerating law and order in the stratum of Indian society. We have to understand the needs and the actual cause of this state of affairs.
Let us analyze the existing data, which clearly points out the reasons for this apparent deficiency in delivery of optimal care by Police organizations in our country. In India with just one policeman for 761 people, which translates into approximately 131 policemen per lakh population, India has fewer cops per capita than most other countries. Ideally, a policeman should look after just 568 people (176 policemen per lakh population) as per the Bureau of Police Research and Development under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Even this fails to meet the United Nations recommended figure of roughly 222 policemen for a lakh of population i.e. 1:450.
Not surprisingly, there exists a huge demand supply mismatch in our country. In India, law and order is a state subject. But, states too have failed to provide adequate police personnel to look after their population. Against an ideal police-to-population ratio of 1:552, a policeman is guarding 1173 people in Uttar Pradesh. Our Capital Delhi also has had its share of issues such as Nirbhaya gang rape case, the various high profile murder cases, rampant cases of Road rages and Motor traffic accidents etc.
In view of the above scenario it is prudent to understand how best the existing resources can be motivated, deployed and utilized to achieve positive out comes. It is very important to analyze the reforms measure that the government has taken up time and again. Padmanabhiah Committee in its report on police reforms recommended an organized timetable for police. The report said, “Since police work cannot be organized on an 8-hour shift basis, police personnel should be given a weekly off and (be) compulsorily required to go on earned leave every year. Holiday homes may be constructed for police personnel.”
Another study titled Mental Health problems among Police Personnel pointed heavy workload on police personnel. As per the findings of the study police personnel are unable to give quality time to their families. They are heavily committed round the clock in various duties and the stress levels are high in Police force personnel.
The traffic police warrant special consideration for the kind of health hazard that he is exposed to is second to none. Prolonged exposure to dust, fumes, and pollutants are a potential source of all carcinogenic elements.
It is imperative that owing to round the clock duty hours, non availability of leave, high job pressure and lack of quality time with families the performance of Police Force definitely takes a beating vis a vis other services. Hence we have to introspect and plan various steps which when implemented will boost up the moral and motivation of the existing force and pave way for more meritorious to step into this service.
In view of the above we have to categorize the problem areas and address them with remedial measures:
a) Staffing issues: There is a deficiency of staff across all states and also when it comes to National figures. The staffing is Sub-optimal vis a vis the workload. It is essential that lateral shifting from organizations such as Armed Forces where skilled manpower is available be encouraged.
b) Training Process: The training process of Police officials can be restructured to prepare them to contemporary situations as against conventional situations. Today the country is plagued with Terrorism and Naxalism. It is thus important that the police force is trained in handling these situations. They can be trained along with Special Forces and continuous training be planned. They can have exchange programmes with other countries and do joint exercises.
c) Traffic management: Traffic management can be more scientific and Technology can be utilized for early assessment and dynamic control of traffic across the country. Traffic police can be empowered to execute penal decisions on the spot thus relieving the judiciary of unnecessary load.
d) Revisiting Archaic Laws: The existing law of Criminal code and Civil procedures can be revisited which will also hasten up the process of judiciary and empower the police force to deliver a better crime free society to the country.
e) Selection process: The selection process can be suitably modified to rope in the best possible talent to take up the challenging job of Police force. The service conditions can be improved for better recruitment prospects.
f) Incentivizing for better performance: It is extremely important to incentivize the hard working policeman so that he can discharge duties assigned to him without fear or favor. A scheme should be devised that if beyond routine hours a policeman invests his time and helps in generating more revenue by virtue of Challans and fines then a specified percentage of it say 30% be given to the police personnel. This will not only uplift his economic status but will also ensure high degree of honesty and integrity. A defined percentage of this should be kept in a corpus for welfare of police personnel and their families.
g) Facilities for children of Police personnel: There should be earmarked quotas in various schools, Engineering and Medical institutes etc for the wards of Police personnel. This facility can also be extended to the families of martyrs.
h) Provisioning of Technology enabled facilities: Police force should be provided with high-end Technological gadgets and the support system should be augmented for the same. They should be provided with latest devices and weapons to deliver their service.
i) Leadership and command: Police force should have trained and seasoned experts to lead them right from training, providing guidance and assisting in personal affairs too.
j) State of art vehicles: Police force should be provided with the latest state of art vehicle for effective discharge of their duties. It is important to have the right pace of mobility in today’s age of High-speed vehicles.
It is time that the country wakes up to the silent agony of our Police force and takes up the cause of their welfare as a National issue rather then Departmental issue because the dream of a welfare nation can only be realized when its citizens can rest at peace when at home.
(The author is Medical Superintendent, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Dr Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences)
Dr Shakti Kumar Gupta