Policing cannot be isolated as a standalone entity and imagined to grow marooned on an island of wishful thinking
Bombarded by doubting Thomases within the fraternity, the million dollar question today is: can the Buddha of IPS smile again like his alter ego at Swat valley? Historically, more than 62 colonies threw their yoke of bondage after WWII along with India. Sadly, many such independent nations find themselves at the crossroads of civil war today, decadent economy, racial genocide, and transnational terrorism. But where were we, the people of India, and where have we reached. To the critics who prophesise that the Indian society has been sinking and sinking in the mire and the institution branching out of the society shall also remain so, I suggest go bury your head in the sand!
IP and its inheritor IPS has always been a beacon - a torch bearer for the society destined to work and sweat despite the many shackles of under development, archaic law and procedures, and ignominy by compatriots. The wishlist of legal reforms enforcing police commission recommendations and the need for scientific policing while making it systemic and goal-oriented are much harped about by many fellow practitioners. This is primarily because the slow and steady reforms initiated in police communities have largely been 'not perceived', or scoffed off in 'superior alter-ego', arrogance or simply termed 'retro' thereby meaning the 'not been initiated by me' syndrome. Many police-related socially relevant subjects have been taken up for research and have been concluded by brilliant IPS officers across the country. Many subjects hereto untouched viz adequacy of police arrangements in tribal areas, research in forensic science, economisation of manpower, cybercrime, police administration in urban settings, etc., have been brought into the domain of policing policy. An initiative for identifying best practices in policing across the country is already in place by Central and state government. Some of the identified practices are regarding the transparent recruitment process, dial 100, community policing initiatives of Kerala, and enforcing victims' rights practice of Delhi. Jaipur police commissioner won FICCI award for best practices in smart policing in 2017, in categories of senior citizens security app and hotspot analysis. Work is on to induce these systems at macro and micro levels. The need of the hour is to accept these changes open-heartedly and not blow one's own trumpet.
Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) has done some path-breaking work on both these counts and ushered in an era of gender sensitisation, gender budgeting, social networking, technology policing, and on the subject of police morale and motivation. BPR&D, under MHA, has taken strong initiatives in capacity building across the rank and file, all over the country. It is imperative that the necessity and importance of this organisation be recognised and its potential is tapped at top level policing management. It will be prudent for MHA to move to make the services of this institution usable by DGPs of all states in policy formulations, their translation on the field, and putting its dormant acumen as well as skill building capacitor to optimum usage. This shall ensure more rational and generic policing while being a better option than to wait and mop. After all, reforms in law and procedures have become eternal wait-ins. The constraints of resources and manpower along with scarcity of time are not going to diminish in future.
Another need of the hour is institution-building and its amalgamation with the police system to stay in tune with the changing times. The world has changed dramatically during the last decade. Policing in India woke up to a late start but is trying to cope rapidly. The linking of all India police networks, data bank building, and technical forecasting are some tools which are being employed at massive scales. The Prime Minister's address on CCTNS network and recognition of police officers who made significant contributions went a long way in boosting the morale. However, some states are still to make inroads to break even. Secondly, the use of this 'Odin's eye' should be made mandatory for predictive policing. Similar reforms are imperative in the training management of police personnel at the national, state, and district levels. The budgeting and policy-making is yet another arena where we have to break the glass ceiling. For decades the police have stayed at the fringes of many governments' priority list, yet have constantly delivered. Today, there is no dearth of young blood who have become role models for younger generations. The Harsh Poddars, the Aarif Sheikhs, the Ravi Krishna, and the Aasra Gargs of the new breed are slowly but strongly making contributions in not just policing, but integrating it with society and working comprehensively. Today, policing cannot be isolated as a single entity and imagined to grow marooned on an island of wishful thinking. There are many more names to add to this list, but constraints of space do not mean that their progress is not recognised. I salute the whole of the young generation. However, at this juncture, it becomes prudent to think deeply and do some soul-searching. The need for learning from the experience of our predecessors must combine with the new breeze.
We need to double-think about the standard of policing in developed nations and compare them with the existing norms in our country. We can learn a lot from countries like Finland, Singapore, Georgia in the USA, and Japan. Berating one's own service has become fashionable today, but jargons are wistful drifting clouds without any anchor. A NITI Aayog National Police should be conceptualised and be designated as an advisory body to the Ministry of Home Affairs so that continuity is ensured. Piecemeal approaches and random sporadic initiative need to be brought on a single platform for effective amalgamation. The mandate of the Police NITI Aayog should incorporate policy-designing and evolve a shared vision of police development priorities with active involvement of state police as law and order is a state subject under the Constitution of India. It should emphasise and work on developing a mechanism to incorporate best practices, innovating at ground level and aggregating them progressively. The police policy design will have to be taken up by this Aayog to create long-term policy and modernisation network, to monitor their progress and include mid-term corrective mechanisms. It should also include eminent jurists, academic scholars of national and international repute, eminent persons from business organisations, public policy institutions, management institutions, representatives of Central Para-military Forces and other police organisations, representatives of planning bodies, retired distinguished police officers, serving officers with wide experience of combating - terrorism, infiltration, Naxalism etc. - key stakeholders and, national and international police-oriented thinktanks. A state of the art resource centre will also have to be formulated for this police NITI Aayog without which it shall be a moonwalking exercise. By incorporating a progressive modern outlook towards basic policing along with a systemic ethical branding, the future of Indian police shall organically expand. Sustainability is passe. Groundbreaking growth and exponential progress is the need of the hour. IPS fraternity shall have to become Horus' eye standing for restoration, sacrifice, and protection.
(The writer is IG in Uttar Pradesh at present. The views expressed are strictly personal)