India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world but many intellectuals have argued that the nation’s progress is not holistic. A look at the ground realities reveals that these claims aren’t baseless. Problems like poverty, hunger, malnutrition, unemployment, illiteracy etc show no sign of depreciating even though myriads of schemes and policies are being initiated for the same. Then there is a steadily increasing toll of terrorist attacks and communal riots which have almost placed the country at the doorstep of a civil war. All the discussions about improving these conditions reveal that all the above cited problems are inter-related and that the solution to any (or all) of them zeroes down to the problem of rampant corruption. And this definitely is not a novel reason that I am introducing here. Corruption has been an inseparable part of our system but my humble proposition here is that the biggest cause of the ever-increasing corruption and many other similar problems in our country is the inefficient Police Force. I am not blaming the situation entirely on the police force and I am well acquainted with the fact that there is a dire need of improving the working conditions and infrastructure for the Indian police. I am trying to picture a utopia where I see more than half of the problems solved in view of a highly efficient, revered and friendly police force. All these adjectives have a profound meaning but before I elaborate on them, do have a glimpse of the consequences of an ill- run police force which have not been paid requisite heed.
India ranks 70 in the list of 163 least corrupted countries and the notorious bureaucracy of the country is highly lackadaisical and inefficient. This is largely because bureaucrats of all ranks indulge in the highest order of corrupt dealings without any fear of the police, the custodians of law and order. These officials are adept in settling issues with policemen by bribing or influencing them. Here, it will be interesting to note that total monetary value of the bribe paid in the nation over last one year works out to be Rs.3899/- crores and that 53% and 43% of the constables in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi respectively were transferred from one district to another in less than a year. It is clear that the police is not functioning in the requisite fashion, which results in an entire system being involved in filling their own pockets and schemes initiated for general public never being implemented.
The other reason that corruption levels and number of crimes are soaring high is that the common man in the country thinks lowly about the police force and would hardly want to indulge in the nasty “Police matters”. According to surveys, nearly nine out of every ten (87%) respondents who had interacted with the police agreed that there are serious loopholes in the functioning. This tarnished image promotes working in system through cumshaws, important cases not being brought to limelight and witnesses turning hostile.
Furthermore, we live in a country where hypocrites reign supreme. Many people initially try to “change the system” but later compromise to keep themselves and their families safe. The point I am trying to put forth here need not be explicitly said because it is very much evident in the scenario we are living in. In a nutshell, even after 61 years of independence the Indian police force has failed to provide an atmosphere wherein people who are willing to do things in the right way can do it fearlessly.
Of late, mob violence has taken a new dimension which has created havoc in various parts of the country. Also there have been communal tensions all around. Fanatic groups like Bajrang Dal and MNS created ruckus while the police could not do much in view of the political interference.
Now, it needs to be clearly stated that I am not here to castigate the Indian police force. Instead, my intention is to emphasize on the dire need of honing it which I strongly feel can help in solving many other problems as well.
Undoubtedly, the police force is expected to carry out probably one of the most risky, stressful and important jobs in the country. But the infrastructure and facilities provided to them to do the same are pathetic and with this, we really can’t expect them to fulfill all our expectations. We have nearly 120 crore people and 6.5 lakh towns and villages but only 14,000 police stations and about 50 lakh crimes are registered everyday. There is an immediate need to improve the working conditions by providing them requisite manpower, machines, facilities etc.
Apart from this, political intervention and a dismal and non- cooperative attitude from the common masses further mars the efficiency of the police force. As advocated by the National Police Commission, A Chief of Police of a state should be given a fixed tenure of office so as to encourage functional independence. Also the selection of Police Chief could be entrusted to an expert committee (maybe headed by UPSC chairperson). The committee may be given a pre-specified number of candidates, decided on the basis of seniority, to choose from. Only these measures will hone the current plight. The forces should also be helped with stress management. It is high time that strict actions be taken to make the police force more autonomous.
I would like to cite the example of Defense Forces of the country which all of us are proud of. And this is possible because it has been given the adequate set of powers and requisite independence to function well. There would be myriad of people (even those who may be averse to almost everything which has the tag Indian) who can vouch that the Indian Army is superb. On the contrary there is the Indian police force. State of affairs are such that Chief Minister of a state had to say, “My Police force is corrupt”. While the Indian Army is sought in times of dire need, hardly anyone would like to intervene in “nasty” police matters. It may sound bizarre to even compare the two. But it is high time one delves into harsh realities about our nation’s police force and make them self-sufficient so that they fulfill their duties in a superb fashion and lead the nation towards real development.
[Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/siddharthashukla/2197119516/]