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DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (February 2016)

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India has a vast network of Central Armed Police Forces and it is growing exponentially. So much so that it seems empire building is the norm rather than an exception. Over the years various governments have allowed CAPFs the luxury of expanding their numbers without taking stock of what is rational, what is required and how much is necessary. So much so that the various CAPFs are multiplying to such an extent that they now seem to be duplicating roles and some even triplicating as well. So now there is the sight of some BSF battalions during duty on Delhi roads. And the ITBP proudly displaying its dog squad.

How guarding borders brings troops to manning Delhi roads is a mystery and what use do expensive and well trained sniffer dogs have on the cold mountains of the Indian-Tibetan border is even more baffling. The ITBP displayed even greater muscle by declaring an all women battalion operational for duty on the Arunachal border. Granted gender equality and opportunity is the order of the day, but being practical is far more important than earning brownie points for this display. The ITBP shares border duties with the Army on the Line of Actual Control and this move is certain to create more nightmares than any Chinese soldiers could possibly hope to have achieved. There is a need to have an Indian sense to doing things since we have to operate in this environment rather than what the United Nations or various NGOs would like to see happen. Therefore it is important to inculcate an Indianness to policing rather than continuing the imperial model created for a colonised India by British masters. Police management, therefore, has to improve. For a young and growing India this model cannot sustain its ambitions.

The policing model for India has to be based on a democratic structure that it is now rather than the colonised society it was when the Indian Police was raised by the British authorities. The requirement then was to observe troublemakers, prevent them being a nuisance and enforce the power and authority of the Viceroy on behalf of the King or Queen. There was no sense or need to provide justice as a first step to governance, rather the preservation of imperial interests. And so structure was modelled on those lines in every district under British rule in India. Native states followed a somewhat similar model.

India despite becoming a republic has continued the same model of policing. Where preservation of interests of the state are paramount and those of the individual seem to be of lesser value. In a democracy this is an unacceptable scheme of things. And unless steps are taken now and urgently the time may pass when steps can be taken at all. India is in the midst of a global challenge posed by transnational terrorism that is funded by a seamless financial network, travelling on technologies that would seem benign at first glance and which is able to raise foot soldiers at the click of a cursor.

International terrorism is the greatest threat of the 21st century. But the policing structures of India are still stuck in the 19th century. Unless it is realised that the most important link in the vast chain that is required to tackle terrorism is in fact the police, this monster cannot be adequately tackled. Police management, therefore, is critical to managing the national security challenges. And this management exercise has to start from the shape and structure of policing in the district, which is where the majority of India continues to live.

Once the local police station is modernised, in terms of manpower and equipment, as is the district structure, a coordination cell needs to be set up that works at sharing information and other resources with the CAPFs. Both have critical roles to play in national security and both must be held accountable for it. Wastage of resources is a sin as unacceptable as is negligence. For that to be enforced an overall police management strategy needs to be worked out, from the national level and in consultation with all stakeholders, primarily the citizenry of India. For it is on their enterprise that this country will grow economically, so they have to be kept secure, which is, after all, the primary responsibility of the police.

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You are here: Home Editor-in-Chief's Blog DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (February 2016)