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Saturday May 30, 2020

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Police and Security Forces Modernisation

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The nation has just marked 50 years of the beginning of the 1962 Indo-China War. It is a war that scarred many in the country, leaving an indellible mark on the psyche of many an individual and many an institution. The day after the 50th anniversary event India marked its Police Day, an annual commemoration for those in Khaki who have sacrificed their lives for the country. Police forces of the various states conducted moving ceremonies in their respective capitals and the central police organisations were not to be left behind in their remembrance efforts. In all the din and ceremony of the event what gets overlooked is the origins of the Police Day.

A patrol of the Central Reserve Police Force engaged elements of the People's Liberation Army high in the Himalayas, in 1959. More than a dozen died, some taken prisoner, but all fought honourably and admirably. That was then and this is now, where the CRPF is routinely ambushed by Naxals in the jungles of India. How is it that in 1959 the same organisation was capable of patrolling the highest Indian borders, but in 2012 it finds itself in a bit of a struggle coping with the challenges of Naxalism? There are various pointers in this question, for the service as a whole, as well as India and its government functioning. There are constant voices being raised for the reorganisation of the Ministry of Defence, restructuring of the armed forces and etc. etc. But in hindsight and going by the daily situation reports, the greater challenge before the country is redoing the Ministry of Home Affairs. Its structuring, functioning and aimlessness, costs the country precious lives on a daily basis.

Police and security forces in India function under the directions of the Home Ministry. It is their cadre controlling authority, that 'power' which influences all oomph in Government of India. Over the years the Home Ministry has neglected the functioning of its police and security forces to such a degree that a dispassionate white paper is required. Scores of battalions are being raised, funds allocated, positions created, without a rationalisation of what, how much, where and when.

In India's national security scenario of today and the next 25 years, what is the nature of threat that confronts the country. It is not uni-dimensional and the totality of its needs have to be calculated. Which then leads us to the next question – how much is the quantum of force that India needs in order to overcome its national security challenges. Where are these precious national resources to be applied and when are they to be deployed for their national tasks. These basic questions need to be addressed, first, before India can call itself a secure country getting the biggest bang for its buck. All of which then leads us to the fundamental national security concern – the modernisation of the various police and security forces in the country. Modernisation does not start by changing weapons, or modes of transport. Modernisation starts by re-evaluating existing structures for current and future threats. A 19th century model of policing and its contagion into the other security forces is an unlikely victor in a 21st century war. The Ministry of Home Affairs needs to be woken from its slumber, primarily.


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