Narendra Modi govt. should keep police reforms as one of its top agendas

Narendra Modi (
If I am asked to pick one of the top agendas for Narendra Modi's govt., I'd say "revamp the police force".

Our passport office looks revamped. Transport office looks pretty. Income tax has gone online. But police still runs with a stick in thick plated khaki clothes. Repair parts for their jeeps may not even be available anymore. Their buildings look like huts these days. This needs to change.

Why? Police is a one-stop solution for many problems specially those involving criminality. If they are ineffective, people turn to local bahubalis. If they are slow, people tend to ignore issues. If they are unwelcoming, people turn away. If they sit on cases, people's expectations saturate. It is no more a notion but has become reality today. Time has come that police needs to live upto its often ignored suffix and that is "Service".

Image makeover

Let's accept that Indian police force does not live upto standards of those SWAT haughty men who seem to take on any evil on this earth. They don't even match the graphics of Ajay Devgan in Gangajal or Singham. Well, they need to. They need to improve their first impression over gullible people, specially women and children.

How? First, Fitness is important and Gym services must be upgraded for enabling daily and quick health maintenance. Fitness experts must be hired for diet and right levels of exercises. Two, please ditch those thick khaki clothes, which anyone would disdain to wear lest it reduce the smartness of the proud man. Times have changed. Let us get more uptight dresses which commands respect and exerts confidence in ability. Third, Get rid of the danda. It is archaic and considered old style. Even local gundas carry a hand gun, with magazines. Gadgets are talk of the town. Make them not only look "smart" but also "intelligent".

Recruitment and Training

Want to join the police force? RUN! Yes, even today running capacity is considered the top criteria for joining police. Today's crimes are sophisticated and technology has made them worse manifold. Crimes committed at gunpoint are falling down. Running and good physical build is important but certainly not the most important criteria. Aptitude to solve problems and puzzles, attitude to handle power in hand, responsiveness in dire situations which are more brain intensive have taken center stage today. The thought that all of this can be delegated only to IPS officers will make sure that our police force remains stuck to its danda forever.

First, introduce exams for all levels of police recruitment. And it needs to handle multiple aspects of aptitude, ethics being one of the most important. Second, policing is no more a danda-wagging job because the crowd is not that unruly anymore. Today's youth marches with candles, not with guns and sticks. The level of EQ and sophistication is required even at hawaldar level. Third, even if you have passed exams and physical fitness, mental abilities take time to show its true color. Therefore, a probation period coupled with intensive all round training is required for that assessment. Fourth, gun crimes are falling down but fraud crimes are increasing. Therefore, gun holding policemen are in less demand today. People with special skills are required to handle such crimes, like hacking. Fifth and final, please please recruit more policemen. They are not spidermen or batmen who can secure a city alone. Keep up the pace with rising population.

FIRs too many

Even SC had to intervene to enforce filing of FIR by police. Why do policemen shy from filing FIR? Well, in many cases it doesn't make much sense. Every day several people lose their smartphones. Would you want police to build a team for each phone lost and run around? Imagine piling up of such FIRs. Ladies who may have faced harassment of lesser extent avoid filing FIR or going to police. Shall police intervene only when a grievous crime has been committed? Truth is, there are problems in our lives in which we want to involve police but the burden of filing an FIR and its technicalities has become a deterrent.

Its time to simplify FIR filing process. One way to do that is to break down FIRs into "three levels" of priority. "Priority 3" can be level of complaints like misbehavior of autowallah , shopkeepers charging above MRP, rowdies on roads creating trouble for ladies and elders, chain snatching etc. These are informal and less serious in nature and usually associated with community policing than personal culpability. Timeframe for controlling such complaints should be well within a quarter. Such cases may well be filed online or simply by an SMS.

"Priority 2" level issues are Priority 3 complaints unsolved within its timeframe. It also includes individual level criminal activities like robbery, battery involving individuals, crimes against women, financial frauds involving parties etc. Such issues should well be finished over two quarters.

"Priority 1" level issues are priority 2 complaints not solved in its timeframe. A higher level team comprising of DM, SP etc should get together to tackle such issues. These could be organised crimes or gangs, terrorism, crimes involving inter-state boundaries, financial frauds of large scale and rackets etc. Such issues should be tackled within a year. It should also devise programs to educate locals about current issues and take them into confidence while tackling them. You do not expect speed bikers to slow down just by imposing fines, right? Some community level education and enforcement is also required. If things still go out of hand, political executive should be called to intervene and suggest higher level solutions.

Also, a team comprising of local authorities like SP, DM and sessions judge should regularly sit every quarter and dispose off cases like disputes between parties. One, this would help in solving cases faster and instilling faith in police system and two, it will reduce burden on judiciary as well.

Technology upgrade

I belong to IT industry but I'd shy away writing much about it. Policing without IT is like driving without roads. I love it when I see bangalore traffic policemen taking complaints on blackberry devices, traffic light Cameras which automatically register complaints against speeding cars. Gadgets improve productivity by miles. Inter-state issues become even more difficult to tackle without a seamless IT system. Advanced systems are required for tackling crimes of today's nature.

Almost everyone is racing ahead in these times of technology. Even rickshawallas carry mobile phones and drive while talking on phone in one hand. With more education and service jobs prevailing, people are becoming sober and less violent. Health and lifetime has improved but ethics may not have raced at the same pace. With Modi in power, who has a personal liking for technologies and sobriety, dreams of hand shaking a policemen in dazzling army clothes is not far from reality.

-Swaraj Bharti
Shaurabh Bharti

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