I had to write this blog post just to vent out what I felt about the activists sitting on their chair telling how barbaric the Police are when they tried to tear gas and water cannon the peaceful demonstration in New Delhi against the gang rape. Recently I had spoken to quite a few policemen about how well staffed they were and what was their pay but then these people were not law enforcement officials but the traffic police. So I decided to google up what all I could find about the police department in India.
Surprisingly the results I came across were telling a big story, I was surprised basically because the people who were criticizing them on social networks and my friends in general know and research a lot before telling out their opinions but this was shocking, it was like no one knew what the police force goes through every day of their lives.
Let’s move on to the first statistic which I came across , according to report compiled by Bureau of Police Research and Development in 2006 there are 142 police personnel for 1 lakh citizens of India(source). That approximately turns out to be 1 policeman for 705 citizens of the country. Then I came across another report(bprd.nic.in/writereaddata/linkimages/5740124051-Chapters-3.pdf) where there was an on ground survey, it seems that there are 140 sanctioned policemen for 1 lakh population but the actual figure was as low as 103 policemen for 1 lakh population. That makes it 1 policeman for a 1000 people approximately.
Now that there a 103 policeman for 1 lakh of us, you would have seen how many of them actually are on VIP duty, the job of protecting the people you elect and also buy groceries and monthly kirana for them for free. Oh yes who would pick up and drop the kids of the politicians from and to school. So let us bring the number down to a 75 per 1 lakh of population. Now imagine, two people in Mumbai tried to save their girlfriends against a few thugs and ended up getting killed and then think how many people one police officer has to manage.
The first problem that rises over here is that a single person is overburdened with the task of maintaining law and order due to this huge ratio and there is no domain specialization too. A constable has to tackle riots, throw lathis at terrorists wielding Kalashnikovs, save his MLA from a chappal being thrown at him, stop a guy from beating his wife when he is drunk and at the same time worry about the well being of his family, this for a salary ranging somewhere from 3k-9k which increases after an experience of 5-8 years. Salaries vary differing on how sensitive to crime that area is but the cap is at 9k. This leads to the next problem.
Everyone knows the people who join as constables are not the really rich ones; they are just people who are trying to make their ends meet in order to get 2 meals a day with a family consisting of a wife and 2 kids most probably. They are sparsely educated and have no other go to live decently than this. Now think they get on an average 5k per month (report by the cbi on salaries).They have small perks for living but other than that they have to maintain their family with food, cleanliness, new clothes, school fees (no person in their right mind would send their kid to a govt school in India). I am talking about the constables here because they are the people who are the face of the police to ordinary citizens of our country. All these have to be covered within their salary and for that they need to do such a burdensome job. How much motivation can a person have to maintain about 1500 people without allowing any violation for a salary of 5k per month?
Even then let us assume that a person is very motivated and is a beacon of honesty and is a good police officer. He gets let down because the transfers and promotions in the police department is a subjective process and not an objective one. Do you know that as you know the son of the brother of the MLA’s wife, you have more chances to become a head constable although you see a rape happening right in front of you than a guy who catches even a pickpocket and doesn’t let him go until legal punishment is dealt to him and then we people wearing headphones and driving our bikes or standing in front of a girls hostel complain that a police man took 100 rupees as bribe for something you don’t feel is wrong and blame them for the inefficiency. Remember this man is woken up at 3 am to accompany Suresh Kalmadi to the airport; the same person buys chicken for the biryani the Mla’s wife has planned to cook on that Sunday. Yet what happens, an aaj tak reporter tries to walk through the area where the rape has happened and gets eve teased and then openly tells this is how inefficient our police is without addressing the root cause of why it is so inefficient resulting in the law enforcement officials being made the scapegoat.
Now moving on to another problem in the police ranks which I even saw firsthand, sexist attitude and being a male chauvinist. The policeman I talked to told me that even girls are drinking and driving and we can’t catch them because then they file petty cases against us like we caught their hands etc and the women police force is even more woefully understaffed. Then he went on to say I never thought girls drink when I came from my village and isn’t it wrong that they drink because I thought girls are meant to sit in house and do housework. Then I say it is wrong to think in that way, you have moved to a city from your village and this is how people live here everyone is equal and do what they want to. It is their basic fundamental right. He says, yes sir I have few friends from the corporate world who told me the same thing and I feel happy about it too but it has come as a shock to me as I have never seen it before and a few women have slapped me too in their drunken stupor and later come and apologized. This man has turned out be a perfect gentleman but he tells me stories of his superiors not being able to tame their egos. I reached a conclusion, right from that Delhi commissioner who said stupid things to this guy, they have to be given basic education about equality first. Right their mindset can’t change but an effort can be made to at least educate the less educated and I am pretty sure they too are ready to take this up as a challenge to overcome their cultural shock. They have been brought up in such an environment and will need to know how to tackle the fact that what their dad taught them was wrong.
Just to conclude this one, when you say how shameless the police are when they tear gas you during a protest against gang rape, just ask yourself is it the police who is doing it. The police in India are still not an entity which is empowered to take decisions on its own. There is no genuine empowerment of the personnel and they only take orders from the people you elect.
When you blame them for their inefficiency, remember they are the people who are available 24 hours a day even on a holiday to maintain 1500 people per person without proper training, equipment and sparse education.
When you say that for gang rapes to not happen, there should proper education from childhood, respect to woman taught and pepper spray and self defense classes and a other millions of petitions demanding the punishment of a reported rape, remember that for every reported rape there is about 50 unreported rapes easily and whatever you do rotten apples will remain and a well equipped, trained police force with a pay that they deserve will do wonders in enforcing a crime free city.
Before supporting the jan lokpal bill and protesting against the corruption in police force, remember that basic constitutional reforms will go a long way instead of having an authority to enforce no corruption because he can get corrupt later on and you will just end up accepting that too. What will you do next; have another authority to take up this authority?
Finally before putting that stupid black dot as a display picture on social networks, make sure that the black dot will be on your index finger electing people who will enforce the reforms in the police department. There is no shortage of reform proposals for the police department but it has never been addressed by the people you elect because it will take away the power from them. So instead sitting on your chair and putting a black dot, go out at night show you are equal to men, fight with your parents to treat you equally with your brother and ensure that at least in your life you are treated equally.
We don’t need capital punishment or castration to see effects, we just need simple reforms just these reforms to see that the police force is respected, treated with dignity and is getting the pay they deserve, then they will in turn be motivated and will get more efficient and even corruption along with crimes like rape will be prevented easily
(P.S. this is one report I came across if you care just go through the reform proposals - link)
EDIT : Here is a first hand account from a policeman(click here)