The Tribune (17 Feb. 2015) reported on front page anchor that the Central Govt. has asked the Punjab Govt. to submit proof of spending of the grant money that was provided for modernizing the Police Force. It is required to be done by way of physical inspection. The MHA Babus have not trusted the utilization certificate that the State Govt. has furnished. This raised many questions on the honesty of politicians, civil servants and the police department and seriousness attached to the task.
What actually modernization of a police force means? I checked it from various angles and found interesting information from three locations: (i) as it was construed by the highly placed Babus in Home department of Punjab Govt., high ranking officers in the Punjab police force and the political establishment in Punjab, which comes from Akali Dal,(ii) from the news version that is based on the statements of the people to whom the reporter (Mr Jupinderjit Singh) had spoken and assessment/investigation by the concerned reporter on the basis of the papers that he might have obtained in verification of the claims, and (ii) independent researchers including the BPRD (Bureau of Police Research and Development, MHA, Govt. of India).
It reveals a pathetic state of affairs. Police faces several types of challenges and requires to update its personnel in several ways from improving the mindset and educating them in some important branches of knowledge, imparting physical training in some novel manners as suggested by sports-science physiologists, training the communication and information technologies and above all handling of various types of modern weapons and ammunition besides training in driving of flying. I don't say that they need to perform like James Bond does in his brand of films but surely their physique and training have been on the wanting side.
I don't want to write an essay on the subject but would like to point out that if this trend of wasting money received as grants continues in the States, our police force in the states will never be able to perform in accordance with the changing time. Both the State Govt. and the Central Govt. annually spend staggering sums of money from their budgets kitties on various kinds of Police in the country (from regular police to CISF and NSG etc.) but the latter has refused to become smart. There are vast differences in the attitude and training of IPS officers that pass out from NPA and the State Police Academies. The gaps need to be filled up fast and the responsibility lies mainly of the Chiefs of these academies. Gone are the days of the Danda or Lathi wielding Police or mounted police. Nowadays, the police must use advanced vehicles like mo-bikes, advanced cars with computer data linkages and onsite screening/identification facilities, forensic tools for crime detection and nabbing of suspects, helicopters and high tech information system. No doubt, horses are still relevant to control mobs in India but the rider becomes an easy target, if untrained.
Digging into the facts that are available in public domain, one fan find mind boggling revelations about the expenditure and schemes on both aspects: the cost of maintenance of a huge number of personnel and modernization.
What actually is modernization in universal and relative terms and, in particular, Indian context. Books on history of the Indian Police system narrating personal experiences, reports of various committees and commissions and memoirs from the late 1800s to recent times describing the life in the system, policies, finances and forethinking including intelligence networking abound but the most fascinating is a book authored in 1912 by C.E.Gouldsbury of the Indian Police and was titled 'Life in the Indian Police', with 24 illustrations. There have been many previous attempts at reforming the police force and modernizing it latest training schedules and introduction of gadgetry for bringing rapidity and efficiency in action during risk challenge and peace time watch and ward.
The Outcome Budget of MoHA, Govt. India 2009-10 states at para 4.64: 'Some of the major items provided under the Scheme include construction of secure police stations, outposts, police lines, ensuring mobility, security, provision of modern weaponry, security, surveillance, communication, forensic equipment, upgradation of training infrastructure, police housing and computerization.' Besides the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) Project was conceived as mission mode with a budgetary provision of Rs.2, 000 crores in the 11th Five Year Plan.
The total expenditure envisaged as grants under the above plan on police alone was indicated to be Rs.33, 809 crore (plan and non-plan, both) for a combined police force comprising officers and juniors to to whopping 1, 579, 687 numbers. There are 666 number of Police districts in the country in which 12, 702 police stations exist. There is one police man for 700 people in the country.Interestingly, 90 per cent of the budgetary allocation to the the force is spent on payment of salary and allowance and the remainder is used for maintenance. Which is why the State Police is always short of funds for inducting more personnel and inducting technologies and other logistics for improving its functioning. It, therefore, relies on Central grants. If the grants are mis-used, remain underutilized as was observed in the case of Punjab, we cannot expect much and compare it with the best equipped and trained police force of some of the US States, UK, France and Singapore. Let us see what lies in future for both the people and the Police in this country.