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INDIAN POLICE: WHAT COURSE TO PURSUE IN

THE 21ST CENTURY?

With the accrescent demands for limited resources of the Earth and concomitant

concours for survival in the world of the survival of the fittest, the advent of the new

century is bound to herald ascensive economic bewilderments in the crucible of hotting

up social complexities. Reintepretation of life in the complex environment of technical

advancements, systemic and structural changes in society and spurts in criminal activities

is likely to provide the paramenters of the coming age and determine the quality of life in

the coming century. The police, as the custodians and enforcers of the safety of life and

property, have to move pari passu with the time for perficient handling of the

emerging situation. They cannot afford to adapt to challenges as and when they are

posed as in vogue in government service. Assessment of situations ahead, defining the

future challenges and deriving means to checkmate them in advance form the basic

tenets of good policing and are sine qua non with the survival of the country and its

peaceful life.

The piece de resistance of future policing has to be perficient performance with

minimal visible presence. This means a far more professional organisation than now.

This means far more skilled policing than now. This means better management of the

police organisation, better equipped force, men of higher calibre and devotion to work

and more contented people manning the police hierarchy.


20th Century saw the expansion of the utility of the police to every conceivable

field of human activity in social and national life. Security duties are increasingly

encompassing ceremonial objectives. Traffic and law and order police are more and

more replayed to add grandeur and humour to private functions of the well-to-do and

powerful. The presence of the police is becoming more a matter of prestige and social

standing in society than an emergent need of protection. The police are now called to

mediate and solve familial problems, labour disputes and case and communal differences.

People call them now to intervene in their differences with others, expect them to handle

rescue operations during natural accidental and man-made calamities. Their services are

warranted to bring order wherever and whenever things go wrong at public as well as

private events with unending number of acts, rules and their amendments passed every

year by the legislatures. This wide use of the police in the vast spectrum of the statecraft

rendered it jack of all and master of none. The transformation blunted the effectiveness

of the police in handling its cardinal duties of providing security, maintenance of order

and investigation of crimes.

Policing is presently seen as an unintellectual exercise with a flare for brawn,

ruthlessness and derring-do. Reality is not very different from this image. The situation

certainly does not do in the future complex societal network as the breeding ground for

complicated criminal activities warranting skilled and intelligent policing. The Police of

the 21st century have to be manned by highly intelligent and brainy species of men should

it be feracious in meeting challenges and showing results. The change, apart from
improving the quality of policing, will bring respect to the job in addition to the present

awe and fear, the police inspire. An overhaul of selection and training policies to infuse

and buildup mental and intellectual strains in the manpower of the police should be the

bedrock of the efforts to snod the organisation to meet the challenges of the future.

The paramount need of the future police is a professional image tout au contraire

to present image as a handmaid of rich and powerful. What is required is a perspicacious

definition of police duties and responsibilities and relegating the force to perform the

duties under the avizefull eyes of the constitution without the distractions of

interferences ab extra. The police should have free hand to tackle and solve issues

cropping up during the process of policing with concomitant responsibility for any

failures squarely lying on its shoulders.

Hi-tech policing is another imperative of the 21st century. Police cannot afford

to lose ground to criminals in the field of hi-tech. Efficiency of policing is pro rata to

competence to perform in a given situation in meeting challenges offered. The

competence necessarily implies moving pari passu with the fast changing hi-tech

environment in the fields of transport, communication, weaponry and detection system.

Police can ignore this need only at its own peril.

The growth of police in the 20th century is marked by its insulation from the

intellectual explosions of the age. Police is seldom touched by the zeist geist. Policing

methods and ideas remained stagnant throughout the century sans effective voice raised
to infuse new spirit to the body of the police. The century saw no concrete and concerted

efforts to bring crime investigation on modern lines. The problem of human rights

violations remained a major blot on the policing process throughout the century. Use of

third degree methods in interrogations sullied the image of the police in a century which

brought revolutionary changes in the concepts of human dignity, equality, justice for all

and basic rights. The image of the police in the 20thcentury is that of a licensed criminal

syndicate run by the government to checkmate unlicensed criminal activities.

Indian legislatures churn out new legislations and bring out amendments threeon

in such numbers and festination that neither those legislatures nor the police who

enforce them can afford to keep a track of the enactments and their provisions. This

Achilles’ heel in the law enforcement machinery will perforce disappear in years ahead.

A solution is creation of the Community Police as enforcers of the social legislations as

distinct from the body police. The community Police require skills different from those

in general policing owing to the special nature of the social legislations and special

sensitivities of its enforcement. The huge share of the social legislations among new

enactments and the gargantuan task of enforcing them is another justification for

creating a separate community police wing out of the present police. The measure will

relieve the body police from lots of work-pressures and provide it spare time and energy

to concentrate on vital issues of the general policing.

Another task ahead to attend tout de suite is sewing the investigating

responsibilities and the prosecution duties to a single whole. Inter-departmental co-


operation though specious in theory on paper, it is exceptions in field in the Indian

environment of interdepartmental jealousy and rivalry. The police with the need of

prompt responses and quick decisions vis a vis the complex nature of emerging crimes

cannot do for long with the extant system of the police and the prosecution pulling apart

From opposite directions in the race for one-upmanship.

The key to the success of the police is its response time, the speed with which it

responds to the challenges of the crime. Where time is a precious commodity and a

difference of a couple of seconds make the difference of success and failure of a police

operation, persistent efforts to shorten response time will get the highest priority. The

thrust of the police administration of the next millennium will be directed to bettering the

response time as speed will be the mainstay of crimes and criminals of the coming age.

Short response time implies improved communication and transport network and highly

motivated human resources ever-ready to handle challenges. Outmoded communication

and transport facilities in disrepair conditions most of the time have no relevance there

and casual manpower is rather passe in that ambience. The millennium will see the

police force in the finest fettle in terms of orgtanisation, manpower and equipments and

becoming a highly organised efficient limb of the state apparatus.

The 21st century police will be required to shed to idee fixe for the show of

strength in lieu of efficient policing. The stress in future will be on lean and fit policing.

The structural deformity and oveweight caused by redundant posts, undefined jobs, lack

of accountability, epinosic equation of rights and responsibilities, top-heavy structure,


erratic span of control, demotivating factors, nonprofessional ambience and uninspiring

leadership will become a matter of the past with the police going perforce competitive en

face gargantuan challenges from criminals posing threat to the raison d’etre of the police

and its relevance to the extant society.

Going hi-tech to match the gauntlets of the crime world is another possibility

open for the police of the 21st century. The age will see the needs of investigation

process expanding the horizons of science and technology rather than the other way

round. Gene tests will become a strategic and commonly employed tool of investigation

against crimes relating to bodily harm, paternity and even bodily associations. Laser

guns will come handy in handling violent law and order issues. Night-vision

instruments will become an essential part of the investigation and security operations kits

to be handled by every policeman. The age may see police using eaves-dropping

instruments to overhear unsuspecting people from distance. “X-ray eyes’ aid viewing

across walls or closed doors. Computers will become an integral part of the routine as

well as special police works and police stations. Police may see software devised to

guide investigating officers in investigating every kind of crime at every level.

Helicopters and mini-aeroplanes will become common mode of transportation for

carrying investigating teams, deployment of security staff and airlifting armed forces to

disturbed places as time becomes precious and criminals become ingenious in dodging

the police.
An important possibility of the next millennium is the police becoming an elite

force with even its bottom levels being manned by highly qualified, skilled and

enlightened professionals as a result of the pampering ahead for the police in the

administrative hierarchy. Constabulary will be spruced to striking forces and manual

works without policing powers. With it, may go the pernicious misuse of the

constabulary as household assistants. Single-point recruitment will come to vogue with

linear promotions from the lowest to the highest ranks on the basis of merit and actual

performances in the field as assessed by a panel of distinguished public figures,

constituted for the purpose.

A cost-efficient manpower policy in future police administration will bring

motivation and commitment centre-stage. The extant diffident response of maximum

mobilisation or raising of new units under every new challenge will give way to

perficient strategies and tactics. The present tendency of doing minimum required in a

given situation unless otherwise compelled by the situation amounts to criminal

wastage of manpower. The 21st century will require every single policeman straining his

best with a sense of motivation and commitment in the interests of superior policing.

Motivation and commitment are derivatives of self-actualisation in the need

hierarchy postualted by Maslow. Pride of performance can be a reality only while lower

physical, security and social needs cease to be issues. Indian police planners have no

alternatives to grooming the police manpower of the next century to this level of sans

souci. This means good living conditions, job security and sound social status. The
police must find a respectable place in the hierarchy of state administration and shed

away the extant obnoxious image of odd-job-man of the government as well as political

leaders to inspire awe and respect in the hoi polloi. The transformation is sine qua non

with the new age.

Creating a self-contained police machinery in place of the present mere nuts and

bolts of the administration is cardinal need ahead. The nasty political and bureaucratic

interferences in professional policing have done no good to the country and its police in

the last five decades. Insulating the police from the vice prise of ectogenetic pressures

and influences needs to be a reality in the coming decades should the police have

relevance in the governance of the country. This is possible only by the metamorphosis

of the police to an independent body with goals and objectives perspicuously defined

and laid down. The new police have to be responsible only to the constitution through a

suitable machinery of checks and counterchecks exercised by constitutional bodies

manned by people of proven track-record in matters of integrity, competence and other

mental attributes and chosen from academic, bureaucratic and political fields as well as

public life. The change may bring a semblance of justice and fairplay to administration

and ipso facto infuse a value system to Indian public life and bring the fear of god to

force strict adherence to probity and the rule of law in public life. India has no alternative

to this metamorphosis should the country survive the moral crisis and degringolade of

national spirit, it witnessed since independence.