A couple of days ago I heard a retired IPS officer delivering a lecture , well researched , all the facts and figures on his fingertips, he looked east and west, gathered the best practices from USA and Japan , as models to emulate , suggested ways to harness science and technology to the service of better policing. In every such lecture the words of generations of police men and scholars are modified, revised, updated by those who come after them. It is generally believed that the police reform is an idealist problem of knowledge . Only if we knew then we would. In my younger days I also used to write for many newspapers. Like everyone else I believed that Police would be reformed . It is not so .Close to forty years in the IPS disabused me of this notion altogether. It will need considerable elaboration but I am not going to do that today.
People often ask me, as indeed they should, why are the police the way they are, hostile to people, lawless and uncaring? Depending on my mood of the moment, I tell them that police is not for those who pose such a silly question. Police is for those to whom this question never occurs. This gnomic answer either befuddles them and they clam shut or seek further clarification. Again, subject to my whims or vagaries of weather, I put a counter question: have you ever found his majesty the President of India, the PM of India, the CM of states, holders of capital, merchant bankers, complaining about police? You hear only good things about the police from any government, every government, even after its police have indulged in killing, looting, unabashed atrocities on the weaker sections. It is – has been -ideal for their purpose, for every government that has been or yet to come. Why should they reform it?
After forty years in the Indian police service if I were to give my opinion about police reform, I would keep simple : Indian police needs an Indian pill. It is no longer a matter of the much talked about nexus of crime and politics, criminality of many governments themselves is a sad, but inescapable, fact of our lives. Police officers have to internalize the fact that they are the agents of law and they - especially the IPS officers - must incorporate the habit of firmly saying “no”to illegal orders, not as a one-time act of heroism and valour but as a reflex response. Police officers seem to have forgotten this all important lesson that saves the rule of law from degenerating into rule of men.
When I find Singhams-the new breed of police officers- sprouting like mushrooms on the Facebook , their brave deeds recounted by some similar breed of journalist , I begin to wonder whether there is a nexus between deteriorating law and order and the rise of Singhams. I am reminded of the interesting observation, which many claim is based on scientific facts , “the louder the monkey, the smaller the balls.”