India: Whining Centre, Stiff States And Muddled Police – Analysis


Three years after the project of erecting a national security architecture was initiated, we were told on the occasion of the 5th Chief Ministers’ Conference on Internal Security on April 16 that India faces the stark reality of having “not enough police stations; not enough men, weapons and vehicles; not enough infrastructure for the Central police forces; not enough roads; and not enough presence of the civil administration.” For a country, which faces a diverse range of internal security challenges, it is indeed an ominous sign.

The reason cited by Home Minister P Chidambaram for this state of affairs is a lack of cooperation from the states who default on almost everything — on recruiting police personnel, allocating adequate resources for the ‘police’ head in their budgets, spending sufficient amount on their training and even fully spending the amount provided by the home ministry for police modernisation.

Chief ministers, especially from the non-Congress parties, had their own grievances. Narendra Modi criticised New Delhi for its “non-consultative” approach on key security issues. J Jayalalithaa grumbled about how the Centre has reduced the states “to the level of glorified Municipal Corporations heavily dependent on the Centre for funds”. Mamata Banerjee boycotted the conference, sending her finance minister to represent West Bengal. Incidentally, all these chief ministers have been at the forefront of opposing the foisting of a National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) on them. However, while these chief ministers have valid arguments about their non-inclusion in the security architecture making, there is little doubt that most of the states have performed derisorily in the crucial area of police modernisation.

As on January 1, 2011, there were only 100 civil police personnel for a population of 100,000 in India. In comparison, the tiny city state of Singapore boasts of a ratio of nearly 1:800. As on beginning of 2009, there were 1,53,428 vacancies among the police force. An increase in the sanctioned posts, however, in the last three years has resulted in a situation when the vacancies in all ranks are over 500,000, amounting to 25 per cent of their sanctioned strength. Only a few states have adopted or indicated willingness to adopt the technology-driven procedure for recruitment initiated by the home ministry in July 2009.

Under the Modernisation of Police Force (MPF) scheme, states were allotted `1,111 crore in 2011-12. Of this, `311 crore remained unspent. As a result, for the financial year 2012-13, the allocation stands significantly reduced at `900 crore. Similarly, despite the home ministry’s suggestions to allocate more resources to policing, less than 5 per cent of the state budgets is allocated to this important area. Given that 75 to 80 per cent of the amount is spent on paying salary to the police personnel, hardly any money is left for crucial heads like training. Of the `50,000 crore spent on the police by different states in 2010-11, barely 1.4 per cent was spent on training.

Few days ago, a media report narrated the daily life of a police inspector in Odisha’s Maoist-affected Malkangiri district. The inspector worked 15 hours a day to manage the raging extremism and also the day-to-day law and order maintenance duties, apart from playing host to a number of VIPs who landed up in the area to map the Maoist situation. Reality is majority of policemen today are being forced to put in much longer hours at work than humanly possible, while not being provided with any of the required training, amenities and incentives. The resultant brutalisation among the police force is there for all to see.

An end must be put to the stalemate between the Centre and non-Congress ruled states. One of the ways is to institutionalise a system combining processes of dialogue, incentives and pressure. While a constant process of consultation with the states is the need of the hour, on the front of police modernisation, Delhi should start exploring a system of incentives.

Funds available for police modernisation can be divided into two parts, with one part constituting a performance-based incentive. States performing well on the MPF scheme could avail that amount, above their share of normal allocation. To put pressure on the non-performing states, the home ministry need not wait for the annual Chief Ministers’ Conference to reveal the lapses. A month-wise performance-based report may be obtained from the states and put up on the ministry’s website for public scrutiny.

This article appeared at New Indian Express and is reprinted with permission.

Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray

Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray served as a Deputy Director in the National Security Council Secretariat, Government of India and Director of the Institute for Conflict Management (ICM)’s Database & Documentation Centre, Guwahati, Assam. He was a Visiting Research Fellow at the South Asia programme of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore between 2010 and 2012. Routray specialises in decision-making, governance, counter-terrorism, force modernisation, intelligence reforms, foreign policy and dissent articulation issues in South and South East Asia. His writings, based on his projects and extensive field based research in Indian conflict theatres of the Northeastern states and the left-wing extremism affected areas, have appeared in a wide range of academic as well policy journals, websites and magazines.

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