In 2012, I was handling the procurement function for Maharashtra Police. This job typically sees many firms doing their sales pitch to you and if you find an unusual product which could be useful for any particular outcome, it gets assessed for the possibility of purchase by tendering.
Before joining the IPS, I was a medical doctor by training. And I could easily relate my above experience to the way doctors were approached by medical representatives. There were also more similarities-much of the pharma innovation industry is based upon close collaboration with universities to develop new products customized for specific uses, quite like the collaboration between the government(security forces) and universities in the area of Homeland Security products industry in the US. The focus of this approach is i) the assessment of needs of the final buyer, i.e the patient in case of the pharma industry and the security forces in case of security products, ii)development of suitable product by the research teams and iii)the commercialization of the product by the industry. It is clearly a win-win for the industry, academia, economy as well as the user.
If that is so, what stops security forces in India from collaborating with our many excellent institutions like the IITs or IIITs or other good Engineering institutions, to locally develop cost effective products aligned to the customized needs of our security forces? Of course, this would require a policy shift in thinking and full backing of governments, since it would involve initially an assessment by the user of his own needs instead of the present vendor driven procurement process, the government and industry together will have to fund such product development, there will be need to have processes to patent and commercialize such products and finally there will be a requirement of assurance from security forces to buy these products so developed based on their needs assessment, from the open market.
But the interesting thing would be the stimulus such policy initiative will give to develop a local hi-tech security products industry and reduce significantly the scale of imports of hi-tech security products, while at the same time, give the government the satisfaction of funding applications based innovation and research in our own universities. The added bonus would be to encourage security forces to assess their requirements based on their own peculiar operating circumstance and get a customized product of much use to them. If you stretch this collaboration idea further, there could be huge benefits of similar collaborations in research in the social sciences, between police and teaching institutions, for research based policing.