Monthly Archives: April 2014

Importance of Planning in the Modernization of State Police

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Following is an article I wrote for Gujarat’s Raksha Shakti Police University’s magazine, ‘Kavach’, http://rakshashaktiuniversity.edu.in/document/rsu-magazine-second-issue.pdf on the importance of planning and plan funds for State police organizations.

Police in India has traditionally functioned without a long term planning process. The general consensus being that policing was a substantially manpower deployment based department, where man-management was the only need and which could be met adequately through a good leadership. Hence, providing salaries, allowances, uniforms and other related infrastructure like police stations and offices, for this manpower to function, was deemed adequate for good policing. This seems to be the reason why in post Independence India, the police departments were funded for their needs only through the Non Plan part of Government spending. In the pre-IT times, i.e till the end of the 80s decade, when enterprise level projects were not on the organization’s radar and when the only significant technology in police work was in wireless communication, police organizations did not seem to require much project level activities in their human resources management, crime detection, intelligence collection or for their community policing roles.

Expectations of the people from their police has, however, been changing over the decades since Independence, and more rapidly so since the economic liberalization of the 90s decade. Public expectations on better service quality on police functions like preventing crime, efficiently detecting crime and keeping peace and order in society through effective handling of law and order incidents, have been increasingly weighing down on the police in all states, especially since the beginning of this century. Besides these expectations on improving efficiency of police outcomes, there are new circumstances for commission of crime created by the large scale adoption of internet by the Indian society for their communication and business needs and also by other departments of government for decreasing cost of service delivery. This new environment requires building new capability in police to tackle incidents through training and equipment.

All these new expectations have been finding an outlet in the transition of police budgets slowly over the last few years into having a Plan component for buying equipment and create building infrastructure which could give police a modern look. However, it is pertinent to ask if this process has given sufficient satisfaction with corresponding gains in modernizing the police forces across states in India to meet these new expectations on performance. The intuitive answer would be ‘no’. Peoples’ expectation on the service quality from police continues to be unmet, despite vigorous efforts by the police leadership to strengthen the equipment and infrastructure available. Clearly, modern policing requires modern infrastructure and modern equipment to fight crime. And all states have been applying themselves to meet these needs. However, creating infrastructure is only one part of the solution. Creating the required service mindset and the capabilities required in police to keep society’s trust in their police, is the real challenge. Converting these requirements into areas for spending Plan funds, could yield rich dividends in public perceptions about police.

I see a few areas for improving the impact of the recent trend of better funding of police forces from Plan funds—
1. Efficiencies in police performance can improve dramatically if IT is used extensively in its Establishment management as well as in Operations. Therefore, Plan funds have to be channeled into training the manpower in usage of IT and to replicate successful police IT applications projects, with minimal local modifications, across states.
2. Handling local level crime and security problems is currently an intelligence or post-facto detection issue. However, much can be done with the community’s help for prevention-based policing. Such community policing measures should be funded by government funds and their effectivity performance audited on periodic basis. Such medium term funding can be borne through Plan funds.
3. Equipment requirements for routine use by various general and special units of police in every state should be standardized. This will enable a centralized and state-wide assessment of shortfalls in such equipment and also enable better planning to initially meet the shortfalls and later, to keep shortfalls from occurring. Such standardization of basic requirements will also prevent unnecessary utilization of the time of officers from SP level upwards into the annual purchase process. Further, it will help put more thought of these officers into assessment of their need for specialized equipment suitable for the unique problems of their area. Such segregation into ‘routine equipment standardization’ and ‘specialized equipment for special needs’, will result in better satisfaction on outcomes from the spending of Plan funds.

There could be many such schemes in ‘police welfare’, ‘training’, ‘police establishment’, ‘data analytics for crime investigation’, ‘crimes against women, children, senior citizens and weaker sections’ etc which could be conceived under Plan expenditure. Outcome based spending would result in goal-oriented performance by the police and it would also assess effectiveness of such expenditure. Spending on such long term and outcome based schemes will improve the performance of the police over time and fine tune the same towards the evolving new expectations of the Indian society.

A View on Town Planning from the Ringside

20140414-232022.jpgThis post is going to be a little away from the subject of policing. Yet not entirely away if use of public spaces is looked at as an issue requiring a look from the police viewpoint of public security.

The process of town planning is typically seen as a subject entirely within the expertise of engineers and architects, with no need felt for non technical inputs. So typically, after initial administrative decisions on creation of new urban centres, the identified landmass is plotted into neat blocks and assigned for future uses like parks, schools, police stations, residential and commercial areas. And construction begins vigorously towards what looks in brochures to be lovely, happy places. The reality however could turn out different.

In Maharashtra, the government, as early as the 1970s, formulated a policy to de novo create new towns outside growing industrial cities, to accommodate the growing migrations into these cities, in a planned way. So fringe cities were set up outside Mumbai ( Navi Mumbai), Aurangabad, Nasik, Nanded etc. Wherever the pressure of population migrating into these new towns was intense, the new, well planned cities were quickly well populated. A lot of futuristic thought went into laying out wide roads and building large railway and bus stations for the anticipated traffic, creating the underlying infrastructure of office and commercial spaces for the future business needs and also creating public parks and large sports stadiums, community halls and other welfare facilities.

Few issues in these planned cities stand out for me:
1. The operative word for Engineering creativity being ‘large’, one does not see ‘small’ or local level models for say, garbage disposal, sports facilities etc. The users could probably feel more civic responsibility towards local level maintenance activities in certain domains than the more centralised approach currently followed.
2. Utilisation of public spaces does not necessarily follow because they are built well or the space is in abundance. In a recent visit to one of Maharashtra’s ‘new towns’, I saw vegetable markets and bus depots built decades ago, still unutilised. Such places look dead if they are not frequented by people. Such spaces also have serious implications for public safety and security. Some thought needs to be given at the planning stage, on what will make the proposed built public space, friendly and therefore more used and safer. Town planning will do well to be more people-friendly instead of only engineering-friendly.
3. Gardens and horticulture are seen as non core departments in city planning. To me, it appears, they should occupy centre stage in planning, if beautiful cities are to be created and maintained. Avenue trees, greenery and water fountains are known to reduce road rage and violence in general. Why not plan for peaceful citizens in a newly emerging city?
4. Once built, the city planners believe their job is done. But there is enormous learning for future projects, by understanding the public safety issues of usage in roads, bridges, mass congregation points like auditoriums, temples, bus stops etc which could be had from coordination meetings with the law enforcement agencies, over the lifetime of the utility. This learning is presently missing due to lack of formal coordination mechanisms.