Thursday, October 05, 2006

Gandhi's Experiments with Policing

As I watched the resurgence of Gandhi across the media, on television, and across headlines, debates, verdicts, big fights, quiz rounds, spot surveys, exhibitions, and the cinema halls, editorials and articles, something within me inspired me to complete the loop and take the Mahatma to the Police Headquarters where I believe he is needed no less. Imagining Gandhiji as a Police Chief became irresistible for me; I have let my imagination run its course in this week's article and must admit that the experience has been joyful, therapeutic and spiritual.

Since no Chief is without followers I positioned and visualized myself as being one of his juniors who observes how he plays all his roles to provide an eyewitness account of my dream. Some of the frames that flashed before the mind's eye were: his accessibility to ordinary citizens or junior ranks of the police service; or his dealing with VIPs and their innumerable recommendations, justified or otherwise; and his views on crime registration, interrogation, collection of evidence and prosecution of offenders. What would be his advice on issues of on matters of interference by politicians, bureaucrats, influential persons, and ones own seniors? And not to forget the reality of frequent transfers!

Gandhiji was the change he wanted to see in others. Truth and compassion would be the cornerstones of this Chief's philosophy and management style. His tenets and practices would include:

He was out of home daily by 8 AM visiting any one unit by prior announcement or surprise due to which all were on duty well before time. The traffic flowed smoothly and police personnel were present. Whichever unit he reached, he first listened to the staff rather than preached and ordered. He rewarded and appreciated rather than reprimand. He shared and empowered. He smiled and rejoiced and made police men and women relax and smile. He asked them of the welfare of their children and families. All saluted him out of love, not hierarchy.

When questioned on matters of the use of one's discretion he would only say, "Follow the law with compassion. Do only that which is just and fair. Spare no one but you do not be revengeful. Look after the person in your custody. He is in your care. Ensure no one uses any force against him. Use technology and scientific methods of interrogation and investigation; never attribute to him anything which is false. Remain truthful."

To the questions on how convictions would be secured if the path of truth alone was to be followed, he would smile and elucidate, "The results of following the truth cannot be worse than the present state of affairs. On the contrary since you will be believed by the courts and the people it will gradually make it difficult for the defense. This is how you will win the trust of the people. Remember you are an investigator and not a judge. Do your duty truthfully. Believe and practice righteousness and in the right means to the right end. Pray for peace for all before you go to sleep".

When asked to comment on his vacation policies, he would be conscious that many police personnel stayed away from homes for extended periods of time, and would always insist, "No leave will be denied. Take it when you think it is important for you. You know best when you can/should/must go."

On matters of civilian-police interaction, his advice to the police force would be fairly crisp and straightforward, "Keeping peace and security is your sacred duty. Involve people in policing. Let them know the areas which need greater attention and involve residents and village panchayats to self-police. Train and help them. Enroll them as special police officers. Empower citizens to understand policing and their duties by showing them the way."

On the issue of outside influences impacting policing decisions, he would exhort, "Do not get over awed by the rich and powerful. Remember you work for all. And if anyone still bullies you inform your seniors to intervene. And if they don't, follow your conscience. This is your duty. Remember we are trustees of citizens' security. It is a sacred duty."

After having gone through this pleasant, stimulating and emancipating imagination exercise, I wondered for myself, if we will ever see a real Gandhi in uniform? And the spirit of Gandhiji replied with a resounding "yes". Especially, after the recent judgment of the Supreme Court of September 22nd in which all future selections of the Chief of Police will be made from three senior most empanelled officers cleared by the Union Public Service Commission. The Police Chiefs so appointed would have a fixed tenure of two years and cannot be removed without due consultations with the Security Commission which has the Leader of Opposition as a member. No internal appointments too can be interfered with. Also, a Police Complaint Authority will be established that will spare no delinquent violating human rights. Hence the leadership will be empowered and accountable. Historical indeed! Something which was being pleaded for, for the last 20 years was finally becoming a reality.

I firmly believe the future belongs to Gandhigiri. It is just a matter of time.


Str8 Talk said...

Dear Madam,

I firmly belive in your pucnh line the future belongs to Gandhigiri, but, take a step back today in India the youth have started to increasingly question the spirit of secularism and the stance taken by Gandhiji the mahatma and Gandhiji the short India for Hinus attitude that has crept in. How do you think this can be tackled?

kamal said...

I can perfectly understand the part about truth. But I was never able to understand the concept of non-violence. Do you think non-violent methods can produce results in India today?

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amitabh shankar said...

It was really nice to read about the police commissioner in langot, of course in the world of your imagination, but one part you left untouched is that how would have Gandhi done the penance of the blunders committed by his juniors and how would have Gandhi retreated to Satyagraha in case he was put under pressure from his political bosses. Being a crime reporter in Delhi, I think you should have let your imagination go wilder and touched these areas of Gandhi. And as an insider of the system, nobody else can do it better.

karthik said...

its very unfortunate that lots of policemen in this country remain irresponsible towards all the atrocities committed in the society. A policeman should behave like a friend to the common public.They should help the people.A policeman is also an humanbeing.He does not have any horns.Most of the poloicemen think that they should be given respect. First of all they must learn to give respect to the public. Its very sad that a common man today feels afraid to go to a police station to file an FIR. If police station itself is like this,then where will people go to give their complaints.An FIR has to be filed about a police officer in his police station itself..:).. is it possible..???.. before recruiting police officers for different posts they must undergo classes on value education.Its much more important than giving training to use weapons.. we cannot remain complacent just bcoz some police officers like you have remained honest and have done a good job..its just 0.1% in the country..what about the remaining..Its a big question...:)

Gautam Pradhan said...

Respected Ma'm,
I heard a clip on rediff where you were speaking on 'Women As Catalysts For India's Transformation'. I liked it.Doing some Google search i found your blog.I found this blog on "Gandhi's experiment with Policing" really superb. Kindly continue to blog more often.

After having heard your speech at CII forum,I wish to read up your article on 'Women As Catalysts For India's Transformation'. Can you kindly send across the text of the speech at my Gmail id: ? I would like to share your inspiring words/thoughts with my colleagues.Alternatively, you may put that speech on your blog itself for the benefit of lot of people.
Thanks a lot
~Gautam Pradhan

Bibhu said...

Hi Kiranji,

In this blog you have wondered whether we will ever see a Gandhi in uniform. I, from the bottom of my heart firmly believe that you made a sincere effort to become a Gandhi in uniform. Its a shame that our own system always put impediments on your path towards the achievement of a system which endeavors to prevent and cure the root causes of crime and not only concentrate on punishing the criminal.
I still remember the day when I had attended the talk show on NDTV where you and two other personalities had come to debate on the ruthlessness of police action on the workers of the Honda factory in Haryana. I was speechless after hearing your arguments which had so much of truth and reality in them. I was unfortunate that day not to get your autograph. I wish you many more years of effective social service which has always instilled hope in at least some of us, me being one of them. I also look forward to the day when I will get a chance to see you again in person and get to hear some of your brilliant thoughts and ideas.

hemanshow said...

Very true.
We all are human beings.

The policemen or a municipal worker can do a better job if we all citizen make efforts to take care of them so that they get inspired to take care of all of us.

In simple words, once a while (say one sunday morning every month) if I go and talk to the municipal worker (or private cleaner) who cleans my street every morning and be ready to clean the street with him/her and ask about his family, kid's education, housing, health. If I am educated, I can guide him/her, his/her-kids in career/education, do some nominal material help. I can certainly create a better bond of brother-hood ( sister-hood too :-) ).

Similarly, I should care to think about the trafic policemen who do their duty standing in smoke for hours. Do they have protective tools (mask, helmet, eye-glasses) and advice to use them? Do they have regular health check-ups to monitor the effects of smoke on their health? How many hours do they work everday (8-12-14 hours)? Are their kids getting good education for a bright future?

Same thing for teachers? Are teachers in my nearby school taken-care off?

Then only I can expect cleaner streets, organized traffic, less crime, good schools, etc.........

Campaign 2 Eradicate Poverty said...

you remember when you came to JNU this year in the evening one day in MARCH
I was also their when you had asked one questioned that "How many students do SHRAMDAN, ?" and many had replied in YES they DO . BUT this is not true ,like the children of fourth grade employees were always roaming on the road in JNU Campus....... Every were around Hostels lots of garbage were scattered but no one cares....I had told to my friends to take some steps but they remain constant...........NOW YOU tell us what to do? I think we organize one talk in the Hostel Mess and day after we do some practical like cleaning Arena of the hostel and road.
Please inform me when you are free i will arrange and inform to my friends through POster.plz provide your MOBILE no.,..I will be obliged if you will co-operate us.
thanking you

siddharth b iyer said...

Dear Kiran Ji,
I am Siddharth from Ahmedabad,presently studying in standard 11th.
I am an ardent fan of yours and and am really glad to go through your Blog and Website.
I look forward to meet you in future when you are on your next visit to Ahmedabad as I have a very long desire to have your Autograph and gift you your portrait made by me.
With regards,
Siddharth Balakrishna Iyer.