Home Truths from the Horses’ Mouths
Maxwell Pereira


One is often confronted with the accusation that the police are incapable of introspection – being obsessively pre-occupied with their own pomposity, arrogance and power. In this context, a few home truths spewed out recently by a younger member of the service in a web discussion forum managed to stir up the hornets’ nest to throw up a healthy debate.

Some fundamental issues raised, which according to the officer pointed towards the deeper malaise plaguing the service: the police organisation has only one God with all others just his disciples trying to please him. The dictats of this Boss being final, no one dares contradict or correct – neither does he want to be corrected. No one questions his policies, so no participative management. Sub-serviance plunging to depths as to reduce the lesser bosses at other supervisory rungs telling field functionaries cynically not to worry, to just “cool down; just comply now… things will change with the next boss." Danger of no continuity of administration............

In the name of supervision, concentration often on trivial issues, often ignoring important policy matters/ law points. A crime discussed to irrelevant lengths without paying attention to causative factors/preventive/corrective measures. Becoming more and more adept at paper generation even to beat the most obdurate bureaucracy. Trying to save one’s own skin on paper, shying away from crucial field work - at the same time not leaving the slightest opportunity to usurp the role of the field levels. Often boasting of own ‘glorious’ past, despite ample testimony to the contrary well within public knowledge. Failure to graduate to macro view as one climbs the ladder, holding on to narrow perspectives.

Tendency for seniors to treat subordinates not decently, but sucking up to those with dubious reputation for being resourceful getting results through doubtful means. Giving them more prominence at the expense of ethics and integrity?

While ignoring courtesy to own junior officers, spending time in Ministry anterooms and becoming pliable to the likes of ‘p.a.’s/ section officers/ and under secretaries for personal work and advancement. Umpteen visits/ calls to the Govt. secretariats/ politicians, indicative of this malaise – all for personal reasons/ gains. Like an ostrich with its head in the sand, believing their this weakness not known to anyone.....

The tendency for every police officer to think he is the repository of all wisdom. Passing value judgement on others. Not hesitating to pull down colleagues and even berate them to score a point. Failure in personality development – remaining within protective walls of the ‘super-IPS’ environment with tendency to emulate what he did not like in his senior rather than remedying that aspect.

Creativity killed in the name of discipline, any discussion or idea offered considered contempt of a senior. So officers remaining mum at meetings and not participating in deliberations – just nodding to whatever the senior wants. Seniors not encouraging sub-ordinates to discuss – satisfied in issuing what one pointed out as ‘Tughlaqi’ firmans. Problems in implementing a direction neither anticipated nor discussed – resulting in ground level zero, with directions never implemented in letter and spirit. Personality based system, functioning till the time a particular officer is in the chair, to be changed when next boss comes.

Tendency among seniors to criticize the new entrants as ‘poor stuff’ without realising this poor stuff may be more qualified and technologically advanced than the senior was at his stage of entrance – perhaps preferring public service to more lucrative offers. Tendency to agitate every issue - opportunities exploited to the hilt by the media and vested interests in the bureaucracy/ politicians.

The inability to be conscious of own image with subordinates. Always bending over backwards to please seniors to further own career – often doing this at the expense of a junior, viewed in the force as a highly objectionable and deplorable trait.
Many responded agreeing with the belligerent views boldly confessed and levelled, firmly asserting that these thoughts will be seconded by all right thinking officers. The only remedy, one suggested, is not to follow the adverse and objectionable examples set by seniors, when one himself reaches or is put in such senior position - "not to become like those discussed" should be the resolve, there is urgent need to introspect and correct own course of action in every setting/ environment and draw own "lakshman rekhas" for performance.

On the point of seniors’ treatment of juniors, there was disagreement, pointing out that such conduct is more person specific rather than a general trend. An interesting offshoot emerged from an observation that in J & K seniors were more concerned about their juniors etc - wondering whether the fact that all are from the same stock and face the same extreme danger makes the JK police different – the fact that every senior officer is heavily dependent upon the subordinates and their professionalism for survival?

In yet another interesting summation, it was also felt that attitudes come with the defining values in the service.  For too long, 'power' has been the governing value, as it closely aligns with the police role in society - of being the strong arm of the State, for internal order.  This leading to the emphasis on 'good postings', with 'important' territorial jurisdictions and a large body of force to lead and populace to rule over.  These postings exude power.  There is need to shift the governing value to  'service to society and nation' to make the role of every wing of the police - whether it is training, armed police, units dealing with weaker sections of the society or civil defence - relevant and the officers to give their best, the usual problems of lack of resources and political support notwithstanding.

900 words: 16.10.2006: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// www.maxwellperira.com and maxpk@vsnl.com


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