The officers of the Indian Police Service, being vested with the mandate to ensure ‘Rule of Law’, prevent and detect crime, and safeguard the country’s internal security, occupy an extremely significant place in the architecture of governance. With a cadre strength of 4720, organised into 24 State/Union Territory Cadres, the service provides leadership to a force of 31,93,808 police personnel spread across State and Central Police Forces. In the year 2012 (the last year for which statistics are available), it closely supervised investigations of 60,41,559 fresh criminal cases, handled multifarious agitations, and oversaw apprehension of 74,20,091 persons in the course of protecting and upholding the rule of Law. While these statistics are in themselves mindboggling, they constitute and capture only a minor part of the immense contribution of the Police. Their real impact, however, resting largely on intangible outcomes, are not amenable to statistics but fall within the nebulous realm of ‘citizen experience’. Officers of the service man 711 Police districts (of which 176 are terrorist/ LWE affected), as well as the higher formations in the Central and State Police Organisations. This mandate is discharged with a meagre strength of 106.79 civil policemen per lakh population, which stands barely half of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported global average. In the discharge of these duties, in the service of the nation, 30 IPS1 officers made the supreme sacrifice of laying down their lives, fighting terrorism, insurgency and organised crime.
Police Administration in India- The Structural Context
The Police in India undertake its responsibilities under extremely challenging circumstances. India is today an evolving democracy, with a large citizenry, that is both conscious and assertive of their rights. She is home to a rare plurality-of ethnicity, religion and culture, and brings with it many issues of difference and dissent. The country is today an emerging economic powerhouse, and is subject to the resultant churnings, displacements and migrations. She has a large proportion of youth, with rising aspirations, who seek to dislodge the existing status quo of inequity and discrimination imposed by the weight of history. The globalised village that we live in has brought in considerable interconnectedness that governance must necessarily grapple with. India’s distinctive constitutional architecture, which is unitary in character, but federal in spirit, renders provision of uniform administration across the nation a serious challenge. All of the above, in multifarious ways, has made policing an extremely difficult, albeit rewarding experience.
The Indian citizen has extremely high expectations from the Indian Police Service. Most importantly, (s)he expects the Service to set in place a mechanism to provide a ‘sense of security’-in both the physical and psychological senses, so as to freely go about their lives, without undue concern for one’s safety and security. (S)he expects that the Rule of Law is in place, and that if wronged, access to justice in a time bound manner is available as a matter of right. As the visible arm of government, the citizen expects the IPS to set in place a police system, which is an effective first responder in distress, of any kind. (S)he expects the Police to manage India’s unique diversity, allowing citizens to celebrate the differences, while bringing in ‘order’ and social cohesion to manage the dissonances. The citizen expects the Police to create an enabling environment to facilitate individual and collective growth, ensuring the fundamental rights of the citizen. Most importantly, (s)he expects the Police to ensure that India is secure from ‘within’ and ‘without’.
In order to accomplish these critical responsibilities, the Indian citizen expects an IPS officer to be the repository of a daunting array of intellectual and administrative skills. The officer is expected to lead from the front, bringing to bear qualities of courage- both physical and moral, professional excellence, daring innovation and strategic vision to the tasks at hand. (S)he is expected to be a team builder, intelligently appraise crises and even negotiate at times. The citizen expects him/her to work extremely long workdays, display a high degree of industry, perseverance and unflagging enthusiasm, and be alert and available for him round the clock. The IPS officer is expected to bring about change in remote and difficult places, at times face real risk to life and limb, as well as meet the increasing, oft unrealistic public expectation.