Speech of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, November 23, 2008
At the outset, I would like to congratulate the recipients of the highly coveted President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service. Their consistent and excellent performance in a difficult sector of policing has earned them this medal. I am sure that they would continue to strive harder to achieve still greater heights in their profession.
In October last year, I had an opportunity to address the Conference of Directors-General of Police. The international environment is in far greater turmoil to-day than it was a year ago. This has major consequences for us, for in a globalised world, what affects one part of the globe often affects the other parts as well. The current international financial crisis is a good index of the inter-active nature of to-day’s globalised world. Likewise, in the realm of security, globalisation has produced a whole new range of interactive threats and risks. Globalisation has also led to a blurring of the distinction between external and internal threats.
It is appropriate that the theme of this year’s Conference of Directors-General of Police should be Terrorism. The advent of many non-state actors has greatly increased our vulnerabilities. Terrorism is now recognized as the main scourge of the modern world. To-day’s terrorists – whether they be non-state actors or others – use modern communications and exploit cyber space to carry out their disruptive activities, and I hope that this Conference will find ways and means not only to deal with the terrorist problem but also improve the techniques needed for this purpose.
I only wish to emphasise here that time is not on our side. We cannot afford a repetition of the kind of terrorist attacks that have recently taken place in Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Guwahati and some other urban centers. Every time a terrorist attack takes place there is a public outcry over the failure of the Government, accompanied by criticism of the police and the intelligence agencies. I am aware that many terrorist attacks have been prevented, thanks to the vigil of the police and intelligence agencies, but a single incident of reasonable magnitude causes repercussions, and calls into question the capability and capacity of the Government and its agencies. The globalisation of terror has made Terrorism an all – encompassing danger. We should anticipate that the scale of such terrorist incidents would only grow in the future and this would then become a major test of your capacities. You must be prepared for such an eventuality.
Alongside this, we need to guard against the new danger posed by the spread of fundamentalist and extremist ideas. We have, of late, been witnessing the emergence of such pernicious tendencies and trends, and there are elements in our society who are actively pursuing such programmes. We are a nation of over a billion people, belonging to different religions, communities, castes and speaking different languages who have lived peacefully together for hundreds of years. Our inclusive society must be preserved for posterity.
The virus of communal violence that threatens the secular fabric of our country needs to be checked in time, otherwise our multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-caste society could well unravel. This cannot be done by the police and law & order agencies alone, but the Police are often the first responders and have, hence, a critical role to play. Many years ago, our first Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru had remarked: "All of us, of whatever religion we belong to, are equal children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations…..No nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action." Sixty years and more after Independence, this remains the leit motif of our liberal pluralistic democracy. Whatever be the circumstances, the police must not remain passive spectators, when deliberate efforts are made by communal elements or others to disturb the peace.
It is important that you have a proper understanding of the complex forces that are at work to-day in the country. You will need to avoid stereotypes that might wittingly, or unwittingly, enlarge the fault lines in our society. As the most visible symbol of our pluralistic democracy and national identity, you must create an image of the police as a fair and impartial entity. You will come under attack from those sections of society who are determined to undermine India’s liberal ethos, but this challenge will have to be met. You may rest assured that in carrying out your responsibilities and duties you will have the fullest support of our Government.
Another major challenge before the Police will be restoring the faith of the people - specially those belonging to religious and ethnic minorities and the weaker sections - in the impartiality and effectiveness of the police. To-day, aspersions are being made regarding police impartiality and capabilities, and while I recognize that much of this is motivated, you must face up to the reality that many are convinced that the police is less than fair. This is so even when policemen die in the line of duty.
You must introspect deeply why this is happening. An adverse image of the police undermines its efficiency. It makes your task much more difficult. Your work is with, and amongst, people, and you require their support and help. You need to win the trust of civil society. You need understanding from and rapport with the media. Above all you must carry conviction to one and all about your impartiality and honesty of purpose. This is fundamental if the police has to succeed in a democracy. An appropriate media policy, which could assist the police in gaining public confidence, through informing the public about what it needs to know and avoiding random or baseless speculation, is thus important.
In his address yesterday, the Home Minister would have covered the broad trends in the prevailing security scenario. I do not, hence, propose to enlarge upon this. All I would like to add is that while no one is questioning the professional competence of individual members of the Police Force, some misgivings do exist as to whether the police is adequately geared to deal with to-day’s complex security problems. The contours of internal security have changed fundamentally over the years, and the basic character of threats has become greatly enlarged and also more complicated. A question that is often posed is whether the police have adequately upgraded their skills, have an indepth understanding of to-day’s security problems, are technologically qualified, and have honed their abilities in every direction. In my interaction later to-day, I hope to hear from you what progress has been achieved in these areas.
This is particularly true of the threat posed by Left Wing Extremism – perhaps the most serious internal security threat that we face. It is evident that despite the efforts that have, and are being made, the measures taken so far have not yielded desired results. The police need to demonstrate greater resourcefulness and strengthen in term of both their intelligence machinery and their response capacity. This is equally true in some measure in regard to the threat from terrorist outfits. The inability of the Intelligence - Agencies and the police to obtain pinpointed and actionable intelligence and in time - has enabled these outfits to carry out some high-profile attacks.
There could be several reasons for this, and I am aware of some of them. The resources at the disposal of the police are often inadequate. The strength of personnel in police stations clearly needs to be augmented. There are far too many vacancies, and much larger numbers need to be recruited into the police, particularly into the civil police. The intelligence machinery at both the State and Central levels needs to be upgraded and should be more sophisticated. Police training has not kept pace with requirements. A quantum increase in the Police Budget across the country is also called for.
There is a great deal, notwithstanding all these limitations, that you could still do as leaders of the police force. To begin with, closer supervision at every level of the police hierarchy would yield better results. There is scope for effective connectivity between a policeman on duty and his headquarters through an effective and advanced communication system that could result in a 2-way flow of messages and data. With more senior level appointments in the Police, it should be possible to innovate better and create new instrumentalities for more effective policing. Training, in particular, can receive greater attention. Efforts can also be concentrated as much on the lowly beat constable as on members of Specialized Forces such as the Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh and the COBRA battalions of the CRPF.
I am aware that some work is already in place and the Ministry of Home Affairs and the various agencies under the MHA, including the Bureau of Police Research & Development, are engaged in this task. Yet, as I just stated, when it comes to high-tech crimes, terrorist situations, insurgent problems, or complex law & order matters, the perception remains that the police have a great deal of leeway to make up. This is something that has to be taken up urgently.
There is thus a great deal of pressure to re-energise and re-vitalise the police force. In 2005, while addressing the Conference of Directors-General of Police, I had recommended a ‘Police Mission’ approach with a view to achieving focused attention on different police related tasks. The intention was to create an image of the Indian Police as a professionally competent and technologically advanced force, one that would be an agent of socio-economic change endowed with a spirit of humanism. I am told that some steps have been taken in this direction and meetings of the ‘Micro Missions’ that were established have been held. On the ground, however, tangible results are yet to be seen. I think a Committee of the Directors-General of Police should assess what needs to be done so that the original spirit with which the idea of the ‘Police Mission’ was initiated, is re-created.
I believe that in the dynamic environment that we find ourselves, in which the pace, scale and complexity of changes are unprecedented, we need and should evolve a networked security architecture. Risks are often unforeseen in to-day’s work. Threats are often hidden. This has made the work of law and order professionals far more challenging than previously. We need to be able to anticipate better. To ensure a proper networked security architecture, I suggest the establishment of a Task Force which would initiate a 100-day plan to:
In a period of 100 days, the Task Force should come out with a road map regarding the detailed steps to be taken immediately, as also the subsequent steps to be taken over the next several months so as to translate this vision of an integrated net-centric capability into reality. The Task Force could be chaired by the National Security Adviser with suitable representation from the Central and State agencies.
I also suggest the setting up of a Standing Committee of State DGPs to advise the Government on police and police-related legal matters. This institutional mechanism could comprise five State DGPs taken on a rotation basis. Side by side with this, it would be advantageous if the MHA could devise a scheme by which a certain number of Executive level police personnel could be inducted into the Ministry to help with policy formulation and induce a degree of field experience into various formulations involving police matters.
I am sure the DIB and the DGPs and other delegates would work towards these objectives.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate you and through you the members of the Police Force for the selfless and untiring work that you have been performing. The Police are seldom praised and are almost always the butt of criticism. Nevertheless, the work done by the Police is invaluable and our nation has every reason to be thankful to the two million strong Police Force of the country.
Source: Prime Minister's Office, Government of India