Monday, January 19, 2009

Police Reforms in India

Police reforms in India is long overdue. The Indian Police Act 1861 (that's right, it no typo error. An act passed Four years after the Sepoy Mutiny) is surprisingly the binding precedent on all state police organisations in the country. Perhaps no country in the world follows an outdated law as we do.

The most glaring inefficiencies of the Indian police system was revealed during the recent Mumbai terror carnage. It took just ten heavily armed men to wreck an unprecedented havoc and destruction. Literally they were parading as killing machines. The Mumbai police was brought to its knees during that fateful night. Sadly our thana level police officers, armed with lathis, had to face the might of AK-47s and grenades.

In many of the CCTV footage of the terrorists, literally the police and public were running away from the those killer maniacs. It was so painful to see policemen hiding behind Victorian gothic arches and crevices (at the CST station). We can't blame them, after all most of these Railway Protection Force personnel were un-armed. (I believe only officers above the rank of Sub-Inspector in RPF are armed !!) So the killers had a free run for hours together, gambolling( I can't think of a better word) across the quiet night of the Mumbai, with a free licence to kill.

Conventional wisdom suggests that the more you engage the armed terrorists, better are the changes of the eliminating them. When half the police on ground are barely armed, serious questions are raised on the level of preparedness of the Indian police to meet up the challenges of the law enforcement.

The unmitigated valour and courage shown by the police officers is commendable. In fact NDTV reported that one of the police constable outside Cama Hsopital, actually tried warning the terrorists, mistaking them for innocent students, of the impending danger. Sadly, humanism has no place in the jargon of terrirosm. Needless to say he was killed. The tragic death of three senior IPS offciers(like sitting ducks in a car) is sordid testimony to the lack of police infrastructure. (they ran out of vehicles) To make matters worse terrorists use the same vehicle, a Toyota Qualis, (after dumping the offciers) to spread further carnage. Luckily, this juggernaut was finally subdued an hour later.

To tackle with the new threats posed by terrorism, police reforms must be accorded highest priority. Operational structure must also be radically reformed. Every thana level of constable must be a self contained warrior to meet these typ of challenges. Weaponry is a must for all police personnel, starting from the lowest level of Constable. Co-ordinated communication and more importantly strong back-up response must be institutionalised.

A 18 year old Israeli IDF soldier(where Military drafting is compulsory) is ten times better equipped than a average policeman on street today. But infrastructure alone won't fix the problem, the issue of motivation and maintaining the morale of the force must also be looked into. Maintaining law and order is one the parmaount duties of a police force. Perhaps as our Home Minister Mr P Chidambaram succinctly terms it, " Eternal vigilance is the price we pay for democracy". Vigilance on the part of the public as well the law enforcement agencies is the greatest need of the hour.

Private-public partnerships on Police modernisation can also seriously studied. For example, Hyundai Motors India Ltd. donated Accent cars to Chennai City Traffic Police (CCTP). Chennai is perhaps the only metropolitan city in India, with Traffic police in state of the art sedans. we need more of these partnerships for effective policing.

I prophesize that in the near future most of the major railway stations in the country is going to be equipped with X-ray baggage scanner (like in airports) and latest security detection technologies. (already the Taj Hotels are planning to install security systems of their own). hence funding these modernisation measures is going to be an onerous task. Private players must be roped in to meet this funding requirements.

This time I have focused mainly on policing infrastructure reforms areas. But there are also other issues like corruption, Human rights preservation, Civil/ criminal procedure reforms, administrative reforms, jail reforms, citizen- police interface etc., that merits our attention. I propose to express my views in my future blogs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A story of Sex

SEX...its kind of a catchy word. The very mention of the word is enough for our minds conjures some wild associations (unless of course a Chemist nerd would associate with selenium halide SeX). The truth I guess we are at some point in life fascinated and excited about sex.

So the first question that props up in our discussion is whether or not we humans obsessed with sex? The answers are quite obvious from our everyday experiences. Lindsay Lohan in thongs would certainly make it to the first page of any tabloids, brothels of Sona Gahji in Kolkatta is only growing by the day, Monica Lewinsky affair or more recently Eliot Spitzer (Guest 9) episode are all compelling examples humans obsessions with sex. After all its no wonder that prostitution is the second oldest profession in the world, next to of course farming.

So what is it about sex that makes it so fascinating, yet to so embarrassing that we hardly share with others? Even animals do have sex, but from their perspective sex is just a minor part of life functions. (ensuring their survival takes up half of their life functions, I guess.) Our nearest animal cousin, the chimpanze monkey copulates in less than five minutes on each occasion. (Source: BBC documentary " Journey of Life") (Also reminds me of Tamil movies which have quite notriously mastered the picturization of "First Night" scenes, followed only by mouring of the dead and perhaps "Ponnu pakkara" scenes).

My theory is that originally we shared the same reason for indulging in sexual acts as our bretherns in the animal kingdom (i.e. to perpetuate the species). But as time passed on and humans emerged the masters of this world, sex become more of an elaborate ritual coupled with symbolisms.

I spoke of symbolisms in the sense aspects like G-spot, virginity, MILF, dildos etc. They constitute the symbols and instruments to aid this ritual of sex. Certainly a look into any porn web portals on cane find abundant references to these mere symbolisms. my belief is that it these symbols that fuel the obsession of sex.

Jawarharlal Nehru in his book , " Dicovery of India" took a strong exception to Mohandas K Gandhi's* remarks that any sex apart fron the purpose of the progeny perpetuation is a sin. So why is that sex which most of us do indulge, is considered a vice before the altar of spiritualism?
Religion don't prohibit sex, but why do we use religion as an offcial sanction to permanently render sex as a lowly taboo subject?

Also the question of what constitutes sex must be defined. One of my friends remarked that sex is a performing art. Perhaps in a way its true as the artists here are performing some of the finest artistic expression mankind can ever concieve. I guess sex is more of a emotional, phyiscal and to some extent a spiritual excercise wherein un-conditional confidence is reposed on the enagaing partner. Its a kind of reassurance that we demand and get from the partner.

Whatever be it, I must admit that humans are obsessed with sex, with only the degree of obsession varying from time to time. But sex is also an intensely private subject, hence the experiences of sex is usually not considered worth sharing. I guess the symbolisms that have come to plague the sublime nature of sex, is bound to stay. After all instead of personally experimenting our own sex adventures, we tend to rely on these symbols as a guide book.

After all sex is supreme.

Note: I intentionally avoided "Mahatma" as it was not a part of his name, rather a title. If that is the case, I need to address Nehru as "Pandit", "Kalaignar" Karunanidhi and it complicates things. So for the sake of uniformity, I have deicded to use only the names of persons.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rights, Authority and its excercise

Humans are generally obsessed with rights. Historical documents like Magna Carta of England, Cyrus' tablet or our very own Emperor Ashoka's edicts are examples of humans attempting to enshrine the rights.

Most of democracies today grants certain rights and liberties to its citizenry. Some of the rights we just take it for granted, like the right to live etc. For most of the citizenry rights are just taken for granted, rather only when the rights are denied, we raise hue and cry over its deprivation.

Rights, by their very nature, is an anathema to power.(or to exertion of authority) But humans, as a collective entity, have always subjected themselves to power and authority. We always prefer a leader to guide us , right? Anarchism, a philosophy which advocates complete elimination of authority( or government) is yet to be successfully implemented any where in this world. hence the question of eliminating authority is impractical, at least for now. So how do we explain this contradiction. I guess like all things in life, even politics is a mix of rights and authority. Democracies gives greater priority in expanding rights, while a autocratic system tends to extend the scope of authority.

There is also a curious question of exercising the said rights granted to individuals. Mere granting of rights does not imply an individual has to exercises it. In the parody movie Monty Phyton: Life of Brian, one of the disgruntled folk talks about the desire to have babies. It is every woman's right to conceive (or abort) a baby, but the queer complication in the movie is that the person who wants to have a baby is a gent!! So finally after due deliberations they agree on the fact that every male has the right to have babies, except that this right cannot be exercised by the said individual due to factors beyond one's control. The funniest part is that they passed a resolution demanding the grant of such rights from the imperialist Romans.( they were the occupying Jerusalem , in this case they represent the authority).

So do we need rights that can be hardly be exercised?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Idea of India- Whats in a nation?

During the recent Mumbai terror carnage, folks in the media questioned whether the very idea of India is under attack. The phrase was quite a catchy one and set me on a never ending trajectory of thoughts.

First and foremost the question arises as what constitute a nation? By nation do we only refer to the geographic territory? What do we mean by the rhetoric "to defend the nation"? What are we defending here? Is it only the geographic boundary? Or are we defending more than that, like a nation's values and honour?(remember the French were vanquished in both the World Wars from the homeland, but then remarkably the idea of France did not disappear by it) Adding to the confusion is that for many of us (that includes me) have still no idea on what the "idea of India" actually means.

The seminal seeds of a nationhood was perhaps sowed in the mid-nineteenth century Europe. German unification under Kaiser Wilhelm I (lets not forget Otto Van Bismarck too), Italy under Emmanuel and the French under various Republics facade, are some the poioneering examples of nationhood in the making. In fact the idea of nationhood is not that old in many of the Euorpean nations today. In fact less than a century of emergence of nation states in Europe (Germany for example in 1871), the idea of an Indian nation was born. (in 1947 of course)

Imperialism has sowed these seeds to many of colonised and third world countries too. As Winston Churchill once notroiously remarked, "India is no more a nation than the Equator", the idea of India sprouted very rapidily. It indeed a miracle that by 15th August 1947, 565 Princely Kingdoms united with the British India, to form the India that we know today. ( once again due credits Sardar Vallabhai Patel, India's answer to Bismarck)

In as much as the idea of India emerged, the idea of Pakistan- the homeland for Muslims of Indian sub-continent also sprouted. The merits or demerits of Partition of course is beyond the scope of this trajectory of thoughts. But the example of Pakistan's partition( or Bangladesh emergence in 1971) highights one important lesson. A nation cannot be founded upon unifying trait or characteristics. In 1947, the founders of Pakistan assumed that Islam would unite the East and West Pakistan together. But the idea of Pakistan failed miserbly in this case. (partly India's mischief is to be blamed for the dissolution).

Therefore for a nation to survive, it cannot be based on a uniform trait. Belonging to a nation does not imply that every individual should possess a homogenous attributes.(say language, religious beliefs etc.) Rather my gut feeling says it is the diveristy that strengtens the idea of nationhood. Any nation that fails to accomodate this diversity is only paving way for secession tendencies. Sri Lanka's Sinhala only policy, "standardisation" of marks are examples of a nation trying to impose a homogenous identity on its population, under the guise of social empowerment.

(to be continued...)