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Challenged Cops


A cop’s job is largely underappreciated and underrated, particularly in India. It is mind-boggling to think of the challenges they are expected to face, and what they do achieve in the normal course of a day. In India, where the cop to citizen ratio is very poor, the difficulties are enormous. These include long working hours, poor living conditions and abysmal lack of training for the job. The .303 rifles in their hands are aptly symbolic of how far behind they are in being prepared for the challenges. To make things worse, the citizens do their very best to make the job even more difficult by refusing to follow the rules even in the most basic ways.
An important aspect of the cop-public interface has to do with understanding psychology. There is absolutely no training given in this regard and all the learning is on the job. Unfortunately, there are few role models worthy enough for the constabulary to follow. Skills learned early are the many ways bribes can be taken, the practice of which obviously takes away from focusing on the actual job. This obviously creates a bad image in the people’s minds, further complicating the interactions. Sadly, the media does not help, either, in projecting a proper perspective, failing too often to show the good work done.
Whether it is the widespread VIP syndrome that compels people to throw their weight about, or requires a horde of unnecessary gun-toting uniformed personnel ‘escorting’ them everywhere, the overall law and order situation takes a beating. The cops’ skills have to be honed in learning exactly how much clout the person they are dealing with has, or how much political backing the mob surrounding the police station can leverage, before initiating a response. Be it the police officer killed in the stand-off with ‘gau-rakshaks’ in Bulandshahar, or the cop facing suspension for having the gall to question an MLA at the gates of the Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha, they can never anticipate the turn events might take. It makes sense to put the government in the dock by making an issue of impeded access, but to pick on an individual cop is petty and will only serve to demoralise the force.
So much needs to be put right in the policing culture that, quite obviously, those concerned about the issue would not know where to start. However, it would help if the common people were made aware of the innumerable services the cop delivers, and adopted an empathetic and helpful attitude. The least they could do is not make the situation worse with their foolishness and short-sightedness.