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Indian police service: Career for those with a drive to help society

The efficiency and discipline of the police force is heavily dependent upon officers of the top-rung IPS cadre
The image of the men in khakhi, the upholders and enforcers of the law may have taken a severe drubbing in recent times but the Indian Police Service (IPS) still attracts considerable talent, even if for the wrong reasons. Given the vital role a policeman, particularly a police officer plays in society, it is imperative that only those with a high degree of morality, aptitude, and desire to help society should choose a career in the Indian Police Service.

In essence the job description of policemen is to protect people and property, detect and prevent crime, enforce the law and bring criminals to book. They are also required to control traffic — in the street and other public places — deal with all types of emer-gencies ranging from rescue operations for victims of train and air crashes, to helping a child marooned atop a tree, and to generally provide assistance, advice, and information to citizens.

Constables who constitute about 80 percent of the total number of over 18 million policemen and officers across the country are the most visible members of the service and usually the first point of contact with the citizenry. Those who have passed their Plus Two exams are eligible to become constables in the police services of state governments. And there are many takers: Mumbai alone has 40,000 constables.

STUDY PROGRAMMES. The efficiency and discipline of the police force is heavily dependent upon its leadership — officers of the IPS cadre. Top-rung officers above the assistant commissioners level are selected from among successful candidates who clear the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) examination conducted every year in May-June by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). Currently only 100 officers are inducted into the IPS annually and are allotted to each state of the Indian Union at the discretion of the Central government.

After completing two years of gruelling training at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad, and an orientation programme in the police training college of the state to which they are posted, IPS cadre officers begin their careers as assistant superintendents (equivalent to assistant commissioners) on a monthly salary of Rs.10,000–12,000 plus perquisites such as government accommodation, car allowance, telephone etc.

For the great majority who are not inducted into the IPS by the UPSC, graduates in any discipline who are less than 25 years of age, with a minimum height of 165 cm and who fulfil all the physical fitness standards prescribed, are eligible to write the examination conducted by the state public service commissions. Those who average over 60 percent marks in this examination are asked to appear for an interview before a selection board.

Candidates thus selected for the sub inspectors grade have to undergo training for three semesters of five months each in police training colleges located in every state of the Union. The training regimen is tough and consists of lectures and outdoor activity. Candidates who qualify in the final examinations of the third semester are posted to various police stations for six months practical training. Since a large number of women are also joining police ranks, there are separate training colleges and a separate cadre for them. The highest position a sub inspector can rise to is assistant commissioner of police.

To supplement state-level police forces are the Central Reserve Police Force, the Central Industrial Security Force, and the Railway Protection Force. Other auxilliary police and law and order maintenance units are the Border Security Force, Assam Rifles, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, and the Jammu and Kashmir militia. Recruitment into these auxilliary forces is direct.

Theres no dearth of talent in the IPS and other police services. Professionals like doctors, chartered accountants, MBAs, and engineers write the IAS exam, of whom 100 are selected for the IPS. Quite obviously they prefer government jobs which provide security, authority, and opportunity to render public service,” says Rajnish Seth, additional commissioner of police, Byculla, Mumbai, who was inducted into the IPS in 1987 and after a two-year training regimen was assigned to his home state, Maharashtra.

An alumnus of Delhis top-ranked St. Stephens College and the Government Law College, Mumbai, who has also done a stint with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for four years, Seth claims that police services across the country are being rapidly contemporised and modernised. For the Mumbai Police we spent nearly Rs.69 crore on modernisation during 2001-03. The new thinking is that since the ratio of police to people is not comfortable and we cant afford to have a larger police force, we need to equip and upgrade the existing force to make it mobile and more responsible. This has had a positive effect on the morale of police officers and the constabulary. The public can look forward to better standards of performance from us,” says Seth.

However, Seth warns that young citizens joining the police services are likely to be heavily loaded with work and have to confront complex and multifaceted problems. When I was selected for the IPS, there were 80 in my batch. Today, around 100 IPS officers are inducted annually for the entire country when the requirement is much greater given the rising population and entry of educated anti-socials into the ranks of criminals. The IPS and police service in general is not for young people looking for a comfortable and indolent life

Certainly for socially aware individuals, a police officers job could prove very satisfying and rewarding. And given the negative image of the police currently, it is all the more imperative that citizens with integrity and an awareness of moral values sign up to police the nation more efficiently and honestly

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