Separate exam for IPS is a good idea

The cadre of Indian Police Service (IPS) officers is reportedly fuming at the proposed new step of the Central government to hold separate examination for the selection of IPS officers at the time of recruitment. But they ought to realise it is the right step for the betterment of Indian police.

It all started in April last year when the standing committee of Parliament felt that IPS is not the first choice of many officers who any day would have liked to go for IAS but have landed up in IPS by default due to their lower order of merit in the Civil Services Exam (CSE) held by the Public Service Commission of India. This exam is common to 22 central services. These services include IAS, IPS, audit, railways. Last month the Union home ministry has started serious consultations with the state governments on the issue of separating IPS exams.

Yes, it is true that a large number of IPS police officers are against this move. They say if police work requires different orientation, then so do diplomacy, auditing and administration. If the CSE works well for everyone else why single out the IPS? This matter is not as cut and dry as these IPS officers want everyone to believe.

All this was understandable way back in the fifties when police officers of IPS cadre were hardly required to bear arms or to lead policemen in near war like situations. Things have changed over a period not only in India but the whole world in general. Today there is full fledged insurgency going on in J&K and North Eastern states. Naxals with sophisticated weapons are dominating 200 districts out of 600 districts in India. Weapons and explosives have become so lethal that a single terrorist can cause considerable damage.

Leadership traits

In this scenario to lead two million strong police force of India, we need police officers with basic leadership traits, who are able to take personal risk of life and limb, be able to set an example to their men and have a flair for handling weapons of various types.

Surely an officer selected based on a common exam and by default can at best do a desk job, but can not be a leader to his men in the rough and tumble of changing ground situations.

Besides among all the other 21 Central services only IPS requires handling of men and leading them in adverse conditions. Needless to say in the current scenario there has to be a separate selection process for the IPS officers. It should not end at examination level alone. If right from police constables to DSP rank, the selection process in police requires physical fitness test why not for an IPS selectee? In addition he must be tested for his leadership qualities and intelligence so very important in dealing with adverse situations. For this, the help of Indian Armed Forces Services Selection Board could be taken.

IPS cadre is currently having a stranglehold on top echelons of the para-military forces, armed police of states, intelligence agencies and SPG because they all come under the home ministry. This they do at the cost of the specialist cadre officers of these forces who come up the hard way battling insurgents and jehadis. The big question is what training these IPS cadre officers have to be head of these specialised forces with state-of-the-art weapons? Pen pushing, writing FIRs or managing political bosses is no substitute for real life training required on the ground to lead these specialist forces.

For far too long the IPS cadre of India had the cake and ate it too. If they want to command these specialist forces they must undergo rigorous training in a special police academy. In addition to police work training they must be made physically very fit. They must be able to handle all weapons used by police and paramilitary forces. After their joining the IPS, they should be made to serve some Army infantry unit for a year or two before taking up their civil police responsibilities.

These changes in selection and training process will make the IPS officers capable of setting examples to their men and change the face of the current police force in India.

This is nothing new. During the British days many army officers were inducted into police force. Even after China war of 1962 the Short Service and Emergency Commission officers of Indian Army had 33 per cent quota in IPS which was quietly done away with by the IPS lobby as the time went by. It is time we stop empire building by various vested interests and do what is best for the country. The armed forces and police forces must learn to work in tandem and not in water tight compartments.

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