Face of service

Face of service

They appear on the roads when Bangalore happens to be on verge of a gridlock. They man the traffic, clear the snarl and lend a sense of the direction and smoothness to the City’s burgeoning vehicular population.

Dressed in plain clothes, some times in blue attire, these men and women may lack the authority of khaki. But that has not stopped them from enforcing a semblance of order. For these people, mostly men, are the members of Civil Defence and Home Guards, whose maxim is that the community is the first line of defence.

The cornerstone of Civil Defence and Home Guards force is the belief that the public has to play a strong role in the betterment of society, especially at the local level. While the
government will do well in upgrading its equipment and intelligence, it is the volunteers from among the general public who lend teeth to it. They assist the men and women in
uniform as an auxiliary service in times of emergencies like earthquakes, floods, fire and even in day to day situations like clearing traffic mess.

Civil Defence and Home Guards in Bangalore City is divided into 50 divisions. For every 300 families in the City, there is one civil defence personnel who is known as
Suraksha Mitra. This person will be responsible for training the local civil defence battalion in fire fighting, rescue and in first-aid. Those trained have to be responsible for the security and welfare of the people living in that particular area. They have to come together as a force and act together in an emergency to mitigate any disastrous consequences. “Civil defence volunteers form the eyes and ears of the community. They are trained to handle any emergency situation. They are the first level of support before any authorities begin to act,” says Jija Hari Singh, Director General of Police, Civil Defence and Home Guards.

Ashok B Wajre, Commandant Home Guard and Civil Defence Academy, says they train people in fire fighting, casualty management during man-made and natural disasters and in communications. “When communication channels are clear, people will communicate better and there would be a better rapport among people. And this will help avert unnecessary disturbances,” reasons Ashok.

The civil defence personnel have held over 100 training sessions in IT companies,
city colleges and schools.

People who have taken time off their work and have volunteered their services to Civil Defence include IT professionals, students and teachers say they always wanted to help the community in one way or the other and have been involved in community service. Jamal, a pharmacist, says he had always been active in NCC in school and college and wanted to join the Army but destiny had other plans for him. Through civil defence he hopes to work among the people and says he’s ready to travel across the country to help and aid victims of natural and man made disasters.

Capt V K Kadam, an IT professional, says, “What better way to help people than through a body that is recognised and empowered by the government. There are a whole lot of NGOs that work to better the lives of people but when you work through something that is powerful, the credibility is incomparable.”  He says the fact that he is associated with an outfit that is non-partisan in body and spirit thrills him.

Arifulla Shariff always wanted to do his bit to change the world.  “If I can work to eliminate illegal activities in the City through better communication among the people, then why not work through Civil Defence and Home Guards,” he reasons.

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