The young and the uniform
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Are we, the law enforcing agencies of India, harnessing the power of youth? The youth of India is an asset that we have to engage for growth in all sectors including law enforcement. Recently I conducted a research and talked to 250 students doing post graduation in various colleges in Pune to assess their understanding of police, working and their own role vis-à-vis law enforcement. The impression that students carry is that police are unfriendly, corrupt and non-transparent in their dealings. Having admitted that they are not aware of the police working, students' impressions are based on tales in the media and movies. 98 per cent of the students surveyed exhibited keen interest in wanting to know about police working, lamenting the fact that not enough knowledge is imparted on the force in academics. Young minds are positive and creative. Constructively engaging them and explaining basic details on police related issues is a sound long term investment in the adult citizen of tomorrow. They would love to know what an FIR is, the difference between a cognizable and non cognizable case and police hierarchy. I have often been introduced as an inspector, because for a citizen the police department starts and ends with 'hawaldars and inspectors'. That there are other senior officers who can be approached for their grievances is not known to most.
The power of youth has been well harnessed by the Mohalla Committee Trust of Mumbai. 96 per cent of the students from Pune surveyed have shown willingness to work with police. Why not offer summer assignments to students with the police department? As DCP in Mumbai, I had accepted two students each from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and Nirmla Niketan College of Social Work to work with Daharavi, Matunga and Dadar police stations. We were concentrating on women in domestic disputes/distress. The students scored high on their commitment on dealing with crime against women, and also helped local police in handling other petty local disputes. It is typical of the young to go beyond the call of duty. The test lies in the ability to harness this virtue. And surprisingly, even the staff of surveyed police stations would look forward to the visits of the students and occasionally even confide in them about their personal problems. Police station level officers and even senior officers have often taken their help in understanding different programmes, utilising them for data analysis and sometimes even to design their presentations- thus making use of their computer skills.
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