On 8 July 2018, a report in TOI stated that 119 of the 122 Indian Police Service (IPS) trainee officers had failed in one or more subject in their final examination. The total number of trainees appearing for the exams is 136, with 14 being foreign police officers.
These trainee officers from the 2016 batch, had graduated from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVPNPA), despite failing their exams.
What is more disturbing is that these officers have failed to clear the subjects most important for the police services viz Evidence Act, Criminal Procedure code, Indian Penal code, and Forensic Science.
Not only this, they have failed in most of the outdoor physical activities. How can they carry out their duty as police officers if they do not even have the physical capabilities and basic knowledge, most relevant to their profession?
Shabby State of Education
These officers will soon take up the command of districts in the state cadres allotted to them. Their service rules being such, they will keep getting time-bound promotions and will be Director Generals of Police of their states in due course. It is difficult to imagine how these officers will be able to lead their men by example, and also design policies for the services.
Needless to say, they are wholly incompetent to shoulder such heavy responsibilities.
This episode is a reflection of the bankruptcy of the selection process for such important posts.
All that a candidate has to do is learn by rote for the written papers, and get good marks to qualify. The ‘personality assessment’ through an interview then becomes a mere formality. The selection process needs drastic reform and should focus on selecting psychologically suitable candidates instead of academically brilliant ones.
This also exposes the state of our education. Doctors and engineers are increasingly opting for the civil services because of the option to score in subjects they are familiar with.
This doubly jeopardizes society. These people not only deprive the society of the benefits of their (specific) professional knowledge but also turn out to be substandard civil servants, ever willing to sidestep from core functions to some other sedentary position.
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These professional degrees (such as MBBS) are often pursued not for practicing in that field, but as stepping stone for the civil services – because these are seen as much more lucrative in terms of quality of life, perks, privileges and – offer a chance to generate extra income. No wonder many young officers in recent times have been caught indulging in corrupt activities.
Incompetency Pervades Police Ranks
The NPA and other such institutions for the training of young civil servants need to shift focus from elitist training, which inculcates a sense entitlement, to one which orients them to become facilitators. The career progression rules, which ensure that all of them reach the top within a stipulated time period, also need to be suitably modified to ensure that only the most competent are promoted. I was surprised to learn that if an IPS officer is superseded but promoted at a later stage, his seniority is restored. The system therefore ensures that once these officers enter service, they have no incentive to excel in their profession.
The training standards in the police academy also need to be upgraded.
I was once in conversation with a retired DG of Police, and he pointed out that law which is the most important subject, gets very little emphasis in the IPS training. The TOI report also points out the weakness of trainees in these subjects. It is therefore important that the syllabus is upgraded to suit the requirement of modern-day policing. I have visited the NPA on a couple of occasions and found that the attitude of both trainers and trainees towards physical fitness is lackadaisical. Their failure in physical and outdoor activities is a result of this attitude.
Police Training Needs Drastic Reform
Another reason for the low standards in police training is the poor selection of instructors, who are, for the most part, not selected on the basis of their instructional abilities. Normally, those police personnel who are either unfit to practice in the field or wish to stay close to their hometown for want of a stable family life, are posted here. Such people may be good human being, but mostly are below par instructors.
Such officers who do not have the desire to work hard at the beginning of their careers are not likely to become good leaders. No wonder that the public has no faith in the police, and such leaders are further unlikely to instill confidence in the system.
As per the present rules in the force, it is these officers who will also command the Central Armed Forces involved in important national security tasks. Wouldn’t handing over the reigns of these forces to such incompetent officers be akin to comprising national security?
(The writer retired from the BSF as an additional director-general and can be reached at @sood_2. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)