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PERSPECTIVE

A Tribune Special
Policing the people
Problem-oriented approach is central to police functioning, says Sankar Sen
P
olicing, despite many existing stereotypes, is an extraordinarily complex endeavour. By the very nature of the function, the police are an anomaly in a free society.  Illustration:
Kuldeep Dhiman



EARLIER STORIES

Prosecute Raju
January 10, 2009
Asatyam
January 9, 2009
Right to ask
January 8, 2009
Chief Justice acts
January 7, 2009
Fund of goodwill
January 6, 2009
Painkillers, not a cure
January 5, 2009
Fight against terrorism
January 4, 2009
Warning from Assam
January 3, 2009
LeT’s admission
January 2, 2009
Hasina returns to power
January 1, 2009
Generational change
December 31, 2008
THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS


Human rights: A tool of social revolution
by Justice Pritam Pal
T
HE rights of man have been the concern of all civilisations from time immemorial. The people of earlier age were familiar with human rights. The concept of human rights is not new for us too.

OPED

Looking ahead
There is much that can be done this year
by B.G. Verghese
A
new year always provides occasion for stocktaking and looking ahead. 2008 started with a bang but ended with something of a whimper. Twelve months ago, India seemed confident and on a roll with what many saw as a booming economy in a land of problems but far greater promise.

On Record
Going organic no option for farmers: Kalkat
G.S. Kalkat
by Jangveer Singh
Intensive agriculture made Punjab what it is today. Calls for increasing organic farming have been partly stymied by the Punjab State Farmers’ Commission (PSFC) which, in a report, maintains that taking the organic path for wheat and paddy would result in sharp fall in yield.
                                                                              
Dr G.S. Kalkat

Profile
Hasina: A career of highs and lows
by Harihar Swarup
Sheikh Hasina’s assertion, soon after her landslide
victory in elections that Bangladesh soil would not be
allowed to carry out terror acts against its neighbours
has come as a great relief to India. Soon after her
victory, she also promised to dismantle all terror
camps and flush out militants, including that of
the Huji, was welcomed in Guwahati particularly
where five people died and 67 injured in three
bomb blasts recently.

 


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A Tribune Special
Policing the people
Problem-oriented approach is central to police
functioning, says Sankar Sen

Policing, despite many existing stereotypes, is an extraordinarily complex
endeavour. By the very nature of the function, the police are an anomaly in
a free society.

In a democratic society, as H. Goldstein puts it, “they are invested with a great deal of authority under a system of governance in which the authority is reluctantly granted, and when granted, sharply curtailed.”

Nevertheless, successful functioning of the police in a democratic society depends upon its ability to maintain a certain degree of order without which a free society cannot function. The strength of a democratic society, the quality of life enjoyed by the citizens, are determined in a large measure by the ability of the police to discharge their duties efficiently.

Police organisations have some of their own peculiar characteristics. Police officers, unlike Army units, are spread out in field and not subject to direct supervision. The individual officers possess awesome authority to deprive people of liberty, and even of their lives, and this authority of necessity is delegated to individuals to be exercised in most instances without proper review and control.

In western democratic countries, particularly in the US, the prevalent professional model of policing places a high value on police being apolitical. It advocates tight discipline, efficient use of personnel and technology as well as high standards of training. However, the professional model came under enormous pressure in the late 1960s and early 70s with increase in crime, civil rights protests movements and complaints of minority groups against the police.

Researches on police and police operations conducted during the 1970s revealingly showed limitations of practices like random patrol, rapid response, follow-up criminal investigations that constituted the bedrocks of policing for many years.

The lessons drawn from these studies challenged the value of standard operating procedures of the police and revealed that police resources have been invested in a limited number of practices based on some simplistic concepts of the police role.

The researchers also provided some other important insights. These are: police deal with a range of problems many of which are not criminal in nature; arrest and prosecution alone, traditional functions of the police, do not resolve problems; the police can use a variety of methods to redress the recurrent problems and design different solutions to solve them. Police use a wide range of methods, formal and informal, in getting the job done. Law enforcement is only one of the methods among the many.

It was Goldstein who first coined the term “problem-oriented policing” in 1979. He felt that professional policing only takes a very narrow view of policing and “perpetuates the conflict between the concern for operating efficiently and concern for substance”. He views problem-oriented policing as a comprehensive plan for improving policing in which high priority is attached to addressing substantive problems that face the police.

In professional model of policing, the major emphasis is on handling incidents effectively. The efficiency of policing is judged by how speedily they solve the problem assigned to them and thus police officers often deal with the superficial manifestations of deeper problems.

The first step in problem-oriented policing is to move beyond just handling the incidents and take a more in-depth interest by understanding and appraising the forces and factors giving rise to them. The problem thus becomes the unit of police work and serves as a reminder that the job of policing is much more than dealing with crime and criminal law. The police must proactively try to solve the problems rather than react to the consequences of the problem.

A crucial feature of policing is that it seeks solutions tailored to specific problems. Arrest and law enforcement are not abandoned, but an effort is made in each situation to analyse the problem carefully to find out which of the alternative responses are best suited for effectively dealing with the problem.

The notion of choosing the tool that best suits the problem instead of grabbing the most familiar and convenient tool in the toolbox lies close to the heart of problem solving.

Goldstein advocated that police must recognise their role in society as broader than just enforcing the criminal law. At the same time, he argued that the police mandate may not be unlimited and all-encompassing.

According to him, if the police become involved in every government and quasi-government activities, they risk eroding the balance of power in local and national governments. Like the army, there is a sound political rationale for keeping police out of certain forms of decision-making. There is an obvious danger that the police agencies may over-extend their resources and try to achieve objectives about which they have little or no expertise.

Problem-oriented approach requires careful search for alternatives by the police. This is a legitimate enterprise central to police functioning. The police should be dissuaded from applying a single response haphazardly to a wide range of different types of problems.

However, search for alternatives should be preceded by a careful analysis of the new problems of concern. Striking out in a new direction without thinking through the problem can be counter-productive and has to be discouraged.

In problem solving, the police play the role of helping the community rather than depending on police power and criminal justice system control. The police have also tried to make use of specific forms of social control inherent in existing relationships, like parents over children rather than depending on police power for control. Indeed, there are enormous potentials for making greater use of the other social control mechanism.

There are critical differences between community policing and problem-oriented policing. They have different goals and methods. It reduced Goldstein’s intensive analysis of community-wide problems to a more general street problem solving which tends to focus on problems smaller in scope. Officers analyse these and tend to draw on personal experience for responses. It is more analytical than knee-jerk law enforcement.

Lay members of the community assume that the police have much more authority and capacity than they actually possess. Explaining the constraints and limitations of the police to the community will enable the community to realise the difficulties and limitations under which the police operate. This will ease the pressure on the police and police suggestions and proposals will evoke better response from the community.

In a democratic society in which complex social problems will always place a heavy demand on the police, it is necessary to strive constantly, and not periodically for a form of policing that is not only effective but also humane and civil, that not only protects individual rights and other values basic to a democracy but strengthens our commitment to them.

Of late, initiatives have been taken up to expand problem-oriented policing programmes. The work sponsored by Britain’s Home Office has special significance. It introduces the situational approach — a concept that emphasises changing the environment (rather than changing the people) and the need to concentrate on specific types of offences or locales.

However, problem-oriented policing requires incorporating these efforts to the mainstream of policing and making them an integral part of the police management and operations.

The writer, a former IPS officer, is Senior Fellow, Institute of Social
Sciences, New Delhi

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Human rights: A tool of social revolution
by Justice Pritam Pal

THE rights of man have been the concern of all civilisations from time immemorial. The people of earlier age were familiar with human rights. The concept of human rights is not new for us too.

Indian history is warranted by the fact that human rights jurisprudence has always progressed smoothly through a historical path and never lost its link with the past. The philosophers of Vedic age opine that human rights, earlier called as “natural rights”, are inherent in our nature without which we cannot live as human beings.

A lot needs to be done for a just, peaceful and humane society where human rights of every individual are respected. Unfortunately, human rights abuses continue unabated. These include extrajudicial killings; fake encounters; custodial deaths in police lock-up and excessive use of force by security forces in disturbed areas; arbitrary arrest and continued detention, prolonged detention while undergoing trial; occasional limits on freedom of the press and freedom of movement; harassment and arrest of human rights monitors; extensive societal violence against women; female bondage, forced prostitution and female infanticide; and discrimination against those with disabilities.

Human rights and fundamental freedoms allow us to develop fully and use our human qualities, our intelligence, our talents and our conscience and to satisfy our spiritual and other needs. They are based on mankind’s increasing demand for a life in which the inherent dignity and worth of each human being will receive respect and protection.

It is time to analyse the scope and sphere of human rights. What are the actual limits of human rights, the extent of practice, what to ignore and what should be given due importance? A lot is being done in this field today. Yet, there is the flip side too. The term is being misused by many which is unfair and immoral. An adequate system of checks and balances might help solve this problem.

India has seen a lot of development in human rights. The Constituent Assembly tried to make the Constitution which would enable Indians to “wipe every tear from every eye” and free the country from ignorance, hunger, poverty, squalor, exploitation and discrimination. The Supreme Court has left no stone unturned to keep us the standards and promises made in the Constitution.

The latest judicial trend reveals that Indian courts are enthusiastic in using the law as a tool of social revolution. The process of social change through law involves not only the legislature but law courts also interact and react through interpretative device.

Former Chief Justice P.N. Bhagwati highlighted the new swing and significance of the judicial process. The theatre of the law is fast changing and the problems of the poor are coming to the forefront. The court has to innovate new methods and devise new strategies for bringing justice to those who are denied their basic human rights and to whom, freedom and liberty has no meaning.

A study of notable cases of the Supreme Court proves that Indian judiciary has echoed strong sentiments in favour of the rights of the downtrodden, poor, women and children. The scope of Article 21 of the Constitution has been widened in the light of changing values of Indian society. The new interpretation of Article 21 has brought about a vital change in human rights jurisprudence.

Though a lot has been done, we find the picture as a mix of many successes with occasional failure due to strange conditions in the country. India is proud of its successful national movement against the foreign rule, but it is shameful that we are facing internal failures in creating a just social order beyond the burden of caste and gender deprivation despite 60 years of Independence.

The United Nations’ first Secretary-General, U. Thant once said, “The establishment of human rights provides the foundations upon which rests the political structure of human freedom; the achievement of human freedom generates the will as well as the capacity for economic and social progress; the attainment of economic and social progress provides the basic for true peace”. He rightly saw in the promotion and protection of human rights in the “ascending spiral”, as he called it, of human freedom and progress, prosperity and peace.

We still have to go a long way to inculcate a human rights culture to get ride of the unjust society which denies the masses their right to be human.We must not let the concept of human rights get corrupted just because some of us want to take undue advantage of the same.

We should have a caring and sensitive society, a society which does not pay lip-service only to human rights but sees to it that they are available to all classes, castes and sections of society, fulfilling the ethos of our Indian vedic culture, denoting Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina (Happiness for all).

The writer is Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh

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Looking ahead
There is much that can be done this year
by B.G. Verghese

A new year always provides occasion for stocktaking and looking ahead. 2008 started with a bang but ended with something of a whimper. Twelve months ago, India seemed confident and on a roll with what many saw as a booming economy in a land of problems but far greater promise.

Growth had touched 9 per cent. Indian companies were making prized corporate acquisitions abroad and the Indo-US civil nuclear deal seemed to suggest a measured step towards a seat at the global high table. India mattered. It still does. But many egos were bruised by year-end when some ground truths, airily brushed aside earlier, were cruelly exposed.

If growth and the nuclear deal were the high points, the Mumbai shock and recessionary impact on the economy represent the lows, with a number of intermediary spikes and troughs. The Singur “satyagraha”, the Amarnath Yatra “land” agitation, the devastating Kosi dam breach, continuing Naxal violence, rampaging Hindutva fundamentalism, editorial collapse in sections of the media (especially the 24x7 news networks), the Gujjar andolan, Raj Thackeray-type phenomena, the compromise with corruption, and the continuing criminalisation of politics and the politicisation of crime exemplify the negatives.

The recession, of course, is part of a global trend triggered, as Dr Manmohan Singh described it, by excesses of casino and crony capitalism. That said, growth has slowed and could decline further, exposing inherent weaknesses in the economy.

As the rich get “poorer”, the poor and unemployed will loom larger in the reckoning, as they are doing in China, for that is where social explosions could threaten real danger. However, every crisis presents opportunities which must be seized. Stagnation and even regression in agriculture, education and health care, a crippling lack of infrastructure, and “jobless growth” in sectors where the big investments have been made were evident; but remedial action was halting.

One bright patch has been the National Rural Employment Guarantee programme, which has a huge transformative potential if wisely and boldly followed through.

The recession offers opportunity to shift gears and engage neglected sectors – especially agriculture and both physical and social infrastructure or human resource development. Pump priming here will not merely assist recovery but strengthen the foundations and lay the basis for a more balanced leap forward in the years ahead.

The Kosi disaster, for instance, can be used virtually to re-engineer North Bihar physically, socially and economically to convert this sink of feudal-casteist oppression and despair into a thriving breadbasket humming with a variety of secondary activities.

We need to narrow disparities and promote social investments and rational lifestyles, too, if the world is not to be trapped in a vicious and accelerating global competition for the earth’s depleting natural resources.

The message from the twin crises facing the country is that vote-bank politics by parties and “leaders” to seek power for pelf rather than purpose is not viable. Recent elections show that people want good governance, transparency and accountability and not self-serving and divisive mantras that promise jam tomorrow.

The Mumbai terror strike may appear to be a far cry from these ground realities, but a closer and deeper look reveals interconnections that stem from systemic rot. Police and intelligence reforms have been willfully thwarted by the political class and vested interests within the system for decades. Yet, the Chandrayan moon-probe and even the single individual gold medal won in the Beijing Olympics indicates that both as individuals and as a society we can do a great deal with application and a clear mission.

The nuclear deal was far more than an energy issue – important as that is going to be in the longer run when the country is enabled to switch to a renewable, clean fast breeder thorium cycle. It has meant breaking out of nuclear apartheid and an end to dual-use technology sanctions that was a growth retardant in many ways.

It brings India to the negotiating table as an equal partner and not as a supplicant. We will have to engage the world as an emerging power and assume greater responsibilities in the maintenance of peace and stability in which task many would like to partner us.

If we are to do this with any success, the first task must be to build peace and stability in South Asia and the near neighbourhood. The restoration of democracy in Nepal, the Maldives, Bangladesh and even in Pakistan, the introduction of representative government in Bhutan and the looming military opening for a just ethnic settlement in Sri Lanka have created a positive climate for diplomatic initiatives to resolve long-pending issues with these countries and build a new framework of regional cooperation.

Pakistan poses a special problem. The answer is twofold: proceed briskly with an internal settlement in and within Jammu and Kashmir and build international opinion to “demilitarise” Pakistan with the threat of economic sanctions until it shows willingness and ability to eschew terror and jihad as aides to diplomacy.

Afghanistan also needs to be placed under UN auspices and policed by a UN anti-terror- cum- peacekeeping- cum-reconstruction force in which India and other regional players, including Pakistan, can play a pivotal role with the US/NATO in support.

In view of its good relations with both the Arabs and Israel, India should also explore a mediatory intervention in West Asia where conflict has destabilised the entire region and inflamed Islamic sentiments. Home and abroad, there is much that can be done within 2009 itself.

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On Record
Going organic no option for farmers: Kalkat
by Jangveer Singh

Intensive agriculture made Punjab what it is today. Calls for increasing organic farming have been partly stymied by the Punjab State Farmers’ Commission (PSFC) which, in a report, maintains that taking the organic path for wheat and paddy would result in sharp fall in yield.

This would hit the farmers’ interest as well as the country’s food security. In an interview with The Sunday Tribune, PSFC Chairman, renowned agriculture scientist and Padma Bhushan awardee, Dr G.S. Kalkat, talks about the organic growers’ charges against the PSFC.

Q: Soon after your report on organic farming was released, the PSFC has been accused of playing into the hands of multinationals? Why?

A: I do not understand this. Logic says that it you start producing less which will be the case with our projections predicting a 20 per cent drop in yield of food grains if farmers shift to organic farming, you will have to import food grains. This will open the way to multinationals to market their food grains in India.

Q: What about the charge that the use of pesticides in intensive farming helps pesticide companies only?

A: We are calling for a reduction in pesticide use, especially indiscriminate use. The report in question has proposed adopting biological control of pests of cotton and sugarcane, which consume the most pesticides used in the state, with cotton itself accounting for 70 per cent of all pesticides. Similarly, we must not overuse chemical fertilisers.

Q: Why are organic growers protesting against the report?

A: Some NGOs are funding this work. They want to continue to be financed. They fear that their work may be stopped though we are not opposed to it. Neither it is in any way a referendum on organic farming. We have only maintained that organic farming cannot be adopted as a principle for the entire area.

Q: Any steps to address fears?

A: I have asked the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) Vice-Chancellor to depute competent scientists to collect all agro techniques recommended by organic farmers and test the same scientifically at university farms. The university may associate organic growers also during this process. The commission will offer funds so that research may start by the next kharif season (May – June). The commission is keen that once the scientifically tested data is available, it can make recommendations.

Q: Didn’t the PSFC study the organic practices prevalent in the State while preparing a report on organic farming?

A: Organic farming in the Nabha area has been studied by our consultant, Dr J.S. Kolar. I have visited the organic farm in Jandiala Guru where despite abundant availability of farmyard manure the yield of paddy is only 13 to 16 quintals per acre as compared to 22 to 30 quintals per acre in other areas. We have also utilised data of organic farming done by PAU, Ludhiana as well as those in Uttar Pradesh and Chhatishgarh during the last 25 years.

Q: Is there any attempt to control the existing agricultural practices in Punjab?

A: Agriculture is an individual effort. If organic farmers feel they are doing well it is okay by us. But when we have to give advise, we have to see the state as well as national good. On our part, we would like to help genuine organic farmers in the state and are in the process of facilitating tie-ups with export houses.

Q: Is intensive agriculture the only recourse for the Punjab farmer?

A: The results speak for themselves. In Bihar and Orissa, most of the land is irrigated like Punjab but the yield of paddy there is still hovering between 16 and 18 quintals per acre while we are averaging 36 quintals per acre. Similarly, in wheat we are getting a yield of 45 quintals per acre as against 22 quintals per acre in Bihar and Orissa. It is in this context that we feel that any drop in the yield in Punjab will endanger the country’s food security.

Q: What about concerns of residue effect of weedicide in case of paddy?

A: There is no such effect in the grain produced in India. There is no insecticide residue in the absence of stem borer disease in paddy in India.

Q: Is organic farming suited for wheat and paddy in Punjab?

A: In most cases, organic farmers recommend introduction of a crop that replenishes soil fertility. But this will deny farmers the availability of one crop, possibly rice. We have double cropping and high yields. If you miss one crop in a year the soil may be replenished to some extent but the farmer is at a disadvantage. If this is adopted at a larger scale it will cause social unrest.

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Profile
Hasina: A career of highs and lows
by Harihar Swarup

Sheikh Hasina’s assertion, soon after her landslide victory in elections that Bangladesh soil would not be allowed to carry out terror acts against its neighbours has come as a great relief to India. Soon after her victory, she also promised to dismantle all terror camps and flush out militants, including that of the Huji, was welcomed in Guwahati particularly where five people died and 67 injured in three bomb blasts recently.

During nearly two years of military-backed interim government, Sheikh Hasina survived efforts to force her into exile and numerous court cases in which she was accused of corruption during her time in power. She spent about a year in detention and was only let out in late 2008 for medical treatment in the US. But a combination of her support on the streets and her own determination enabled her to survive.

The life of Bangladesh Awami League leader, almost from her childhood, has been characterised by a series of highs and lows. The highs included witnessing as a child her father’s release from imprisonment in Pakistan to become Bangladesh’s first President and her own stint as Prime Minister in which she was the undisputed leader of her country and her Awami League.

She had to bear the murder of her father and other members of her family during a coup in 1975, her own ignominious exit as Prime Minister and, more recently, her imprisonment on corruption charges.

Sheikh Hasina was born in September 1947 with politics in her blood. She stepped into the limelight following the 1975 murders — she and her sister, Sheikh Rehana — were only believed to have escaped because they were in Germany at the time. Three of her brothers were killed in the attack.

The dynastical nature of South Asian politics — the Bhuttos in Pakistan, the Nehru-Gandhi family in India and the Bandaranaikes in Sri Lanka — meant that she would inevitably forge a similar career path, especially because she had already established a reputation as a student leader at Dhaka University in the run-up to independence in 1971.

Forced into exile following her father’s murder, she retuned in 1981 to campaign against the military government of Gen Hossain Mohammad Ershad and spent much of that decade in and out of prison or under house arrest. After the fall of Gen Ershad, Bangladesh’s first elections were held in 1991. They were won by her rival, the leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Khaleda Zia.

By that time the two women had little time for each other, principally because Ms Zia claimed that her husband, Ziaur Rahman, was Bangladesh’s true independence hero — not Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The animosity between the two women has if anything grown more bitter over the years as their respective parties alternated in and out power.

Sheikh Hasina’s first taste of power came in June 1996, when she was elected Prime Minister. She earned credit for signing a water-sharing deal with India and a peace deal with tribal insurgents in the south-east of the country. At the same time, her government was criticised for numerous “corrupt” business deals and for being too subservient to India.

Sheikh Hasina was voted out of office in 2001, complaining of a rigged vote. In the Opposition for a second time, she escaped an assassination attempt in Dhaka which resulted in the deaths of 21 party supporters in 2004.

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