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Monday, October 13, 2014

Time to write new rule book on gender

On the occasion of the Girl Child Day on October 11, a forum theatre and discussion on gender issues was organised for the youth of Kerala and adjoining villages and colonies by the Navjyoti India Foundation (whose director is Neetu Sharma).
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The moment it was told to the youth coming to the Navjyoti Community College that a forum theatre is being organised which they have to attend, a mixed reaction was seen in the group.
Some looked totally disinterested, while others had a very sarcastic look. However, very interestingly, girls and women looked very interested.
Here is a first-hand account of what happened in an hour's time of the session.
Scene 1: A placard depicting signage: 'Caution: Men at Work', behind which a scene of a construction site was displayed where women labourers were shown working hard and a man sleeping next to the site.
Reaction of the group: All the boys had a smile on their face while girls some sort of anger.
A discussion followed. The anchor asked them what they saw.
The answers that came:
A boy remarked: "This is normal."
A girl immediately countered" "But this is not fair."
Another boy: "Yes, this is wrong, men should also help."
No one could remark on the terminology that was used on the signage... They thought it's alright to use the word 'Men' there even if there are also women involved because mostly men are found working at these sites.
Scene 2: Twins -- a boy and a girl are born in a family. The girl is given a pink diaper, a floral print frock, a doll to play, while the boy is given a blue diaper, shirt with check print, a car and a gun to play. As the children start growing, girls are given tags such as: a girl should be cultured, speak less, learn to take care of the family, bear children, soft spoken etc etc. The boy is socialised by giving tags such as: boys should be self-dependent, strong, aggressive, earn money, men are responsible for carrying forward the family's name (vansh) etc etc.
The session was then opened for discussion. Boys were asked to remove tags which they felt were inappropriate in girls and the latter were asked to remove inappropriate tags from boys.
It was good to see that the group felt that all the qualities written about girls should also be displayed by boys, while the girls felt that all the qualities depicted about boys were inappropriate.
However, both groups felt that boys are responsible for carrying forward the family ("ladka hi vansh chalata hai").
Scene 3: At a tea and egg stall at 11 pm, a girl comes for having egg, bread and tea, while three boys standing in the same stall start staring at her in disbelief and she starts shivering.
The discussion that followed:
The group was asked why this happens and how such a situation can be changed.
Some replies that came:
The tea stall owner should discourage boys and take a stand.
The girl should confront them for staring.
Boys should mind their own business.
After a very interesting and captivating discussion, it was concluded that such a situation happens because it is not normal to see many girls at night. However, when more girls start coming on roads and feel comfortable, it would be alright.
A boy gave an example that as a boy feels uncomfortable in a girls' school and a girl would never dare to enter a boys' school, similarly because mostly boys are on the roads at night, so even when few girls are seen, they are not looked at with a lot of respect.
The discussion was concluded and now it was the turn of the head to share some important points, which still remained unresolved:
Project head to the group: "How do these stereotypes -- pink for girls, soft-spoken attitude, family responsibility for girls, and independent, strong aggressive nature for boys are founded in society?"
Group: "Mam, this has been happening since ages and we follow what our parents teach us."
Project head: "Do these gender stereotypes have any implication on our attitude towards boys and girls?
Group: "We don't know."
A boy: "Yes mam, because men are tough physically, that's why they are expected to protect girls."
Another boy: "Girls look up to boys for help… even if they want to lift something heavy, they ask their brothers and fathers."
Girls remained quiet all this while.
Project head: "Does this mean that girls cannot protect themselves?"
Immediately, the girls reacted, "No, mam."
The boys started laughing.
Project head: "Can this mean t
hat we don't give our girls opportunity to become strong and that's why they behave like this?"
All girls and boys agreed.
Project head: "Who decides these rules for men and women and whether they are apt?"
Group: "We don't know… They have been there since ages."
Project head: "Why do you feel that boys are responsible for carrying forward the family name ('vansh')?"
A boy: "Mam, I would give you an example. In a family with only a girl and no brother, when she gets married and goes to her husband's house, her name changes and no one is left at her father's name to carry forward family name ('vansh')."
Project head: "Alright, tell me what is the name of Maharani Laxmi Bai's husband?"
Group: (giggles) "We don't know."
Project head: "May be it's a very old story, ok tell me the name of Indira Gandhi husband?"
Again the same response: The group didn't know.
Project head: "Forget it. Let me ask you about someone, you all know very well. Tell me the name of Dr Kiran Bedi's husband and Aishwarya Rai's brother. After all they are carrying forward the family name."
Group: "Mam, we don't know."
Project head: "So, in all the above cases of four women cited, their families, both paternal and marital sides, are not known by their husbands or brothers but by them and will always be known ever by these women. So what is important: Being a boy or being a role model?"
The group now had clarity on this.
Lastly, a boy asked, "Mam, how do we change this?"
Project head: "Very simple… It's time to write our new rule book on gender by the youth. And how do we know what rules to set. Yet simpler. Just think, whether the rule we are setting is taking our society on a progressive path or holding it back.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Pilgrimage to Mount Kailash: A breathtaking experience

Video Link:
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“Why don’t you join us for a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash?” asked Sadhguru JV, a revered mystic and head of Isha Foundation, and I readily agreed without knowing what all it meant.
Soon I got a call, asking me to send my passport and a medical check-up report with a fitness certificate, as we would be climbing upto over 17,500 feet.
First time ever, it was going to be a break which would truly disconnect me from all the happenings back home. I asked myself if I would be able to disconnect from my work schedule for three long weeks. I decided that I will challenge myself and move on.
After doing proper research on Mount Kailash, Mansarover Lake, the route and the requirements, I was now getting ready to leave. However, getting the right trekking equipment was a tough task. But I was able to identify the right Mall in Noida from where I could get everything at one stop-shop.
Thereafter, I passed the medical test and was declared fit by the doctor. I passed it with first division at the age of 65!
On Aug 6, I was on the flight to Kathmandu to join the group. But before switching off my black berry, I mailed and tweeted a photo of the big trekking shoes I was wearing as evidence to my family and three million friends on social network. I was feeling like a child at heart!
On the evening of our arrival in Kathmandu, Sadhguru gave us an introduction about the pilgrimage. He said when on high altitude, we need to be in right frame on both counts (mind and body).
Our trek route planned was Simikot to Darapani to Kermi to Yalbang to Timkot (all in Nepal).
We entered China from Hilsa through the Friendship Bridge (sorry, not so friendly though, as we had serious issues concerning our overseas pilgrims). We had to seek the intervention of our Prime Minister, who was so gracious to connect with us.
We drove by road, with our group split, (half of them left behind who joined us after six days) to Mansarover through Tibet. From Mansarover Lake, we drove a few kilometers by road, thereafter a solid long trek to Mount Kailash of 34 km covered within 24 hours (going and coming).
The first phase of our trek was treacherous. Somewhere it was a steep uphill and at other places a steep decline. All on rocks or on loose pebbles! We used to trek almost 7 to 8 hours a day, with short breather breaks, before we could reach our halting night camps, all preferably by the side of running rivers.
The trek paths were breathtaking, but we were more focussed on every step we were taking on the rocks. The lesson was: watch every step that you take, as even one step missed may be enough for a sprain or a fall.
Also as the altitude was rising, we had to ensure we did not suffer from breathlessness or dehydration. We carried oxygen supplements. Few needed it. We also maintained silence to save our breath.
We used our walking sticks as legs to keep the balance. Some also held the hand of ‘bahadurs’ who were so sturdy and light footed. They were carrying our back- packs which had our rain wear, umbrellas, water and some eating stuff to munch and share on the way.
We would camp for the night in light tents and sleep in our sleeping bags with aching feet, knees and legs. We had no warm water to bathe and the toilets were at a distance. On the top of it, the nights were freezing. At night if one had to ease, it had to be under the stars and the moonlight with small head lamps on our foreheads. It was a unique experience. We were children again.
We of course had the luxury of hot food, as cooks and provisions were part of entourage! Thanks to donkeys and mares carrying our provisions!
With an overnight six hours sleep, we were always ready for the next day. It was an unbelievable discovery or recovery for many of us -- non trekkers.
Just few mugs of water were so precious for brushing, washing and cleaning. Tissue paper, swipes and the disinfectants were our hygiene. No question of any hot water bath still. The courageous would go for cold water bath in the running streams wherever possible. But we all meditated by the riversides -- all Yoga trained!
The trekking route we took will soon vanish, as the Chinese are building roads all over. We walked over recently-blasted rocks and soft tracks being prepared for driveways. But we captured the route and the trek on camera for posterity.
After six days of trek and few days of drive over tricky terrain, somewhere very risky and at places smooth, we reached Mansarover Lake – the highest lake on earth. And there we could see the majestic Mount Kailash. It left us all mesmerised!
We camped at the Lake, dipped in its cold waters, prayed and thanked the spiritual souls believed to be part of nature around and then left for the trek to Mount Kailash.
We trekked for 17 km almost non-stop for 7 to 8 hrs. Most part of the trek to Mount Kailash was with us in its spiritual splendor. We drove back all through Tibet and flew out of Lhasa, all through a nature gifted region getting modernised. Few years from now, it will be a different place.
Lessons learnt during the pilgrimage:
To value all one has. To dive inside oneself. To build teams. To stay fit (mind, body, soul): it’s yoga at work.

To stay human, realises the value of everything nature offers. Trekking teaches mortality and interdependence: no amount of book reading can.

Monday, July 21, 2014

What PM should have in I-Day address

Does every rapist not have parents? Does every rapist not have a teacher? Don't rapists have a family and close friends? Then? Where is the mind of a rapist coming from? Where is it getting formed? Home? School? College? Neighbourhood? TV? Item songs? Mobile technology?
So, where do we begin the prevention of such a mindset before the systems respond, which being - police, crisis centres, forensics, law, courts, prosecution, witnesses and prisons and more.
India needs a mindset revolution at the people's level first, alongside all other institutions. This social revolution to be electric and magnetic will have to be led by no other than one person and position - MrNarendra Modi, the Prime Minister's Office. Because when PM speaks, country listens. When the PMO coordinates the government is synergised. 

The beginning of this revolution could be from the ramparts of Red Fort, in the PM's first Independence Day message to the nation when the entire country will be glued to their televisions, listening.So, where do we begin the prevention of such a mindset before the systems respond, which being - police, crisis centres, forensics, law, courts, prosecution, witnesses and prisons and more.

India needs a mindset revolution at the people's level first, alongside all other institutions. This social revolution to be electric and magnetic will have to be led by no other than one person and position - MrNarendra Modi, the Prime Minister's Office. Because when PM speaks, country listens. When the PMO coordinates the government is synergised.
We cannot lose this national day. In view of the gravity of the situation concerning repeated incidents of brutal rapes and atrocities concerning women. We are being internationally condemned in this regard. Therefore this is an open letter to our Prime Minister to please consider the following in his Independence Day message; with a similar request to state CMs to follow the spirit.
Here are the messages required for this social revolution. Beginning with:
1. All parents - To take responsibility for the children they give birth to. They must instil a sense of responsibility in their sons and courage in their daughters equally. Responsible behaviour respects all. It can never commit rapes! They must ensure that homes are safe havens where no crime against a woman takes place. Parents have to take responsibility to be the first teachers of their children.
2. Message for school teachers - Their role is not only to make students pass the class courses and get marks but ensure they learn value-based life skills, which ensures civility in their behaviour towards all. Persons groomed in civil behaviour do not commit rapes! They are sensitive to others dignity.
3. To people at large - If they see a woman in distress, in their neighbourhood, in their community, or in a public place, they must respond, intervene and not walk away as is the case today. It's about responsible citizenship.
4. To his own political fraternity - To be respectful. They cannot afford to say anything, which brings down the respect towards women. No casual remark, which causes disrespect, be tolerated. They instead need to take charge of their respective constituencies, go house to house to drive the change. Like they went house to house with folded hands to get votes! And hold corner meeting to fast track the social revolution.
5. To tell the cops - That no government will tolerate their callous or unprofessional response to any complaint of crime against a woman. They must not accept any interference in the process of investigation. They must also be diagnostic and inform people of what is causing such crimes for people and all other stakeholders to do correction.
6. To the district administration - To ensure the panchayats do not demean women's position. On any grounds of caste or creed. They need to mount vigil in their respective villages through community policing.
7. For his own government - That it will ensure speedy justice! On all counts.
The PM could assure country men and women that he will lead the social revolution and will set up a task force to oversee it and report directly to him. He will review the situation every three months and do all that it takes to change mindset that hereafter no one will tolerate violation of a women's dignity.
Last but not the least. The PM could urge the media to exercise self-regulation and self-restraint in projecting women in a manner, which is derogatory to the dignity of women! Finally, it's all about self-regulation and mutual responsibility.
In brief, we are talking of a 6P comprehensive plan of crime prevention. It's people, politicians, police, prosecution, prisons and press. Once this revolution is announced by the Prime Minister on August 15 from the ramparts of Red Fort, it will assume a whole new dimension of seriousness. Perhaps override all the misstatements made so far by several politicians, which haunt us repeatedly!
Prime Minister Modi, by giving a call for respect and safety of women and turning it into a social revolution, will be correcting historical and cultural infirmities, which have seeped into our mindsets! And in our DNA. It will not change in one year - it may require all his term and more. But the decline will have got checked and hope revived!
Honourable Prime Minister Sir, what purpose will a strong economy and skills development serve in a country where half of its population feels insecure? And lacks basic security infrastructure?  India owes it to itself. India owes it to the world community!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Action plan to fight drug menace -Punjab (Hindi )

यह सबसे बड़ी चुनौतियों में से एक के साथ अपनी सरकार सौदे की मदद करने के लिए आप को एक खुला पत्र है  पंजाब युवा जीवन के हजारों बर्बाद कर दिया है जो नशीली दवाओं के दुरुपयोग और अवैध व्यापार,: आज चेहरे. माना जा रहा है के रूप में वास्तव में, यह युवाओं की एक पीढ़ी हो सकता है. मैं पुलिस भर्ती काफी युवा पुरुषों को भर्ती करने में विफल रही है कि सूचित कर रहा हूँ. वे! अर्हता प्राप्त करने में विफल रहे हैं सिर्फ दो दिन पहले, मैं दवा की समस्या से, मेरे गृह राज्य पंजाब में सेवा और बचाने के लिए अपने प्रस्ताव ट्वीट. मैं अपने अनुभव का उपयोग किया जा सकता है पर क्यों कारणों बाहर सूचीबद्ध. मेरे tweets कई भी उनकी सेवाओं के स्वयं सेवा के साथ काफी ध्यान आकर्षित किया. कुछ मैं आप को लिखने का सुझाव दिया. इसलिए, यहां फाइलों में खो नहीं मिलेगा जो एक खुले पत्र है.
ट्रिगर
नशीले पदार्थों की तस्करी, खपत और रोकथाम के क्षेत्र में मेरा सीखों मादक पदार्थों के सेवन के प्रबंधन के लिए समग्र योजना का हिस्सा हैं. क्या आप का समर्थन करने के लिए इस भावना ट्रिगर अगले तीन महीनों में पंजाब भर में उपचार क्लीनिक की स्थापना की अपनी घोषणा से आया है. इस इलाज से पहले और बाद समर्थन के साथ संवर्धित किया जा करने की आवश्यकता है क्योंकि मुझे राहत मिली और एक ही समय में चिंतित छोड़ दिया.
यह दृढ़ता से दवाओं की आपूर्ति के साथ ही पुनर्वास उपचार के बाद जाँच का मतलब है. मैं मादक पदार्थों के सेवन, उपचार और 35 साल की कानून प्रवर्तन के क्षेत्र में मेरा अनुभव उपलब्ध बनाने का फैसला यही कारण है. कार्रवाई के संभावित योजना के रूप में इस खुले पत्र का इलाज करें.
सक्रिय पुलिस सेवा में, मेरे एनजीओ बुलाया जबकि Navjyoti इंडिया फाउंडेशन 1986-2012 नशीली दवाओं के दुरुपयोग उपचार केन्द्रों भाग गया. हम पंजाब से कई नशेड़ी के हजारों, इलाज किया. हम अनुभव से सीखते हैं और लागत में कटौती और सफलता दर को बढ़ा सकते हैं.
महत्वपूर्ण परिवार का समर्थन
नशामुक्ति कार्यक्रम परिवार के समर्थन पर निर्भर करता है. परिवार दौरान और देखभाल के बाद संबद्ध किया गया है. हम उन्हें शामिल करना कैसे महत्वपूर्ण है. Navjyoti में, हम देखभाल के बाद संभाल करने के लिए परिवारों को एक साथ लाया है कि सक्षम समूहों का गठन किया था. नशेड़ी का इलाज मात्र अस्पताल देखभाल नहीं है. हम स्वैच्छिक सहायता समूहों को शामिल करने की जरूरत है. सरकार इसे लेकिन वे मदद करता है में विशेषज्ञों रहे हैं में योगदान करने के लिए नागरिक समाज समूहों को शामिल करना होगा कि क्या करना चाहिए.
अनुभव के निर्माण
हम जगह में इन प्रशिक्षण की योजना डाल की आवश्यकता होगी. हम पुस्तिकाओं और साझा किया जा सकता है कि प्रक्रिया है. ऐसे डॉक्टरों, सलाहकारों, प्रबंधकों, स्वयंसेवकों और परिवार सहायता समूहों के रूप में विशेषज्ञों का नाम भी साझा किया जा सकता है. हम अनुभवी संसाधनों पर बनाने के बजाय एक खरोंच से शुरू करने और लड़खड़ाना कर सकते हैं. दवाओं के लिए मांग को कम करने के लिए बर्बाद करने के लिए समय नहीं है. हम भी राज्य के भीतर संसाधनों में नल चाहिए.
कानून प्रवर्तन
मैं साझा कर सकते हैं कि एक बड़ी सीखने की कानून प्रवर्तन के अपने अनुभव पर आधारित है.मैं दिल्ली में जिला पुलिस प्रमुख, नारकोटिक्स कंट्रोल ब्यूरो और डीआईजी के उप निदेशक (मिजोरम सीमा), भारत और म्यांमार सीमा पार से जहां तस्करी के रूप में विभिन्न पदों पर प्रभावी अपराध नियंत्रण उपायों के माध्यम से दवा नगण्य, दुरुपयोग और अवैध व्यापार की काफी अपराधों कम बाद में महानिरीक्षक, तिहाड़ के रूप में एक चुनौती है, और था. इसलिए, मैं, आपूर्ति में कमी सुनिश्चित करने के लिए एक योजना तैयार करने के लिए चार्ट कानून लागू करने वाली एजेंसियों की मदद कर सकते हैं. लेकिन यह अच्छा समन्वय की मांग.
घनिष्ठ समन्वय
केवल आपूर्ति में कटौती के बिना कमी और खोलने नशा मुक्ति क्लीनिक मांग सभी प्रयासों उठा देना होगा. इसलिए, आपूर्ति में कमी के इलाज या मांग में कमी के साथ हाथ में हाथ जाना चाहिए. असली चुनौती दवाओं की तस्करी की जा रही है, जहां से स्थानीय पुलिस थाना क्षेत्रों की जवाबदेही होगी. संदिग्ध अतीत के रिकॉर्ड और स्थानीय खुफिया के साथ लोगों को यह सुनिश्चित करना होगा. निर्वाचित प्रतिनिधियों के सहयोग से स्वतंत्र रूप से और भी काम महत्वपूर्ण रखता है. काफी योगदान दे सकते हैं, जो सरकारी एजेंसियों सीमा शुल्क, सीमा पुलिस, नारकोटिक्स कंट्रोल ब्यूरो और जमीन पर पहचाना जा सकता है जो दूसरों रहे हैं.
दवा मुक्त जेलों
इसके अलावा, मेरे जेल प्रबंधन के अनुभव के आधार पर, हम भी वहाँ उचित नशीली दवाओं के दुरुपयोग उपचार केन्द्रों की आवश्यकता होगी. अपराध और मादक पदार्थों के सेवन दृढ़ता से अंतर से संबंधित है, इसलिए हम मांग और आपूर्ति पर दबाव है, एक बार, जेल आबादी कूद जाएगा. इसलिए, हम नशा इलाज और बरामद स्वास्थ्य में रिहा हो इतना है कि वहां की व्यवस्था करना है. हम अपने जेलों दवा मुक्त कर रहे हैं यह सुनिश्चित करना चाहिए.
मैं दवाओं और घरेलू हिंसा के क्षेत्र में मेरी डॉक्टरेट किया था और महिलाओं को घर पर नशा के प्रधानमंत्री शिकार हैं कि पाया. माताओं और पत्नियों दवाओं को खरीदने के लिए पैसे के लिए नरम लक्ष्य कर रहे हैं. Navjyoti 20,000 से अधिक नशेड़ी इलाज किया. हमारी सफलता हम नागरिक समाज, गांव प्रधान, युवा और दवा रोकथाम को बढ़ावा देने के लिए शिक्षकों को शामिल किया गया, जहां सामुदायिक पुलिस और अपराध की रोकथाम का एक उत्पाद था.

मेरा अनुभव बड़ा अच्छा के लिए है और मैं पंजाब वापस अच्छे स्वास्थ्य के लिए प्राप्त करना चाहते हैं. मैं इसे मुझे दिया है कि सभी के लिए आभार के रूप में, बदले में अपने गृह राज्य के लिए कुछ देना चाहता हूँ.

Action plan to fight drug menace -Punjab

Respected chief minister Parkash Singh Badal,

This is an open letter to you to help your government deal with one of the biggest challenges Punjabfaces today: drug abuse and trafficking, which has ruined thousands of young lives. In fact, it may be a generation of youth as is being perceived. I am informed that police recruitment is failing to enroll enough young men. They are failing to qualify!Just two days ago, I tweeted my offer to serve and save my home state, Punjab, from the drug problem. I listed out the reasons on why my experience could be of use. My tweets drew considerable attention with many volunteering their services too. Some suggested I write to you. Hence, here is an open letter which will not get lost in the files.
The trigger
My learnings in the field of drug trafficking, consumption and prevention are part of the holistic plan for drug abuse management. What triggered this feeling to support you came from your announcement of setting up treatment clinics across Punjab in the next three months. This left me relieved and worried at the same time because treatment requires to be augmented with support before and after.
This means firmly checking the supply of drugs as well as rehabilitation after treatment. This is why I decided to make my experience available in the field of drug abuse, treatment and law enforcement of 35 years. Please treat this open letter as a possible plan of action.
While in active police service, my NGO called Navjyoti India Foundation ran drug abuse treatment centres from 1986 to 2012. We treated thousands of addicts, several from Punjab. We can learn from experience and cut costs and increase the success rate.
Family support vital
The de-addiction programme depends on family support. The family has to be associated during and after care. How we involve them is vital. At Navjyoti, we had formed capable groups that brought families together to handle after care. The treatment of addicts is not mere hospital care. We need to involve voluntary support groups. The government must do what it must but involving civil society groups to contribute in what they are experts in helps.
Build on experience
We will need to put these training plans in place. We have manuals and processes that can be shared. The names of experts such as doctors, counsellors, managers, volunteers and family support groups can also be shared. We can build on experienced resources rather than starting from a scratch and falter. There is no time to waste to reduce the demand for drugs. We must tap in resources within the state too.
Law enforcement
A major learning that I can share is based on my experience of law enforcement. I reduced considerable crimes of drug peddling, abuse and trafficking through effective crime control measures in various capacities as the district police chief in Delhi, deputy director of the Narcotics Control Bureau and DIG (Mizoram range), where smuggling from across the Indo-Myanmar border was a challenge, and later as inspector general, Tihar. I can, therefore, help law enforcers to chart out a plan to ensure supply reduction. But this demands good coordination.
Close coordination
Only demand reduction and opening de-addiction clinics without supply cut will nullify all efforts. Hence, supply reduction must go hand in hand with treatment or demand reduction. The real challenge will be accountability of the local police station areas from where drugs are being smuggled. Persons with dubious past records and local intelligence will have to be ensured. Working independently and also in cooperation with elected representatives holds the key. Government agencies who can considerably contribute are the Customs, border police, Narcotics Control Bureau and others which can be identified on the ground.
Drug-free prisons
Additionally, based on my prison management experience, we will need proper drug abuse treatment centres there too. Because crime and drug abuse is strongly inter-related, once we mount pressure on demand and supply, the prison population will jump. Hence, we have to make arrangements there so that addicts get treated and released in recovered health. We must ensure our prisons are drug-free.
I did my doctorate in the field of drugs and domestic violence and found that women are prime victims of addicts at home. Mothers and wives are soft targets for money to buy drugs. Navjyoti treated more than 20,000 addicts. Our success was a product of community policing and crime prevention where we involved civil society, village pradhans, youth and teachers to promote drug prevention.

My experience is for the larger good and I want Punjab to get back to good health. I want to give my home state something in return, as gratitude for all that it has given me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

An actionable agenda for police reforms

On June 9, the President addressed both Houses of Parliament after the recent elections to the 16th Lok Sabha. In his address, he declared zero tolerance for violence against women saying the government was committed to strengthening the criminal justice system. Later in the address, the President committed his government to reforming the criminal justice system so that dispensation of justice became simpler, quicker and more effective.
Following the presidential address, an interdisciplinary group got together to propose reforms to police and criminal justice. It has prepared an 11-point agenda for the Central and state governments and the Indian citizens. The agenda is meant to be actionable as well as a starting point for a national discussion.
1. Repeal the 1861 Police Act and replace it with the updated Model Police Act of 2006 drafted by the Soli Sorabjee Committee.
2. Address burning issues pertaining to the constabulary, especially issues of recruitment, health and training.
3. Implement the Supreme Court judgment of 2006 delivered by the then Chief Justice of India YK Sabharwal.
4. Strengthen police stations, especially their capability, capacity and liveability.
5. Embrace technology and ensure time-bound implementation of Crime Criminal Tracking Network System as well as pending schemes such as the one pertaining to creating a database of all missing children.
6. Adopt integrated citizen information systems such as text messaging, social media and police community radio stations, allocating the police two national frequencies -one for states and one for the central agencies.
7. Legislate charter and give statutory basis to all investigation and intelligence services such as the CBI, IB and RAW that are deemed to be on a weak legal footing.
8. Conduct an annual audit of our police systems both by the comptroller and auditor general and academic institutions such as law, technology and management schools besides universities.
9. Involve panchayats in policing by expanding the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme to incorporate security duties at the village level and student cadet service in urban areas. Furthermore, panchayats must record any migration from or to the village as well as report potential human trafficking.
10. Start CCTV surveillance on all national highways with centralised command and control systems.
11. Reform criminal justice through formation of an Indian Judicial Service with civil and criminal tracks, a national prosecution service with the same two tracks and the provision that one prosecutor handles a case from start to finish. Implement time-bound processes for court procedures and bring about transparency and accountability.
BRITISH LEGACY
The British designed the police to be an instrument of oppression. Unlike their indigenous policing systems that had close ties with the community, the police in India was the handmaiden of the heaven-born Indian Civil Service (ICS), forerunners to the modern Indian Administrative Service.
The job of the ICS was revenue maximisation for the British Empire with as little expenditure on the police. The native constabulary was treated horrendously, starved of resources and expected to live off the land. The gora sahib might have left in 1947 but his system lives on.
MURDER, RAPE AND NO RECOURSE
The imperial system of policing in India is no longer working. The Bureau of Police Research and Development found in 2012 that barely 1.64% of the police budget is spent on training our constables. The population per policeman is supposed to be 568, but it is 761, making India a policing nightmare because of the extreme paucity of policemen, the pathetic quality of their training and the perverse deployment of scarce resources to provide security to a large population.
In many parts of the country, the proverbial constable Ram Lal is writing the general diary, carrying out investigation, breaking up dharnas, providing security for VIP visits and doing whatever the district administration wants. Ram Lal often does not have resources to do patrolling.
They might be operating out of a police station in a crumbling building with inhuman sanitary conditions. They operate by raising resources from the local population and their senior figures judge them as per the crime figures they report. It is little wonder then that registering a first information report is almost impossible. Even if Ram Lal were to do a superhuman job and finish an odd investigation, there is no lawyer to press the prosecution in court. The courts themselves take decades to hear arguments. In summary, the system of the gora sahib is broken.
TIME FOR ACTION
Following the Presidential address, seven of us sat down together the very next day and penned down the ElevenPoint Agenda that we are sharing with the country. A lot of what we say has been said by the Supreme Court and numerous commissions. Now is the time for action.
First, we propose repealing of the Indian Police Act of 1861. A committee led by noted jurist Soli Sorabjee has drafted the Model Police Act of 2006 that is progressive, democratic and accountable.
Chapter 13 of the proposed Act deals with police accountability and Chapter 2 sets term limits for police officers. It has a number of decent provisions and we could start with updating and adopting this as our new police act.
Second, we propose to focus on our constabulary, the proverbial Ram Lals. They are our own people and do a brutal job. We have to ensure that we recruit them properly, train them well and keep them healthy if we want a semblance of rule of law. Third, we suggest that both central and state governments adopt the 1996 landmark judgment delivered by the then Chief Justice of India YK Sabharwal.
We propose other commonsense measures such as using technology to connect with citizens, whether it is radio or text messages. We believe it is high time our Parliament drafted laws defining the charter and giving clear statutory basis to institutions such as the IB, RAW and CBI. We want panchayats involved and annual audits of policing.
Finally, we want an Indian Judicial Service and a national prosecution service that expedite cases in efficient and transparent courts. As the adage goes, justice delayed is justice denied. So, let us get started and inaugurate an era of justice or a nyayaraj in our ancient civilisation.

(Kiran Bedi is the first woman IPS officer, Atul Singh is an Oxford scholar and an ex-IAS officer, and Rishi Rai and Manu Sharma are technology entrepreneurs. Views expressed their personal)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How to tackle Punjab’s drug menace

I have been hearing and reading with great concern about the problem of drug trafficking and drug abuse in Punjab. As per ground reports, it certainly has assumed very serious proportions, to the extent that it is destroying a generation of youth of Punjab known for physical prowess and stamina. India today needs all of its youth to contribute to nation-building.
First, the focus must be to reduce demand and cut off supplies. To do this we must begin with the local politician, which includes the municipal councillor and the village heads. They are closest to the ground. They must delink themselves any seller or supplier, and have to be prime educators.
Let me share with you most humbly some practical ideas on how we diminished the problem of drug sale and abuse in one of my postings in Delhi Police. The strategy is simple and comprehensive. We must begin with the existing resources, with a commitment to considering the drug abuse as an epidemic. The plan requires a team-leadership that is accountable and transparent. With this system in place, the Punjab situation can improve in the next two to three years.
To reduce the drug demand, there have to be more responsible parents and teachers who ensure no students drop out of schools; and community leaders who are looked up to for guidance. They must collectively mobilise resources for setting up holistic treatment centres.
Local politicians also need to create skill-training programmes which generate employment in their respective areas, encourage sports and various other creative activities.
Second, politicians must not interfere with law-enforcement authorities to ensure effective interdiction both on supply and demand side. Police must enforce the law effectively, firmly and fairly as this is their primary responsibility. Through systems of community policing, the police can be assisted on information on traffickers and addicts. They need strong support of social and health departments to open and run treatment centres.
Abusing drugs even for personal consumption is an offence, though under certain conditions. Such as those indulging in violent behaviour, which almost all do, must be jailed and treated inside the jail for reasons of restraint.
Prisons too have to be drug-free with treatment centres. Addicts must be released only conditionally, which is, to remain drug-free with regular reporting to the treatment centres. Courts must be moved for forfeiture of sureties in cases of breach of bail conditions.
A database must be kept of all traffickers and abusers, for law to be applied on them unsparingly. This will send a clear message to all that drug crime will not pay.
In the ’90s, we faced a similar sort of situation in Delhi and did not let anyone worth his salt interfere in police work. We booked them if they made a bad recommendation, thus neutralised them.
Police must work in close cooperation with the Narcotics Control Bureau, the Border Security Force, the Customs and other intelligence agencies. For this, the state police leadership or bureaucracy is vital. Coordination ensures success. The local administration like the district magistrates and superintendents of police are important hubs for local coalitions.
As a crime-prevention measure we used to track addicts, either arrested them in preventive sections of law or under drug offences or sent them for treatment on need basis. Actually, for the first time we in Delhi Police opened our own treatment centres to meet the demand. It worked. This was the rehabilitative role of community policing.
Crime prevention cannot be without the support of community. For this we created border groups and worked with local bodies on a regular basis. We also opened toll-free phone lines to inform us of sale or consumption. This sent the scare.
The judiciary too has a vital role in expediting drug cases and punish stringently. Delayed trials make drug cases ‘rewarding’ as by then substantial money has been made. Drug money must not be seen to be ‘enriching’.
Under the law, properties can be attached. Regular update in law training is essential for enforcers too. We kept track of all drug trials. And ensured we keep past criminals and addicts under local watch. If they slipped, we went back to court to cancel their bails, which meant stiffer penalties.
The problem is of our own creation, thanks to weakening of governance and breakdown of social systems. Public representatives must take the lead, with unsparing and impartial police, caring parents and strict teachers, responsible community participation, and expeditious judiciary. All must work in tandem.

We made this happen, and succeeded. This plan is based on not mere recall, but duly documented. And it was a major reason recorded in my Ramon Magsaysay Award citation in 1994. Where there’s a will, there is a way — not a cliché, it’s true!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

मतदान न करना जिम्मेदारी से भागने जैसा


Our vote will decide quality of governance

India is world's largest democracy with 81 crore voters, of which 10 crore are first-timers. The right to vote comes to us every five years to elect our Parliament and state assemblies. We also elect our municipal councillors and panchayats. It is this one vote collectively counted that brings into power a group of people who then govern us for five years.

None of them can be recalled once elected for there is no provision in our Constitution to do so. We as voters have only been recently given the right to 'No Vote' if we do not like any candidate. But even that does not amount to recalling the elected candidate.
Sacred responsibilityHence, voting is our sacred responsibility for the quality of governance of the village, district, state and the country. How have we exercised this power in the past over 60 years? Did we consider it as a conscientious duty which must be performed with a sense of full responsibility?
Voting is not compulsory in our country unlike in some other countries such as Australia. But it is our duty as a citizen.
In the past, in some key metropolitan cities, the voting percentage was even less than 50%. This is negation of one's responsibility as a citizen. If one does that, one has no right to complain about bad governance. Hence, let us commit that this time no one will miss this sacred duty.
Once at the polling station, we need vote for the future of the country rising above narrow interests. We should know full well who are we voting for and why. Is it in national interest or we are having a personal and narrow view?
Party credentials
Both the candidate and party are important. Also, by whom is the party led? Who all does the party comprise? What is their spread and organisational strength? What is their past record? What are their policies, manifestos and declarations, their capability and capacity, their vision and intention?
This is everyone's duty that cannot be delegated. There was once a king who one day asked all his court persons to bring a glass of milk each and pour it in a big pitcher placed in the centre of the courtyard. People thought how did it matter if they did not bring in milk because their water would get mixed with the others' milk. Little did they realise that many others were thinking on similar lines. So when the king saw the pitcher, it had only water. Moral of the story: do your duty and don't expect others to do what you are supposed to.
This is what many of us voters did in the past thinking what if I didn't vote, others would. Or if I voted with a sense of irresponsibility, it wouldn't matter for I would have the right to claim good governance anyway for others would vote with responsibility. It won't happen this time.
Each vote is a responsibility for voting for good governance, which ensures longevity, sustainability and right policies, which are in the best interest of the country, giving people a sense of security, enhancing prestige and power of the nation, getting out of debt traps, balanced budgets, inclusive growth, generating employment, increasing infrastructure, ensuring health care, education and skills for all and more. Most of all ensuring our hard-earned money is not wasted or stolen.
For this each of us has to cast our vote with a full sense of responsibility. It's a vote for our future and the future of our children. We all love our children. And we love their motherland, which is ours too.