Thursday, July 23, 2015

Vital to save our children from monsters

It's a horror story   a true story   still unravelling as I write. It is about what could happen to our lost children.How vital it is to do all that must be done to save them from the clutches of necrophiliacs and others prowling the streets and bylanes to steal and whisk away vulnerable children.

Victims of the most gruesome crime are children of the poor, below 10 years of age, playing by themselves, not far away from their mothers or homes. Or falling prey to the lure of sweets or other attractions. Their parents are mostly labourers, daily-wagers, living on sites or sleeping off the roads.
I am provoked to write this piece after I read a news story of yet another child rapist. Not long ago, we had a similar horrific case in Noida, in a village called Nithari when several children had gone missing and bones were found thrown in a drain outside the culprits' house.
The rapist-murderer was a known cannibal and is in jail, awaiting execution. (Still) I decided to analyse it for our readers to enhance some understanding, which will hopefully prevent wherever possible.
But this story will have to be read out to vulnerable sections which may not be aware of such monsters walking our streets to steal our innocents to fulfil their sexual addiction with children.
Sexual prowler
Here is the case in reference: "At 17, his first crime was a rape & murder..." The accused, Ravinder Kumar, 24, just a 5-foot-5-inch man, said that after he got away the first time, probably when he was 17, it made him confident. He confessed to the police that he was always on the lookout for the next child-victim.
He has been raping children, dead or alive, over the past seven years. He disclosed that he would drink, take drugs with his friends, watch porn and go 'hunting' for a child to be sexually abused.
He did go to red-light areas to get sex, but he had no money, so he picked up children for free. Also, those in brothels were higher in age. He preferred younger.
He went around loitering in colonies looking for children outside their house or near latrines, luring them or even lifting them at midnight, asleep beside their mothers. He would just pick up those who refused to get tempted by sweets and simply gag and whisk them away. He would then take them to an isolated place, silence them by throttling them, and then rape their bodies. After fulfilling his lust, he dumped the bodies in a drain or a ditch and walk away, not to return to the same vicinity for some months to avoid getting caught.
He disclosed that he got this idea after seeing a Hindi film called 'Samne' where the actor did exactly this.
Currently, the accused is taking the police to all places he is recalling where he picked up children to satiate his lust. Till now, the figure is astounding, it's increasing by the day.
Tragically, in one case which he pointed out, the father of the deceased girl is in jail. He was considered the accused by the area police. Obviously, it's a false investigation as the real criminal is this rapist caught now, who has confessed to having raped the child and thrown her away.
Prey to necrophilia
Curious to get to the root cause and explore when and how this addiction began? Any person who seeks out children for sexual arousal by corpses is known to be suffering from necrophilia.
What had his parents to say? I tracked the case with cops. I learnt that the mother, as expected, is in denial, saying that he has been framed.
She does not disclose that she would have no clue as what her son was doing, and why would he be away for long periods. She also did not know that her son was sodomised as a child. Another son of hers too had run away from home on being beaten.
The father, a plumber from Badaun, Uttar Pradesh, left his village, Ganjduware, for Delhi, for want of work.
He, too, had no clue what the son was up to. He appears to be having no capability of handing his six children. (Not known yet what other five are contributing and whether they were aware of their brother. Interrogation so far revealed one among them knew).
This is the family profile: poor, unemployed, children living off the streets, growing up with bad friends who drink, watch porn, rape and rob.
There is a need to comment on the police and the courts too. Ravinder was arrested by the police last year, for a similar offence. His earlier crimes seem to have not surfaced. I say so because this offender was released on bail, because the boy he sodomised escaped death by a whisker. A case was registered. But during the investigations, because the rapist was not recognised, he was released on bail.
My anger is with police, prosecutor and the courts. Police seems to have not interrogated him enough. Had all this been unearthed, many more children's lives could have been saved as he continued to rape while on bail.
Armed with the past record, the prosecutor could have prevented grant of bail by placing solid evidence before the court to deny bail to this rapist. The court granted bail without taking serious sureties in such a heinous offence. In such a case, he could have been on conditional bail, like reporting to the nearest police station and an NGO, for a close watch.
All three apparently took this case as one of the many, not knowing that this criminal is an addict who is on a daily prowl for child victims.
So what do we learn from all this?
The parents
Becoming parents is nature's blessing. But nurturance is their essential responsibility. Parents may be poor but what their children are doing with their lives is their bounded duty to know. This applies to bringing up sons in particular.
Watch over your growing-up sons. The company they keep and habits being formed. They could one day drive parents into jail too.

Parents must look after their children. Do not let them alone in parks. Keep an eye on them. They must report crimes or suspects. In many cases, being migrants, children go missing, but also go unreported. To prevent crimes and get such criminals caught, registration of crime is essential.
The police
Thorough investigations with comprehensive interrogations are critical to further crime prevention. It unearths past criminal acts and increases possibilities of bail refusal. Effective interrogation is crime prevention for present and future.
The courts
In such crimes, easy bail can prove disastrous, as it did in this case. Conditional bail, such as periodic visit to a police station or an NGO for attendance, and possible rehabilitation and watch can prevent repeat crime.
Without this, in totality, children, mostly girls, will continue to be lost to such necrophiliacs and research shows such cases are on the increase.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Empowerment: Why we are at our best only in West?

We are a different person in our country. But our behaviour undergoes a drastic change when we travel overseas, especially to the West.
During my recent trip to a western country, I decided to keep a mental note of all changes that happen to understand this natural transformation.  Let me share my observations.
Beginning from the check-in
If you are in a rush you can push your way around. There would always be somebody available for help. And if you are a bit known face, assistance comes to you on its own. The 'help' will escort you to the waiting lounge carrying your handbags. Your 'assistant' will hang around till he sees you off at the boarding gate. Before leaving, the person would ensure a photograph (selfie these days) with you for his Facebook page.
Does this happen overseas? No way.
Aboard the flight…
If on a flight other than Air India or Jet, (meaning our desi flights) every time you ask for some help, you will say a thank you several times. This is the beginning of change. And if a flight attendant is a westerner, you will think twice before asking for anything extra - even a glass of water.
If you were dozing off at the time when the food was being served, you miss it. You will not get it. Time is up for serving. No point asking. You are late. You bear it...Simple! You don't complain, but accept it.  (This is the second change).  Had you been on a desi flight, you would have complained and created s scene.
After you get off the plane …
You meekly go and stand in the queue…whoever you may be, you hear a voice, follow the line, and you obey, holding your handbags. The queue is moving at snail's pace, but you don't complain. When you reach at the other end, a mechanical voice tells you to go to next counter. You follow instructions. (third change). 
At the immigration counter…
You give your immigration form and the official finds some columns not properly filled. He tells you to go back and refill the form. You quietly go, complete the form and stand in the queue again. You dare not ask for an out-of--turn favour. This is the rule, and you follow it. (fourth change)
Now you pick up your heavy strolleys from the luggage belt. You want a baggage trolley. You pull it, but it's locked. You won't get it till you put in some dollars - cash or credit card. You learn to do it. (fifth change ). Remember your home airport, where it was all free. You curse them, but you need the trolleys. So you pay up grudgingly...
At the exit gate…
If you have to take a taxi, you move into the queue again and can't jump it. And if you are to be picked up by a relative, you call him up. As the person concerned can't be waiting at the airport due to no- parking, he is either in the parking lot or going around in circles waiting for your call. When you are being driven home, you put on your seat belt, realising that if you are caught, you won't be spared. The traffic ticket is steep and you are afraid of heavy fine. The fear of law grips you suddenly. (sixth change)
At your friend/relative's house
There is no house help for your luggage. You help yourself. There is no cook. The host serves you. And you say a thank you many times. The host cleans your cup. The next time you offer to clean it, but the host does/ or does not let you, will depend on him. Same goes for meals.
You either cook, or go and buy cooked food. Eat it outside or come home and eat it. If cooked at home, clean the kitchen and the utensils yourself. (seventh change) There is no house help, the kind we have in India, unless you are super rich...
Meeting you contacts…
Now you wish to call up your contacts. But if it's a weekend, then it's s strict no. It's bad manners to intrude into people's lives on weekends. So, H you leave a message and wait. You learn to respect people's space. (eight change)
You go and meet people after taking a proper appointment. You don't just barge in.  (I'm excluding close relatives).You don't take anyone or their time for granted. (ninth change)
You speak softly on your mobile phone. You also don't leave wrappers or garbage behind. (tenth change)
But the moment we step on out land, we are back to square one. We start complaining about others, but remain who we are. We don't have fear of law or its enforcement agencies. If we are caught, we arm-twist, pull strings and do whatever we can to get out of the sticky situation.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What I told 22 Bright, Young Policewomen From Across the World

I was a visiting faculty on a ten-day program in Hanoi for women in police leadership. It was an Asia Region Law Enforcement Management Program, also called 'ARLEMP'.

This programme is a long-term partnership between the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security through the General Department of Police (GDP), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and RMIT University in Vietnam.

22 young women police officers attended the training workshop from Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

For me it was a soulful experience. Each of them was bright, fit, healthy, enthusiastic, well educated, and in valuable positions in their respective countries. All rearing to lead and bond.

Professionally, they appeared to have been well trained and skilled at their work. But they were all curious to learn and know more.

I flew in there a day earlier, to sense their needs. So that when I addressed them I did not repeat what had already been shared with them.
Knowing the unique dilemma of marriage, motherhood and mobility these women face in their professional and personal lives, I decided to focus more on these issues.

Here is what I conveyed to them:

Be clear about who and what you want to be? And how far you wish to go? Whatever your choice, you are here to be happy and live your lives. Not be prisoners of compulsions!

With energy being limited, remember, you need to learn to manage it. You must say no to nonsense.

Learn to delegate, create and respect support systems, spend on buying time for chores you need not spend your energy on. Your wise management of energy will help you focus on areas which demand your total attention as senior cops, beyond being mothers, spouses and providers in unique cultural roles specific to your respective countries and backgrounds.

I shared with them also the mantra of the 3Ms:

The first M is to be the "Master of You".

To be your own master in professional and personal skills. For that you have to be adept at managing your resources. This implies being ever watchful of energy guzzlers, and your sources of recharge.

Be ever ready to learn, train and be mobile. Continue to upskill. Take whatever comes, ask for training support but learn as fast as you can on the job. Be prepared to deliver from day one and take responsibility too. No one will give you time. Therefore start your work from day one of your assignment and learn as you work.

Remember your first 10 days and then the next 20 days in any new responsibility will set the tone. As women you will be watched and scrutinized even more, by your bosses, peers, juniors and others.  
You will begin with being trusted, until you prove otherwise. This is a common perception women enjoy as professionals so far.

The second M is to be a "Member of the Community."

While you will be part of your professional community, that will be not enough. You have to step out of it and keep your world enlarged. This implies that you associate yourself with members of communities around causes dear to you. It can be education, children, women, senior citizens, environment, health, sports, adventure, or any other. This will keep you integrated with people and keep you connected beyond your police services.
The third M is to have a "Higher Meaning in Life."

Find a higher purpose in all you do. This is critical. Know why you are in policing. There has to be a higher purpose in your life, beyond the need to provide for yourself and your family.

It is this which will shape your spirit behind all your responses. Even where there is a higher challenge, you will see a higher purpose in it. Your responses will be not transactional but transformational. It is these qualities which will make you stand out and add value to your service. People will recognize the value addition you are making to the profession in tangible and intangible terms.

When we ran Delhi's most notorious prison we were not there to simply to run a prison, but to make sure people leaving the prison would not come back.

Similarly, in my police assignment whenever we arrested a person for a crime he had committed, we had to know the cause of that his committing the crime. We then worked backwards to see how do we as police officers with feet on the ground, could improve our services so that others can be checked, and this person once released, does not offend again.

Finding a higher purpose is the key to leadership. The real meaning of your position and the kind of influence you will exercise will set you apart from average performers. This will reaffirm faith that women cops are trustworthy.

After I finished speaking, they all gave me a warm hug, which I tweeted about too.

The quality of leadership training I saw being given to the Asian group is the kind regularly needed across ranks for 1,05,325 women cops in the Indian Police, both at the national and state levels. Coming together time to time as inter-units, in vertical interactions. This will do the service and the nation a lot of good.

Departments need to not only train more but also address support systems. Women cops really need to ensure that being mothers does not lead to self-denial of higher opportunities, as well as hard-earned experience to serve society.

This is one issue which I have found entirely unaddressed anywhere yet. But it will have to be addressed if women cops are to be enabled to realize their best potential for an inclusive safer society.

(Kiran Bedi is the first woman to have joined officer ranks of Indian Police Service. Recipient of Magsaysay Award (1994) for police and prison reforms, she has also worked as a UN police advisor. A tennis champion, she earned a PhD from IIT Delhi and is a Nehru Fellow. She's founded many NGOs and is the author of several books.)
Story First Published: June 09, 2015 11:03 IST

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

At 81, This Unsung Hero Is Turning Women's Lives Around

What did you do withMONEY EARNED from rolling papads?"

"I ran my home", she said with full confidence. "I lost my husband when I was only 30 years of age. But because I was already working at the Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad, and earning, I could educate my children, settle them all, and even build a house for myself."

This was the exchange with a woman in her mid-60s, present amongst a congregation of more than 1,000 women, rural and urban, belonging to marginalised sections of society from within the city of Jabalpur, assembled in a large auditorium for celebrating their accomplishments.

A slightly younger woman said, "I contribute to my home income, educate my children, and have some savings for a difficult time".

I asked one more... she confirmed the same spirit of self-reliance.

I wondered how these women became substantial income earners by rolling papads.

I got the answer from the event as it unfolded - Vivek Tankha (Co-Author) and I were the presiding guests at this annual event.

I saw a remarkable example of what honest and passionate leadership can do to bring workers, in this case, women, above the poverty line and make them bread earners, house owners, and bank account holders, with children educated and well-placed.

Women were earning good amounts thanks to equitable and productivity-linked distribution of profits earned collectively by nearly 4,000 women of Lijjat Papad's Jabalpur Branch, one of 81 branches of the firm which is headquartered in Mumbai.

Here is what got us so enthused to share this success story.

Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad, popularly known as Lijjat Group, is a legendry Indian women's cooperative involved in the manufacturing of various fast-moving consumer goods. Its Jabalpur branch in Madhya Pradesh was established in the year 1974 with 15 members; today it boasts of a membership of 4,000 women.

Members are women essentially from families below the poverty line. The mechanism of membership is collaborative which is nomenclatured as cooperative.

Members constitute the work force of this collaborative effort. The remunerations are linked to the levels of their productivity. Each determines how many hours she will work. Members can take work home.

This branch alone has an annual turnover of nearly 43 crores.

This year, the Society generated a profit of nearly 8.5 crores, which, like in all previous years, has been distributed among the members. The collaborative effort is also wedded to the highest principles of transparency and trust. Each paisa of profit gets transferred to the accounts of all 4,000 members (presently) under the Central Government 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna' scheme in proportion to their productivity. (To date, more than 60 crores of profits have been distributed among members).

In addition, the Jabalpur branch also contributes and maintains EPF & ESI payments accounts - an additional social security measure to aid and support its members.

Lijjat Papad's Jabalpur branch is no less empowering than what we have seen in the best cooperative movements like Amul; but because of where it is located, it's an unsung story.

The mentor, Pushpa Berry, (81 years of age), has led this entrepreneurial and social revolution of a workforce of 4,000 women. Her selfless and meticulous management has enabled this large population of women to lead a life of dignity and self-empowerment. She is their pillar of strength. She has chosen not to live with her wealthy sons in Singapore; she wishes to work and serve her members till her last breath.

Pushpa Berry believes that any sick unit can be turned around with this kind of equitable, productivity-based, revenue-sharing model. No loans, no debts. All self-driven, and trusting. A hundred percent Mahatma Gandhi's model of Trusteeship...

India is full of such success stories. We just have to recognise them. I hope the Madhya Pradesh government will take note.

With inputs from Mr Vivek Tankha (Senior advocate, Supreme Court, Former Additional Solicitor General of India and Former Advocate General of Madhya Pradesh)

(Kiran Bedi is the first woman to have joined officer ranks of Indian Police Service. Recipient of Magsaysay Award (1994) for police and prison reforms, she has also worked as a UN police advisor. A tennis champion, she earned a PhD from IIT Delhi and is a Nehru Fellow. She's founded many NGOs and is the author of several books.)

Story First Published: May 27, 2015 00:38 IST

Monday, May 18, 2015

We must teach youngsters to value time:

Summer break in schools has begun. We at the Navjyoti India Foundation are organising summer camps for our rural and resettlement colony children. The idea is to enable them to utilise the time in a creative manner. They can learn the creative arts and skills for which they don’t get time during school days.
The foundation organised one such function at Sohna village the other day. We involved neighbouring schools to inform children about the camp and the opportunities the organisation planned for them at their doorstep.
When asked to address the children, I shared with them a good practice my mother used to make us sisters follow through the summer break. I asked the students as to what they thought was the reason I did exceptionally well in academics and could answer most of the questions in class despite my missing classes on account of my tennis.
They thought I was intelligent, hard working, disciplined, fond of studies and had a sharp memory. Only one boy got it right saying his mother also ensured the same practice for him.
My mother loved education. She was particular about how we spent our time. As soon as summer holidays began, she would take us sisters to a bookshop, get us the books for the next class in advance and made us read them at least for two hours daily.
I used to read the books out of sheer curiosity to know what all was new. There was no pressure of exams, hence it was learning coupled with fun. Besides, mother would get us story and general knowledge books which we devoured with equal felicity.
I asked the children if their parents made them do this. From among nearly 200 children only two hands went up. These were of brothers, one of whom had got it right earlier.
So we decided to include the activity in the summer camp as an hour of self-study, calling it ‘Know Your Books in Advance’. The children welcomed the idea. We decided to teach them to use the library we have and the computers for learning. We would also ask seniors to teach juniors to inculcate confidence among them besides improving their communication skills.
Majority of the children were from rural background, perhaps first-generation learners. I told them, “See how much I have benefited from utilising my time in a better way as I listened to my parents. I continue to benefit even when my parents are not in this world. And today I am in a position to guide you.”
So the message is that the right practices, at the right age, with the right guidance, and children respecting them, makes them reap benefits all their lives.
I asked them as to how many of them would ask their parents to get them the books for the next class and attend a class of self-study, and even teach their juniors for an hour as part of the summer camp. All hands went up.
This is what the young generation needs or they would waste their time. Summer vacation is for creative learning -- music, art, skill, yoga, meditation, sports, computers, craft, social service, biking and trekking.
This is what we the parents, teachers and organisations owe to our children. We must instil value of time in youngsters.
“Use your summer vacation well as my mother taught me to, and reap the rewards,” I signed off. Fortunately, they were all ears. For me, it was a duty well performed. For our organisation, it was sheer joy.

Friday, May 15, 2015

When Cops Throw Bricks or Shoot Their Seniors

The recent case of a Delhi police man, captured on camera losing his cool by hurling a brick at a woman traffic violator (in retaliation to the woman driver hurling a brick at him, also recorded on camera), is indicative of an increasing malaise in policing systems and people's behaviour towards rule of law.

This sort of behaviour of both the police and the community is not a one-off incident in Delhi - there have been one too many cases like this in the recent past across the country.

This piece focusses on the police officer's conduct and the proposed corrective measures being considered by the Police Department in Delhi - whether these are holistic enough, and how else can we work on corrections for the larger good of society.

Just a few days ago, there was a case where an Assistant Sub Inspector of Mumbai Police shot his superior dead and then turned the gun on himself. It is believed that the junior officer was seeking leave, and was not getting it. This later led to a statement from the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, on the need to examine how cops can get a weekly off.

Leave in police services is a privilege and not a right per a pre-independence law that has not changed since then. Leave of police personnel is cancelled or suspended at the drop of a hat in India, a land of holidays.

There have been a few studies in recent years estimating the actual work load at police stations. Though not specifically aimed at the investigation function, these provide some clue about the existing gap.

A recently-released Bureau of Police Research report on eight-hour shifts in police stations looked at the existing "supply" and found that the majority of police stations had its staff putting in work days stretching from 11 to 14 hours. Further, most police station members could get only one or two weekdays off during the month. The report estimates that to enable policemen to work 48 hours a week with an assured weekly holiday, it will take 68% enhancements in the police stations' strength. Another highlight was that of the total strength, only a third was posted in police stations, though, admittedly, it was the most important part of police organisation. Indian police strength is 2.28 million personnel with a vacancy of 24.56% as on 1.1.2014. Source: BPRD (Bureau of Police Research and Development)

When departments have large vacancies, it leads to increased pressure on the present strength which has its own (often stress-induced) destructive behaviour.

This is expressed within the service and people in incidents termed road rage and other violence which are repeating far too often. The key difference is that just a few get publicly exposed while others go unreported, but leave behind increased hostility and a disconnect both within the department and between the cops and the people.

Such a situation cannot go on and needs urgent repair. It's a question oflife and limb of the nation.

Here are two initiatives noticed:

1. By the Police Commissioner in Mumbai where the Mumbai Police has started to look for answers to certain stress-induced or related behaviours. The rank and file have come together in batches to undergo psychological analysis to identify problems and seek remedies both for the individual and departmental resource management. The exercise is being led by Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria with the support of the Bombay Psychiatric Society. The questionnaire being filled by cops comprises of 68 questions which includes their conduct with their family, their relationship with their colleagues, and even this: "I have difficulty in remembering what I did the previous night after I was drunk".

Seniors leading this first batch said, "A larger message needed to be sent to the force that they should fill the forms with honesty and that they should not think their careers would be affected if they speak up against their seniors".

The officers assured the ranks that their responses shall be kept confidential and dealt with only by the experts. They will evaluate andcontact the concerned officer directly to suggest remedial measures required. They will, as the expert said, identify those fighting depression, stress, or addiction will be approached for treatment.

The Mumbai Police leadership has decided to cover the entire 50,000 force for psychological analysis.

Why not do something similar in other states? This in fact needs to be an ongoing exercise inbuilt to stay ahead and stay alert.

2. By Delhi Police Commissioner BN Bassi when he said, "We will need systemic changes to see that even under pressure, our officers act as per the law. No matter what the situation, they must behave with courtesy and not lose their temper." He further said, "As far as training of our officers is concerned, our objective is to see that our officers must not react out of rage".

He also suggested that policemen should carry devices to make sure their interactions with the public are recorded on audio tape or camera. He said the aim at the training level was to nurture among the personnel the ability to stay calm.

Staying calm, managing stress, the capacity to absorb hostility, feeling of deprivation of certain basic essentials, family and social responsibilities, and financial inadequacies to meet the expectations of growing children, single-income families...all this needs advanced management techniques.

There is a strong case for a comprehensive approach to Human Resource Management in police services, which ensures constant watchby seniors, periodic review, career progression, medical check-ups, closer communication, family welfare, etc.

In brief, 3 Es... Empowerment, Engagement, and an Ecosystem in human resource management.