news Wednesday, June 24, 2015 - 05:30
They cook, clean, tend to the garden, drop off the children to school and pick them up, take their employers’ wives out for errands. But they aren’t domestic workers. Meet the orderlies of police forces across the country, part of a system that was put in place during the British rule over the Indian sub-continent. While a Parliamentary panel has recommended that the system of orderlies be abolished from both the Army, and the state police forces, the report found no takers. Recently, Director-General and Inspector-General of the Karnataka Police Om Prakash and his son were jointly interviewing around 10-15 police constables so that they could be deputed as orderlies, according to a Bangalore Mirror report. Low ranking police personnel drawn from the reserve police, orderlies are deputed into the service of officers of Deputy Superintendent of Police and above. According to a Deccan Chronicle report, each officer can avail a certain number of orderlies but information procured under the Right to Information Act showed that many officers were violating these norms. Police officials who spoke to The News Minute on condition of anonymity said that in most cases, those who were deputed as orderlies were doing the personal errands of the officers. In one case, a police constable recalls the Police Control Room van or the PCR van introduced in Karnataka’s cities some years was used to ferry the family of a senior officer around when they were visiting the city. In August 2013, The Hindu reported that Bengaluru-based RTI activist group Mahiti Hakku Adhyanana Kendra had sought information from the state police on the status of orderlies. It turned out that around 3,000 constables were working as orderlies, and the state incurred an annual expenditure of around Rs 78 crore for providing orderlies. In April 2013, a Parliamentary panel comprising 29 MPs and headed by BJP Rajya Sabha member Venkaiah Naidu recommended that the government abolish the practice altogether. The Times of India had reported that even the Second Administrative Reforms Committee and the Sixth Pay Commission too had said the same. The Parliamentary panel however, had also recommended that the government sanction posts of cooks, drivers and attendants separately, when the country had a shortage of over five lakh police personnel in a sanctioned strength of 21.24 lakh. Several years before this, however, Andhra Pradesh had done away with the system, after an orderly died under mysterious circumstances. This culture of subservience to a higher ranking official is not just limited to the orderly system when it comes to the police. It pervades the entire hierarchy where every official exerts power over those junior to themselves. During a visit to a police station this reporter remembers meeting a Deputy Superintendent of Police in charge of the district crime records bureau for some statistics. Sitting at his table in a run-down office, the DySP said: “Eh, barappa illi!” (Come here you!). Bending a little, he pulled up a plastic bag from under the table and removed the jar of a mixer from inside, and asked the constable who turned up to get it repaired. Another practice that the police have is the “salaam” culture. One constable in every police station is supposed to hold a rifle – unloaded – and wait at the entrance of the police station. That constable’s job is to stand in attention and salute every officer above the rank of sub-inspector when they come and go. The “mai-baap” mentality is everywhere, even outside the Deputy Commissioner or Collector’s office, standing in ujala-tinged white uniform and red sash, complete with red-trimmed turban to salute and be ignored. It’s high time we do away with it.