Monday, January 20, 2014

Fight On

This might come as a surprise to those who read OTFS regularly, but I do support Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal's siege of the national capital, demanding that the Delhi Police be placed under the State Government, as is the case with every other state in India. It's not some opportunistic move to the AAP camp just as it seems to be gaining strength (actually, it seems to be losing whatever little it had) - I firmly remain with the BJP and Narendra Modi.

However, the issue of police reforms is different from every other issue. It enjoys a special pedestal because every other issue is inevitably linked to it. No reform, no law can be implemented without police reforms. A compromised police force that does not behave responsibly and does not obey the law itself makes a complete mockery of democracy and makes governance itself a joke. The UPA Government approved FDI in retail, but no foreign firm has entered India because of the excessive corruption (and red tape). After the Nirbhaya tragedy, new laws were passed, but rapes continue unabated. The Passport portal has been made online but the root cause of corruption and delays is the police verification step.

India does not have a professional police force - nobody can deny this fact. And this is the Achilles Heel of any reform - nothing, absolutely nothing can be achieved without the state being able to honestly implement those reforms. The police is not merely a system to handle law and order, it is a crucial arm of the government, so crucial that it is the only civilian branch that has a legal monopoly on violence. It is a crucial instrument of governance itself - intent and laws mean nothing without it. And that is why, police reforms enjoy a hugely different position when it comes to issues - it stands right on top, before all else.

In the present case, AAP is technically protesting against the Home Minister's refusal to suspend the relevant policeman pending inquiry and to transfer the Delhi Police to the State Government. However, it is a larger signal that Kejriwal has rightly sent, that a police force like this is the antithesis of democracy. Political parties have remained tight-lipped about this, making and breaking promises freely. Now, the time has come to protest strongly. Some may call AAP's methods anarchist, but nothing short of anarchy will push reforms through - there is just no other way and it is far too important. 

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