How diverse is the Indian police? Not much, according to the “Status of Policing in India Report 2019,” or SPIR. According to the report, marginalised communities, such as the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes are under-represented in the police forces of almost all the states. Common Cause, an NGO, and the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, a social-science research institute, prepared the report by using official government data and surveying close to twelve thousand police personnel across 21 states.
The findings of the report suggest that state police forces recruit primarily from upper-caste communities. When presented with these findings, retired police officers did not seem to see any issues. Instead, they emphasised that the principles of reservation and diversity are not given importance while recruiting personnel. “At the time of police recruitment, anyone who is physically fit is selected and, to the best of my knowledge, there is no discrimination,” Prakash Singh, a senior retired IPS officer who has served as the director general of two state police forces, said.
“If people from certain communities are not coming forward it is their problem and there is hardly anything that the police can do,” he added. Singh is the chairman of the Indian Police Foundation, a think tank that works on the efficiency and social sensitivity of the police. The think tank provided letters of endorsement to the SPIR team, which helped in its data collection. Vipul Mudgal, the director of Common Cause, however, emphasised the importance of diversity. “No one is saying that one should have token representation, but all the vulnerable sections should be represented,” Mudgal said.
Each state police force has a different quota of reservation for SC, ST and OBC personnel. A 2017 report by the Bureau of Police Research and Development provides a breakdown of these numbers. For instance, the Punjab police has sanctioned a 25-percent reservation for the SC community—the highest reservation for the community in any state’s police force. But Dalits comprise nearly thirty percent of Punjab’s population. The SPIR calculated the average percentage of personnel from these communities in the state police between 2012 and 2016 in proportion to the sanctioned percentage of posts for them. According to the report, few states have been able to fill the posts reserved for candidates from these communities.
Barring two states, all the states and UTs selected for measuring the representation of SCs in the SPIR fall short of meeting the sanctioned percentage of posts reserved for the community. Punjab scored the highest with 101.8 percent and Uttarakhand came a close second with 100.8 percent. Uttar Pradesh scored the lowest, having filled only 40.2 percent of the posts for SC candidates. According to the 2017 BPRD report, the state provides a 21-percent reservation for the community. Chhattisgarh scored 55 percent in the SPIR—it reserves 12 percent for the community. Haryana, which reserves 15 percent posts for the SC community, scored 57.1 percent in the SPIR report.