KAVITA GUSAIN & PROITI DAS | 23 JUNE, 2019
Fat Bellies and Fatigue, Cops Need Help!
Supervisory and monitoring mechanism needed
NEW DELHI: The health of police officials has been under scrutiny for a long period of time. Physical fitness is given the utmost priority as a condition to enter the service. But clearly the parameters required to ensure they remain fit after joining the police are faulty.
Writer and columnist Shobha De’s tweet created a storm over the social media in 2017. She mocked an obese policeman by uploading a photo that said “Heavy police bandobast in Mumbai today!”. The tweet went viral and Saifee Hospital offered to pay for his treatment. On the one hand Shobha De was trolled for not respecting the police force, but on the other hand Jogawat (the policeman) thanked her for the alert.
Fitness and slothfulness go together. And while the battle of the bulge with periodic notices issued by the authorities of zero tolerance for pot bellies, as in Karnataka, has still not been won news keeps filtering in of cops sleeping on the job. Just this week 3 policemen were apprehended in Indore for napping on duty All three officials have been suspended and posted to police lines, according to their seniors. Another recent case was of Delhi itself where in Vijay Nagar Police Station an Assistant Sub Inspector was found asleep inside the police station.
The unhealthy lifestyle of the police force is proving a liability for the country. Questioning the system, Maja Daruwala, Senior Advisor of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and a known expert on police reforms told The Citizen, that ill health in the police was not new, well known with considerable study and reports behind it. “The question is why it s not being addressed in a systemic way?” she said.
Talking about how vast the problem is Maja Daruwala said “Regular medical check-ups may help but it is not the answer nor occasionally taking disciplinary action. All that is ad hoc responsibility. What is needed is for the supervisory officers to design systems that take much better care for their men.” She pointed out that the question was no longer about just the male cops, as “there is a growing number of women in the police now.”
Ashok Saini a retired sub inspector of Delhi police said “The working hours are hectic, if there is a PCR call, we have to rush no matter what”. Talking about duty calls he added, sometimes one has to give night duty for three days continuously. Mentioning about the health care system, Ashok said “once you enter in the service there will be a medical exam, and when you are due for promotion.” But as he added, “there is no time for food let alone physical exercise.”
The health care system in the Indian army is totally different, when compared to the police. Physical fitness is a requisite with time devoted to this in the daily exercise routine. Apart from regular health check ups and a sound diet. There is an Annual Examination Medical System which insures a healthy chart for army personnel.
“A physically and mentally stressed out police person is of no use to the service and possibly a danger to the public”, Maja Daruwala said.
The policemen ---fat and fatigued-- are walking health time bombs. But then little has been done in the past, and no on really seems to be interested in making the health of the police force a necessary priority.
If it is any consolation Indian cops are not alone. Pakistan authorities have also been fighting police flab without much success, as the photograph below shows:
And in the United States at one level the fight for a trimmer and leaner force seems to have been lost with all police departments according to the media finding the going rough. One of the photographs of cops, who seem to be happier with their weight, than cops in our part of the world: