Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Rashtrapati Nivas, Shimla
in collaboration with
Himachal Pradesh Police (Raising Day Celebration)
is organizing a
POLICING A DIVERSE INDIA
(18-19 April 2016)
India is a diverse and rapidly modernizing society. Significant aspects of socio-cultural diversity in the country intersect on several axes. It goes without saying that while this contributes immensely towards the richness of social interaction; it also creates an environment fraught with possibilities of friction. There do also, nevertheless, exist viable means of reconciliation and conflict resolution within the constitutional framework. For the most part a functional balance has been generally maintained. This is not to deny, however, that there have been several occasions when deeply entrenched social biases have influenced the functioning of the police and other security agencies. The exhibition of such bias by public agencies not only aggravates an already conflictual situation: in a larger sense it essentially diminishes the idea of India as an accommodating, multicultural nation.
According to the 2011 census the population of India stood at 1,210,193,422. This billion plus population of India consists of Indians who practice all the major religions of the world such as Islam, Christianity and Judaism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism and a unique gift from the Persia of yore – Zoroastrianism. A myriad indigenous cults, practices and religious beliefs are followed by numerous sects and sub-sects in different parts of the country.
The astonishing linguistic diversity of India is all too evident. Grierson’s (1903-28) survey of the Indian languages had listed 179 languages and 544 dialects in India. Having recognized eleven major languages initially, the Constitution of India has been amended four times to add eleven more languages thereby doubling the list of official languages. Furthermore, nearly half a dozen more linguistic groups continue to strive for obtaining a constitutional status for their language.
The ‘People of India’ project of the Anthropological Survey of India that generated comprehensive data on the socio-cultural diversity of the country between 1985 and 2000 identified 4,694 communities in its forty-three volume work. The project prepared a database of 17,129 entries, of which 8,530 refer to castes/communities and remaining 8,566 relate to sub-groups (3,123), surnames (2,729) and the names of deities, places and titles. It identified
2,619 castes, nearly 4,599 languages and dialects in twelve language families and some twenty-four scripts (Singh 1996). Diversity of kinship, marriage rites and customs, inheritance, modes of living, community life, forms of land tenure, agricultural operations and so on, abound in India.
Policing such a diverse society is a challenge of a quotidian nature. The police need to be aware not only of the different communities inhabiting an area, but also of the interstices and overlapping spaces where inter-community relations are rather sensitive and liable to turn volatile. Communal conflagrations are triggered by minor misunderstandings because of the inability of persons in authority to appreciate crucial elements of diversity around which community identities are constructed. It is important that these contentious social and physical spaces be sensitively identified olice officials made cognizant of the role these play in maintaining communal harmony. All too often, the social bias of the police and security tends to become a matter of heated discussion whenever and wherever communal conflict occurs.
Yet another aspect of India’s iniquitous social order is the caste system that insidiously permeates almost every social section and aspect of life. Notwithstanding higher expectations from the police, its professional vulnerability often becomes quite explicit when complaints regarding atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis have to be dealt with. Equally inept is the manner in which matters pertaining to women are handled by a force that has very evidently failed to keep pace with the growing demand to swiftly alter gender relations in a highly globalized world.
Special policing is a major area where not only the police, but also the paramilitary and armed forces are involved in policing. Special policing seeks to address major public security issues arising from terrorism and insurgency. Political movements that gravitate in some measure towards secessionism (for example in the some parts, and amongst some social sections, of the north east and Jammu and Kashmir) have thrown up challenges of terrorism and insurgency. As a first line of defence in public security, the police are the first to confront such situations. Indeed, India’s diversity creates challenges for the security agencies here as well. North eastern India and Jammu and Kashmir are clearly distinct socio-cultural regions. They also represent rather different dimensions and manifestations of policing problems. Special legal instruments such as the AFSPA are often seen by the state and security forces as indispensable enabling provisions. They have, however, also engendered great distrust and serious contention between the government and its agencies on one hand and the affected people and human rights groups on the other.
The Maoist movement is today, perhaps, the most significant kind of unrest that has found roots in the Indian heartland, and draws strength from the inequities of an economic system that has allowed millions to be left behind. Known in government parlance as Left Wing Extremism (LWE), it is often viewed as a revolutionary movement that shares the characteristics of an insurgency. Given its close connection with rural and tribal people, the police and paramilitary forces dealing with LWE have been repeatedly accused of avoidable brutality even as they occasionally become victims of an escalating circle of violence. The fact that tribals and Dalits constitute the foot-soldiers of the LWE groups makes this
movement a matter of considerable concern, and one that deserves urgent and detailed interrogation.
The proposed national seminar seeks to address issues pertaining to the enormous challenges confronting organisations tasked with policing such a diverse country as India. The sub-themes mentioned below are only indicative. Participants are welcome to work on a topic that they consider to be relevant and important, but within the larger vision of the seminar as summarized in this concept note.
Sub-themes (indicative) that could be addressed in different technical sessions are:
* The police in India: Its historical burden, constitutional, administrative and governance dimensions.
* Society-police relations: political protests, popular movements and their relationship with the police.
* Struggles for equity: case mobilization, cast violence, villages societies, customary law and the police.
* Protecting the marginalized: gender, LGBT, senior citizens, human trafficking.
* Religious discord: minorities, majoritarianism and communal violence.
* Regional movements: insurgency, LWE, conflict over natural resources, villages militias, human rights and the police.
* Terrorism: local, regional and all-India dimensions, radicalism, reaction, citizenship.
* Money, markets and muscle: corporate and organized crime, urban policing, technology and white collar crime.
A limited number of participants will be invited for the seminar. Those interested in participating should send an abstract (500-700 words) of the proposed paper along with their C.V. to following Email ID's:
Call for Papers:
A limited number of participants will be invited for the Seminar. Those interested in participating should send an abstract (500-700 words) of the proposed paper along with their C.V. to:
1. Shri Zahoor H. Zaidi, IPS,
Inspector General (Administration),
Himachal Pradesh Police Headquarters,
Nigam Vihar, Shimla- 171002
Tele:0177- 2623063 +91-9418112328(Mobile)
2. Dr. Ajay K. Mehra,
Centre for Public Affairs,
“SWASTI”; D-104, Sector 27; Noida 201 301; UP, India
Former: Ford Foundation Chair in Dalit Studies,
Jamia Millia Islamia (2008)
Tele: (0120) 244 1852; +91 98117 22433 (Mobile)
3. Shri Kamal Sharma
Academic Resource Officer,
Indian Institute of Advanced Study,
Rashtrapati Nivas, Shimla- 171005
Tel: 0177-2831385; +91-9418450024 (Mobile)
Email : email@example.com
The last date for submission of abstract (500-700 words) is 31 January, 2016. The Institute intends to send Invitation letters to selected participants by 10 February, 2016. It is the policy of the Institute to publish the proceedings of the seminars it organizes. Hence, all invited participants will be expected to submit complete papers, hitherto unpublished and original, with citations in place, along with a reference section, to the Academic Resource Officer, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla – 171005 by 11 April, 2016. Style sheet for the submission of papers may be downloaded from the IIAS website http://www.iias.org/content/shss.
IIAS, Shimla, will be glad to extend its hospitality during the seminar period and is willing to reimburse, if required, rail or air travel expenses from the place of current residence in India, or the port of arrival in India, and back.
Indian Institute of Advanced Study
Phone (0177) 2831376, 2832195
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