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Why PM Modi is pushing states, UTs for ‘one nation, one police uniform’

After the appeal for 'one nation, one election' found few takers either in the opposition or in the judiciary — while initiatives such as ‘one nation, one ration card’ and ‘one nation, one grid’ have been successful — Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called for nationwide uniformity in another domain, law enforcement, by floating the idea of 'one nation, one police uniform'. The prime minister urged the states and union territories to give it a thought, not as an “imposition” but one wrapped with a good intention to give the force a common identity.

On the second day of the Chintan Shivir of Home Ministers at Surajkund in Haryana, the prime minister said that having a uniformed attire for police officers across India would not only ensure quality products due to the scale at which they would be produced but also give a common identity to law enforcement as citizens would recognise police personnel anywhere in the country.

“On the lines of ‘one nation, one ration card’, ‘one nation, one mobility card’, ‘one nation, one grid’, we can also think of having ‘one nation, one police uniform’. Yes, there can be different numbers and insignia for the states, but is this something which can be discussed among states and police establishments?” the prime minister asked.

Currently, the British-era Khaki is worn by police across the country, but its colour, fabric and patterns change with every state and union territory.

Why PM Modi wants one uniform for all police forces in India: Political reason

“The ‘one nation, one uniform’ for police is just an idea. I am not trying to impose it on you. Just give it a thought. It may happen, it may happen in 5, 50 or 100 years. All the states should just think it over,” the prime minister said, adding that he believed the identity of police across the country should be the same.

Reiterating the need to remove the ground network of terrorism, Modi remarked that every government in its own capacity and understanding was trying to do its part. “It is the need of the hour to come together as one and handle the situation. Every form of Naxalism, be it the one with guns or the one with pens, has to be uprooted to prevent them from misleading the youth of the country,” he said.

The prime minister said such forces were increasing their intellectual sphere to pervert the minds of coming generations. “For the sake of the unity and integrity of the nation and with the inspiration of Sardar Patel, we cannot allow any such forces to flourish in our country. Such forces get significant help internationally,” he added.

In the past eight years, the number of Maoism-affected districts in the country has come down significantly, Modi said. “Be it Jammu and Kashmir or Northeast, today we are moving fast towards permanent peace. Now we have to focus on rapid development in all these sectors including infrastructure,” the prime minister said.

Technical reason for 'one nation, one police uniform'

The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), under the Ministry of Home aAffairs (MHA), had designed a new all- friendly ‘smart uniform’ for Indian police in 2017 in association with the National Institute of Design (NID) and sent a report to all the states and union territories. The BPRD developed nine prototypes of the new uniform with features such as shirt, trousers, belt, beret (cap), insignia, shoes and jacket changed, apart from designing new rainwear and headgear for the law enforcers.

Since law and order is a state subject, decisions on uniform and other aspects of policing come under local governments. It is not known if any state adopted the prototypes of BPRD’s smart uniform for the police force.

During the research, BPRD found that “there was no uniformity in police uniform in India.” “While basic fit and shade changed from state to state, there were flaws like thick trouser fabric, which made it inconvenient in warm conditions, and not having enough space to carry personal/official objects. The helmets worn by cops are too heavy during a law-and-order situation, the metal belts are too wide and big, which poke in the stomach while bending forward, and has no option to carry cellphones, baton or keys etc., like other police forces over the world,” according to the BPRD ‘Smart Uniform’ report.

Another problem the BPRD found was in police officers’ shoes. Leather shoes, according to the report, were found to be very uncomfortable for long duty hours. Also, the Khaki is not identifiable by the public during night and several cops complained that similar Khaki colour was used by staffs, private agencies, postmen, department personnel, etc., which they argued took away the uniqueness of the police, BPRD said.

The new uniform designed by the bureau and the NID has features like a softer khaki shade (beige) shirt to give the cops a smart and clean look and provide effective visibility of insignias, nameplate, badge, medals, ribbons, and epaulettes on shoulder and a standardised ‘Police’ print on the back.

Administrative reason

The prime minister also urged the police forces to assess their vehicles in light of the new scrappage policy. “Police vehicles should never be old as it is linked to their efficiency,” he said.

Meanwhile, the prime minister on Friday urged states to work together given how ‘borderless’ crimes are these days, and criminals operated from across the borders through technology.

Even though law and order are the responsibility of states as per the Constitution, the PM noted that they are equally linked to the unity and integrity of the country. “Every state should learn from each other, take inspiration from each other, work for the betterment of the country…this is the spirit of the constitution and it is also our responsibility towards citizens,” he said.

“Whether it is cybercrime or the use of drones for the smuggling of weapons or drugs, the government needs to keep working towards new technologies to tackle the menace. The law-and-order system can be improved with the help of smart technology,” Modi said, adding that the 5G technology can be of immense help in this area.

"We should have a pan-India outlook, all our best practices should be interoperable and should have a common link,” he said.

Asserting that the union government repealed close to 1,500 pre-Independence era laws, Prime Minister Modi urged state governments to also repeal local laws that are obsolete.

Further, the prime minister said “a single instance of has the capability to snowball into a matter of national concern”, as he cited the example of protests across the country when the union government announced reservations in armed forces under the ‘Agniveer scheme’ in June.

“We need to educate people on how to analyse and verify any information before forwarding it. We have to come up with technological advancement to prevent the spread of ”, he added.

Stressing the need to end all forms of Naxalism, Modi said “be it the one with guns or the one with pens, Naxals have to be uprooted to prevent them from misleading the youth of the country.”

The MHA is holding the two-day conference of home ministers, home secretaries and director generals of police of states and union territories, Central Armed Police Forces and Central Police Organisations to provide a national perspective to policy formulation on internal security-related matters.

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