Prashant Dayal: Recently when Shivanand Jha was made the Gujarat DGP, he issued a circular to all the police stations across the state that all the police officials working in any capacity at any branch of Gujarat Police must wear the khaki uniform at least twice a week. But this is not a new phenomenon, every time a new DGP or Police Commissioner gets appointed, he/she passes such orders. Once they finish their tenure, the cops are back to wearing their civil dress.

If one has noticed, every time there are job openings in the police, lakhs of young men and women apply for the jobs, but when it comes to wearing their uniforms after getting the jobs, they act very apprehensive. To understand this, one needs to study the mindset of the lowest ranking police official. Officials from the ranks of Sub Inspectors and above have no qualms in sporting the khaki, but those below these ranks always don their uniforms after coming to the station or sometimes wear their civilian clothes above it on the way to work.

Even a jawan of the smallest rank in the army takes pride in wearing his olive green uniform while going for deputation and returning home. But a police constable never does so and it is something worth looking into. Back in the 1980s the Brahmins-Patels and Vaniya community members would never take up jobs in the police force because they considered it to be a job not worth their standards. But that is not the reason now, as a constable never wears the khaki in public because he/she believes that the common man would not look at them the same way they do when in civil clothes.

It is difficult to explain in words how the perception of a common man changes when they see someone in the police uniform. There is common idea about policemen being people who are corrupt and dishonest. The lowest ranking policeman knows that he is not being looked up with respect by the common citizens. Not all citizens are honest, similarly not all policemen are dishonest. Level of corruption in police administrations ranks way behind in the list of government offices that have corruption rampant. There are many notable examples of honesty and loyalty in service in the police force, but still people are having their mindset clouded with the idea that policemen are corrupt.

Not just the citizens, even the high ranking senior cops don't give the deserving respect to their constables and head-constables. Every day, at least once, these low ranking policemen are insulted by their seniors. But they have to keep quite in the name of respect and discipline. Senior police officials address head-constables who are actually older to them in age, by their name. They don't even have the courtesy of addressing them properly by respect to the age seniority. Thus as a result, these low ranking officials don't find themselves comfortable in being seen in their duty uniform in public. Because they know they are not going to get any respect and the people are going to see them as corrupt government servants.

There is rampant corruption in the armed forces too, but never has any citizen failed to look at army men in uniform with pride, which is otherwise with the policemen. And thus, though people show interest in getting a police job, they don't like donning the khaki with pride.