The COVID-19 outbreak has provided an opportunity to reimagine police, which requires a focus on transformation of police-public relations and improving inter-agency coordination. Avanti Durani and Priya Vedavalli write in The Print about India's big chance to change the police into a true civilian service.
Since the coronavirus pandemic hit India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the first phase of lockdown in March, police have helped displaced migrants, protected healthcare workers and overseen the seamless movement of transport and logistics for essentials. These duties will continue for a while and will get even more challenging as the country starts moving again. There were also incidents of the police beating beating jobless workers and their families as they walked home. Contrasting these, there were videos of police feeding workers, and in a few cases celebrating birthdays of the elderly living alone in the lockdown.
But for the police to get things right, it is important that policymakers start looking at two important areas of structural change — police-public relations and inter-agency coordination. This fundamental re-imagining of a colonial-era police mentality will require tremendous political will and a renewed focus on reforms."
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