Faced with challenges like depression, cases of suicide and corruption among its personnel, the Delhi Police is attempting to increase the job satisfaction rate among its personnel who often face flak from the public due to their “notorious image”, thus making the cops’ job that much more difficult. To achieve this aim, a Welfare and Estate department was established in 2014 to look after the needs of the police personnel and their families. S. Vasudeva Rao, Special Commissioner of Police, Welfare and Estate, was appointed for Delhi. In a conversation with The Sunday Guardian, he shared his overview of the journey so far. Excerpts:
Q: It has been three years that the Delhi Police has set up a special cell for the welfare of its personnel, and you have been heading it ever since. What have been the achievements so far?
A: We have achieved a lot in the last three years. We revamped the “Sampark Sabhas”, in which every month, the District Commissioner of Police (DCP) or the unit head meets the personnel of their unit or district to hear their grievances and a report of the same is submitted to my office which is monitored by me personally. Apart from this, we have streamlined several welfare services that the Delhi Police offers. We started an SMS alert system to keep the personnel updated about all the 32 welfare services which include sanctioning of their loans, reimbursement claims, mediclaims, leave orders, medical rest permissions and leave encashment, among many others. We have also developed Delhi Police’s education funds for education loans to their children, and the amenities’ fund for miscellaneous loans. Accidental insurance of Rs 30 lakh has also been made available in coordination with Axis Bank. Along with this, we have re-designated our Estate Officers as “Welfare and Estate Officers” to ensure that infrastructural support becomes an integral part of their welfare. Though we have managed to bring much-needed changes, I feel that a lot more can be done as I believe that the true potential of the force would only be realised when they are happy in their jobs.
Q: What was the idea behind starting a separate welfare cell for the Delhi Police?
A: Welfare of Delhi Police personnel has been an integral part of police discipline and such a department is perhaps a first-of-its-kind in the country. The idea was to address the grievances of every police personnel in Delhi. It also shows the interest of top officers in the Delhi Police about concern for their subordinates and their well-being.
Q: Though there are various welfare and support schemes to ensure financial security of the personnel and their families, the corruption rate in Delhi Police has stayed at 34%. What are the reasons?
A: This is a matter that the Vigilance Department of the Delhi Police force will be able to discuss better.
Q: There has always been concern about the lack of leaves in the police force, and this, at times, demoralises the force. How have you been able to address this issue?
A: Yes, this has been a problem in the police force because of the nature of our job. However, we have carved out policies to ensure that police personnel get leaves they are entitled to. We have also started the process of granting leaves or duty-offs to personnel on their children’s birthdays, marriage functions at home or family illnesses, with priority. We deal with such cases in a sensitive manner and ensure that leaves are distributed properly. We streamline the cases of those who need immediate release. The DCPs and the Unit heads have also been instructed to deal with the force as part of their family.
Q: Depression is also a major concern among the police force. We have seen many instances in which police officers have gone to the extent of taking their own lives. How are you dealing with such issues as head of the Welfare branch of the Delhi Police?
A: Every death is an unfortunate incident and it is more unfortunate when we have to lose our people due to such incidents. Suicides within the Delhi Police have, however, come down, but yes, we have seen such cases emerging from our force as well and sometimes some are beyond our control. We have ensured that de-stress activities are conducted by every police district and unit across the Capital. We have also started a yoga programme in every district to de-stress our personnel. In this regard, we have also trained over 100 yoga trainers to train the personnel. We have also released a DVD on yoga and will also launch a YouTube channel on the same soon. Apart from this, the DCPs have also been instructed to meet their officers from time to time and listen to their grievances or any personal problem they face which they want to share and help them with counselling, if needed. A personal interaction with DCPs and ACPs is also conducted so that they get to know each and every person in his/her district and help them or assist them even in their personal issues. We have ensured a personal touch with every personnel in the force.
Q: A delay in the disbursement of pensions and grants within the police force has been a major problem. Have you been able to address that?
A: Yes, since I have taken over, I have ensured speedy settlement of all pension cases. Earlier, it used to take months and months for settlement of any pension case, but now it is done in less than a month. I personally oversee that it is done in less than a month, unless any legality is involved in the case.
We have also been able to achieve pension pendency cases from 182 earlier to less than 100 at all times now. Not only this, in cases of death, we send a condolence letter to the family of the personnel, which is delivered by an officer physically after which an officer is deputed to coordinate with the family for all the paper work related to the release of grants and all other welfare services due to the family and a grant of Rs 5 lakh is given for immediate relief to the family.