Policing in India in the 21st century is still guided by the 1862 Indian Police Act, passed by a colonial power deeply distrustful of the native population and eager to ensure comprehensive control over both the population and the instrument of their repression. Amazingly, no government in post-1947 India has thus far seen the need to replace this archaic piece of legislation with a modern formulation that would reflect the changes that have taken place in the Indian polity, society and economy over the past 151 years. Small wonder. The 1862 Act, passed just years after the 1857 revolts against British rule, give those that govern absolute powers over the police force, just as it gives the police rights and powers over the citizens not seen in more evolved democracies. The 1862 Act has been (mis)used by politicians to ensure that the police forces of the day remain subservient to their desires, even when — as is often the case — these collide with the public interest. Those in uniform who have the effrontery to protest against improper political interference swiftly find themselves transferred to distant and inhospitable locations, often again and again and again. Some estimates claim that the average tenure of a superintendent of police within his or her district is only a little more than six months. Apart from the obvious fact that it usually takes at least that long to understand the nuances of the law and order problem within a district, and beginning the process of dealing with them, such brief tenures wreak havoc on family life and in particular on the education of children. Small wonder, that many in service prefer compromise with unethical political commands to standing by principle and refusing to carry them out. Outrages such as the 16 December 2012 rape and murder of an innocent 23-year-old highlight the breakdown in policing even in the national capital. The only way to rectify the situation is not to pass yet more (unimplemented and often not implementable) laws, but to undertake serious political reform. It is time for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Sushilkumar Shinde to examine the numerous reports on police reform gathering dust on North Block shelves and implement their core findings, on firewalling the police from undue interference, and on improving recruitment, career development and training methods.