India Insight

Bhaskar Rao: the cop with one head and too many hats

September 10, 2013

Bureaucracy begets comedy as a general rule. The latest example is Bhaskar Rao, a police officer in Karnataka.

As the Deccan Chronicle reported on Aug. 27, Rao, an inspector general of police (IG) responsible for the internal security of the state, is also filling the role of training chief.

This forces him to write letters to himself to seek approval for personnel training programmes.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

As the Inspector General of Police, Internal Security Division, Bhaskar Rao has to write to IGP, Training, Bhaskar Rao that his men from the Karnataka State Industrial Security Force need to be sent for training for which the date should be fixed at the earliest. He then goes back to the office of IGP, Training in Carlton House and replies to the letter that he had sent to himself a day before from his office as IGP, ISD on Richmond Road with the training schedule for the KSISF.

In a letter addressed to IGP, ISD, Bhaskar Rao states that in response to “your letter seeking dates for training of your men we are sending you the following schedule as under.

This cannot be changed…” s/d IGP, Training, Bhaskar Rao. And when the communication from the IGP, ISD is delayed, the pressure on IGP, Training mounts from the subordinate officers, who report to him that there’s been no communication from the other side.

At last count, Rao says that he has four jobs in two Bangalore offices to handle. The other two jobs are as the head of Karnataka State Industrial Force and chief of the state’s anti-terror cell.

“I have a separate PA (personal assistant), separate office, separate vehicle, separate driver, separate administrative officer as IG training and everything separate as another (as IG internal security),” Rao told India Insight by telephone.

“There is no question of mixing the two of them.”

Why?

Because these are two institutions with separate organizational structures, he says.

And they cannot be merged.

As of 2012, there were 3,393 Indian Police Service (IPS) officers though there are supposed to be 4,720, according to a report that former Home Secretary R K Singh presented to parliament in 2012.

This is because government several years ago decided to trim the bureaucracy and reduce the intake of civil servants, including police officers. The number of civil servants to be appointed in a year, through a nationwide exam, is decided by the central government on a yearly basis.

This of course created a shortfall of police officers, which the government tried to fix in 2012 by holding an exclusive test to recruit more  police officers, apart from the yearly examination held to appoint bureaucrats to the central government. The plan was to allow para-military and army officers to apply for policing jobs.

Prakash Singh, a former police chief of Uttar Pradesh, said there are many instances of people having dual charges, but “one man addressing himself and then replying back”, is something he has never heard of.

“There is an acute shortage of IPS officers in the country due to the myopic policies in the last 10 years,” he said. “These are the vacancies that were allowed to build up over a period of time.”

Now, according to a Times of India report, in Bangalore alone, many IPS officers are asked to perform multiple duties.

 They include NS Megharik, who handles crime and technical services and is commissioner of road safety; M.N. Reddy, in charge of “law and order” and railway services; and Praveen Sood, head of the police computer wing and managing director of the Karnataka State Police Housing Corporation.

Though it might be troubling for some to see a lack of police personnel, Singh says the curious case of Bhaskar Rao is not something that should lose anyone any sleep.

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