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Citizen Army against growing unorganized crime, hate crime, crime against women & children

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Safety and dignity are both the most basic and essential needs/rights of a human being. Evolution and development can only happen when a person feels safe in their surroundings and leads a dignified life.

 With growing incidents of rage, intolerance, crimes against women, flouting of  women's rights, exploiting vulnerability of children and the poor, crimes in the name of moral imposition which is nothing but raw abuse of power; the average citizen feels insecure, at times ashamed, and in general helpless and at a loss. 

We have police and courts to uphold the law but we all know the system- how efficient and effective it is. Even in the cases taken up by media and higher officials, it takes decades to take action by the most competent officials. It will not be wrong to say after looking at the results of our society that it has practically become dysfunctional. While all is not bad and I do not want to sound cynical, we the citizens are in despair and lawlessness is prevalent in our streets and cities. It is a shame for all Indians that our Capital city has gotten the tag of Rape Capital.

 It is an unimaginable shock what happened to a 7-year-old child in an International School recently. Crimes against Minors are increasing by the day in our most literate and growing cities like Bangalore & Gurgaon which are supposed to be Silicon Valley/Millennium City of India. What is the use of so much development if our children are being eyed by monsters as easy prey for their perverted and sick misgivings? What kind of future will our children inherit living in such a society with fear, shame, and helplessness?

 As a parent, i daily grapple with the concern of raising my innocent children in such an atmosphere. I am concerned of the safety of the women & children in my family and this is the general state of most citizens in our country. 

 There is no deterrence of the law, people who have physical power and money power or influence in political circles are abusing this power blatantly, brazenly, and completely against the law of the land. They have no fear in their minds, no compassion in their hearts, no conscience in their souls and much of unnecessary entitlement. Instead of enforcing the law strictly and making examples/creating deterrents, our agencies have been ineffective in bringing such bad elements to book and thus this behaviour is on the rise in society.

 We, the educated and capable, owe it to our country to solve these issues.

 As we are also aware, that our economy is not at its peak and job creation is very slow in both organized and unorganized sector. We have a huge demographic dividend which to our shock instead of working in our favour seems to be a burden on the country currently. If we don't employ the educated and the skilled youth, imagine what will happen in the days to come?

 With millions joining our workforce every month, how are we going to keep the young away from frustration of not being able to convert their Energy into anything worthy of meaning, contribution, and utility. The government is no doubt trying several initiatives but we have not envisaged the gravity of this problem yet.

The demographic dividend is a time bomb facing us. It can soon become a curse if we are not able to employ our youth gainfully. They can resort to hooliganism & our nation’s youth would become Rogues by the tonnes given what an idle mind can do. 

 Now we have 2 problems - 1) Safety and dignity of our citizens 2) lot of young unemployed youth who are educated or atleast can be skilled for useful work. 

 If we choose to do nothing and typical “Chalta Hai”, attitude of our country, Problem (2) will make Problem (1) even worse. Our society will worsen off surely in medium/long term.

 However, we can solve both problems and turn around the situation over the next few years. 

 This requires collaboration and concerted efforts from legislature to possibly pass or amend a few regulations, state governments to implement them seamlessly, police, and other civic agencies to help uphold and execute the necessary changes and help create an environment of safety and dignity for our citizens. 

 I am proposing a small and humble initiative which may help to a certain extent in acting as a deterrent, in pre-empting some issues/crimes and can also help utilize our human resource which is not getting channelized productively. 

 We must have the framework and institution of “Citizen Army” in our country – a form of Public Private Partnership but not for Economic Reasons – for Reason of Humanity & Civility. It’s administration needs to be entrusted with the best Retired Defence & Other bureaucrats who have been distinguished officers and have made the country proud. The selection of the Core of Citizen Army Leadership should be monitored by none other than High Court of every jurisdiction.  The Charter of the “Citizen Army” should be laid out to ensure it is peaceful and lawful in its duty and subscribing to its basic objective.

 The Citizen Army should be based on volunteering but ensuring a minimum physical and emotional capability to handle situations of distress where it would need courage and control to overcome the situation. The powers of the “Citizen Army” must be contextual & defined as per their Role keeping in mind this is neither a Police force nor a Military however this is a group of people who are determined, positive, law abiding and motivated to work for their fellow-citizens. The rank and file of this army would be the man or woman on the street protecting fellow citizens, neighbours. This would be a 24*7 job hence has to be planned across Shifts. The city administration and police have to take the inputs from the Citizen Army to be pre-emptive and proactive in reducing crimes and incidents. While Crime cannot be completely eliminated and anti-social elements cannot be completely eradicated, we can definitely make a difference to the current extent of the problem. There is an urgent need to have surveillance, deterrence and police does not have the bandwidth. We must use our Senior Citizens and Retired Defence Personnel who are in good health to take the local leadership of these Armies.

 “Citizen Armies” will become hubs of employment till the person has discovered in their lives what passion they want to pursue and there are enough employment opportunities. Some of them who are well educated can also rise as the future leadership of these institutions. Some of them who are the Core of these Armies could help scale these throughout our country.

 What about Resources to fund the “Citizen Army”?

The resources can be contributed on a 70-30 basis, 70% coming from the State Machinery which has failed to utilize the Tax Revenues to administer basic expectations of the people, and 30% can come from the Voluntary Contributions of the Citizens/CSR budgets of PSUs/Corporates for the upkeep and growth of the institution. This is just a placeholder to build the thought process – ultimately it can be any method/formula which is logical and helps create the ecosystem. Funding should not be a problem given the noble & critical Charter for this institution. All Profit bearing organizations need to have a minimum spend on CSR – this expenditure should definitely come under the purview of CSR budgets.

This way we get many people with able bodies and minds who are currently bereft of opportunities and who collectively help us create an atmosphere in our cities and towns of much higher safety and peace. These are not your friendly neighbourhood watchdog, these are trained people equipped with basic understanding of the law, courage to fight anti-social elements, education to understand problems that entitlement brings and integrity to carry out their tasks without fear or favour. I am sure in our millennials and young workforce, we can find millions of such youth who will be committed to this mission. And to my mind, no better leadership than our Retired Army and Air Force officers to marshal these young minds and bodies into sharp and solid resources. I am not suggesting that this be an “armed” initiative as that could have its own issues however there could be rules/guidelines of using force against any criminals or perpetrators.

There will be resources required which the government is capable & responsible of delivering – CCTV equipment at all major roads, alleys, junctions, and crossings. Proper parking spots to avoid overcrowding, monitoring of traffic speed within residential areas to avoid accidents, monitoring of school children safety, monitoring of any notorious groups getting together and informing the police, vigilance, and patrolling, surveillance through technology etc.

 The remuneration of the people involved in creating and implementing the Charter of the Citizen Army should be done by Chief Minister’s office. The Police should be working in partnership with these quasi-government-quasi-private armies to improve their intelligence, tracking and help create an environment where miscreants do not have a free ride. There should be a Cell in every CM’s office to monitor the work being done by Citizen Armies every month/quarter.

In a country like ours, in about 100 cities if we pick up a few lac residential areas and markets, even with a coverage of ~10% of our population, we could create atleast half a million jobs and instead of those unemployed people becoming a bane in society would get some productive means to channelize their energies earning a dignified living in the process for themselves. The scale up can happen at any pace and to any extent depending on the framework, charter, results of this initiative.

 This must be constituted as a Central & State Government backed Start Up organization – “Mission Safe India.”

I urge all concerned stakeholders to rise above their self-interest and ulterior motives and for once care for the citizen of our great country. No citizen, let alone women or children in our country should feel unsafe at any moment.

 Hope this reaches the eyes & ears of some honest and determined politician or administrator/bureaucrat/officer who has the will and the energy to make a difference in the lives of so many people.

 I am willing to work with any organization, civic body purely on a social/non-commercial basis to drive and bring forth this change in our cities and make this a nation-wide movement.

 Thanks if you read so far. This comes from the heart of an Indian for another Fellow Indian.

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