A work-life balance has long been established as an ideal living. It has in fact been regarded as the panacea for stress and an impetus to the feeling of Individual well-being.

However, one segment that this mantra eludes is the Uniform Services. By design these forces including the police, armed forces and paramilitary forces are regimental in nature. The training and service rules are skewed in favour of work with little room for personal life.

The State Police Forces often work in a complex environment. They have to walk on a fine edge of carrying out the strict orders of the superiors and having to bear in mind the local sensibilities. Contrary to the popular perception, an unruly mass or protests are not outrightly met with enforcement. A lot of restraint and constructive engagement precedes the enforcement. Very often, the police brave grievous injuries.

The state police constitute the emergency service within the contours of the boarders. Accidents, crime don’t come with a forewarning, hence making policing a 24X7 job.

Not to forget the routine jobs. The traffic management. The traffic police officer with her or his constabulary is present when we drive children to schools early in the morning. They are still standing when we leave for office or what we call the peak hour. When I return from office they are still there. When people return home from their late evening revelries, the traffic cop still stands tall and alert. And that leaves me pondering “when do these super-humans go home?

Such high degree of alertness, long hours of work, tough working conditions invite a host of physiological and psychological hazards. But for the steel mettle that these women and men in khakhi possess, it is humanely impossible to carry out duties under such high degrees of stress.
And what complicates it further, is the politicisation of their work. The net result – all the sweat and blood that the force gives in the line of duty ends up getting discredited.

The police forces are battling hard to fight the “unfriendly” image of the police, by introducing sensitisation and training to its force to adopt a citizen friendly approach.

An equally important step of acknowledging the efforts of police needs to come from the civil society. All it takes is an attitude of gratitude. There is a need to obliterate the mindset of “Us v/s Them. The police-civil society cooperation goes a long way in building a society of partnership and harmony.

– By Rohini Divakar, IRS. Currently posted as the Additional commissioner of Income Tax, (Investigation) Chennai, Rohini is the ex-officio secretary of the Regional Economic Intelligence Council (REIC). Views in this column are personal.