Issues in Central Armed Police Forces’ Top Leadership

News Excerpt:

The Government of India has been increasing the manpower of Central Armed Police Forces (women power also), giving them better equipment and resources and augmenting their annual budgets.

  • But certain vital aspects of their functioning have not received the government’s adequate attention, and this is harming their discipline, morale and combat potential.

Challenges regarding the functioning of CAPFs:

  • Issue of selecting leaders for the top level:
    • There is a lot of resentment in the forces when officers with no experience in the CAPF are just para-dropped as head of that force. 
    • This system is, unfortunately, continuing even today.
  • Delay in posting a successor:
    • Also, the delay in posting a successor to the top post after the retirement of an incumbent  is bothering senior officers. 
    • For example -
      • The post of DG (Director General ) BSF remained vacant after the retirement of VK Johri in 2020, and there was no regular incumbent for five months until Rakesh Asthana was posted. 
      • The SSB had no regular DG for five months after the transfer of SL Thaosen in 2022 until Rashmi Shukla was posted.
  • Continuous deployment around the year:
    • The performance of the CAPFs is affected due to their almost complete deployment around the year, which results in their training being neglected.
    • For example- 
      • One company in every battalion was earmarked for training and was not utilised under normal circumstances. 
      • But over time, succumbing to pressures (or blackmail) from the state governments, even these companies were sucked in internal security duties.
  • Standards are steadily falling:
    • The professional level of some of the CAPFs is today comparable to that of the state battalions about one or two decades back.
  • Other problems:
    • CAPFs must not be trifled with; otherwise, a heavy price would have to be paid in case of any grave threat to our security, due to the following reasons-
      • The BSF is our first line of defence against Pakistan. 
      • The ITBP is in the same position vis-à-vis China except in areas where the Army has moved forward in the face of attempted transgressions by our northern neighbour. 
      • The CRPF is overwhelmed with multiple internal security challenges nationwide. 
      • The responsibilities of the CISF are increasing every year. 
      • The SSB is deployed along the sensitive borders with Nepal and Bhutan.
      • The NSG must retain its elitist character to be able to handle terrorist attacks in any part of the country.

About CAPFs:

  • The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) are the umbrella term for India's Central Police Organizations, which are overseen by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
    • CAPF is classified into forces like -
      • Assam Rifles (AR),
      • Border Security Force (BSF),
      • Central Industrial Security Force (CISF),
      • Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF),
      • Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP),
      • National Security Guard (NSG),
      • Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
  • Technically, these are paramilitary forces, formerly known as the Central Para-Military Forces (CPMF). 
  • Since 2011, India started using the acronym "Central Armed Police Forces" instead of "paramilitary".
  • These forces are in charge of internal security and border patrol.

Way Forward:

  • The government should frame guidelines for posting officers to the rank of Director  General (DG) of these CAPFs. 
    • Thus, it could be laid down that unless an officer has served as DIG/ IG (Deputy Inspector General/ Inspector General) in the field for at least two years in any of the CAPFs or held charge of the armed police formation in the state for at least two years, he should not be considered for elevation to the DG in any CAPF. 
  • The CAPFs deal with internal security problems and secure international borders every day of the year. They should not be headless even for one day. 
    • The dates of retirement of all the officers are known in advance. 
    • It only requires effective planning and timely decisions at the highest level.
  • CAPFs should not become a dumping ground for officers who cannot reach the top of their organisation. These mega forces require first-class leaders leading from the front, inspiring and motivating the personnel and looking after their welfare.
  • The Centre should appoint a Commission to look into the numerous problems of the CAPFs and suggest short-term and long-term measures to maintain their performance at a high level.

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