The challenge defines the man – Pay parity for Police and Administrative Services

The foundational principle of job analysis for the purpose of fixing salaries is that compensation is directly proportional to complexity. The more complex the job, the higher the compensation. Complexity itself is defined as ‘the cost of correcting a mistake’. The higher the cost of correcting a mistake, a bad judgment, the higher the salary for that job. 

Complexity = High cost of correcting mistakes = Higher compensation

With this in mind, let us ask, ‘Which job is more complex? Whose job is costlier to correct? That of the LDC/UDC or the Police constable /HC? Whose mistakes are more costly to correct? Someone who checks or rechecks a file, or someone whose wrong decision can precipitate a riot or result in someone being killed?’

Our argument is not about how much the IAS (Secretariat Staff) get paid. Our argument has to do with the Police, be it the constable or his superiors, all the way to the top. We believe and state that the scales of pay that have been suggested by the Honorable Pay Commission have no relation to the degree of complexity of the job. We believe that this violates the basic foundational principle of compensation assessment.

More recently, the complexity of the policeman’s job in India has increased even more with the sharp increase in urban warfare, communal tensions, separatist movements (Assam), terrorism and Naxalism. Add to that cybercrime, industrial security and insurgency (Kashmir) and you have a mix the like of which does not exist anywhere else in the world. Needless to say, the job demands skills, dedication, integrity, judgment and patience of a very high order.

On the one hand the policeman needs to be decisive and assertive enough, not to hesitate to take the tough call. On the other hand he/she has to simultaneously have the courage, forbearance and communication ability to diffuse a volatile situation without anyone getting hurt. Naturally the cost of correction of mistakes by someone in such a job is extremely high especially because in some cases the mistakes made are not reversible. In such a situation, being ‘first time right’ is critical. This requires a high level of integrity, education and understanding, impeccable and intense training and complete dedication to the job.

Job is perhaps the wrong word to use in the case of the Police, whose work is really a covenant, more than a job. We define a ‘Covenant’ as follows:

“The Covenant is your purpose of existence. It is the reason you walk the earth. It is the need you fulfill a promise made to the nation and to yourself. It is the gap you will leave behind if you cease to exist. It is what you will be remembered for. The Covenant generates a sense of loyalty and binds all those who share in it. It invokes a sense of pride and belonging that transcends generations and holds its believers to a code of conduct that defines them. A Covenant is lived by, bequeathed to successors and the reason they will cry when you die.”

We don’t claim that salary is the only criterion that determines excellence. But it certainly is one of the primary hygiene factors that impact the heart and mind of the constable and the officer. Salary is not merely about making ends meet. It is an indicator of the worth that the job and by inference, the individual is held in, by its employer – in this case the GOI.

The famous seminal research on motivation called the Hertzberg’s Theory of Motivation ranks salary as one of the most important hygiene factors that impact motivation. Without a salary that is fair and equitable the incumbent feels less worthy and therefore is more likely to engage in activities that are not unquestionable. It is for this reason that policemen and women in developed countries like the UK and the USA are paid salaries that are not merely favorably comparable with other Civil Services but with the regular salary market.

Paying those whose responsibility it is to maintain law and order, fight crime and bring its perpetrators to book, instill confidence in the citizenry and in this pursuit, if required literally sacrifice their very lives, less than what we pay to a clerk working in an office is certainly not the best thing for the nation.
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