Monday, November 7, 2011

Our proactive Government

As you no doubt would have read, or seen on TV, unless you were hiding under a stone for the last two weeks, the world’s population has reached 7 billion. Some poor baby girl in Uttar Pradesh is Miss 7 Billion. I think that the Indian Government is well on top of this problem of population. I am often criticised as being anti Indian, as not looking at how well we, or rather India, is doing. So, with my cheeks stinging with this harsh criticism I thought why not tell you how the Government is tackling unemployment. I am not an economist; hence, my scale of thought, hypothesis and reasoning is correspondingly small. I use a microcosm to explain my point. I use an example with which I am personally quite familiar, the airport.

The Home Ministry, as far back as in 1969, established the Central Industrial Security Force happily abbreviated to CISF. The CISF website provides a background, replete with incorrect English, which I am reproducing. “The CISF came into existence in 1969 with a modest beginning, having three battalions, to provide integrated security cover to the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) which, in those years, occupied the commanding heights of the economy. In a span of four decades, the Force has grown several folds to reach one lakh twelve thousand personnel today. With globalization and liberalization of the economy, CISF is no longer a PSU-centric organization. Instead, it has become a premier multi-skilled security agency of the country, mandated to provide security to major critical infrastructure installations of the country in diverse areas. CISF is currently providing security cover to nuclear installations, space establishments, airports, seaports, power plants, sensitive Government buildings and ever heritage monuments..  

The CISF is in charge of security at our airports and, let me assure you they are doing a damn good job. A CISF recruit is an employee of the Central Government. As such, he, or she, is trained, paid a salary, housed, clothed, given canteen facilities at concessional rates and otherwise looked after by the Central Government. If they are injured or killed while on duty their family is compensated. And when they retire they get a pension for life. This is approximately 50% of the last drawn salary. It’s a stressful job. All manner of foul tempered travellers, egotistical Bollywood stars, cranky businessmen travel and it’s the CISF duty to keep our airports safe.

As you approach the entrance of the airport terminal where your flight is due to take off from, you will be met by at least 3 CISF guards. One holding a gun, and the other two who painstakingly look at your ID and travel documents. Now IDs are of several types and of several countries. The same is the position with travel documents. Many foreigners, foolishly do not carry prints of their tickets, the CISF personnel are not only competent enough but forceful enough to demand that white skinned Laat Saabs pull out laptops, Blackberry’s, Smartphone’s, Tablets and show the ticket to the CISF guys. Otherwise they will not be let in. That is the level of training imparted.

Once you are in, you approach the baggage screening. Here there are several CISF personnel, both male and female. One team is in charge of frisking and patting down passengers and stamping the boarding card. These guys are really well trained. A single man does all three things i.e. looks at the metal detector, patting you down and stamping your boarding card. The other team consists of one man in charge of placing your bag on the conveyer belt, one man looking at the X Ray monitor, one man stamping the baggage tag. These guys are linguists. My research shows that India has 18 languages in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. These CISF guys have to make their instructions known in all 18 of these as well as all manner of foreign language. The instructions extend to things like putting your mobile phone into your bag, or taking your laptop out and so on and so forth. In case it did not strike you, foreigners travel within India and they too are subject to security checks. To remain alert, and not be lulled into carelessness by the monotony of the job, all the CISF personnel speak to each other, loudly, in a language that may or may not be among the 18 languages, but it’s a language I can never quite understand. Such is the diversity of our country.

Once you are done with this, just as you exit the security area, once more highly trained CISF javan will check if your hand baggage tag bears the rubber stamp of the security officer. Now you are fit to go.

What I have narrated is only one Terminal departure gate at one airport. Mumbai, sorry Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport has two wings Domestic with 3 terminals 1A, 1B and 1C and International with also 3 terminals. The authorities are constructing a new state of the art Terminal 2 [called T2] which when open will have 104 security check positions. Now imagine the number of CISF required for that. You require trained personnel, 24 x 7 at all these gates, at all airports all over India. It’s a staggering number. All these highly trained men and women performing such vital tasks as stamping baggage tags and examining boarding cards are vital to our country. The money that we pay as taxes gives us this service and it’s because of this that our skies are safe and you can send your 12 year old by plane to visit his Granny in Hubli during the summer vacation without fear.

See how proactive and good our Government is. Knowing that the rise in our population is inevitable, and knowing that the number of jobs is finite, the only way forward is to invent jobs and train persons to do them. Hence, we have experts in stamping baggage tags and examining boarding cards. This, as I have repeatedly said is only with one aspect, airports. If the Government is as successful, and I have no reason to doubt their success, our 1.2 billion will soon be gainfully employed.

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