India's cops

The cops in India – that’s a story in itself. If you believe in statistics, there are more than two million policemen in India. World record – beats even China! That may sound a lot, but a closer look reveals that India has one of the lowest police ‘densities’ in the world. It’s such a huge country, after all. Slightly more than 10 % of the police force are females. However, as I’ve been told, in Tamil Nadu the percentage of female officers is 30 %. Thanks to the famous Ms. Jayalalitha, who was chief minister of Tamil Nadu not less than six times! Always ahead of the feminist movement in India! She introduced all female police stations during her various tenures of office. Sadly, she passed away in 2016 and hopefully joined her old lover M.G.R. in heaven. Or in hell.    

The average pay for police officers stands at 19.000 IR per month – that’s less than 250 $! However, the lower ranks earn only slightly more than 100 $. Those are the ones you’d be confronted with in India, should a problem arise. India’s police force is notorious for corruption and brutality – and a strong esprit de corps. After all, birds of a feather flock together. They are everywhere (especially when you don’t need them) in their hearing-aid-colored uniforms, completed by a cap and a belt over which usually a stately tummy towers. Apparently, life is not all bad for a cop in India as many have a side occupation: as highwaymen or racketeers in bazaars and the like! Here 200 rupees from a car driver, there a free quid from a betel nut seller. After all, every additional paisa in the budget counts. And now and then a lathi charge (see picture), where one can really get rid of all his frustrations.  

In 1985 I travelled to Sri Lanka and India with my 15-year-old daughter. During this trip we visited the ancient metropolis of Mahabalipuram not far from Madras and stayed in a TTDC bungalow. For the ignorant: Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, i. e. the hotel chain operated by the Tamil Nadu state government. Not to be confused with ITDC Ashok Bungalows found all over the country which are run by the central government and tend to be more expensive. Coincidentally, the All India Detective Meeting was taking place in our hotel at the same time. Apparently, India’s most capable snoops had gathered here to select their best. All participants were dressed fancifully. It was obvious that they were imitating Western role models in this regard: Dirty Harrys were present as well as Sonny Crocketts from Miami Vice. One of the detectives, however, beat his colleagues by a country mile: He was wearing a checked Sherlock Holmes outfit, including a cap with ear flaps – at 30 centigrade! Amazing! We didn’t stay until the end but I’m sure that he got the first prize. Obviously they were having a great time and to put the icing on the cake an overweight dancer performed and handed out trophies in the best of taste – India as it lives and breathes …


Mahabalipuram beach
Krishna's butter ball
The shore temple
Five rathas