Monday, November 7, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Himachal Pradesh police 'no surname' policy attracts Kerala

Himachal Pradesh police 'no surname' policy attracts Kerala
Anand Bodh, TNN | Nov 6, 2011, 08.13AM IST

SHIMLA: Impressed by the Himachal police move to stop use of surnames
in the force to enforce greater cohesiveness, senior officers of Tamil
Nadu and Kerala police have approached the state to help them to
implement this back home.

Recently, inspectors general of police (IGPs) from Tamil Nadu and
Kerala contacted Himachal Pradesh DGP Daljeet Singh to know how the
plan had been implemented. Himachal police became first in the country
to drop use of surnames this June.

Cops, including senior officers posted at state police headquarters no
longer use their surnames whether it is on the name plates outside
their offices or the name tags on their uniforms. These days, they are
referred to by their first names.

Caste system is alive and kicking in Himachal Pradesh, especially in
rural areas where rigid social norms has left the people clearly
divided on caste lines. People from dalit community are treated as
untouchable, and not allowed to sit along with those upper caste
during at social functions like marriages, neither are they allowed to
enter temples controlled by upper caste people.

In such a caste dominant scenario, police have tried to send a message
to unite the divided society by doing away with their surnames. They
have succeeded in this to some extent, which has lead states like
Tamil Nadu and Kerala to think of following their example.

Himachal Pradesh police has around 15,000 personnel, and most of them
have dropped their surnames to project an identity, devoid of any
caste and class connotations.

The idea was first mooted by DGP Daljeet Singh, who after holding
discussions with the senior officials of his department, took it up
with chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who also holds the portfolio of
home. Later, the cabinet okayed it.

Following this, the DGP had issued an order advising everyone to
desist from using their surnames or caste in all official and
demi-official communications and the proposal was implemented from
June 15.

In June, 2010, a 50-year-old dalit schoolteacher ended his life after
allegedly facing humiliation at the hands of an upper caste employee
of the same school in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. In the rural
areas it is a common practice to seat upper-caste guests away from
invitees from lower castes during weddings and other social functions.

Shimla-based sociologist S K Sharma feels the government first needs
to change the recruitment process where people are divided on caste
basis to change the mindset of the people.

But Himachal Pradesh University sociologist O P Monga sees the
decision as a step towards ending social inequality. ''There is
rigidity in the caste system. In rural areas, untouchability is still
prevalent and people from dalit community are still afraid to enter
temples controlled by upper castes. The step taken by the police
department is a step towards eradicating social inequality,'' he

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