All Central Public Sector Undertakings ( PSUs)have been directed by Government of India to engage DGR empanelled Private Security Agencies for providing security services to their respective organizations. Under the prevalent law they are thus termed as Principal Employer(PE). Similarly, individuals and corporate houses also place requests on a DGR empanelled Private Security Agencies for providing Security Services.
The role of the DGR as per their perception ends there. However issues faced by ESM security/companies/ proprietorships/corporations are seldom if ever considered or addressed by the DGR. There are a large number of anomalies faced at the delivery end that need to be addressed by both the PE & the DGR in joint consultation with representatives of the security companies.
The scheme of providing retiring ESM a second career outside of uniform but in concert with their military training as guards in various public sector establishments was more of a welfare measure than a challenging assignment. But the meaning of security has taken a very dangerous turn for the worst. The threat perceptions now include sabotage, subversion, a suicide bombing mission or even a well planned full fledged attack on any facility. Obviously, the ESM is required to play a role of a combatant and his profile needs to be evaluated. The process of sponsorship by the DGR albeit, aims only at a technical conformity with administrative parameters and the bids being in consonance with laid down rules & regulations. But most significantly the wage structure of the ESM does not receive due attention.
While all of the above can be regulated, amended, promulgated and finally executed , the deployment of ESM on guard duties in the two lower two categories e.g. Guard &Armed Guard is becoming not only difficult but almost next to impossible. There are acute shortages in these segments. The retiring ESM is not happy with the wage structure laid down by the DGR because of being equated to a semi skilled labour. The ESM of the day needs to handle sophisticated weapons & weapons support platforms. He has to accordingly acquire skills commensurate with the job in hand.
When DGR policies were formulated, the ESM came from remote rural areas They went from village to unit & back without being polluted by any external influences. As of today, in a transformation, communications in all forms of have reached the remotest corners of the country. Highly influenced by its permeation and the residual effect , he wants his progeny to also progress which the current wage structure does not promise. Therefore, numbers of ESM deplete by the day. The alternative is that 90% ESM embargo placed on all DGR sponsored contracts should be revised to a realistic 45-50% of overall strength for the ESM managed companies receiving the DGR sponsorship.
Earlier the ESM invariably applied for and possessed a licensed weapon of the 12 Bore Single or Double barrel variety at best a sporting rifle or a .22 repeater, all of them being non prohibited weapons. Weapons were easily available from the Ordnance Factory Board, procedures were simple, and a certificate from the Commanding Officer was adequate to get a license from the District Magistrate.
The availability of more modern methods of protection of crops & humans, as also the redundancy of the kind of weapons mentioned above as a deterrent against the more sophisticated weapons carried by various undesirable elements, the ESM has started shying away from applying for a weapon in the first place. The procedure to apply and be allotted a weapon has become more complicated particularly for the JCO’s & OR. Those who manage to get a weapon then get overwhelmed by the web of trying to get an All India License.
Against the current perceived threats, the weapons as laid down in various notifications, remain at best a deterrent against a stone throwing attacker. To expect anyone let alone an ESM to face off with a known better equipped attacker is questionable.
Due to advent of better irrigation systems, better & more modernized farm equipment, better pesticides & fertilizers, the average ESM who still has considerable land holdings does not have the time to take up a job while his one crop ,as in the past, matured and was marketed. A major change due to improvement in the ecology of previously arid regions (from where a bulk of ESM were drawn) have transformed these areas into green avenues making them more lucrative.
This aspect of the Indian growth phenomenon has had salutary effects. In the days prior to liberalization, the PSUs enjoyed a predominant position. The existing ESM of the day, were a plenty to take care of all the security needs based on the threat perceptions at that time. Cut to 2011, a private sector, with more foreign aided adequate financial reserves is bringing with it the aspect of better prospects for using this, relatively young but highly trained work force more pragmatically, as also pay them at rates much higher than what the DGR has envisaged. Also within the Government frame work and within the PSU’s there is a difference, in that the “MAHARATNA” PSU’s, who have greater autonomy, pay salaries to the ESM of the available common pool at almost twice the scale. In addition physically fit security personnel are being retained up-to the age of 65 years.
A number of private sector companies like Reliance, DLF & so on have own security arms and proliferating with ESM at salaries, allowances and working conditions, the present dispensation of DGR & non Maharatna PSU’S in this sector of operations cannot match. The result is that the ESM are flocking to these companies.
Keeping these intertwining issues in mind and to assist in obviating a worsening situation the following courses of action are recommended:
• ESM of NCO/OR rank should be brought under “Skilled” category similarly as for a JCO.
• The DGR wage structure for security personnel must be brought at par with the “MAHARATNA” PSU’s and should be revised from time to time.
• Instead of expecting an ESM to bring his own weapon & ammunition, each PE should examine its threat perception, formulate its security policy, lay down what weapon would best suit to combat the envisaged threat and in what numbers. Thereafter such weapons & ammunition could be procured from the OFB and kept at the locations as planned. This would resolve two issues: Firstly a hunt for ESM with required weapons and valid licences would cease. Secondly, the need to specify individuals as gunmen would be obviated and any of the others who are also trained could use the available weapons.
• The embargo of 90% of strength to be of ESM must be made more flexible to a level of say 50-60%.
• The age factor for physically fit personnel should be increased to 65 years.
• An in house system of training under the supervision of DGR registered security company Directors, of non ESM personnel to bring them at par with the ESM should be evolved
• The seniority rule with direct allotment on fulfilling of DGR & Central/State Government stipulations must apply, as against the present system.
• Representatives of Companies should be allowed to attend preliminary tender proceedings rather than the Directors being present for “opening of envelopes only”
Col Anil Kaul VrC ( Retd), erstwhile of
65 Armoured Regiment is the Director of
a Security Company