CISF & PSI: Working in Tandem will be a Great Opportunity

anil puri

Anil Puri
CMD, APS group

A first generation serial entrepreneur, thought leader and an action catalyzer rolled into one – Anil Puri is a rare combination of a visionary, an innovator and a strategic thinker. He has used this combination to innovate and implement on-ground many new business ideas. His rich experience in various businesses has enabled him to nurture & mentor innovative ideas and scale them up.

Background

Home Minister Mr. Amit Shah while addressing the CISF 53rd Raising Day at Ghaziabad stated the CISF should work out a ‘hybrid arrangement’ with the private security agencies under which CISF can prepare the security framework for guarding the vital installations. He further stated that role of private security agencies is expanding very rapidly in keeping with the pace of national economy moving from $2.5 trillion economy to $5 trillion economy and CISF should take on the responsibility of training the personnel of PSAs. The necessity to enhance the efficiency of the private security agencies arises from the fact that the CISF alone cannot ensure the security of the industrial sector of the entire country and PSI who specializes in handling similar security domain can easily be coopted to fill in the void with ease.

Certain key takeaways from his speech are:

  1. CISF should work out a ‘hybrid arrangement’ with the PSAs under which CISF can prepare the security framework for guarding the vital installations.
  2. CISF should develop some training modules possibly based on the size of the work force employed by the production units or keeping in mind the need of the selected areas/ units to facilitate training of PSAs security personnel.
  3. Once PSI is fully ready with such hand holding by CISF, the later should hand over full responsibility to the private security personnel.
  4. Security of air ports and metro offers huge scope for employability of the women personnel to change the gender ratio of 94:6 (94 men to 6 women) to at least 80:20.

The above intention of the GoI itself is an expression of the immense confidence and trust on the capabilities of the PSI in the nation building to relieve the CISF for more vital and critical role elsewhere.

Roles and Responsibilities of the CISF

It is very vital and essential to understand the roles and responsibilities of CISF when we the PSI decide to step into their shoes. The role and responsibilities of CISF are summarized below:

  1. To provide integrated security cover to certain sensitive public sector undertakings including security of important government buildings, iconic heritage monuments and the Delhi Metro.
  2. To provide round the clock security to certain VVIPs/ protectees through its specialized VIP security vertical.
  3. Post Mumbai terror attack in Nov 2008, the mandate of CISF was broadened to provide security cover to private corporate establishments also.

Commonality the key to Compatibility

Let us identify as to what is mutually common between both the CISF and PSI in their role and responsibilities. These common features will best be identified to be the key ingredients of the compatibility. The nature of the security spectrum in which both the entities operate is significantly akin to each other which is characterized by the following:

  1. Both inherit the legacy of same parentage (MHA).
  2. Operate in common security domain through principle of detect, deter, delay, degrade and destroy.
  3. Only the degree of threat differs because of size and quality of asset.
  4. Security domain is centric to people, property and information.
  5. Security survey and security audit are tools of RA and RM applied by both.
  6. Prevention of intrusion in the premises through physical presence, sensors and detectors.
  7. Patrolling, observation & surveillance of the area are inclusive in tasks of both.
  8. Electronic surveillance through CCTV has become main stay of deterrence & crime prevention.
  9. Access control, visitor management, vehicle movement & parking control.
  10. Baggage scanning at Air Ports and Metro Rail is widely used for detection & prevention of illegal transaction of drugs, narcotics, weapons and explosives.
  11. Prevention of smuggling of diamond, gold, silver and other precious metals like uranium and plutonium is again done on similar format.
  12. Security of public places with huge footfalls like airports, metro rails, shopping malls and events like trade fairs etc has similar applications of security.
  13. Handling of hostage situation/ rescue and active shooter situation is common to air ports and Shopping Malls.
  14. Handling of fire incidents and medical emergencies is regular feature in the corporate and industrial complexes.
  15. Prevention of terrorist attacks in vital installations is more aligned to CISF than PSAs.
  16. Prevention of sabotage in power plants again common to both.
  17. Ensuring women safety and POSH is integral to responsibility of both.

Salient features of the CISF as a force

  1. CISF functions under MHA of GOI and HQ of CISF. Further divided into range/ region, sectors and battalions etc.
  2. Functioning is well structured, streamlined, planned, facilitated by provisioning of wherewithal for administration, training, logistics and operations since being integral part of the Govt.
  3. Recruitment and training is configured to suit the role and responsibilities.
  4. CISF personnel are armed, trained in the use of fire arms and legally authorized to open fire in self-defense and to protect the assets in its jurisdiction.
  5. CISF has training facilities to cater for specialized courses on industrial security, IED detection, bomb disposal, X-ray scanning, forensic analysis, fire safety, anti-hijacking, handling of hostage situation, first aid, public speaking, QRT for airport, soft skill, computer awareness and intelligence and weapon handling courses.

Challenges

Any change in the role and responsibilities of a well-established organization is bound to face myriad of external & internal challenges and resistance. CISF since its inception has shouldered its role and responsibilities in a defined space as a very efficient organization. Since proposed change do not alter the primary function but will be an add on to its existing role, the change may not cause any turbulence or disruption, however, following points need due diligence and application of mind:

  1. Sudden and abrupt shift in toto is likely to create opportunities for anti-national elements to strike at the soft targets with ease.
  2. Over all security envelop provided by CISF if taken off in a jiffy, may give fillip to drug & narcotics trafficking and smuggling of gold and precious metals through air ports.
  3. Expertise and proficiency attained over the years in forensic analysis and behavioral aspects is vital element and should be continued for such a period till pre requisites are in place by the PSAs.
  4. Replacement of inspector level assignments of CISF will be critical component of the challenges for PSAs. Hence not advised.
  5. The deterrence value of CISF in uniform, equipped and armed will need to be matched by the PSAs if at all the role is broadened to take over entire spectrum of security duties.
  6. Training modalities and Arms Act may need to be amended suitably to accommodate the change if this component is also required to be replaced by the PSAs. To be worked out mutually to make it self-sustaining for future

Time Frame for the change

The time line to foster the change will depend upon the following factors:

  1. Identification of the suitable PSAs with matching capabilities to fill the void once left by the CISF.
  2. Identification of suitable entities/ units where security duties can be taken over by the PSAs.

Pilot Project

There is a pilot project already in execution stage concurrently and its outcome will be the guiding factor for the future.

A Glimpse at the FAQs

Qn: Is it part of a quick fix approach to reduce the financial burden of some corporates and PSUs?

Ans: Some of us may view it like that and give a colour of our imagination whereas I view it as a window of opportunity to the PSI to showcase their core strength in element of technical and human capital.

Qn: To what extent this proposal will offer value to the PSI?

Ans: It all depends on the plans of the GoI who in all probability will like to execute it in a gradual and deliberate manner in phases and not unload the entire responsibility in a jiffy.

Qn: To what degree this hybrid arrangement will allow the PSI to penetrate the exclusive space of dominance of the CISF?

Ans: In my opinion, initially only non-essential and non-critical functions and points of security could be handed over to PSI to initiate the process but hard core sensitive points of operation involving baggage screening, frisking and searching and forensic analysis and combat element will continue to be with the CISF.

Conclusion

The security of the economic assets of the country holds prime importance when global security dynamics is changing at a very fast pace. We need to look afresh as how to cut the flab and make it leaner and technologically more enabled and agile. With full body scanners a reality in air ports and may be in a staggered time frame live face recognition system becoming a part of daily life while travelling by metro rail or entering a shopping mall, corporate office or an industrial unit; we need human element at hard points only where the physical security is inescapable dimension. On other hand, human element cannot be eliminated in totality for reason of vulnerability and susceptibility of most of equipment like switches, CCTV and many other devices to hacking by remote and stand-off means. Swarm drone attacks carrying missiles, PGMs and cluster bombs pose grave threat to our vital installations like refineries, nuclear installations and power plants. The trained and disciplined human element of CISF can best be utilized to operate the counter drone measures once relieved by the PSI.

“Vigilance is a very vital element when we view the security of airports and highly sensitive organizations like ISRO, BARC, power plants of NPCIL, sensitive govt office buildings to guard against and develop intelligence to identify terrorists, anti-nationals and criminals while working in tandem with other agencies. CISF is the singular armed force which is a milking cow to the GoI. It is paid by the PSUs, Corporates and quasi government organizations for the security umbrella it provides unlike Armed Forces, other CAPFs and Para Military Forces where results are intangible and non-quantifiable.

In the light of the above, it is prudent to prune the component of CISF from non-essential duties and fill the void with compatible contractual human element readily available with PSI at low cost and no encumbrance attached by killing multiple birds with one stone fulfilling the obligations of creating more employment, reducing the financial burden of corporates and GoI as well. All said and done, it is an opportunity which PSI can ill afford to lose. Hence brace up for the challenges.


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