Alexander in Porous land
When Alexander visited the subcontinent for the second time, he came minus his army. He was told that the brave King Porus had long expired, his graceful elephants robbed of their ivory tusks and the mighty Hydaspes River reduced to a lazy stream. The kingdom was now called the Porous land, as it had little control over its comings and goings.
Being on a private visit (not sponsored by the state of Macedon), Alexander decided to foot his own bill. He stayed at a modest hotel and drove around in a rented car. To avoid unnecessary public and media attention, he decided to use a fake car number plate instead of the famous ‘Macedon 1’ that was reserved for his chariot back home. He was told that the Porous Land had not yet discovered the science of numbers. Hence no one ever checked the car number plates and everyone was free to use any shape, size, type or alpha numeric combination that appealed to one’s imagination. Alexander also decided to pick up two prohibited bore weapons from a corner ‘pan’ shop – just in case he ran into a petty roadside scuffle. Of the three options, no license, fake license or genuine license, Alexander simply chose the cheapest (no license) option as he knew that Porous land police never checked any weapon licenses nor had a record of who had issued how many licenses to whom.
Alexander began his holiday by driving around the capital of Porous Land. He wanted to know how things had changed since his last (326 BC) visit. He was particularly keen to learn how the Porous Land, now famous for its white elephants, had improved its systems, capability and tactics. He drove down the road that led to the Royal palace where the current Raja lived – believing that he would be treated ‘like a king treats a king’. At one place he decided to stop in the middle of the road and fire a few shots in various directions to check out how the Porous Land forces responded to a potentially dangerous enemy.
To his utter surprise and disbelief he found that instead of Porous forces taking positions, mobs began to gather as if a circus was about to commence. The media started to fix their tripods and focus their cameras. The soldiers in blue uniform, instead of pulling out their weapons began pulling out their cell phones – passing meaningless gibberish to their next superior officers. It was obvious that no one in Porous Land had been delegated any authority to act on his own. The Porous Land Police was only trained to act like a bunch of obsequious telephone operators. Their role was limited to communicating messages to an increasingly irresponsible leadership till the buck stopped at someone with the least knowledge of the subject. By now it was obvious that Alexander was secretly rejoicing his single-handed victory.
During the many long interludes, Alexander would sit down, take a drink and reflect upon his life-time achievements. His empire stretched across three continents and included the entire area from Greece in the west, north to the Danube, south into Egypt and as far to the east as the Indian Punjab. His rules of governance were few and simple. The local commanders were given the authority, training and resources to control all eventualities. In case of failure they were held accountable and not merely ‘suspended’. The rich and the poor were equal before the eyes of the law. The violators were punished even-handedly. Even legislators like “Emerald Khan” were promptly taken to task by ‘astynomia’ (the Greek Police) when they broke any law. Weapons were controlled and every chariot and every spear had a unique number that was controlled by the Royal mint.
On the contrary the police in Porous Land is essentially an instrument to protect the life, property and interests of the ruling elite. It is too subservient and compromised to stop the lawlessness of those in power. The highest police officer is only a phone call away from suspension. The papyrus police of Porous land had been deliberately designed not to follow the law but the wishes of the masters. It did not suit the rulers to see the police having professional procedures, training, equipment and empowerment. The ultimate dream of the rulers is to themselves perform the role of SHOs and SSPs. Thus the greatest obstacle in building a modern, professional and empowered police force, is the unwillingness of the Porous land rulers to part with their personal power and authority, to themselves abide by the law and to differentiate between personal servants and institutional law enforcers. A disappointed Alexander realizing that
he was wasting his time with a bunch of untrained telephone operators, threw down his guns and disappeared into the stillness of the night.
The News 9th Sept. 2013