Private Security in India and the life of a security guard 

Scene 1: 

I go to a friend’s house and the security guard asks me to write my name, address, telephone number and the flat number and the name of the owner whom I have come to meet in the register and provide my photo identity card. When I refuse to give my mobile number I am asked to call my friend to let me inside. I wonder how we functioned before the invention of the mobile phones.

Scene 2: 

I go to a mall and at the entrance of the premise the security man asks me to open my bikes’ “dikki”. When I sarcastically ask him to check if there is a time bomb in it, he snaps back with a snide “aapne rakha hai kya? Agar rakha hai to bahar phodo. Andar mat le jao”. I am stunned and curse my bad timing. 

Then I go inside, at the entrance of the building, another security man asks me to remove my scarf, hand gloves and sunglasses. How does wearing sunglasses constitute a breach of security, I don’t understand. Again I am frisked by a woman security guard to check if I am carrying any weapon (imagine in a commercial mall where I am going to purchase bread and eggs.) I am scarred may be after a couple of years, the same woman might ask me to remove my shirt in the name of security check. And finally, now this is the epitome, my handbag’s chain is tightly locked with a plastic runner because I might steal something small and put it in my bag from inside the mall. Haa !! Who says “Atithi devo bhava” ?? 

Scene 3: 

I go to my office. Every single day I flash my identity card, at the entrance gate of the building.  I scan my handbag, my tiffin bag, then provide my laptop pass and land up at my divine destination – my desk. Not to mention the CCTV cameras installed at every 5 meters to keep a watch on me every single minute. 

Scene 4: 

My blood boils when in my own society at the entrance of my own apartment, the security guard asks me “Madam gadi ko sticker lagao. Nahi to entry nahi milegi”. I feel like smashing his head on the wall. But alas, I obediently go to the security office and get a sticker for my bike, gulping all the “beep beep” words. 

At all these places, the one extremely worrying factor is the attitude of our hard working security guards. Has anyone ever seen a happy and pleasant guard with a smile on his face? Fat Chance !!! 

Ever wondered why ?? Because they are in one of the toughest jobs in this country.  It is always easy to blame these helpless people for the security lapses. It was a national news when Rasila Raju from Pune was killed by the security guard. Of course murder is an unforgivable crime, yet isn’t it necessary to understand the background and the psychological reasons why these cases happen?

Majority of security guards in the tier I cities are youths from poor rural families who cannot afford education and have to start earning early in their lives. They come to cities in search of employment. Mostly, they stay in shared and rented accommodations. Many times 8-10 people share a one room kitchen apartment (half at night and half during day) to save money. The work shift usually stretches beyond 12 hours. No proper breaks for food, unhygienic sanitation, insufficient rest, changing shifts, lack of medical help, meagre salaries and most important, heavy physical exertion in extreme weather conditions all leads to huge resentment and frustration. It is no surprise that these people are irritated and angry most of the times. And especially when they see rich people working in AC offices or shopping in fancy malls every day of their lives – one can imagine their misery. 

The private security industry in India is valued at INR 40,000 crore in 2016 and is expected to become INR 80,000 crore industry by the year 2020, says the Grant Thornton FICCI report – Private security services in India. The report further says that the private security industry in India provides employment to more than 70 lakh people and is expected to further generate 50 lakh jobs by 2020. The report also highlights some of the challenges that the industry currently faces. The PSAR (Private Security Agencies (Regulations) Act, 2005 enacted for the private security sector (PSS) is not yet implemented uniformly across the Indian states. In March 2017, labor minister Bandaru Dattatreya said that the Centre will fast track the process of according ‘skilled worker’ status to security guards of this country. This will entitle them to a minimum monthly wage of Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000, respectively. Hopefully, it will bring in some positive changes. 

So, what can be the future of security in our country ? Is it really worth it ?? 

Firstly, in the name of security, we are creating a distrustful, obsessive and paranoid society for ourselves which is leading to more insecurities. Secondly, we are not empowering enough the actual people who are entrusted with our security. The guards don’t trust us and we don’t trust them either. PAH !! 

Finally, in spite of the humungous measures, there are multiple loopholes which can be breached if someone seriously intends. Bomb blasts happen, terrorist attacks happen, people die in spite of the whole gambit of security. Period.

Just yesterday, the man at the billing counter of the mall forgot to remove the magnetic pin from the new kurta I purchased. But shockingly, no one at the security noticed, neither the alarm went off. I realized it when I reached home and now I have a more difficult task of convincing those people that I did not steal the kurta and snapped it out of the mall when no one was watching. Strange. Isnt it ??

Security is necessary, of course. But its time to make it more people friendly – for both the customers and the guards as well. But it will take a long time for that to happen in India. Till that time, 

Order everything online 

Buy a home theatre and watch movies at home 

Don’t go meet friends, just call them and chat on whats app

Work from home 

Choice is yours !!! 

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