Federalising the Nepal Police: A way out

Change management must be made an endogenous process where we learn from our own experiments and adopt methods and their timing in tandem with our capacity to execute well as our culture and ethos

I attended a stimulating dialogue on federalising the national police in the context of the new Constitution. What transpired in the first of the dialogues with civil society, as it were, were discussions centred on the national law and regulations; present organisation; jurisdiction and authority; command, control, coordination systems; accountability and responsibility and human resource management and development.

One school represented the federalists who took the subject head on by seeking to implement the reorganisation and reforms by adhering to the various articles in the Constitution, and its schedules, using them as both guides and legal requirements.

The other school of thought questioned the veracity and sustainability of federating Nepal in the first place. It rests its arguments on the ground that this was never a demand of the Maoists who led the so-called ‘people’s revolution’ but a foreign implant.

The Nepal Police is recognised as a national asset that has made solid contribution towards nation building, national integration and national development.The Nepal Police must now explicitly incorporate as its new goals the following : promote democracy; enforce and maintain the rule of law; respect and enhance human rights; practice good local governance and providing community policing. Given these new goals one would hope that a Code of Conduct and Code of Core Values would be enunciated and rigorously practiced throughout the land in all its nook and cranny, to nourish and ameliorate the behaviour of individual police as also the various layers of its organisation. Community policing embraces a new philosophy to redress the alienation of the people from the people.

Even those solidly behind federalisation of Nepal Police were of the feeling that much remains to be done to put the Constitution into action. But hard core federalists would want the Nepal Police to be restructured right away with due emphasis on higher level of professionalism and deeper concern for the public good rather than politician’s welfare as is happening now.

It was unanimously agreed that politicisation must stop and methods found to guarantee this for an efficient and effective policing. Adoption of a Japanese style National Agency may be a way out.

My own observation on the issue of reorganising and restructuring the Nepal Police goes like this. The Nepal Police is part of a national security system. Therefore, it behooves us to determine first and foremost whether in this national security system, post civil war, requires both the Nepal Police and Armed Police Force as separate entities? In short, we need a holistic exercise on national security policy formulation and subsequently designing of a National Security Council and their incorporation in the Constitution. True, it gives space to a National Defense Council which by all accounts is not quite the same thing as a National Security Council. In the latter, we seek to address issues not just of state security but also cover issues related to food security, energy security, water security, health security, ecological security, human security and disaster management.

Peace, order, security and stability are all matters of concern for the Nepal Police as it is equally for other security agencies, including the Central Intelligence Department (which should be, it is suggested here, incorporated in the Constitution as a National Intelligence Agency with its own investigation bureau with jurisdiction over both central and provinces authorities). We should create a Japan style, or as relevant, National Police Agency to protect the Nepal Police from perverse politicisation. We could give full autonomy to the IGP to execute the Police Regulations as he deems fit autonomously: but be transparent and annually account for his performance.The National Police Academy should be made a national centre of excellence and called upon to re-engineer and modernise itself with a new mission to promote professionalism on par with international standards and also be capable of inviting officers from around the world to learn from Nepal policing.

Finally, it is recommended that a two pronged approach to restructuring and reorganisation be executed. At the central level, the Nepal Police adjust itself in line with a SWOT analysis and a thorough diagnosis of internal security threats arising within a federal parliamentary system.

Any rash move to introduce a top down change management process, based on externally provided ideas, will turn Nepal from a weak and failing state to a failed state with unimaginable chaos, disorder, anarchy, insecurity and lack of public safety. Never seen instability will result in direct foreign intervention to safeguard the neighbours’ self interest from destabilising the region. The Lebanonisation of Nepal is a distinct possibility.

This bottom up change management process must adopt the consultancy approach as opposed to the usual applied research approach where national and local actors are given no say, whatsoever in the change management process. Change management must be made an endogenous process where we learn from our own experiments and adopt methods and their timing in tandem with our capacity to execute well as our culture and ethos.

Rana is Professor SAIM and a former finance minister