NSA Ajit Doval on Thursday told young police officers heading the district force to be "credible and fair" and warned them that if they fail, democracy would also fail.
During his lecture, organised by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) under the Union home ministry, Doval laid special emphasis on police and policing and asked the new officers to ensure that the man in 'khaki' is seen as fair by a common person.
The comments from the National Security Advisor (NSA) assume significance in the wake of the recent riots in Northeast Delhi where the role and effectiveness of the police in controlling the violence have been questioned.
"In a democracy, it is extremely important to be totally dedicated to the law. You should be doing things fairly and objectively and it is also important that you are seen as credible," he said.
Doval, a 1968 batch IPS officer who rose to become director of Intelligence Bureau and was later picked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as his NSA in 2014, said: "Law-making is the most sacrosanct job in a democracy. It is not done by an imperial ruler or from the pulpit of a religious leader but by the representatives of the people and you are the enforcers of that law."
"If you fail, democracy fails," Doval said while inaugurating the 'Third Young Superintendents of Police Conference' organised in Gurgaon by the BPR&D, a national police think tank.
If the police personnel are not able to enforce the law, then framing of that law is immaterial. A law is as good as it is executed on the ground, Doval said, adding that perception about the police is important as people tend to latch on to a "stray" aberration involving a wrong policeman and then they think that to be the standard prototype of policemen and that is what Indian police is all about.
"Perception gives confidence to the people, which enhances their trust level and makes their lives psychologically more secure," he said.
If the common man feels that they have got a police that is efficient, alert, honest, objective, professionally competent and friendly, the society gets a sense that all will be secure, Doval emphasised.
He urged the young police officers to understand the psychology of the people in the place of their posting and work for them sincerely.
The NSA asked them to work for the people in society who feel "most neglected, unprivileged, those who feel there is lack of safety and security for them and who feel that their complaint will never reach the police".
"You should disabuse the people of the impression that police is only there to serve the privileged," he said at the event.
The NSA said India being "enslaved" for long is sometimes linked to people's disenchantment with the police.
"Basically, we have been a society which has been enslaved for a very long time and an enslaved society always has a contempt for the people who are in authority and the police is an instrument of the government which has to enforce the law on the ground, which otherwise is only a scrap of paper," Doval said.
"Police bring teeth to the law. Since they have to do that unpleasant work and since it is the mindset that the man who enforces the law is the ruler and we are the ruled or the slaves...that brings certain amount of aversion," he said.
Doval said in a democracy, when people themselves feel politically empowered, which they rightly should feel, they probably like it. This also takes the form of resistance and as part of that one sees police vehicles being put on fire during protests or violence, he said.
"The day society starts realising that the property of the police or the police vehicles one has burnt is actually people's money, it will bring about a societal change," the NSA said.
People will have to realise that it is the police for which they are paying, it is the police which is there to serve their best interests. That realisation will take time, and it has already started, he said.
Doval rued that despite India being a powerful country that has the technology to hit a target in space with an anti-satellite missile or has got plans to go to the moon, does not has "adequate technology for policing in a village or a town".
There was no dearth of leadership in the police forces, he said., and urged the young police officers to innovate and find solutions to new challenges and problems that they face.