Shield for security

Through government support and integration of AI, biometrics and cybersecurity advancements, India’s thriving private security sector can be scaled to overcome prevailing challenges including police shortage

Life and liberty is very fundamental to human living. This position has been reiterated in our Constitution too (Art 21). The sovereign function of the State includes ensuring life and liberty of people. To achieve this objective, the governments create instrumentalities, e.g., police, enforcement agencies, defense forces, etc. With the passage of time, the pattern has been changing in this area. Furthermore, whenever there is a gap in the system, some alternatives emerge and fill up the gap. With the opening of the economies the world over, the participation of forces other than the State started taking shape and got consolidated. The emergence of the private security industry is a similar phenomenon which started a few decades ago but has become visible and noticeable.

Like in other parts of the world, the private security industry in India has come of age and is growing rapidly. It is the largest security industry in the world as of today. It is the highest employment-generating sector and has left behind the much talked about agriculture sector. It is also the top contributor to the government coffers through corporate tax. With a mammoth 10-million workforce spanning across 15,000 companies/firms, the sector has been growing at CAGR of around 20 per cent for the last many years, and boasts of a turnover of about Rs 3 lakh crore.

With improved training standards, the private security guards and supervisors/managers are going to be important players alongside the public police in times to come. As it is, they are five times of the available police force in the country. Recently, they have been inducted in the airport security systems’ handling of non-core areas and, in future, they can be entrusted with some of the core functions of the police, too, after proper upskilling, as is the position in the developed world. It is a welcome step which provides a win-win position for the government as also the private security industry.

The rise of this industry is also attributable to various other factors, e.g.,
(i) Shortage of police personnel (we in India have a strength of 144 police personnel per 1 lakh of population as against the UN norm of 222 per 1 lakh);
(ii) Increase in business with growing economy—more business establishments, malls, industries, etc. have come up;
(iii) Increase in residential and official complexes due to migration of people to urban areas from rural areas and more capital expenditure by government in infrastructure including roads, ports, airports, etc.;
(iv) Increased requirements for security by citizens for their safety and their assets;

(v) The changing pattern of crime in the modern times.
When we look at the most significant trends in terms of personal security in the world, they also include the use of AI for providing surveillance tools, personal protective equipment, and other resources to the security personnel. The popularisation of AI technology enables connected devices to become intelligent in the IoT world. Meanwhile, better perception capabilities like radar, temperature measuring, humidity sensing, and gas leak detection are added to security devices and systems to make them more powerful. These new devices shoulder a diversity of tasks that just a few years ago required several different devices. Biometrics and zero-touch approach are something that security companies have taken up and have adopted with open arms. With more security devices connecting over the Internet than anyone ever imagined, cybersecurity has become an immense challenge in the industry. A strategic initiative that was developed to prevent data breaches by eliminating the concept of trust from an organisation’s network architecture, Zero Trust is rooted in a philosophy of “never trust, always verify.” The concept has been roundly accepted within the IT industry. It is now slowly but steadily moving into the physical security realm.

Even though all the aspects mentioned may be interrelated regarding the outcome they provide, there is another common link among them. All of these are practiced by the top personal security companies worldwide and need a growing uptake in India too. To remain relevant against the top personal security companies across the globe, Indian companies will have to spend time and resources towards training their personnel and making them more tech-savvy.
The private security industry’s central association, known as CAPSI (Central Association of Private Security Industry), plays a significant role in steering the course of this important industry. As a top representative body registered under Section 8 (a non-profit body) of the Companies Act 2013, it works closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India, on important policy matters affecting this industry’s operation. This body also has an MOU with the Rashtriya Raksha University (RRU) under the aegis of MHA to work on various facets of the private security industry. To ensure the quality of service, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is working with this body to finalise the standards required for the employability of workers in this sector. CAPSI also has its own auditing wing, which conducts audits on private security companies and subsequently issues star ratings (up to 7 stars) to these companies/agencies. Recently, the Central government (Gem-Govt. e-market) has directed that only CAPSI-certified private security agencies will be eligible to provide services to government ministries/departments/PSUs, etc. This organisation has also been entrusted by the MHA to prepare a proposal for the induction of retrenched Agniveers from the defence forces into the private security industry at appropriate levels. They have also been asked by the MHA to prepare a roadmap for this industry for the next 10 years.
Recently, CAPSI has prepared to launch a nationwide movement known as the National Citizens Security Culture as a non-profit welfare activity in the interest of the country’s security. This will be a 2 to 3-year project with self-sustainability as an objective.

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