Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jaagte Raho!!!!

Jaagte Raho!

Remember the scene in old Bollywood Films where the chowkidaar in a khakhi dress, dangling the “lath” on the ground making a rather jarring sound kept shouting “Jaagte Raho, Jaagte Raho”.

They still do it in some parts of the country.

But in the big cities, dare you not call them chowkidaars! They are Security Guards wearing fancy uniforms with lots of logos.

I thought that TOPS Security – one of India’s largest security providers, also always in Commercial Bollywood films, would do a good job of letting people know that security guards do know their jobs. Models wear Security uniforms when they want to show an efficient worker.

But when they want to show the ugly side of a security guard, they will show, like in the recent, “Atitihi, tum kab jaoge?” the security guard had half his shirt out, unshaved, untrained; basically a bad chowkidar with a uniform. Or in the Detective Series CID that comes on Sony TV, why is that the security guard is always hand in glove with the crooks or has been instrumental during the crime? Why is he always shown as being drunk or sleeping? What perception does this impression come from?

Every perception has an iota of truth in it!

So how have security companies run till 2009. Like companies that deploy not security guards but “darbans”. Darbans who would open and close your gates, sweep the drive way because the clients will pay them some extra tips, drink with the clients and then obviousely would be in a drunken state to do their job well. Then the security companies get blamed. Why not! Why couldn’t the security guard hold his horses? Why does he not respect the uniform of the company that provides for his food and his family’s well being. Jis thaali mein woh khaata hai, usee main who chaed kyon karta hai? Why does he leave without informing the office? Why does the client want the security guard to clean floors or garages or houses? Why do they not want to pay the security company minimum wages laid down by the state. Why are the clients being feudal?

There are a lot many questions which cross my mind since I took over Progressive Security Services – a firm started by my father, Col. Lalit Badhwar( Retd.) 13 years back after he retired from the Armoured Corps after serving the Indian Army for 40 years. He did not want to take a job listening to some youngsters orders. So he started a security firm. By default, after serving in the Army, one knows about security procedures. But my father went a step further. He registered for a course with the Directorate General Resettlement and got its membership only after clearing his examination.

And Progressive Security was floated. The firm has run very methodically ever since with personalized, professional and prompt service. There are always glitches – like mass exodus of guards 3 -4 times a year, big payments not reaching us in time because the client doesn’t have money, cheques are lost, government baboos need some liquid motivation with some greens so that there fingers can move; the glitches are many like I said, but the work always goes on.

As I am also a behavioral, leadership and communication facilitator and have run Syngrity Consultants for 9 years, the skill had to come in to Progressive Security when I decided to come in. for the first One year, I learned and observed keeping shut not suggesting any major changes. How can you change a system without being a part of it? That is what I have taught senior leadership and managers who are chronic cribbers. As fate would have had it, the organization was handed over to me in precisely 10 minutes, when my father was detected with malignancy. I thought a hand over took some more time – atleast a day! Not 10 minutes for sure. But then, sometimes things happen so fast sometimes, that there is no time. I have the BPO industry to thank for this fire. BPO’s run like that. Something is on now, it changes in 2 hours. Also, my discipline of martial arts and body emotive therapies came very handy – kept me grounded. And my family – which is always encouraging.

One of the things that I have always believed in is good customer service especially in 21st century India. I wrote about it in “ I am Customer Service” - a book I authored 4 years back and trained 4000 people on it. Customer Service is an extension of who you are. If 5 minutes of a chat seems like a gigantic task, then customer service is not in you. Go home! Mahatma Gandhi besides the many wonderful things that he shared and taught this country made a little mistake – by declaring that CUSTOMER IS GOD. Thankfully in Hindustan amongst the Hindus, there are millions of Gods. If Customer is one God then the service provider is another God. In a Feudalism thriving India, having Customers be Gods is a bit of a disaster. For some strange reason, a country that boasts of many cultures, a rich heritage and a huge socio-cultural support system, people still like to be in Control. Look at all the movies from the 80’s and 90’s and earlier than that. If someone hired a worker, that meant that the hired became a servant. The hirer had all the rights to use, abuse the hired. Customer was God. I would like to see which God abused the service provider. But thankfully now service providers are Gods too; thank God to the fact that Hindus like to worship everything and everyone.

Another thing I hold very strongly is dignity and respect- irrespective of what strata of society you come from. I must also confess here that sometimes, I have had to physically shake a guard to get him out of his stupor or If a guard has been involved in some unruly activity. But dignity is a must. I also realized that dignity comes with basic needs being fulfilled. One of the things that I was and am interested in was to increase the salaries of my guards but that was only possible if my clients paid my well. Dealing with the uneducated amongst the educated lot is a tough one. I have had clients who would spend 25k at a dinner but would not pay me enough money so that the guard can be paid well. The usual excuses that I have got are that other companies provide guards for 5 or 6 k, why should I be charging more?

Ill tell you why. Because these other companies pay their guard 2.5 – 3 k. Their guard has no training, no supervision, no sense of uniform, was maybe a rickshaw puller or a loader at a booze shop. The rest of the money is bagged.

Why should the client pay a little bit more? Because if he pays the company well, the security organization of some character will pay the guard well, as per the minimum wages, will earn the guard’s loyalty so that he can do his job properly. If the security personnel is paid well, he will want to work.

At Syngrity Consultants, I have dealt with so many people from different backgrounds. They are open to holistic teachings and are open to develop themselves personally because they have their basic needs fulfilled – roti, kapda aur makaan. The unskilled and semiskilled guards ( the government recognizes guards as unskilled????) that I deal with want their basic needs fulfilled first and then they will think of other things, as I am told. Fair enough!

Mrs. Sheila Dixit w.e.f Feb 2010 increased the minimum wages by 33%. A very good thing for the security guards et all. But shouldn’t the money come from the clients?

The Private Security Agency Regulation Act 2005 (PSARA)
became effective in Delhi w.e.f Jan 1st, 2010 which has put a lot of pressure on security organizations to train their guards for 170 hours, charge only minimum wages etc etc. I look at this as a positive move on the part of Ministry of Home Affairs but somewhere very soon, they will need to give us rights and just not adding regulations. Security organizations and guards have no rights! If They are deployed at a particular post and someone tries to forcibly enter the premises, the guard should not try to stop him but should call 100. This was told to me three days back by a Police Inspector at the Hauz Khas Police Station. If he tries to stop the intruder, he is taking the law in his own hands. Is he talking sense? I told him, that we are not darbans, we are security personnel and he can’t reprimand us for doing our job right. He obviously didn’t want to listen. Why cant the police and security companies’ work together all the time? Why does the beat constable have to collect “hafta” from security guards. 10 – 20 bucks is what is collected at times.

Coming back to the PSARA 2005, there is still no office set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs. So where should security companies go to get a license? Where do mid range players go to get trained guards? Top end companies like Group 4 Securicor, TOPS, Securitas, 24 etc etc are big players and have or can afford to have their own training facilities. The low end players ( the ones who are charging 4-5k per guard) will hopefully go out of the market. If not, at least their market share will reduce. But what happens to the mid range players such as Progressive Security.


We have Central Association of Private Security Industry (CAPSI) – an apex body at State and National Level for security industry. CAPSI has signed MOU’s with various state governments to provide trained security personnel to security companies registered with them. They are trained not for 170 hours as required by PSARA but for 2 months and then they pass out where Progressive Security can go and hire them directly.

God bless CAPSI for the brilliant work they are doing. They have one requirement though. They want the security organizations to pay them minimum wages – a fair reimbursement for a security personnel. A tip for better security - pay the guard well.

Security Organizations need to start hiring correctly, need to deploy properly trained personnel. Unless that happens, the chowkidaars and darbans wearing uniforms with fancy logos will keep doing Jaagte Raho. The attitude of security should change with people around the country. Security means to be safe and safety is everyone’s right. The guards need to understand that wearing a uniform is a lot of responsibility and this responsibility does not entail sweeping floors, changing job for 500 bucks extra, drinking on the job irrespective of who serves them and to be vigil. This is an attitude shift. It will be a while till the security organizations, clients, security personnel understand this shift in attitude. At least I have sowed the seeds.

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