Director General, Border Security Force, Devendra Kumar Pathak

The Modernisation of the Paramilitary Forces is not Something Which Can be Done Once and for all, it is a Continuous Process

Devendra Kumar PathakAs the Director General, what is your vision for BSF?
The Border Security Force (BSF) as an organisation should have a futuristic look, strategy and approach to deal with problems. In this sense, as the strategies of the opponents/enemies keep on changing, we also have to keep on evolving. We should always be one step ahead of our perceived enemies. We are guarding two borders - with Bangladesh and Pakistan - and these two borders have different challenges. Whosoever is the inimical element in either border, whether state actor or the non-state actor, we should be able to counter their evil design. It should not happen that we are caught unaware, it should not happen that something has happened and then we start training ourselves. We should be constantly analysing the future threat perceptions and prepare the force accordingly so as to meet the challenges and not to catch any threat off-guard.

In this direction, we will have to keep on updating our equipment such as the weaponry, communication devices, and surveillance equipment.

Another important aspect is to look after the overall welfare of the Force. Career progression is a very big issue with the officers and men at several levels. There is a lot of stagnation in different ranks and there is an effort to address the hardships as much as we can. That said, certain basics can’t be changed - that we have to be on the borders. The duty related challenges that arise due to the geographical factors - be it the high altitude duty posts in Kashmir, or riverine areas of Sunderbans, or thickly forested areas of the Northeast, or desert areas of Rajasthan, or Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, they can’t be changed. The difficulties faced there can at best be reduced.

Career progression has certainly been a major problem for most of your officers. How do you plan to address that issue?
We would be submitting a proposal to the government very shortly on the cadre review of the Force. That will, to a great extent, address the current issues.

What does the restructuring plan entitle?
Broadly speaking, it entails creation and upgradation of posts and thereby, opening more avenues for promotion. It will take care of the problem to a great extent. The ideal pyramid for career progression is difficult to achieve, although desirable. It is difficult because in the current times, ideal career progression is directly proportional to the aspirations of the officers. And the aspirations are growing because of various kinds of exposure. Earlier, a constable was very happy if he retired as a Head Constable. But now, as the aspirations grow higher, the same constable would want to retire at least as a sub-inspector or an inspector. To keep pace with this aspiration for a big organisation like the BSF, it is certainly very challenging.

We will have to understand that in the government’s point of view, it can’t single out an organisation and address their problems separately. It will have to be taken in totality. For them, BSF is not the only organisation, other paramilitary forces should also be taken into consideration to ensure parity.

We may think from our own point of view, keeping only our interest in mind and make our demands to the government, but the final call has to be taken by the government which has to take care of all the organisations. While making that decision, other factors will also be weighed in. Such as the financial factor; the impact that decision will have on other paramilitary forces; and also the impact that can be had on other government departments. Because all these issues are interrelated - grade pay, promotions, tenure in a particular rank, etc, our aim and desire is to correct the imbalance as much as possible in this pyramid.

You have a very illustrious career in crucial positions with paramilitary forces and also with the state police force earlier. How do you plan to emulate such success with the BSF?
I had a unique opportunity of heading the law and order set-up in Assam, my cadre, for five consecutive years. IG (law and order) is a very crucial post and subsequently, my post was upgraded to additional director general (ADG). I was in that important position from November 2003 to November 2008, barring a brief period when I went abroad for training to Japan.

As far as the Paramilitary forces are concerned, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the BSF have different mandates. The CRPF is primarily in the internal security role and the BSF is mainly in the border guarding role. The BSF takes part in the internal security duties as well, with deployment in Naxal areas, but the fact is that its primary mandate remains guarding the two borders. So, my past experience was certainly of some use, but because of the role change and also the change of mandate, it wasn’t very significant.

For me, learning is a continuous process. One learns from others, as well as from own experiences. I have inner desire and inner effort to improve things. And even if it is already good, I would want to make it even better. What makes me very happy is my urge to take the organisation to greater heights. And I plan to do the same with the BSF.

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