Understanding Police Budgets in India
#2 Understanding Police Budgets in India with Artha India, 27th January 2022.
Ahead of the Union Budget 2022, Justice Hub and Civis, as part of their Budgets for Justice, are hosting a series of discussions every week (Thursday, 5 pm) to navigate the law and justice budgets in India. The #2 Twitter Spaces conversation was held with Tvesha Sippy from Artha India (formerly IDFC Institute). Following are some of the key points that were discussed.
But first, a quick snapshot of the Union budgetary allocations and expenditures for the Department of Police over the last few years.
Why is budget data relevant to understanding policing in India?
Artha's research is trying to build evidence-based policing in India and working with police organisations to improve the capacity to deliver services that are more citizen-friendly. It also dives into making police organisations more gender-inclusive and inclusive of frontline workers. Budgets play a major role in the following two ways:
At a macro level, budgets tell us whether policing is seen as an investment centre or the cost centre.
Budgets provide an insight into the capacity deficits that police have in India which leads to a lot of programs with police organisations which are around training and infrastructure in information system strengthening.
Recently Artha (formerly IDFC Institute) put together a primer to understand police budgets in India, and analyzed the expenditures on police over the last few years. What according to you are some basics that we should understand about police budgeting?
Despite being a state subject, there is a demand for grants in both the Union and at the State level for policing. The Union budget is basically focused on the central police forces. The primer made the following observations:
88% of the entire Union budget for the police force towards the establishment and administrative expenses of the Central Police Forces.
0.3% or 0.5% of the Union police budget is for research, education and training
90 to 95% of the total state police expenditure was operative in nature rather than capital expenditures. Capital expenditure and capital outlay only contributed around 4 to 5%.
Out of the total operating expenditure, 80% went towards payroll therefore leaving very little space for capacity building, training and building information systems using technology
State police expenditures towards training powers are nearly around 1% of 2% in the state despite the fact that training received by the bulk of the police i.e. the constabulary forming 80% of the police force is very low. For example, between 2012 and 2017, only 6.4% off constantly was enrolled in in-service training.
If a student or researcher is interested in working with budget data and analyzing budget allocations and expenditures, what would be your advice to them? Where should they start from, what other sources should they be looking at besides the Union and State budget documents?
Apart from data from CAG reports, the researcher can make a list of the relevant schemes and understand the schema of budget documents.
Researchers should also look at the broader aspect, for example instead of looking at budget data for women's safety, the data will be available not only in police budgets but also in the budget for the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The unit of analysis that will allow any kind of comparison or any analytics across states is also important.
The budget datasets on the Justice Hub portal are a great starting point since it gives an overview of the various budgets.
Besides these, independent reports commissioned undertaken by organisations like Artha, PRS, The Status of Policing in India Report, India Justice Report are also useful sources.
What are some of the challenges of working with budgets and budget data?
Some of the major challenges that were faced while working with budgets were:
Comparative analysis between data from different states would be difficult since there was no uniformity in the indexes used.
The format of some of these budgets was published in a non-machine readable format and had to be entered into the dataset manually impeding the effectiveness of the analysis
There is limited information on the utilization of these funds. Referring to actual, budgeted and revised expenditures leads to a delay in the overall analysis, thus an explanatory note given in the accounts would be helpful.
Find the recording of the complete conversation here.
Read previous Substack posts here.
Learn more about Budgets for Justice and analyze budget data on Justice Hub.
Mark your calendars for the next conversation on Legal Aid Budgets with Project-39A.
Date: February 3rd, at 5 PM
Venue: On Twitter Spaces here.