You can accuse the Indian police of inefficiency, but after the brilliant plan they hatched last week in Tagoreland, Santiniketan, there’s not an iota of doubt that they are extraordinarily talented when it comes to low-cost innovations. Last week, ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the town, the West Bengal police recruited students of local schools and planted them on the leafy branches of trees that were on the PM’s route. The youngsters — all between 15 and 19 years — had their task cut out for them: keep an eye on suspicious characters and things. They were also asked to shake the trees from time to time to ensure that all was fine. However, the students did not receive any training to deal with a terrorist falling from the branches due to all this vigorous shaking. The young boys were paid a handsome salary of Rs 120 per day for this ten-hour duty.
Of course, small things like the classes that the students missed during this period failed to disturb the plan. Or may-be the police brass thought that the students could brush up on their botany lessons, sitting on those verdant branches.
Understandably, child activists were appalled. So are we. But what was the inspiration behind this mindless scheme? Nobody knows, but let’s hazard a guess. Probably, Rabindranath Tagore. Didn’t the poet say: “The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence”. In Santiniketan, the police just followed it literall, to a ‘T’.