Uttar Pradesh Police

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
1090 – Women Power Line (WPL) was Uttar Pradesh (UP) State Police’s answer to a very inimical problem plaguing the Indian society: sexual harassment, and at its roots misogyny shrouded in the patriarchal mindset of our society. Apart from being India’s most populous state and also among the least developed ones, Uttar Pradesh is home to about 95.3 million women, of which more than 50% are illiterate. As social groups go, women form a minority among minorities: women are far more vulnerable than their male counterparts across all these groups – be it poor, illiterate, disabled, elderly, deprived etc. As a testimony to this flawed social structure we see: practices such as female foeticide, female infanticide, and child marriage continue to this day; girl children are the worst sufferers of neglect in terms of nutrition, education, and healthcare; within families, women are valued largely for their role as mother to a male child; they may commonly face verbal, emotional, mental and physical abuse and torture and in many cases even death for various reasons. A product of this system is men’s general belief in their entitlement and superiority over women, and the only way to assert this is by controlling them in every way – emotionally, financially, sexually. Sadly, such behavior has woven its way into our cultural blueprint with the result that sexual harassment is hardly ever noticed or questioned. If and when this happens, patriarchy lashes back by questioning the woman’s judgement, character, intentions, etc. It robs women of their dignity and self-esteem by first robbing them of their voices. The social stigma is such a strong deterrent that hardly any woman even thinks of voicing the turmoil she has faced. For an Indian woman, dealing with lewd gestures, catcalls, lascivious looks and remarks, getting groped or molested in public spaces or on public transport, is routine, both at home and outside. In fact, a lot of such harassment is rather derogatorily termed as ‘eve-teasing’. So pervasive is the problem that until a few months ago, the law did not see these acts as crimes. It took a bestial gang rape that shook the conscience of the nation that eventually led to a law being enacted to tackle this. 1090 – WPL sought an attitudinal change even before the Indian judicial system turned a serious regard to the issue. It was their understanding that these so-called ‘smaller’ crimes and the helplessness in curbing them bolster their perpetrators and the culture of impunity surrounding them. And this helplessness stems from women’s lack of readiness to raise their voices – largely on account of an apathetic attitude of authorities towards such crimes. This encourages heinous crimes such as acid attacks, rapes, etc. Legal reforms must find an echo in social reforms and they figured that one way to achieve this is by empowering women to talk by giving them a dedicated platform that is secure, supportive, discreet, and most importantly, empowered to act. 1090 – WPL became that platform.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
A common, complaint gave way to a unique solution in the form of 1090 – WPL: A young girl recounted the harassment she was going through, threatening to commit suicide unless Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister (CM) Akhilesh Yadav, whom she was facing, did something about it. The CM looked grimly at the attending team of police personnel, and then straight at DIG Navniet Sekera, who was heading the team. Sekera, fully cognizant of the entire gamut of administrative, legal, policing, and societal issues and obstacles encountered in tackling such issues from his 17-year experience of working in the police force made it a personal challenge to come up with a practicable solution. Sekera hails from UP and hence had no trouble grasping the ground realities. He knew that the solution had to lie in the social arena more than in the legal/criminal one. A product of the famed Indian Institute of Technology and the Indian School of Business, Sekera used his management background and decided to launch a pilot study to unearth underlying factors that contributed to the issue. The strategy here was to reach out, communicate with people most affected by the problem: women in every field, in all walks of life. Women, who were suffering silently constituted the target audience, and the goal was to prod them, encourage them to raise their voices against the menace so that official action could be taken. He teamed up with like-minded fellow officers from the civil services and together they launched into the task of developing a solution. The task had narrowed down to three goals: A) Crack down on factors that contributed to prevent women from raising their voice B) Empowering them to speak up C) Build a system that allowed for counseling and reform of the perpetrators instead of criminalizing them for actions that are rooted in their social conditioning. The team saw the idea evolve into a concept for a call centre-based service for women run by the state police force, where the police used their law-enforcing function only as a last resort, and instead, helped identify the perpetrator and counseled him into mending his ways. The team developed the following as its main objectives: 1) To get a phone number that was common state-wide, that women could call to register a complaint of harassment. 2) Given the social stigma and also the possibility of a vendetta, the identity of the complainant is to be never disclosed anywhere at any stage. 3) Women police officers should receive the complaints so that women do not hesitate to talk freely. 4) The complainant is never to be called to the police station. 5) The WPL team should pursue the complaint until the problem is fully resolved. The WPL became a reality when UP CM Akhilesh Yadav launched it on November 15, 2012. The initiative approaches the problem on three different levels: 1) The identity of the perpetrators is carefully verified and recorded and cops talk to them directly; fear of action by the police is found to suffice in most cases. Intensive documentation helps maintain a profile of perpetrators. 2) If counseling doesn’t work, the WPL team reaches out to the people socially significant to the perpetrator, for example, family. The perpetrator may even be stripped of his driving license, passport, character certificate issued by the State Police, etc. 3) If none of this works, the police pursue it to its legal consequences in a court of law – the victim never has to take the trouble to do so.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Creative: 1090 - Women Power Line is an unprecedented initiative – for it goes where even women’s own families won’t. Before WPL happened, women had absolutely no means to make authorities or even their own families take their plight seriously. WPL works for men too: Being brought up in a patriarchal society makes men grossly insensitive to the needs of women. WPL acts as a buffer for these men who have a chance at reform, leveraging a valuable tool that the society uses to discourage unwanted behavior – the loss of face. Innovative: Only the sufferer herself may file a complaint – not her family members, not her guardians, enabling her to bypass possible discouragement from her family or society. The name reflects its aim: to empower women to raise their voices. It is not a help line, it is Women Power Line. The concept makes room for cultural and social ethos in assuring protection of the complainant’s identity. WPL powers social reform through the creation of ‘Power Angels’ – women who have pledged participation by acting as a confidante to others who may be facing harassment, working as an intermediary between the complainant and the Power Line.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Action Plan 1) Form a good team An initiative such as this one needed a team of like-minded, passionate, and dedicated police officers who had a deep understanding of the law and order situation and who had the soft skills and the ability to respond to such an issue with compassion and empathy. The officers were chosen for their diverse skill set and their passion for and their belief in the cause. This was a project that had no precedents, and therefore, there was no prior knowledge or experience to fall back on. The team had to rely on its creativity and the ability to take risk. It had to be judicious in formulating strategies. 2) Build a vision Together, the team brought in their various strengths and developed a clear set of objectives based on the basic goal of the initiative. The vision was to create a humane system of interaction that depended on a clearly specified protocol, making it effectively free of the person manning the station. 3) Importance of technology The team was set upon incorporating the latest technology to ensure that human resource costs could be optimized while achieving maximum automation and data storage capacity. 4) Training Since women police officers were to operate the call centre, they had to be trained specifically for the job; this was a great deal different from their regular job. The women had to be trained in communication skills and in the use of computers and its customized software. The focus was on developing their soft skills, helping them become counselors to the complainants. 5) Implementation in phases It was decided that the initiative would tackle the issue of sexual harassment occurring in various spheres in a phased manner – attempting all at once could have led to dissipation of resources and effectiveness while if implemented in a phased manner, learning from one phase could be applied to the next one – ensuring better output and delivery. 6) Awareness programmes Extensive awareness programmes were planned so that the information about the initiative could be spread effectively. Target audience was clearly identified and it was seen that the best way to approach them was through the young women attending colleges. Therefore, the first series of awareness campaign was planned by offering to hold such sessions on campuses of women’s colleges in the state.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Women Power Line owes its existence to UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s desire to take concrete steps towards improving the safety of women in the state; he gave WPL the political push it needed to take shape. Mr Navniet Sekera, Deputy Inspector General of Police, was the architect of WPL – 1090 and oversaw every stage of its implementation; he also organized and conducted awareness campaigns to sensitize and motivate women to speak up. In this regard he is running a campaign, titled, “Say No to Nonsense”. Mr A. C. Sharma, Director General Police, contributed to the vision with his experience. Ms Shachi Ghildyal, SP, Intelligence, selected women cops to work at 1090 – WPL call centre and also arranged for their training. She supervises the overall functioning of the WPL. Mr Jaiprakash, Additional Superintendent of Police, Lucknow took on a managerial role helping the team meet deadlines and deliver successfully. Mr Rohit Gupta, CEO Technosys, pitched in with his knowledge and expertise to give it customized software and equipment required to run the call centre. Prof. Himanshu Rai, Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, helped concretize plans, joined in conducting awareness campaigns and also initiated a monograph. He also created the “Ten Commandments for Women Empowerment” which is a core part of the awareness campaign. State Police: The project bears the stamp of the state police department’s dedication to serve the society. The citizenry welcomed the initiative wholeheartedly. Mr. Gaurav Prakash of Lucknow helped WPL organize brainstorming sessions that required participation from the community at large. WPL’s legal team developed a strong legal framework; Government Advocate Mr Murtaza brought legal experts together. Prabhat Mittal, Director Information, UP Govt., helped issue publicity material to the media. The media showed its commitment to WPL’s progressive stride by ensuring coverage and dispensing information accurately.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
1090 - Women Power Line is completely funded by the Government of Uttar Pradesh. Technical and Financial Costs: WPL – 1090 involved setting up of one call centre, which acts as a central node of operations to be coordinated across the state through local police stations. The success of the project depended on three key factors: 1) Transparency was achieved through the use of Internet telephony instead of the usual phone lines; making it nearly impossible to tamper with the data exchanged. 2) Accountability was achieved through selection of suitable personnel to operate the call centre, imparting goal-oriented and target-specific training as well as sensitizing them to the agenda of WPL. 3) System Orientation came from the process of intensive documentation in terms of procedures and work instructions; in fact, the WPL looks forward to obtaining ISO certification in the near future. When it came to selecting the right technology for the initiative, WPL chose to prioritize foresight and excellence over cost-effectiveness; the latest SPI (Software, Platform & Infrastructure) model gained in favour whereby everything is sourced on a rental basis. Technosys Solutions, a small but highly resourceful company was engaged in that regard through the government-run UP Development System Corporation (UPDESCO), which provided the entire range of equipment for about $4500 per month. Another major expenditure relates to the payment of phone bills; the internet lease line (a dedicated 2Mbps broadband) costs about $1000 per year while the standard telephone bills depending upon the call volumes range from $1200 to $1500 per month. WPL offices incur electricity bills of about $450 per month. Human Resource cost: At present, WPL comprises 90 women police officers and 60 men police officers, all engaged on a transfer basis; no fresh recruitment was carried out. These officers are drawing their salaries as regular Government employees from the state exchequer, their average salary being $350 per month. Cost of training: Training of these officers included honing their communication skills, basic computer knowledge, spoken English classes, and apart from this, psychological orientation that would enable them to respond to complaints intelligently and empathetically. A lot of this training came to be au gratis thanks to the goodwill the initiative generated. The cost of training was about $20 per head and this cost was borne by the Police Headquarters. Cost Analysis: A woman suffering harassment needs to make but one call – which costs about 50 paisa (less than one Cent) in India, while if she were to travel even a reasonably short distance to a police station she would have to spend at least $2 on the commute. From this point of view, WPL is relief, action, and safety at your doorstep in a manner that is cost-effective and extremely convenient.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
1) Laying bare the enormity of the problem: While even rape statistics coming out of India are contested as most cases do not even get registered, there is no reliable data on sexual harassment. WPL has generated such data and in doing so, has exposed the extent of the problem. WPL registered 136,790 such complaints within a year, while in 2012, only1696 such complaints were filed in UP. And yet, this is seen as the tip of the iceberg since a growth in awareness is likely to encourage more women come forward. 2) Promises kept: Of the 136,790 complaints registered with WPL, 125,988 were completely resolved while the rest are being pursued – such efficacy is helping change the atmosphere into one of increased trust and security. 3) Trust: The WPL has become a huge confidence building measure for the police with regard to their rapport with the general public; it has generated enormous goodwill and reinstated people’s faith in the department. This is reflected in the readiness of young women to join hands with the WPL team as their ‘Power Angels’ who guide and advise women around them facing harassment. WPL is such a hit that several women’s colleges are inviting the team to conduct awareness sessions on campuses. 4) Change: WPL has shown a practical method to weed out a social malady prevalent for many generations, in that regard its impact can be called unprecedented – for the first time in our society, especially in Uttar Pradesh, there is widespread awareness about what constitutes harassment. Alongside this is the fact that harassment now is losing its place as a taboo topic and is fuelling conversations around the family table, all of which ultimately strengthen the support systems in women’s favour. 5) Research: The system orientation of WPL that rides on the intensive collection and storage of data about the complaints they receive both from the point of view of the complainant as well as the offender has indirectly resulted into an extensive demographic profiling of both the sufferer as well as the perpetrator. This offers a tremendous opportunity of social science research into such a crucial subject while at the same time making it easier for the police to nab criminals based on their history with WPL. 6) Replication: Other states, such as Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, are also looking at emulating the concept.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The 1090-WPL call center uses Internet telephony as its backbone, and this makes it very simple to monitor and evaluate the systems and activities. The application software of 1090 is web based and therefore, it can be accessed from anywhere. Approximately 3000-4000 calls land at 1090-WPL everyday, hence, it is extremely important to have the relevant management information tools that give insights into the system. The metrics and tools used to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the strategy include the following: 1. The number of calls landing 2. The number of matured calls 3. The duration of matured calls 4. The correlation between time-span of a call and calls converting into complaints. 5. Types of calls landing (Complaint, Feedback or Thanks-giving or calls belonging to Phase II or Phase III or Crime or Miscellaneous Calls) 6. Tool to measure load of call traffic 7. IVRS manager 8. Stresso-meter (based on the qualitative judgment of the call attendants) 9. Acknowledgement SMS 10. Data collection of complainants on a. Age b. Married or Unmarried c. Student, Working Women or Housewife d. Rural or Urban e. District f. Level of stress 11. Data Collection of perpetrators a. Real Name b. Age c. Address d. Whether holding Fake Mobile ID or not Every call is recorded and thus it cannot be tampered with locally. A detailed log of every activity is maintained and Shift In-charge conducts random checks on the response of WPL-Operators. The supervisory officers can listen in on any call both in the online and offline mode, and this ensures that all operators follow the operating protocol to the hilt. Further, 1090-WPL has appointed one independent professional to monitor the call responses and flag deviations, if any. Once the complaint has been logged, the standard operating procedure, explained before, is followed. On successful counseling, the feedback process begins. The first feedback is taken from the complainant one day after the complaint, the second after a week, and the third after a month. All three consecutive positive feedbacks are a must to close the complaint. If the counseling fails, the inquiry is transferred to the Crime Branch for further action. All the data is available in an easy to understand web-portal, which fires alerts through SMS and Emails to corresponding supervisory officers if the procedure is violated or delayed beyond prescribed limits.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Given the traditional Indian mindset that vehemently favours status quo, implementing a programme like Women Power Line – 1090 was akin to swimming against the current – the system lashes back with cynicism and skepticism; WPL-1090 got its share in the course of its development. The team fought bureaucratic lethargy and cynicism with a clear vision, a determination to deliver, and some skilled back-channel lobbying for action, which drew strength from Chief Minister’s commitment to the project. The challenge was not only to deliver, but to deliver quickly. The team comprised officers in bureaucracy, who identified system hold-ups and bottlenecks, and generated a momentum by using personal leverage with fellow officials while also seeking support from other stakeholders. The next big hurdle was the lack of infrastructure – place, facilities, and resources. The place that WPL was allotted for establishing a call centre had no underground telephone cables while electrical supply is a major concern across the power-state of UP. The WPL team overcame all of these with meticulous planning; back-up systems for every possible snag the team could envision were established right away. Last but not the least, the perpetrators of sexual harassment when confronted by the WPL team over the phone at first did not take them seriously: when cops would call them up in response to a complaint, speaking to them plainly, most offenders would not believe there was a cop on the other side and instead rained the most abusive language on them. There were times when this dented the morale of the trained women officers. On one hand the senior team members counseled them, while on the other hand it was ensured that WPL got its unique outgoing number - 1090 flashing on cell phone screens and caller IDs when calls were made from the WPL call centre.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Imagine living a life as described in this excerpt from a complaint filed with WPL by a young woman: “There was a time in my life when I was gregarious, I could meet with people openly and talk freely. One ‘man’, whom I neither know (and perhaps have never met), is constantly calling me and sending obscene SMSes. I have each friend, each relative, practically everyone in the peripheries of doubt. I left my job and also gave up my dreams to go for higher studies; if a man has the guts to express such obscene thoughts via phone, I cannot fathom what harm he could do to me in person.” Many Indian women constantly live in the shadow of such fear, their activities and aspirations curtailed by devious sexist bullying and harassment. There must be some recourse to such behavior by misguided, ill-informed, ill-cultured youth often hapless in their own upbringing and the present state of their lives, seeking validation through the very worst aspects of a patriarchal society. Criminalising them would mean criminalizing about half of the men in our society – so rampant is the problem. This is a social problem that responds best to a solution that has a similar genesis. If even one such woman can be helped to lead a life she wants to live, the programme would be a success. WPL has done much more. It has helped 125,988 such young women among the 136,790 that availed of its services. Even with strong policing and a principally strong albeit overburdened judicial system – both of which have more teeth as compared to WPL, these have not been able to produce such a great success rate in such a short span of time. The reasons for this range from patriarchal attitudes of the police and the judiciary itself, to the system lapses and delays, not to mention social disapproval. In all of India, only a woman in the state of Uttar Pradesh has the unique opportunity to believe that there is someone she can go to with a complaint of sexual harassment where she will be heard instead of being brushed off, and suitable action against the offender will be taken. All this is thanks to WPL. This belief goes on to bolster the confidence of young women in more ways than one: WPL team considers Power Angels their family. Power Angels are young girls and women who help spread the WPL motto by engaging with other citizens, acting as a support system to women undergoing such harassment, encouraging to speak out, reach out to WPL. These Power Angels not only fulfill a function but also end up earning a lot of respect from their community; it boosts their self-esteem, helps them develop into more aware and responsible citizens. Simply associating with WPL has made these young women into citizens who are fearless in raising their voice and more open about discussing such issues with their families and communities. It is a very valuable step in the direction of guiding a ‘sisterhood’ of women, who largely tend to be so conditioned in the ways of patriarchy as to lose their affinity to protect their own kind by empathizing with them. These are the seeds of social change. Another major benefit accrued here is the huge improvement in the quality of interaction between the public and the police. Traditionally, there has been a great trust deficit between the two parties and it continues to this day. WPL – 1090 has come as a breath of fresh air and has revived a dialogue between the public and police by enhancing their faith in a system that has long been perceived as a stronghold of brash, arrogant, apathetic manifestation of power. That is not all. With the WPL initiative bringing in obvious results, it has worked as an eye-opener for the entire police force; who earlier did not respond to such problems with the attention required because the general impression was of these issues being far less in magnitude and seriousness.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
WPL is a simple solution to a complex problem. The key to the initiative’s sustainability lies in its system orientation. The WPL team while implementing the project has accounted for the problems that it might face; operationally speaking, the team has done its best to tighten the screws and ensure smooth functioning. Investment in technology has been done with an eye to the future, a very clear line of functioning has been articulated to all personnel involved and they have been trained with the same in mind. It has accounted for the expansion of its services in future and has also proposed a model which says that the extra cost of implementation and functioning be borne by the Government in partnership with private companies as a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Most of the cost is infrastructural and the upside to this is that once an investment is done, it stands in good stead for a reasonable amount of time. As for sustainability in terms of social relevance and application, the initiative can only grow from strength to strength as awareness spreads further. In fact, if a total cost-benefit analysis is done in such issues, the fact that prevention of crimes is far more beneficial and cost-effective than pursuing criminal cases in a court of law is beyond debate. The WPL model is modern, rooted in technology and supported by a strong belief in the power of communication, reformation, and a human approach towards bridging the gender divide by tackling crimes head on. It can be very easily replicated and two Indian states viz Gujarat and Chhattisgarh have already realized this and have sent their teams to consult with WPL team. The data that WPL team is generating through total computerization and internet telephony stands to aid agencies involved in sociological and criminological studies in a big way. Achieving such a large collection of data is considered a Herculean task. Its success is making ripples and it is the subject of several case studies that are underway while a monograph on WPL is also about to be published. In fact, given all the factors discussed above, WPL could easily be implemented on the national level, with call centres connected centrally and a huge database can be maintained in this manner. As more and more women step out of traditional molds into financial independence and claim public spaces, it has been seen that crimes against women are on the rise – the trend has been seen not only in the Indian subcontinent but also in the Middle East, in countries of Latin America, even Brazil, etc. The WPL model’s Unique Selling Proposition is that it looks at crime from the lens of social conditioning and not just criminality. Therefore, every society facing such issues can apply the concept in a manner relevant to its practices and ethos.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Experiences: 1) If you believe in it, it can be done: Women Power Line – 1090 came about when some passionate lawmakers and law enforcers decided that this yet another case of harassment was not treated as so. 2) Once you start on your path, things start falling in place: To build something up from nothing at all needs courage, conviction… and street smarts! WPL idea gathered steam on the wings of goodwill it generated in many quarters, especially the ‘Power Angels’ who are acting as flag bearers of change. 3) Once you speak out about an issue and are authentic about it, it finds resonance: This applies not only to the WPL team but also to all those citizens and media stakeholders supporting the initiative. People are much more responsive to talking about their problems when they have a solution in sight to put their faith in. 4) Attitudinal change takes understanding, sympathy, and perseverance: Women Power Line – 1090 works to change the system by working within the system. The concept understands and is sympathetic to the ground realities about the Indian society. Long-term social change is not about razing current institutions to the ground but about making them realize the irrelevance of some of their own outmoded practices and showing them a way to let go of them. The learning: 1) ‘No means no’ but you still have to say it: WPL-1090 has proved that Indian women are raring to get ahead and participate in the nation’s development but are being held back by regressive attitudes prevalent in the society and that all they lack is not a voice, but someone to listen to it and act on it. 2) Face to face interactions make for a big impact: It has been seen that the number of complaints the WPL received from a particular area recorded a sudden jump immediately after awareness campaigns were conducted in that area. This meant that interaction is key to the success of such public-oriented initiatives. 3) Structural changes have to be supported by social discourse: A brainchild of a cop and an initiative owned by a state police service, WPL started out with the understanding that curbing sexual harassment that was less likely to see light of the day in a court of law was an issue about changing social attitudes. 4) Success begets expectations: The success of WPL has fired up the imagination of many involved in such fields – there is a ray of hope in a country mired in a myriad social conflicts and stymied by severe lack of infrastructure and resources. WPL’s recommendations for the future: 1) Larger backdrop: Services such as Women Power Line would do very well to involve more people, entire families in fact, spreading awareness about the menace of sexual harassment and bullying. 2) Workplaces: Workplaces having women employees could be made 1090-compliant through a certification process involving gender-sensitization training for staff and instituting a redressal system and making some employees WPL power angels.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Uttar Pradesh Police
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Navniet Sekera
Title:   DIG Range, Lucknow, UP, India  
Telephone/ Fax:   +91-522-2393300
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   digrlkw@up.nic.in  
Address:   1, Vineet Khand, DIG Range Office
Postal Code:   226010
City:   Lucknow
State/Province:   Uttar Pradesh

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