| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
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.
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.
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
b. Married or Unmarried
c. Student, Working Women or Housewife
d. Rural or Urban
f. Level of stress
11. Data Collection of perpetrators
a. Real Name
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.