‘BSF jawans sleep 4 hrs, face abuse from bosses’

A govt study has found more than 70 per cent of BSF personnel were under-sleeping and facing abusive and harsh behaviour from their seniors.

New Delhi: Even as stress-related fratricide
incidents continue in paramilitary forces, a government study
has found more than 70 per cent of BSF personnel were
under-sleeping and facing abusive and harsh behaviour from
their seniors.

The study chronicles many damning revelations on the
state and fitness of BSF troopers, who guard two of the most
crucial Indian frontiers along Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The first of its kind study on `Emotional Intelligence
and Occupational Stress` of BSF jawans and officers also
narrates various reasons for the "high" stress the troopers,
deployed along inhospitable and risky locations, face.

"The study shows that the overall levels of stress are
quite high in the force... This study itself is just a
beginning, touching the tip of the iceberg. It did not have
the required time and very accurate tools to measure the
stress levels in the force. Still it is indicative of the
problem being faced (by the BSF)," the report, recently
submitted to the Home Ministry, said.

"More than 70 per cent report not getting adequate rest
and sleep and the number is larger for the Other Ranks (jawans
and constables). Many mentioned getting as little as four
hours sleep on a regular basis. Such physical exhaustion and
sleep deprivation leads to chronic stress and affects
performance badly," the report said.

The 136-page study also found that an average BSF jawan
has to face bad behaviour, abusive language and that he fears
a syndrome-- not to commit a single error.

A total of 161 jawans and officers out of the 1.7-lakh
personnel from both western and eastern frontiers took part in
the study which was done on the hypothesis that "people with
higher emotional intelligence will have lower occupational
stress" and to suggest measures to tackle fratricide and
suicide cases in the forces.

Senior IPS officer and Inspector General in the BPRD,
Manoj Chhabra conducted the study. The Bureau of Police
Research and Development (BPRD) is the apex body under the
Home Ministry for undertaking development projects in subjects
plaguing Indian police forces.

The study, released recently by Home Secretary RK Singh,
found that the present number of psychiatric cases are not a
true reflection of the ground realities.

"These cases only reflect the persons who have broken
down, but there are a large number of persons who are
suffering badly and may be leading towards a breakdown
immediately. There is an urgent requirement of providing
trained counselors and psychologist/psychiatrists who can
handle the issue in a professional manner," the report said.

"Many Other Ranks have responded that the seniors are
often unduly harsh, abusive and sometimes even sadistic. While
they do not expect all their grievances to be addressed by the
superiors, they are often hurt by the approach of the seniors
who treat their grievances as complaining, whining and
attempts to avoid work," it said.

Almost half of the respondents mentioned that they are
stressed out due to the constant fear that even a genuine
error will be treated as negligence and they will be punished.

There is no job where mistakes are not made and human beings
will sometimes make mistakes but living in constant fear of
this does not bring out the best, rather it brings a
no-risk-no initiative approach.

"Everyone is constantly covering his backside," it said.

"Many mentioned that the seniors are always ready to
suspect them and there is no trust. They will believe
outsiders and rumours rather than the jawans. Constant
suspicion and fear does not augur well for the organisation. A
more calibrated `Trust but Verify` approach is required to get
the best out of the force," the report said.

The study also found that leaves were the biggest reason
after sleep for stress in 67 per cent of jawans and 50 per
cent of subordinate and senior officers.

"There are many issues mixed here, it is not just the
amount of leave but the fact that it is not granted when
required. It is obviously not possible to satisfy all, but the
dissatisfaction levels are very high. Further, there is a
widely held perception that the system is not implemented
fairly, favouritism is rife and some get it as and when they
want it and others don`t, even when the need is urgent," it

The crux is that stress levels in the force are rising
and the issue needs to be addressed squarely. There are no
studies as yet conducted on the emotional intelligence in the
BSF or any of the central paramilitary therefore this is
practically virgin territory, the study said.