The Philosophy of Mohalla Committee

  1. People from all walks of life are represented in the Mohalla committee.  All representatives enjoy equal status and powers as members without discrimination on the lines of money, power, caste, creed or class.  Once on a single platform, the elite steps down a bit and the commoner or lowly placed step up a bit to come together.  Dalits & high castes, radicals & milds, leftists and rightists, Hindus and Muslims, rich and poor, men and women all participate as equals.  And because of this the Mohalla Committee is also multifaceted.  Everybody gets an opportunity to understand each other. Other groups, bodies and organizations can also join the Mohalla Committees.
  2. It is no mean task to face the public.  Policemen as Mohalla committee chairmen or vice chairman had to face the people every forthnight & solve their problems.  Elected representatives may not face the voters until the next elections but the Policemen had to face them every forthnight.  Promises made in the previous meetings had to be redeemed.  This constant accountability to the people is indeed a revolutionary step.
  3. Mohalla Committee appears to be a very simple elementary concept.  However it is a very deep rooted fundamental scheme with far reaching effects.  Consistency was maintained in the implementation of the scheme.  This had a powerful and healthy effect on policing.
  4. In the initial phase, some villages were not convinced about the need of the Mohalla Committee. They argued that their village had been totally free from crime or feuds for years. This reasoning is faulty.  Where two persons stay together, conflict cannot be avoided forever.  Then why wait for crime to take place?  You cannot start digging a well after getting thirsty.  No stable society is ever free from conflict. It is therefore imperative to establish the Mohalla Committee straight way.
  5. Mohalla Committees blunt the edges of mob psychology.  The mob does not straight away take to violence.
  6. Mutual discussion is a very effective method for changing the attitudes of people.  The discussions in Mohalla committee helped in shaping the attitudes of the police and the people.  The discussions in the work improvement committees (quality circles) helped in changing the attitudes of both the senior and the junior police officers.
  7. Very few people come in direct contact with the police station.  Those who get bad treatment go on criticizing the entire police department.  People are misled by such propaganda.  Rest of the people form their opinion about the police department without actual experience.  Policemen know that the public evaluates their performance under this general prejudice rather than actual performance, as has been borne out by surveys. Mohalla Committees help in removing this prejudice and improve the police image.
  8. In normal policing the lower rank policemen do not get any recognition or respect.  But as the Chairman or deputy chairman of the Mohalla Committee, they get recognition, honor and respect which in turn results in increased self esteem, more enthusiasm and better performance.  A self-accelerating process is established.
  9. The Mohalla Committee has been so structured that every policeman regards his work as a personal responsibility. 
  10. Effective communication is taught and learned through the Mohalla committee.  The principles of good communication and the principles that make a good Mohalla committee are the same.  And the principles of a good Mohalla committee are the precise rules for the maintenance of peace.
  11. The Mohalla committee is so evolved that individually, members have minimal authority.  Committee leaders too have minimum authority.  The emphasis is on increasing mutual goodwill, understanding and friendship between the members.  Opening up the lines of communication between the members is considered of prime importance.
  12. Misplaced apprehensions are often the cause of communal disharmony.  Miscommunication between Hindus and Muslims was the root cause of the riots at Bhivandi.  Mohalla Committees were established to ensure dialogue between communities.
  13. Change is an important aspect of human nature.  The change may be for the better, or it may be for the worse.  If the change is for the better different communities live in harmony and if it is for the worse there is communal discord.  Mohalla committees have proved to be a vehicle of change for the better.  Mohalla committee makes its members forget old and perverted prejudices that are ingrained during one’s upbringing and bitter memories of the past.  It makes them come together to live in harmony.
  14. In a way, there was hardly any philosophical base for the Mohalla committees in Bhivandi.  However, there was a definite firm and united commitment to avoid any recurrence of the riots.
  15. A lot of the members of the Mohalla Committee in Bhivandi were the ones who had been shaken by the riots.  Hindus & Muslims were scared of each other.  The open lines of communication in the Mohalla committees enabled an exchange of thoughts and ideas.  It brought about awareness and appreciation of the good qualities of the other members.  What a lone person or even the whole police force could never achieve was achieved by this dialogue.  There is an old adage that says, “The village can do what the king can never do”.
  16. The verdicts delivered by the Mohalla committee in local matters are not by a single person.  It is a consensus of all the members.  Hence it is always more proximal to the truth. The verdict of the Mohalla committee is superior to the decision of even a full bench of the Supreme Court.
  17. According to renowned sociologist Powel Fiere if the powerless are empowered through an institution, they strengthen that institution.  The chairman and deputy chairmen of the Mohalla committee are policemen of the lowest rank and so are most of the members.  When the powerless are given the means and opportunity to change their lot, they really strengthen the institution.  Unless & until the smothered voice of the lowest policeman finds utterance the police force will never be modernized.  Mohalla committee gives him a voice.  He starts thinking about development of his self and development of the society.
  18. Social pressure is a powerful weapon.  The problem of atrocities on women should be tacked at the village level itself.  All the logical arguments, positive & negative inducement in the world cannot influence an oppressor as much as the local social pressure can.  The social conflicts get effectively resolved.  This social pressure makes the working of the Mohalla committee very effective.  Since the present criminal justice system is ineffective, social pressure alone can tackle the village crime and hooliganism.
  19. The police started discussing development issues of the village in the Mohalla Committee meetings and they participated in development schemes.  This earned them the support of the public.
  20. Socialization of the police officers, policemen and the people reduced the need for vigilance over the police.  The economic exploitation of the people by the police got checked.   
  21. The Mohalla Committee scheme has been evolved and implemented with great imagination. The scheme is not complicated.  There are no administration hassles.  It has no budget nor are any contributions required.  The committee does not have its own office.  No building is earmarked for it.  No intellectual or educational qualifications are prescribed.  No extra manpower is needed.  No new legislation is necessary to evolve and run the scheme.
  22. Development of villages is the development of India.  Mohalla committee is by far the best scheme for the development of the villages.  If the government undertakes social development through the Mohalla committee many problems could be solved.