August 16, 2023

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When lowering BMI means keeping your job: In Assam, cops have 3 months to trim the fat | India News

3 min read

Over the next 15 days, around 67,000 personnel of the Assam Police will be weighed and their body mass index (BMI) measured in a bid to have a “healthier police force”. The possible repercussions are grave: Personnel who continue to qualify as “obese” in November will be made to take voluntary retirement.

In May this year, Assam DGP G P Singh had announced the state police’s decision to professionally record the BMI of all personnel, including Indian Police Service (IPS) and Assam Police Service officers. Singh had said they would be given time till August 15 to get in shape, after which the measuring would begin.

On Wednesday, this exercise began with DGP Singh getting his BMI measured at the 4th Assam Police Battalion in Guwahati. Clocking a BMI of 25, he passed the test.

By August 31, all personnel will be similarly measured in 36 locations across the state. Those who clock in a BMI of over 30 – which is classified as obese – will be sent for a “health camp” to the Police Training College in Dergaon.

“There will be nutritionists and doctors from the government there. They will be there for between one month to three months, depending on who needs how much intervention. We will try to bring them below 30 and I think we will be 100% successful in that because there will be physical exercises and we will do quality control of the food,” said Singh.

Three months after the conclusion of this exercise, another round of measurements will be conducted in November. As announced by the police earlier, those who continue to be in the “obese” category will be offered retirement under the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), except those who have “genuine medical grounds like thyroidism”.

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The announcement of this drive came after a virtual conference conducted last month with senior officials at which Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had emphasised the importance of physical fitness of police personnel and had directed the state police leadership to “cut deadwood from the force”.

“The main aim is to make the police healthier and create a stronger police force because we are regularly seeing among police personnel that after crossing a certain age, they develop many health problems,” said Singh.

He said that the Assam Police has created an electronic database of all its personnel where BMI has been added as a header along with other basic information such as date of birth and year of joining service. He said the aim is to introduce spot tests for blood pressure and sugar level along with BMI measurement next year and maintain a record of these health parameters as well.

Former Assam DGP Mukesh Sahay said that “any encouragement to improve health and fitness levels is welcome”.

“The police department has a lot of facilities to keep fit such as grounds, sports facilities, instructors, so it’s good if these are utilised. The police have a system of morning parades and drills but there are a lot of factors which make prioritising health difficult. The working hours are long, difficult and irregular. Because of this, food habits also become irregular. So it’s even more important to keep track of parameters,” he said.

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However, another former police chief added that putting personnel’s jobs on the line makes this sensitive territory.

The current police leadership is looking at making its conditions more stringent in the years to come, by looking to bring the red zone lower.

“The target is that when we do this again next year, we will keep the BMI target as 28. Eventually we want to go towards 25-26. That may take three years, that may take four years. Some police personnel might not like what we are doing today but the long term health benefit will be very high,” said Singh.

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