IGNOU In Move To Train Private Security

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New Delhi, Jul 29 (UNI) A leading distance university and a security company got together today to train and qualify private security guards-- an industry hitherto itself a source of concern.

Indira Gandhi National Open University and newly-formed Security Skills Council of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding this afternoon to ''design, develop and deliver'' skills and diplomas and certificates for guards and supervisors.

The MoU was jointly announced by IGNOU Vice Chancellor V N Rajasekharan Pillai and SSCI Chairman and Managing Director R K Sinha as effort to bridge a yawning gap between law and the ground reality.

Law requires personnel to be trained in everything from ''correct wearing of uniform'' to handling weapons and spotting improvised explosive devices, and includes fitness, firefighting, crowd control, checking identities, and even giving first aid.

Prof Pillai also released a student prospectus-cum-programme guide for short term, non-credit vocational programmes for security guards and security supervisors.

''Terrorism cannot be checked only by law enforcement agencies,'' Sinha said as he and other speakers pointed to the key role private security men or even citizens play in securing a nation by detecting suspicious activity or individuals early on.

India's private security industry currently employs some five million individuals, many of whom are not educated or qualified or even trained. The agencies came up as a result of demand from businesses and homes. Many companies themselves are accused of offering poor wages and work conditions.

Authorities readying to regulate the industry three years ago noted how these agencies helped meet businesses' security needs, but caused ''a growing concern'' by the manner of their functioning.

''Many of these agencies conduct their operations without due care for verifying the antecendents of the personnel employed as private security guards and supervisors.

''Certain private multinational security agencies have also established their branches in the country, which unless properly regulated may have serious security implications.'' In some instances personnel employed by these agencies have been involved in criminal activities.

In 2005, the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act was enacted followed by the Private Security Agencies Central Model Rules a year later.

The law requires private security agencies to get a licence within a year or fold-- but most States have yet to enforce it, industry sources say.

As D K Kotia, an officer of the Home Ministry, put it in a speech delivered in absentia, ''When fully implemented, this Act will help bring in desired professionalism in security industry in a big way.'' UNI MJ RP PM1940

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