From flab to fit - the khaki challenge

From flab to fit - the khaki challenge

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Mumbai:  Will the Mumbai Police match up to the blue-liners of America or their super sleek Navy seals? Yes, says fitness guru Mickey Mehta who has taken the cudgel to convert the men in Khaki into a lean, mean force.

After conducting a survey, Mr Mehta has chalked a plan which he says will help reach his goal.

"My aim is to make them like the glamorous, ultra sleek, fit US navy seals," he says.

After inaugurating a gymnasium in the premises of Gamdevi Police Station on Thursday morning, Mr Mehta quickly got down to business, giving out handy tips and motivating the constabulary.

Reading out the instructions in English and then translating it in Marathi, Mr Mehta tries to motivate them.

"Instruction No.1 - Gym is not a punishment, matalab gym saza nahi aahea," he tells the cops as they diligently listen to him.

Of the 48,000 strong police force, Mr Mehta says around 65 per cent cops are now fit, a scenario that wasn't so a couple of years ago.

"I would say that 65 per cent of the policemen today are very fit and sound, 35 per cent of people may have all these mix of problems like hypertension, diabetes, constipation and insomnia," Mr Mehta tells NDTV.

"Constipation and insomnia are the grass root of all other problems or at that level when these problems are not addressed then it gets converted into asthma, diabetes and hypertension etc," Mr Mehta adds.

But a force that complains of long working hours, petty salary and poor living conditions, the motivation to achieve physical fitness is very little.

"You tell me I spend the whole day standing at a checkpoint. I sweat, don't have proper sanitation facilities, how do you expect me to hit the gym?" asks RD Salunke, a constable with the Mumbai Police.

"I give 12 to 14 hours every day to my work, we get one day off and that too is cancelled most of the time. For being physically fit you need to be mentally strong and we are too drained out," adds another cop while chatting informally.

Alarmed and concerned, the Mumbai Police has so far has built 30 gyms for the city's 91 police stations.

All those declared fit are given a financial incentive: A monthly allowance of Rs 250. Overweight cops are not entitled to this allowance.

A new canteen that offers healthier options on a platter for the cops was built a year ago inside the Mumbai commissionarate.

"We had issued a circular stating that whoever is maintaining his fitness levels will get Rs. 250 every month as health allowance. Every year a medical test is taken and whoever is fit is given this allowance," says Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh.

"The fact is the motivation to be fit should come from within but with so much stress it gets killed," Mr Singh adds.

According to the figures by the National Crime Records Bureau, Maharashtra tops the infamous list of police suicides in India, with 200 cases reported between 2006 and 2011.

But a critical analysis of the force reveals a great disparity. While the constabulary is largely unfit, its Indian Police Service (IPS) officers are fit and sound.

A case in point, the Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime, Himanshu Roy. Undoubtedly one of the fittest cops of the force, also dubbed by many the 'Dabaang' officer, Mr Roy is serious about his workouts.

NDTV joined Roy during one of his training sessions. Mr Roy, who starts his day at the crack of dawn and winds up only post-midnight, never misses his gym. He says the motivation comes from within.

"I think the younger lot is really fit. The people we have recruited in the last five years are really fit," Mr Roy tells NDTV while diligently pushing the weights on the count of his trainer.

"The concern is for those who are above 40 years of age and the long commutes, the long working hours and the stress at the job really gets to you. It's a combination of factors; it is definitely the long working hours and the stress of the job," he adds.

But 'the muscle man' as he is fondly called, Mr Roy believes it's inappropriate to compare Mumbai Police with the police of other countries.

"I would also like our working hours to be like theirs. I would like the living conditions of my constables to be like theirs. I would like the salary and incentives like theirs, if that is acceptable than of course the fitness level is also acceptable," Mr Roy is quick to add.

While Mr Mehta's mission to make the Mumbai force from flab to fab might look a bit ambitious and challenging, he says he is confident of bringing the change as he continues instructing the constabulary, "arrea Shinde thoda dum lagao," (Shinde add a little bit more strength).

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