UT police constables may soon be rolling their R’s with bonjour and merci, if all goes according to plan. A group of 30 city police constables are being trained as ‘tourist cops’ and will be taught to speak French and English over the next four weeks to communicate better with foreign visitors to the city.
Chandigarh gets a fair share of French tourists who come to explore the city designed by Le Corbusier. Many of them speak very little English and no Indian language. And there are visitors from other parts of India who speak English but not Hindi. The UT Administration is hoping that the specially trained ‘tourist cops’ can bridge the language-culture gap and this can lead to more international and domestic tourists visiting the city.
Two batches of UT police had received such training in 2010 and 2012. The French classes, in addition to English, began with the second batch in 2012. The results, however, are not yet clear.
“It is challenging to teach the constables. They all come from the interiors of Haryana and Punjab. They are not comfortable communicating in English and so we have mixed Hindi and Punjabi to teach them,” said Shashi Kapoor, retired general manager of Hotel Shivalikview, a guest lecturer at the workshop.
The training programme was inaugurated on Wednesday at the Dr Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management, Sector 42, by UT Home Secretary Anurag Aggarwal.
“The role of the programme is to instill soft skills and guide tourists so that it leads to the image building at a global level resulting in recurring tourist in-flow for the city”,
Assistant lecturer Ekta Nayyar said, “Five teachers will groom the police personnel, hold personality development sessions, teach them to learn to deal with foreign nationals, ethics at the workplace, etiquette, complaint handling, etc”. She added that the workshop will also help in image building.
Nayyar said the constables would be taught phrases in basic French to build a rapport with French tourists to the city.
However, one of the constables who was trained in 2010 said that they were not taught French and also did not feel the need of learning it.
He said “There is no need to learn any foreign language. Anyone who comes to India knows basic English, which is more than enough. I have met many such people. I knew English already. It was polished over a month of training and the teachers helped us to overcome the hesitation to stand in front of a foreign crowd and give a speech.”
The constables will also be made to undergo practical training, involving situations and circumstances to deal with. “They are taught the basic levels of the French language so that they are able to understand what French-speaking visitors say”, said Nayyar.
Kapoor said the English language training would be part of their personality development and inter-personal skills training sessions.
The constables will be posted at locations such as Rock Garden and Capitol Complex.
Senior lecturer Pratik Ghosh said the workshop would end with verbal feedback.
“We do not take a test or give them marks after the sessions. It is discouraging,” said Ghosh.
During the inauguration, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) AS Cheema urged the constables to make the most of the training.
Bharti Tyagi, principal of the institute, said, “We have already successfully trained two batches of ‘tourism police’ personnel in the past. This is the third such programme which is intended to address the needs of our tourists who travel long distances to reach our destination and experience the totality of the Indian culture, traditions, and cuisine in a safe and hospitable environment.