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During my training with the Indian Police Service, we were taught how to hit with a club/lathi during lathicharge, in a step by step, almost comical manner.

Interestingly, this training answered a question I always had: Why do humans keep doing stupid and outdated things for years?

In this exercise, we were asked to cover the front of our leather belt with our left palm while using the other hand for the lathicharge.

Once a fellow trainee asked, ‘Ustaad, why are we covering our belt with our hand?’ I had assumed it was just to make it look stylish 🙂

He said, in the olden days, the constables used to have their identification number on the belt. Hence they would hide it so that the recipient of the lathi blow could not identify them.

This was stupid at so many levels:

1. The belts stopped having the numbers DECADES ago.

2. We were not constables but IPS officers.

3. The whole idea of hiding your identity is totally repugnant.

In fact, I used to clearly instruct my policemen to never hide their nameplate – if you are doing your lawful duty, why hide your identity?

Similarly, in many organizations, we keep doing things that lost their relevance decades ago.

Just that nobody has yet asked the question, ‘Why are we covering our belt?’

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