Chowkidar effect: BJP mops up bulk of private security donations

With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) mobilising itself on social media and on the ground by invoking the chowkidar (watchman) tag, the move has both political and business underpinnings. For one, private security companies -– a booming sector in India — have donated varying amounts of money to the BJP.

A look at the contribution reports of political parties shows that while real estate companies donated both to BJP and Congress, private security sector donations were unique to the BJP. In 2017-18, at least seven private security companies donated a sum of almost Rs 61 lakh to the party. The biggest donor among these was Security & Intelligence Service (SIS) – one of India’s biggest private security companies. It donated Rs 50 lakh to BJP in 2017-18.

There were other small security companies which donated as little as Rs 21,000 to the saffron party. Although donations by private security companies are unique to BJP, they are a drop in the ocean of Rs 438 crore donations received by the party in 2017-18.
High-profile BJP supporters like Baba Ramdev have also taken to the private security business. Ramdev started Parakram Security in 2017 and has been actively recruiting private security guards and training them at their facility in Haridwar.

A November 2017 FICCI report estimated that India’s Rs 57,000 crore private security market could touch Rs 99,000 crore by 2020. The private security industry in India employs 8.5 million people. In January 2017, the Modi government also recategorised private security workers as skilled under the Minimum Wages Act.

Earlier they were classified as semi-skilled workers. With this, the minimum wage of private security guards (or the watch and ward sector) has shot up to Rs 667 a day from Rs 247 a day, which has made the industry attractive to youth especially from India’s rural areas. The report states that the private security industry in the country will generate around three million additional jobs by 2020.