By Rahul Bedi in New Delhi
Policemen in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh are being paid a monthly bonus to grow moustaches because senior officers believe they give their wearers an air of authority.
"The response is growing and in the months ahead we expect to see more moustachioed policemen," said Mayank Jain, police chief of a district west of Bhopal where the "prestige enforcing" experiment was recently launched.
Whiskered policemen, he added, were acquiring an "aura" of their own, creating a positive and masterful impression on the local people and earning respect.
Mr Jain hit upon the idea of a 37 pence per month moustache allowance after a seminar attended by district policemen and local residents. There were a few constables with moustaches in the gathering and he noticed people looking at them with awe and reverence.
This led him to encourage his force to grow moustaches that are an integral part of India’s folklore, closely associated with respect, honour and above all masculinity.
But police officials said they were keeping an eye on the shape and size of the moustaches. Only "proper" moustaches were encouraged, ones that twirled rakishly along the upper lip.
Handlebar moustaches were permitted, but only if they did not look overly menacing or challenging.
Policemen were discouraged from growing moustaches sported by villains in Bollywood films. The characters are often portrayed stroking their whiskers malevolently whilst torturing their victims oreyeing up women.