2ndlook

The Story Of Crime & Prisons


US - world leader in imprisoning people

US - world leader in imprisoning people


A World Of A Difference

USA, with a population of 30 crores (300 million), has a criminal population of 70 lakhs (7 million) – behind bars, on probation or on parole. US Government estimates a figure of 20 lakhs (2 million) people serving prison sentences.

A concerned editorial in New York Times newspaper summed up the situation.

More than 1 in 100 American adults are behind bars. One in nine black men, ages 20 to 34, are serving time, as are 1 in 36 adult Hispanic men. Nationwide, the prison population … (of the US) surpasses all other countries for which there are reliable figures. The 50 states last year spent about $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections, up from nearly $11 billion in 1987. Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan and Oregon devote as much money or more to corrections as they do to higher education.

Persuading public officials to adopt a more rational, cost-effective approach to prison policy is a daunting prospect, however, not least because building and running jailhouses has become a major industry.

… the relationship between imprisonment and crime control is murky. States that lagged behind the national average in rising incarceration rates during the 1990’s actually experienced a steeper decline in crime rates than states above the national average … (ellipsis and bracketed text mine).

What goes on here …

The current status of Indian criminal system is a study in contrast. India, with a population of 110 crores (1100 million) has a prison population of 2 lakhs (0.2 million). The Indian National Human Rights Commission gives a figure of 3.5 lakhs as the prison population – including convicts and those who are undergoing trial. The UK Home Office survey of World Prison Population estimates Indian prison population at 2.5 lakhs.

Leader of the free world - leads in imprisonment also

Leader of the free world - leads in imprisonment also

With less than 25 people per 100,000 in prison India has the world’s lowest imprisonment rate. Cynics may snigger at India’s ‘inefficient’ police or the slow court procedures as the cause for this low prison population. That can only mean criminals are at large and India must, therefore have the highest crime rate – which is not true. India has low or average crime rates – based on category.

A police state is the answer …

The other option is if India had a huge police force. But then, India has the lowest police-to-population ratios in the world. Comparative statistics show,

The police-population ratio in India is very poor at 1:728, it was 1:600 as mentioned by the Home Minister in August 2005 to Parliament, with women constables constituting only 2.5 per cent of that number. The all-India average police-population ratio stands at 122 per 100,000, which is much lower than the UN norm of 222 per 100,000 (1:450). Most western countries have ratios between 250 and 500 per 100,000. Russia has a ratio of 1:82 and Australia 1:439. While Pakistan has a ratio of 1:625, Japan and Singapore have 1:563 and 1:295 respectively. Even developing countries like Thailand with 1:228 have a much better ratio than India.

Guns and crime

Gun ownership has been suspected behind the crime rates in the US. But the most recent argument against this theory is the spate of bank robberies – which dilutes this argument – at least partially. Estimates of the national stock of guns in the US varies between 40 million to 50 million households which own 200 million guns.

India is, in many ways, different. Recent estimates show that India is the second largest gun owning population in the world- with 4.6 crores (46 million) guns. One report report states that UP alone has 900,000 licensed fire arm holders and 1,400 arms dealers. Another report estimates more than 3 lakh illegal firearms in New Delhi alone.

The fear of God … and Death …

Capital Punishment

Amnesty International - capital punishment data

The ‘Desert Bloc’ societies are great believers in the death sentence. On the other, year after year, India has had the lowest numbers of death sentences – and executions. For instance, the ‘Grand Debate’ in the US of A, is as schizophrenic as it can get.

A majority of Americans support the idea of capital punishment–although fewer are for it if given a choice of life without parole. At the same time, a substantial number in a recent poll said they could not serve on a death-penalty jury. Our death penalty’s continued existence, countering the trend of the rest of the developed world, expresses our revulsion to violent crime and our belief in personal accountability. (from Death Penalty Walking By David Von Drehle Thursday, Jan. 03, 2008 from TIME magazine)

The Amnesty International website reports,

In 2008, at least 2,390 people were known to have been executed in 25 countries and at least 8,864 people were sentenced to death in 52 countries around the world.

As in previous years, the five countries with the highest number of executions in 2008 were China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United States of America (Fig. 1). Together these five countries carried out 93 per cent of all executions carried out in 2008.

The spectre of Muslim gunsmiths

Muslims gunsmiths dominate this business – as can be seen from these reports. But the Indian Muslim, has like the rest of the country, not used these firearms dangerously. This is a strong argument against the ‘oppression of the Muslim in India’ argument.

How long would it take to create a religious jihadi militia? That too, at such a low cost.

But what is the question …

Which brings us back to the central question? Is there a causal link between gun ownership and crime? Are these directly related and proportionate?

All the 5 indices (below) create a bias for a lawless Indian society and rampant crime. With these five indices, namely: -

  1. Police to population ratio (‘increase police force’).
  2. Prison population (‘put more criminals behind bars’)
  3. Capital punishment (‘kill enough criminals to instill fear’)
  4. Poverty (‘it is poverty which the root of all crime’)
  5. Gun ownership (‘more guns means more crime’)

against a stable social system, how does India manage low-to-average crime rates.

How can India have such a low prison population, with a poor police-to-population ratio and a crime rate which is not above the average – in spite of a large civilian gun population. The answer goes back to Lipit Ishtar, Hittite laws, Hammurabi et al – 4000 years back in history.

Indian ethical system

More than 2000 years ago, Megasthenes a Greek traveller to India wrote,

Theft is of very rare occurrence. Megasthenes says that those who were in the camp of Sandrakottos, wherein lay 400,000 men, found that the thefts reported on any one day did not exceed the value of two hundred drachmae, and this among a people who have no written laws

Historically, trade in India is governed by शुभ लाभ shubh labh’ – and hence Indians have not been major players in drugs proliferation (unlike Japan, the West in which traded Opium in Korea and China) or in slave trade.

In modern times, though India is a power in computing industry, India is not a big player in spamming or in software virus. In August 2008, there was hoax story, which alleged that an Indian hacker, had broken into a credit card database – and sold to the European underworld – and some ‘experts’ feared that this would spark of a crime wave across Europe.

The Roots Of ‘Modern Law’

The story of crime and prison population gets more interesting after looking at history and tradition of India and the “Desert Bloc.” The ‘Desert religions’ derive their legal inspiration from the Hammurabic Law of 3000 years.

Babylonian laws had a fundamental impact on legal phraseology in the Bible and the classical world including early Rome. They followed the pattern of formulation that Hammurabi and other Mesopotamian lawgivers used, with a case by case listing of standard clauses. Thus the Babylonian laws show parallels with bases of the European tradition of legal thought, and may have inspired them. Yet Hammurabi’s name was not attached to the laws; the Biblical, Classical, and the Islamic traditions did not remember him, and he was fully forgotten. The situation was only reversed when Europeans, in the mid-nineteenth century AD, started the archaeological exploration of the Middle East and deciphered the cuneiform scripts. By accident, Hammurabi’s name appeared among the earliest inscriptions found. (from King Hammurabi of Babylon By Marc Van de Mieroop)

Sons Of Hammurabi

Western historians glorified Hammurabi as the world’s first law giver – and Occidental-Levantine (including the Shariat) laws are based on Hammurabi’s legal code of “an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth.” Of course, the modern state of Israel follows the system of two eyes and all your teeth, if you hurt my one eye.

Hammurabi’s laws and edicts were retributive, vengeful and punishment oriented. The focus of Hammurabi’s legal system is to give a ‘fitting’ counter punishment for a defined offense – even in the face of an alternative data set.

The first followers in the last 3000 years, were the Greeks. With fresh slaves, bought with newly discovered gold, the Greeks took their first few steps in defining a legal systems. Draco started the Greek legal code which set standards in severity and repression – death for stealing an apple or a cabbage. Those convicted of idleness were condemned to death. Plutarch reports that one contemporary reported that Draco’s laws “were written not in ink, but blood.” It took Solon, widely travelled in Asia, where Hittite’s liberal laws were still in force, to relax Greek laws.

Romans continued with these legal practices and termed this legal concept as lex talionis. The Old Testament advocated “an eye for an eye” (Hebrew: עין תחת עין; Exodus 21:23-27). Islam set up the system of Shariat laws on the same pattern.

But not in Indic nations. 4000 years after the Hittites, Gandhiji was asked about the Hammurabi’s “eye for an eye” kind of justice. Like the Hittites, Gandhiji rejected Hammurabi’s legal constructs. His famous position was “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”.

Results & ConsequencesSiege Mentality

These laws created a system of revenge, fueds and vendettas. The result – fractured Europe, a rampant history of genocide, fueding Middle East.

The largest prison population in the world is USA, currently at 2 million. The US has more people in prison than the totalitarian regimes of Russia or China. USA also has one of the highest crime rates in the world.

Is there a causal link between the Hammurabic legal systems and the crime it seems to engender.

Massacre & Slavery

Hammurabic legal systems also created, supported, protected the premier slave systems of the world. It is also the same system with a singular record for blood baths and massacres in the history of mankind. This is region and system that gave rise to the three slave religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The three ‘desert religions’, gained their first converts from slaves, but continued with slavery till the 20th century. The 3 ‘desert religions’ instead of reforming slave societies, just enabled the transfer of slave titles. Freedom meant old slaves became the new slave masters.

Western history is replete with examples of blood thirsty conquerors whose achievements were measured by territorial conquest, loot and slave capture.

The Indic Legal SystemBuddha And Angulimaal

The alternate system in that era, 4000 years ago, was the Hittite legal system. We get an insight into the Hittite legal system from (more than) 10,000 clay seals and tablets at Boghaz-koi, unearthed in 1907-08. These tablets and seals reveal the legal minds of the Hittites. Vastly, different from Hammurabic laws, Hittite law, was based on amelioration of the effect of crime and driven less by fear of death and punishment.

The Hittites, Mittanis and Elamites (using Indo-Dravidian languages) were Indo Aryans, who dominated Asia from Indian borders to Europe, till 500 BC. Kassites, the other major ruling clan in Levant’s geography (apart from the Egyptians) heavily adopted Indo Aryan cultural motifs.

The Indic (Hittite) legal revolution 4000 years ago plays out even today.

The Indic Bloc rejects Hammurabi

The earliest legend on justice in India is Silappathikaram (Tamil: சிலப்பதிகாரம்). Written by Ilango Adigal /Elangovadigal, supposed brother of Cheran Senguttavan. In the famous play, Silappadhikaaram, (also Silappatikaram) was about miscarriage of justice. The protagonist in the play is King Neduncheziyan.

Neduncheziyan is famous (in Tamil literature) as the fabled, erring Pandyan King in the Tamil classic – Silappadhikaaram. Neduncheziyan’s mistaken justice, brings him grief – and finally death. This classic, written by Jain saint, Ilango Adigal /Elangovadigal, Neduncheziyan in the Tamil classic, is overshadowed by the other real King, Cheran Senguttuvan – whose brother is Ilangoadigal.

And who is Neduncheziyan?

Replace ‘d’ with ‘b’ and you are with Nebuchadnezzar – famous as Babylonian Kings. With a name very close to the Tamil name of Neduncheziyan (Nedunchedianuru) – a current and modern Tamil name. And Nebuchadnezzars were successors of of Hammurabi. Who also waged war against the Elam kingdom, (ca1764).

There are at least four – but we are interested in two of them. The first was Nebuchadnezzar I (ca1126-ca1105) who invaded Elam (the Dravidian rulers of modern Iran). But it was Nebuchadnezzar II, who commissioned one of the wonders of the ancient world – The Hanging Gardens of Babylon – for Amytis, his homesick Elamite princess. Amytis, the daughter of the Median King, (a neo Elamite King), longed for the greenery of her homeland.

A prominent ruler of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar-II, 605-562 BC, (as spelt in English) not only married an Elamite princess, but also took on an Elamite name (related to the Dravidian languages).

Nebuchadnezzar III (Niditu-bel), who rebelled against Darius I of Persia in 522 BC and Nebuchadnezzar IV (Arakha), who rebelled against Darius I of Persia in 521 BC are the other two.

Gautama Buddha won his spurs after converting daaku “Angulimal.” Daaku Angulimal was a notorious criminal – who severed thumbs of his victims, as mementoes from many murders. During his encounter with Buddha, the Daaku was left standing and powerless – only to give up his ways.

Gandhiji and the Calcutta Riots

Commandent of Moradabad, Lt. Col. Coke, wrote in 1822:

“Our endeavour should be to uphold in full force the (for us fortunate) separation which exists between the different religions and races, not to endeavor to amalgamate them. Divide et Impera should be the principle of Indian government.”

The Morley-Minto Reforms of 1909 paved the way for communalization of India. From 1910-1940, the British vigorously implemented the ‘divide and rule’ policy. At the time of 1947 partition, organized gangs started communal riots. Kolkatta (then Calcutta) was in flames. More than 4000 people died. The British Raj was a mute bystander. In contrast, areas ruled by the ‘decadent’ and ‘feudal’ Indian maharajahs, did not see such a magnitude of communal riots.Gandhiji In Calcutta Riots

Cut to Gandhiji during the Calcutta riots. Gandhiji met Hindu and Muslim leaders (and gangsters). Riots ceased. The effect of this came to be known as the Calcutta Miracle. After bloody riots, people came forward to lay down arms. Gandhiji, in an encounter with a sobbing rioteer who confesses to killing a Muslim child – in a revenge killing. Gandhiji suggested that as repentance, the rioter adopt and raise a Muslim orphan child.

The Age Of Dacoits

Dacoity is a uniquely Indian-English word – made, formed and used in India. Derived from the Hindi word daaku, Dacoits were (and are) outlaws operating at the periphery of legitimacy – and morality. These brigands were a response to the shrinking opportunity base due to colonial practices (some of which continue) in India. These dacoits typically did not usually target the State itself or the poor.

Vinod Khanna In Mera Gaon Mera DeshMany successful films were made revolving around these dacoits. Sunil Dutt built his career around dacoit films like ‘Mujhe Jeene Do’ and ‘Praan Jaye Par Vachana Na Jaye’. ‘Mera Gaon Mera Desh’, a pioneering dacoit film, made Dharmendra and Vinod Khanna into super stars. ‘Sholay’, an all time big hit centered around a dacoit running amok – with a powerless State.

The target of the dacoits were the beneficiaries of the system – the rich. Since, the dacoits did not directly challenge the might of the State, the state was not very worried about these dacoits. But loot, these dacoits did. Especially the rich. In the 1960-1970s, dacoity had acquired fearsome proportions. Large swathes of some Indian states were beyond the pale of law – and authority.

Jayaprakash Narayan And Sampoorna Kranti

Post-colonial India was gradually reconstructing its economy. The building blocks of a competitive economy were being put in place. Shortages, inflation were endemic. In such an atmosphere, dacoits started acquiring overtones as a sign of a ‘failing’ Indian state.Jayaprkash Narayan

One man stepped forward and made these daakus see sense. In April 1972, 500 of these dacoits surrendered to the State. These murderous dacoits surrendered at the appeal of a man who never held any office of power (or pelf). Jayaprakash Narayan was the man, at whose behest these Chambal daakus surrendered. Some of these dacoits became members of the Indian Parliament. Jayaprakash Narayan, who at one time, was seen as second only to Nehru, gave up electoral politics in 1954 and worked on the Bhoodan movement with Acharya Vinoba Bhave.

Criminals In The Indian Parliament

For the last 10 years, more than 20% of the elected representatives in national and state parliaments had criminal charges pending against them. In some cases, the charges were petty and manufactured by political rivals. Reality is, that there are criminals in Indian Parliaments. Some criminals like Shahabuddin were, of course, less elected and more manipulated into the Parliament.

Typically, India baiters revel in this and Indians are concerned about this. But, not The Indian Voter. He is unwilling to demonize candidates with a criminal record. The Indian Voter seems to definitely ambivalent about the criminal record of some of the candidates.Marooned Mumbai

Interestingly, (and importantly) how does the Indian Criminal respond to this ambivalence and ‘softness’ – one can even call it an act of faith?

Mumbai -July 26th 2005

944 mm of rains in a matter of 4 hours. It was the single largest downpour in the last 100 years of weather records in the world – over an urban agglomeration. No city in recorded history has received so much rain.

Mumbai was paralysed. Communications lines went down. Electricity black outs engulfed parts of the city. On the arterial road across the Mumbai (the Western Express Highway), thousands of cars were marooned and abandoned by owners. Of these hundreds were BMWs, Mercedes-Benz, Honda Accents, SUVs like Pajeros, Landcruisers – abandoned on the roads. It took the city 4 days to recover. For three days, Mumbai was at standstill.

SWAT team drives past Convention Center, New Orleans.Criminals, technically, had a free run of the city. Much like New Orleans after Katrina. Vandalism, rape, pilferage could have easily happened.

Just the wipers, door handles, car tyres, headlights, car stereos from these high end cars would have yielded around Rs.25,000-Rs.50,000 (US$600-US$1200) per car in the ‘grey market’ – attractive targets for criminals during these 3 days.

How many of these cars were, finally, vandalized? None. No such incident was (at least) reported. Unlike New Orleans and Katrina where the National Guard had to be called out. How many women were raped?

None reported – but spontaneously, many Mumbaikars set up free tea stalls for the stranded. Strangers sheltered stranded people at their homes. Of course, there have been posts that Katrina reports were exaggerated and unsubstantiated.

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/48/113413705_0236c9dea0.jpgCriminal As A Human

It is this non-vindictive treatment of the criminal through myth and example, in ancient and modern time that has differentiated exercize of authority in India and handling of the criminal. It is this treatment that makes India and the Indian criminal different.

Modern econometric modelling has an interesting perspective on Indian economy where research shows that for much of the last 1000 years, India has been a significant economic power till the 1900. China and India, this analysis estimates, for the last 1000 years, accounted for 50% of the world economy. Statistical analyses showed India with a world trade share of 25% for much of the 500 years during 1400-1900.

With this prosperity, the most interesting (historical) aspect of the criminal management story is the absence of any surviving mass jails in India prior to colonial India. Just how did pre-colonial India, one of the largest (and most prosperous) populations of the world, deal with crime and criminals?

Marooned Mumbai

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48 Responses

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  1. Jessie said, on June 15, 2008 at 11:49 am

    as always this article proved to be of great interest. After reading, I am not clear as to why you think Indian prisons have fewer people than US prisons.

    I love India. I have been going every year for 4-6 weeks for the past three years. I have been pick pocketed and have had things taken from my hotel room. My friends have had the same experience. It seems that hese kinds of crimes of thievery are rampant in India. In fact far more so than in the US. My impression is that there is a great deal of crime in India. I usually copletely agree with you but on this point I am not sure I do.

  2. Jessie said, on June 15, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    I accidently hit the send button before I was finished writing so I want to clarify my previous post. When I said I was not sure as to why you think Indian prisons have fewer people than US prisons what I meant to ask is why do Indian prisons have fewer inmates than US prisons? I don’t feel that you really answered that clearly. I made the point that in my experience and the experience of others there is a lot of crime in India. My experience is that there is a lot of crime all over he world these days. In crowds, in India there is a high risk of being pick pocketed – I was pick pocketed in a temple. In the US there is not nearly as much pickpocketing or hotel thievery. Admittedly, these are small crimes and perhaps that is the difference. Perhaps we should look at the severity of crimes. As I recall, the largest population of “criminals ” in US prisons has to do with drug selling and usage. Some of those are people who had a very small amount of drugs in their possession. Perhaps it would be interesting to take a closer look at the kind of crimes committed and then compare.

    Your point of the kind of punishment (eye for and eye) or the compensation type punishement was very good. The treatment of criminals in the US is abominable. The story about the person who killed the muslim child and was told to adopt a muslim orphan was really poignant. If the person was sent to jail it would have done nothing for the soul of the person – but adopting an orphaned child would have. Perhaps all of society needs a revamp in thinking – we need to start caring for each others soul.

    You write truly amazing articles – thank you for all that you do.

    I found

  3. Anuraag Sanghi said, on June 15, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Jessie – Thanks for your feedback.

    Accounting for ‘reporting gaps’, crime statistics, lower registration of crimes, et al, everything, there is still a substantial difference.

    I am stuck by the differences more at the moment. I have not completely understood (much less explain the differences) as of now. Another interesting aspect (I have updated the post) is the election of criminals as public officials in India.

    But the most interesting (historical)aspect of this entire jail story is the sheer absence of mass jails in India prior to colonial India. How did pre-colonial India deal with crime? How could one of the largest (and most prosperous) populations of the world, deal with criminals?

    Definitely, not imprisonment.

    The last known significant imprisonment was that of Vasudeva and Devaki (Krishna’s parents) by Kamsa. The mythological abhorrence to imprisonment further makes this interesting.

    Of course, I am excluding imprisonments (in India) by foreign rulers.

    • Prem said, on January 20, 2010 at 5:13 am

      India’s Congress is Muslim/Catholic British made sure to have Muslims running our Parliament this is why we have such crooked characters!! Please type Facts of Indira Gandhi Topix forum in Google for all the proof Indira is Indira Khan Sonia Gandhi is a Sonia Khan since she is married to Rajiv Khan (son of Indira & Feroze Khan since Indira was married to a Khan). We have not had a real Gandhi in office ever. I am curious how many Hindus are running Euros congress or all the Arab countries congress. This insanity has to end. Indians abroad need to vote even if abroad for a Hindu run Congress in India. BJP & RSS are great Hindu organizations with pro India /Hindustan candidates.. Please see Ancient India Criminal Justice System in Google for book by Haripada Chakripoti
      “Sta rting from an analysis of the evolution of law and kingship, as recorded in ancient Indian smrti texts, the epics and the puranas, Dr. Chakraborty has proceeded to expound the theory that was floated by ancient India, the theory that the king was considered to be the fountain head of justice. A detailed treatment of different stages of trial, such as judges and different types of courts, laying down of a full procedure for trial, and the pronouncement of judgement has found place in this work enhancing its value as a source book. Different types of evidence such as document, witness and conduct have been analysed. Google:

      Part I. of Administration of Justice : Evolution of law and kingship / The King as fountain of justice / Judges and judgement / Subsidiary courts / Crime and punishment / Principles of decision / Exemption from punishment / State and crimes / Criminal suits / The right of private defence / The law of evidence / On arrest and torture /
      Appendices : Sources of Hindu law / The Purohita”

  4. [...] 2nd View writes on The Story of Crime and Passions“ For the last 10 years, more than 20% of the elected representatives in national and state parliaments had criminal charges pending against them. In some cases, the charges were petty and manufactured by political rivals. Reality is, that there are criminals in Indian Parliaments. Some criminals like Shahabuddin were of course, less elected and more manipulated their way into the Parliament. [...]

  5. Galeo said, on June 16, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Just a quick response to the story of the “dacoits.”

    That the Daaku problem was peacefully solved and that Phulan Devi went on to become an elected leader was perhaps a fair ending to a problem that was rooted in something which is largely unknown to history – “thugs” and “pindaris”

    Some History…
    It is important to understand the history of that area from the late 1700s to appreciate what “thugs” meant. This was the period of the Anglo-Maratha rivalry to rule India. Central India was an important battle ground for hundreds of battles. Parts of Bundelkhand and surrounding areas (Jhansi, Gwalior) were already part of the Maratha empire that expanded after the death of Aurangzeb, when Chhatrasal ceded them to the Marathas.

    During these wars with the English, Mahadji Shinde’s (1760s-1790s) advanced guard were people called as pindaris. These were actually not on the payroll of the Maratha army but duty-bound to serve the Maratha kings. They were not as well trained as the Maratha cavalry but were willing to face the enemy first. Mahadji would send the Pindari regiments prior to an invasion. The idea was to make the pindari attack look like a full fledged invasion. The pindari’s would face the brunt of the response, which was often very strong, and they would retreat… the English would assume that they had “won” the battle against a seemingly disorganized enemy. Yet the lightening Pindari attack would create disorder in the English camps… that is when Mahadji’s full force of the infantry flanked by the cavalry would strike… often with devastating results on the English. The English were routed in most of these battles. When the enemy was defeated, the “silver” from the treasury went to the Pindari’s as reward – since they were not on the payroll. The Mughal Empire was a protectorate of the Marathas during Mahadji Shinde’s regime, when the Emperor of Delhi was paid a pension of 13 lakh rupees.

    With battles being fought with the English every year or two, the military labor market began to mercenerize. Soldiers became mercenaries as constant battles diluted the concept of loyalty. Soldiers looked at battled more as a source of paycheck. By the early late 1700s India had completely lost access to all the markets to its manufactured products. Most manufacturers were forced to sell their products to Pykars and Gumastas who were employees of the EEIC (English East India Company)… with a massive economic advantage, the English were able to raise the wages of the soldiers… the battle for India meant the ability to afford a massive payroll of the army. The Maratha’s could not keep up economically with the English plundering machine that had trade monopolies… the second Anglo-Maratha wars of 1802-1803 saw Delhi falling from Maratha hands into the English… who continued the pension to the Mughal Emperor.

    While the treaty with Maratha’s after the second Anglo-Maratha wars, ceded large portions to the English including the implicit English rule in Gwalior. New “ikrarnamas” were drafted with the Bundeli chiefs… but the Pindari’s had not admitted defeat. The Pindari’s took advantage of the jungles of the areas that are part of what is today, Northern Maharashtra and Central India. The pindari’s did not have the revenue or the organization of a full fledged army, but the spirits of liberty was strong. Their enemies were the English and Indians who were the “administrators” of the English empire and Zamindars. They targeted their attacks on the English and Indian authorities who were considered the logical enemies. Though less organizaed than the Maratha’s the Pindaris were a major force.

    The Pindari’s were not a homogenous group. They were comprised of Hindus and Muslims of varying cultural backgrounds. After the third-Anglo Maratha wars in 1818, the pindaris as well as the Peshwa’s (in Pune) were defeated. The Pindari’s scattered and took to the jungles.

    Then emerged the “thugs.” The English rule was further entrenched by the 1820s and what was left of the Pindari military were not a further scattered forces that would attack the English or their Indian proxies with raids that were carried out from the jungles, including the Chambal valley… but the spread was all the way from the borders of gujarat to bengal… with large tracts central Indian jungles as the land of the “thugs.” Regardless of their religion (Hindus or Muslims) the thugs worshiped Kali – who inspired them to continue the resistance against the English and the Indians who had become wealthy under the English regime.

    The “thugs” sympathized with the newly formed poverty stricken peasantry under the Zamindary system propagated by the English growing opium and cotton. Elite Indians who were benefiting from the English rule shared their view of the “thugs” being a problem since the attacks were on administrators and zamindars. Bankim Chandra’s novel Anand Math creates a composite resistance that is loosely based on the sannyasi rebellion in Bengal, the santal revolution, and implicitly the thugs by glorifying Kali.

    The English launched a new offensive against the thugs in the 1820 slaughtering hundreds of thousands of people, that were suspected of being “thugs.” This genocide finally “pacified” the “thug problem.”

    The “thugs” became the “dacoits.” The dislike of a English and their system that had completely disrupted land ownership in northern and central India as well parts of Bengal and Orissa was the core cause of the “dacoit” resistance. Despite India’s freedom, the descendants of these rebels, continued to loot who they considered were the enemy… this definition became blurred over the decades following independence… the congress rule was viewed as a continuation of the English – since land reform was not implemented in large tracts of farmland in north and central india… the dacoits who attacked the zamindar’s and the wealthy had sympathy from the poor…

    …the promise of a fair system was finally brought these “dacoits” to the negotiating table.

    They represent the obsession of Indians to live freely…

    …English educated elite Indians will have difficulty looking at them in this light.

  6. Jessie said, on July 11, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    While the article on Dacoits brough to light the term, it’s focus seemed to be more on the European/Greacian, Roman thieves who stole from India its cultural heritage. I want to convey a story here that might be surprising and possibly anger some readers. None the less, the more I study the more I believe the story.

    To begin with, I am a student of Dr. V. Ganapati Sthaati of Chennai who is the worlds most illustrious Temple architect and proponent of building architecture of sthapatya Veda and Vaastu Shastras for homes, offices etc. His knowledge of these sacred yet scientific texts is surpassed by none. The reason he has gone so deeply into these texts is that he comes from a very ancient tradition of Sthapatis. He is one of few living Sthapatis whose family has maintained the tradition for many thousands of years. While there are many many people claiming to know the Vaastu Shastras, there are few who really do. Most people doing “vaastu” are simply engaging in surface recommendations that are more superstition than science. The real Vaastu Shastras are pure science. V. Ganapati Sthapati has in his posession a copy of what Veda Vyasa called the first Veda – the Pranava Veda. The story of his gainig posession of this text is too long for this note but its existance is important. The Pranava Veda is a scientific treatis written by an ancient architect/sage named Mamuni Mayan. Mayan percieved within in his own inner being, the process of energy (consciousness) transforming itself into matter (the material world). He named that energy Brahmam. He discovered that that process unfolded in a mathematical order and that that mathematical order could be replicated in architecture, music/dance, and sculpture. He discovered that specific qualities or gunas of pre energy could be harnessed in its journey toward manifestation by using the specific mathematical order employed by Consciousness. Using those principles would bring happiness, well being, and spiritual bliss to those who partook of the forms made in this way. (a more detailed account of this is available in Fabric of The Universe available through Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati, http://www.vastuved.com or http://www.aumscience.com)

    Mayan traveled the length and breadth of India building and teaching. He was called Vishwakarman Brahmin and his students (12 major disciples and hundreds of others in his academy) were also called Vishwakarman Brahmins. The name arose because they became Vishwakarma (the creator of the universe) by virtue of their ability to use Mayan’s mathematical formulas to bring out life supporting qualities of Brahmam into forms such as building, gold smithing, dance etc. Mayan also wrote treatis on herbs and medicines as well as ship building and many other fields – all of which were related to the mathematics of frequency and vibration that he discovered.

    If one reads the introduction to the Surya Siddhanta one will also find that the author of the text spoke his own name in the text – that name was Mayan. Mayan used his great mathematical prowess to make observations of the heavenly body. He developed what is akin to trigonometry and geometry. (You can find this fact in any complete version of Surya Siddhanta.) Just to bring this into perspective, the date that seems to point to Mayan was about 10,000 BC just about the time of a rapid global warming that caused a high rise in sea level.

    I have had an abiding interest in the history of Brahmin priests because of their great influence on Indian culture. In researching this last year, I found that most scholars say that Brahmins were originally fire tenders. They collected wood and dung for maintaining comuity fires. They, over time, made their positions more and more important by adding fire worship to their tasks. Eventually they rose to a high position in society.

    On my last visit to Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati (a Vishwakarma Brahmin)in January 08, I asked him what he knew of the origin of the Brahmins. He told me that as a child, he sat in the evenings with his father and listened to the Sthapatis talk about such things. According to the legands of Vthe vishwakarmins, Mayan moved to northern India with his band of students. He settled at the feet of the Himalayas and made a small village. Mayan used his deep knowledge of manifestation process to cause an uprising of certain blissful qualities of consciousness (Brahmam) so that the village felt very good and life supporting. Aside from the architecture, he did what was called a fire ceremony or agni hotra. This agni hotra was symbolic in the sense that the fire emulated the cosmic flame that Mayan perceived in the manifestation process but it was also activating in the sense that along with rythmic incantation of mantras, Mayan was able to cause certain qualities of consciousness to vibrate in the atmosphere. These fire rituals wer very powerful and mayan performed them regularly.

    Mayan and his community needed help in their daily tasks. They needed someone to clean the floors, chop wood, and carry water. They were too busy with working and studying. Down the road from their village was another village of people who were from Afganisthan and what is now Iran. These people were called Ariyans according to Dr. Sthapati. Mayan and his group hired these Iranians/Aryians to sweep and feed the fire for the agni hotra. Over time, these janitors listened to Mayan perform the fire rituals and teach. They heard his long chantings and memorized bits and pieces of them. They did not understand th full science and mathematical order but got the jist of the words. Over time, they even began to call their selves Brahmins. They didn’t understand what the word Vishwakarma meant so they dropped it and just called theirselves Brahmins. They rose to the status of Rishi and claimed that the incantatations were their own. Veda Vyasa then took these piecemeal incantations and put them into what we now call the Vedas – Rig, Sama, etc. While there is a great deal of truth in these existing vedas, they lack the deeper knowledge behind mayan’s teaching – the knowledge of manifestation of energy into matter.

    What we have here is a story that, if true, completely changes the underpinnings of Indian spirituality. If this is true then Brahmin priests were the real Dacoits. They were people from outside of India who stole bits and pieces of pure knowledge and made a religion out of it. Because they did not fully understand the knowledge Mayan taught, they made up stories and legands about Gods and goddesses, demons and ausuras etc in an effort to fill in the blanks. An example of this is all of the stories about Shiva. In reality, Shiva was a scientific term (Civa) that Mayan used to explain an aspect of the manifestation process and Nataraja was a pictorial demonstration encoded with visual codes that described the process. Mayan himself coined the terms and designed the art form.

    According to Dr. Sthapati, Mayan sent his students out to all parts of the world. They went to China (anyone who has studied Chinese Medicine knows it came from India, the mid east, and even to what is now the Americas. His student named Maayan influenced what is now known as the Maayan culture of Mexico and central America. The Mayan, Aztec, and Incan cultures used the same knowledge mathematical order that Mayan taught. In fact there exists a temple in Mexico with a name very similar to Chidanbarum – the great temple of Tamil Nadu.

    I am conveying this story because it adds to the idea that Pythagoras and the Arabs got their information from India and Indian rishis. It also points to the idea that even Indians their selves might be subscribing to stolen knowledge. If the story of the Brahma priests is true, Indian religion may be a misunderstanding of a deeper body of knowledge.

    I hope that I have not offended any one in relaying this story – I personally believe it after having studied the Pranava Veda and other Vedas. It is a profound story that, rather than cheapens Indian spirituality and culture, deepens it. If Indian spirituality and culture actually do stem from Mamuni Mayan’s cognitions then it is the only truly scientific culture and spirituality in the world… and it has impacted the entire world scientifically, culturally and spiritually.

  7. Anuraag Sanghi said, on July 12, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Thanks Jessie for your elaborate addition to the genesis of the Brahmanic class.

    3 points …

    1. Dacoity in its practice is not necessarily black or white – but sometimes grey due to existential reasons. Hence, borrowings from other cultures is definitely not negative – but what is repugnant is the deliberate white-wash of certain societies and the tarring of others. Arrogating all achievements to itself, modern West is setting itself up for being called ‘cultural dacoits’ – robbery due to cultural poverty.

    2. Spread of knowledge and information by itself happens by learning from others. So, there is no moral turpitude in learning from others. It is the arrogation which I am writing against.

    3. Talking about Indian sthapatis and Vishwakaramans, it is interesting to note that India does not have the grand historical edifices which are a hall mark of all slave societies. Thus, for instance, in the Ramayana, there is great elaboration about Ravana’s palace and cities – and Ayodhya was itself an unremarkable city.

  8. Jessie said, on July 15, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    !.I absolutely agree with you. There is nothing wrong with borrowing from other cultures. It is the arrogance involved with a group of people thinking that it is the Aryan (alleged Europeans) influence that brought India out of the dark ages. It just might be that it was India that brought the rest of the world out of darkness.

    2. Yes, the great edifices of India were not built by slaves. They were built by skilled craftsmen and craftswomen.

  9. [...] In the last 500 years, Hammurabic legal systems (based on retribution) used by the ‘Deset Bloc’ (Judaic, Christian and Islamic societies) has gained precedence in the world – delivering an eye-for-an-eye justice. The result, the US with the world’s largest prison population. [...]

  10. [...] then, is a modern Indian conundrum. This is not supposed to happen. But then, in India, there is a 4000 year of history which makes low prison population, low police to population ratio and a low crime rate [...]

  11. [...] many Indian states.” Yet does he give any comparative statistics? None! Does he mention that India anyway has the lowest prison population in the world. That Muslim prison population in India is about 75,000 from 14 crore Muslims – compared to 10,000 [...]

  12. [...] how come India has lowest prison population, low-police-to-population ratios and the low-to-average crime rates? Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Why FDI is not such a hot thing …!LEGAL ACTION [...]

  13. Crime, Gun Ownership and India said, on January 7, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    [...] can India have such a low prison population, with a poor police-to-population ratio and a crime rate which is not above the average – in spite [...]

  14. [...] the crime rate in India is in the low-to-average range. How come? 4000 years back in history is the answer … Possibly related [...]

  15. [...] can India have such a low prison population, with a poor police-to-population ratio and a crime rate which is not above the average – in spite [...]

  16. [...] this is the difference between the ‘Desert Bloc’ and the ‘Indic Bloc’. Gandhiji’s non-violence was based on this premise that ‘blood does not sleep’. [...]

  17. [...] This incremental liberalisation created a backlash against the ‘holier-than-thou’ Indians, by the slave-owning, ruling classes of the non-Indic societies – and the newly liberated classes also. The ancient equivalent of Nixon’s outbursts against the ‘sanctimonious Indians.’ It was this humane treatment of slaves and humanization of criminals which has possibly resulted in a the low crime rates in India. [...]

  18. [...] journos are a new breed of ‘angutha chaaps’. What these English speaking, Westernized journos, dont know and cant care about are these inconvenient facts: [...]

  19. [...] has the lowest prison population, the lowest police-to-population ratio in the world with the largest number of poor in the world [...]

  20. [...] has the lowest prison population, the lowest police-to-population ratio in the world with the largest number of poor in the world [...]

  21. [...] are worried about abuse of power by the police, your concerns  are quite misplaced Mr.Sanghvi.The Indian Police is doing a good job – and they can do without your cynicism. So you are quite wrong when you are worried about the [...]

  22. [...] the crime evaluate in Bharat is in the low-to-average range. How come? 4000 eld backwards in history is the respond [...]

  23. [...] the crime rate in India is in the low-to-average range. How [...]

  24. [...] with Native American tribes (aka Red Indians) and the Aborigines – if there are none left. The West which has the highest levels of prison populations in the world – raucously reminds the world of lessons in [...]

  25. [...] Hittite rule and legal system contrasted sharply with the parallel regime of Hammurabi – the much proclaimed Western world’s [...]

  26. [...] all non-specialists, trying to do the job that a specialist should have done a long time ago. While on the subject of thugee and dacoits, Parag Tope’s write up on the Pindaris is worth a [...]

  27. [...] Behind the paradox is 4000 years of history … [...]

  28. [...] the fact of the lowest prison population in the world with the lowest police-to-population ratio in India, and what you have is a very different approach [...]

  29. [...] has been successful in creating a largely stable and law abiding society – with the lowest prisoners-to-population ratio and the police-to-population ratio in the world. It is time that we resisted the temptation of using [...]

  30. [...] What Indians will accept is a change – complete and total change in behaviour! Indians will give a second chance to even criminals and robbers – without an [...]

  31. [...] Kaplan. Indians will accept a change – complete and total change in behaviour! Indians will give a second chance to even criminals and robbers – without an apology!! Like Valmiki earlier or the many dacoits (Phoolan Devi et al) in the recent [...]

  32. [...] of modern Indian regulators and organizations like the SEBI, TRAI. Or even the IPS. India has the lowest prison population in the world – and also the lowest police-to-population [...]

  33. [...] is interesting? How is this data to be read? Is this a Indic pattern where people are not imprisoned in large numbers, where people with criminal records get elected to the Parliament – and companies are trusted to [...]

  34. [...] big losses during the Opium Wars and the rise of the cotton trade. Other Indian traders, possibly restricted by ’shubh labh’ compunctions played a lesser role (compared to the European traders) in this Opium [...]

  35. [...] Moghuls to the downright asuric colonial rule. In spite of this, the Indian system has managed a low crime, low prisoner, low capital sentence, low police regime – which is unique in the world. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Archaic [...]

  36. [...] has the lowest prison population in the world – and the lowest police-to-population ratio in the world. So, clearly, India is NOT a police [...]

  37. renu said, on June 7, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Remember most of the criminals are outside jail in india. if india’s police is like USA, then india will be first place. corruption everywhere in india. shame to say this…. :-(

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on June 8, 2011 at 3:09 pm

      Renu – You are saying

      Remember most of the criminals are outside jail in india.

      If criminals are outside jails, free to commit crime, crime levels in India have to be high.

      Especially, in India with the lowest police-to-population ratio and the highest police-to-illegal-guns ratio. Either crime levels must be high, or imprisonment levels have to be stratospheric.

      Strangely, none of these ‘logical’ things are happening. Crime is at low-to-average levels, imprisonment is at a global low, police force is seriously undermanned – and firearms are common.

      What gives?

      If cutting of hands and legs worked, Islamic countries would have been free of crime many centuries ago. That has still not happened.

      In jailing people works, US, China, Russia, and UK would have been crime free societies.

      If executing corrupt officials was the answer, China would have been free of corruption many years ago.

      This cutting of hands, legs, heads, killing people, jailing people is nothing but legalized vengeance. It is a terrible psychological game that the Desert Bloc State has started. It has to end.

  38. admin said, on June 7, 2011 at 5:43 pm
  39. admin said, on June 7, 2011 at 5:44 pm
  40. admin said, on June 7, 2011 at 5:44 pm
  41. admin said, on June 8, 2011 at 5:37 am
  42. admin said, on June 8, 2011 at 5:37 am
  43. admin said, on June 8, 2011 at 5:39 am
  44. admin said, on October 9, 2011 at 11:14 pm
  45. [...] ‘freedom’ in the USA, with 20 lakh prisoners – the largest prison population in the world? Or ‘religious tolerance’ like single-faith [...]

  46. Ravi said, on May 19, 2012 at 6:21 am

    One fact should be noticed that 3/4 of the US prison population is of non-violent crimes.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States#Violent_and_nonviolent_crime

    The “war on drugs” has caused the increased the prison population. It means that the population of violent criminals is no more than 5,00,000 approx.
    Still it much higher given the high rate of poverty of India , low police-population ratio and 4x population than USA.
    Adding all these facts the prison population should be like 5lakhx4=20lakh if only population is taken in account.
    With other factors it should go even more high. Something like 30,00,000.

    Also one more point, USA’s has a history of Serial killers. People who came from well to do backgrounds but chose to kill people for satisfying their own sadistic nature. Nithari is only case in India.

    There is something else which is holding people in India from being criminal. it’s not genes.
    Pakistanis have similar genes but Intentional Homicide rate 3x that of India.


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