2ndlook

Delhi Gang Rape: A Mirror To Our Society?

Posted in Desert Bloc, Feminist Issues, India, Media by Anuraag Sanghi on December 20, 2012

When societies indulge in hysteria at periodic intervals, they react more and more … and more. And think a whole lot less!

Delhi – The Rape Capital

India anyway the lowest crime rate in the world  |  Sushil Kumar Shinde announces measures to make Delhi safer  by MANJUL dated 12.20.2012

India anyway the lowest crime rate in the world | Sushil Kumar Shinde announces measures to make Delhi safer by MANJUL dated 12.20.2012

Delhi has a population of nearly 1.5 crore, (15 million).

Delhi’s population is more than the population of nearly a 100-countries of the world.

Can deviant behaviour by a couple of hundred people make Delhi the rape capital of India?

Kill … hand … shoot … death … mutiliate

A cartoon on the Lorena Bobbitt case.  Is anti-men attitude valid and justified in India  |  Cartoon by Satish Acharya on December 19, 2012

A cartoon on the infamous Lorena Bobbitt case. Is anti-men attitude valid and justified in India | Cartoon by Satish Acharya on December 19, 2012

If imprisonment can solve the crime problem, USA would not have the world’s largest prison, probation and prosecution numbers.

If executions can solve problems, after 30-years of executions, China would not have a corruption problem.

After 1300-years of cutting hands, legs, heads, fingers, the Islamic world is still not crime-free.

Deviants like these gang-rapists must be dealt with professionally.

Are these gang-rapists worth the anger, vindictiveness, vengefulness?

Have a quick trial – and ensure expedited appeals. Carry out the sentence.

Victim Women; Guilty Men

Is a woman any more a victim than a child? Or a old-couple robbed and murdered? Or a young couple who leave orphan children behind? This musical chairs of crime against children, against women; against the aged guarantees that the subject changes – but not the situation.

Sick Society

Does deviant behaviour by a few hundred people from among crores of people make a society sick? But when large parts of the society go on rampage that is surely a sick society.

International Attention

Why this hankering for ‘international approval’?

Shame … Shame

If a member of your family have cancer, does it the makes your family ashamed? If a few members of the society display deviant behaviour, where is the shame? We just have to deal with it?

Help for the victim

While people are out having candle-light vigils, protests, posters, twitter-campaigns, is anyone trying to do anything for the victim? Without intestines, how will the girl manage her life? How will she manage her future medical bills? Instead of this silly shame, meaningless outrage I did not see anyone working to establish a 25-lakh corpus to take care of this girl!

Respect for Women

Such a silly idea!

And the politics and commerce

What about respect for men? What about respect for elders? What about some respect for children? Any special reason why only women should be respected? What about some respect for our leaders? For our police? For our diplomats? For our public servants?

What do we expect? Four policemen in four direction for each citizen of this country?

When we believe that some one should get more respect, we compensate and automatically respect some people less! Is this the reason why we respect some people less.

What happens when societies indulge in hysteria at periodic intervals? They react more and more … and more.

And think a whole lot less!

Yummrika: 1 in 3 Black Men Go To Prison

Posted in America, Current Affairs, Desert Bloc, Feminist Issues, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on April 10, 2012

150 years after the American Civil War, 50 years after Civil Rights movement, the American justice and prison system is a fortress of prejudice and hate.

Between myth and reality, between maya and propaganda  |  Cartoon titled - American Exceptionalism By Tim Eagan, in Deep Cover on 2/2/2012 12:00:00 AM  |  Click for image.

Between myth and reality, between maya and propaganda | Cartoon titled - American Exceptionalism By Tim Eagan, in Deep Cover on 2/2/2012 12:00:00 AM | Click for image.

Today people of color continue to be disproportionately incarcerated, policed, and sentenced to death at significantly higher rates than their white counterparts. Further, racial disparities in the criminal-justice system threaten communities of color—disenfranchising thousands by limiting voting rights and denying equal access to employment, housing, public benefits, and education to millions more. In light of these disparities, it is imperative that criminal-justice reform evolves as the civil rights issue of the 21st century.

Below we outline the top 10 facts pertaining to the criminal-justice system’s impact on communities of color.

1. While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned. The prison population grew by 700 percent from 1970 to 2005, a rate that is outpacing crime and population rates. The incarceration rates disproportionately impact men of color: 1 in every 15 African American men and 1 in every 36 Hispanic men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men.

2. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. Individuals of color have a disproportionate number of encounters with law enforcement, indicating that racial profiling continues to be a problem. A report by the Department of Justice found that blacks and Hispanics were approximately three times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop than white motorists. African Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police.

3. Students of color face harsher punishments in school than their white peers, leading to a higher number of youth of color incarcerated. Black and Hispanic students represent more than 70 percent of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement. Currently, African Americans make up two-fifths and Hispanics one-fifth of confined youth today.

4. According to recent data by the Department of Education, African American students are arrested far more often than their white classmates. The data showed that 96,000 students were arrested and 242,000 referred to law enforcement by schools during the 2009-10 school year. Of those students, black and Hispanic students made up more than 70 percent of arrested or referred students. Harsh school punishments, from suspensions to arrests, have led to high numbers of youth of color coming into contact with the juvenile-justice system and at an earlier age.

5. African American youth have higher rates of juvenile incarceration and are more likely to be sentenced to adult prison. According to the Sentencing Project, even though African American juvenile youth are about 16 percent of the youth population, 37 percent of their cases are moved to criminal court and 58 percent of African American youth are sent to adult prisons.

6. As the number of women incarcerated has increased by 800 percent over the last three decades, women of color have been disproportionately represented. While the number of women incarcerated is relatively low, the racial and ethnic disparities are startling. African American women are three times more likely than white women to be incarcerated, while Hispanic women are 69 percent more likely than white women to be incarcerated.

7. The war on drugs has been waged primarily in communities of color where people of color are more likely to receive higher offenses.According to the Human Rights Watch, people of color are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than whites, but they have higher rate of arrests. African Americans comprise 14 percent of regular drug users but are 37 percent of those arrested for drug offenses. From 1980 to 2007 about one in three of the 25.4 million adults arrested for drugs was African American.

8. Once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders. The U.S. Sentencing Commission stated that in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes. The Sentencing Project reports that African Americans are 21 percent more likely to receive mandatory-minimum sentences than white defendants and are 20 percent more like to be sentenced to prison.

9. Voter laws that prohibit people with felony convictions to vote disproportionately impact men of color. An estimated 5.3 million Americans are denied the right to vote based on a past felony conviction. Felony disenfranchisement is exaggerated by racial disparities in the criminal-justice system, ultimately denying 13 percent of African American men the right to vote. Felony-disenfranchisement policies have led to 11 states denying the right to vote to more than 10 percent of their African American population.

10. Studies have shown that people of color face disparities in wage trajectory following release from prison. Evidence shows that spending time in prison affects wage trajectories with a disproportionate impact on black men and women. The results show no evidence of racial divergence in wages prior to incarceration; however, following release from prison, wages grow at a 21 percent slower rate for black former inmates compared to white ex-convicts. A number of states have bans on people with certain convictions working in domestic health-service industries such as nursing, child care, and home health care—areas in which many poor women and women of color are disproportionately concentrated. (via 1 in 3 Black Men Go To Prison? The 10 Most Disturbing Facts About Racial Inequality in the U.S. Criminal Justice System | Civil Liberties | AlterNet).


Single mothers is equality of sexes; Unmarried men are 'free', overflowing prisons is liberty  |  Cartoon titled Orwell Man Bush teaches Doublespeak By Andy Singer, in Politicalcartoons.com on 3/24/2006 12:00:00 AM  |  Click for image.

Single mothers is equality of sexes; Unmarried men are 'free', overflowing prisons is liberty | Cartoon titled Orwell Man Bush teaches Doublespeak By Andy Singer, in Politicalcartoons.com on 3/24/2006 12:00:00 AM | Click for image.

How British Raj Ended Thugee in India

Posted in British Raj, History, India, Media, Propaganda by Anuraag Sanghi on July 5, 2011

 

Thugs in Hindi means trickster – definitely, not a violent, killer-robber. From a trickster to a violent criminal, was British colonial miracle. To hang around 400 ‘thugs’, British prosecutors built a bank of nearly 500 ‘approvers’ to ‘identify’ members of alleged ‘thugee’ groups.

Prison population of Britain (Image source and courtesy - bbc.co.uk). Click for larger image.

Prison population of Britain (Image source and courtesy – bbc.co.uk). Click for larger image.

The truth behind ‘Thugee’

Soon after Pindari Wars (1820), from Indian Independence (1947), till now, for nearly 200 years, one resounding claim of British achievements in India was an end to ‘thugee’.

The British myth of The End of Thugee has survived for nearly 200 years now. Every aspect of the ‘thugee’ myth is unreal.

A cursory examination will reveal how hollow the ‘thugee’ claim is.

The ‘hunters’

Set up by William Bentinck, (British Governor-General; 1827-1835), the Thuggee and Dacoity Department, started with William Sleeman as Superintendent in 1835.

William Sleeman wrote a few books on ‘thugs’, ‘thugee’ and their language. It is Sleeman’s accounts that significantly define the ‘thugee’ chapter of colonial history, even today. From Sleeman’s beginning, the Thugee Story spread.

From the many that ‘agreed with the Thagi and Dacoity officer who noted that thags possessed ‘nobility and chivalrous instincts’, and entire villages ‘coming out to defend an accused Thug against British capture’, in the next 50 years,  Sleeman made ‘thugs’ into a ‘fiend in human form’.

Britain and Europe, was fascinated by ‘thugs’ – a creature of their own imagination and invention. Queen Victoria called for loose, proof-read pages of a book on ‘thugee’. Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days (‘Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours’, 1873) turned Feringhea into “le chef Thugs, le rois des Etrangleurs,” ‘The Chief of Thuggee, King of Stranglers’.

The numbers

William Sleeman’s grandson, James Sleeman added to this ‘thugee’ hysteria and his book Thug, Or A Million Murders in 1920 made out ‘thugee’ into a religion and a cult. Certain Anglophiles claim that ‘thugs were killing 40,000-50,000 people every year – yet only 1000 bodies were recovered in the nearly 20 years of anti-‘thugee’ operations. James Sleeman published his book Thug, Or A Million Murders in 1920.

A supposed gang of 'thugs'. A 19th century image.

A supposed gang of ‘thugs’. A 19th century image.

It has been estimated that some 30-50 gangs were in operation – at the height of the ‘thugee’ menace. Using a bell-shaped, distribution curve, it would mean that 7-8 gangs were killing 20,000-35,000 of these victims every year. That would mean between 10-20 murders each day – every day, every year.

Yet when some of these monsters were apprehended, like Feringhea (called firangee, meaning foreigner), turned out to be all too human. Feringhea surrendered to obtain release for his wife, children and family, detained by the British, as hostages, till Feringhea surrendered. When the British executed his innocent nephew, Jarhu, Feringhea wept.

Final tally – The British captured no more than 3,000 ‘thugs’ – of whom only 400 could be executed. In nearly a decade!

Was that the problem? 3,000 ‘thugs’ in a nation of 25 crores?

Assuming that all the 3,000 accused ‘thugs’, were ‘guilty’, going by modern imprisonment standards, India was a non-crime society country.

Then, as it is now.

Modern parallels

For instance, in modern Britain, there are nearly 17,000 prisoners for violent crime, in a population of little over, 6 crores (60 million). 3 people per thousand in Britain are criminally violent and in prison.

Were ‘thugs’ a bigger proportion of violent criminals in India. Going by modern British ‘norm’ of 3 per thousand, criminally violent Indians should have been close to 75,000 criminals. Just 3,000 ‘thugs’ out of the possible 75,000 criminally violent Indians?

In a population of an estimated 25 crores.

The ‘law’

To control ‘thugee’, a draconian law, Act XXX was passed by the British Raj. To convict the accused, all that the courts of the British Raj needed was identification by any ‘approver’, that the accused was a ‘thug’. Accusation by the British Raj and identification by anyone that the accused belonged to a ‘thugee’ group was enough to get the person hanged. One approver’s name that appears repeatedly, was a man called Bukhtawar who ‘identified’ many ‘thugs’. This legal manoeuvre left some officials cold.

As by Kim Wagnerwho has written on the thugee subject, reports that “the government went as far as removing a judge from his post because he claimed thuggee did not exist and refused to cooperate in the operations against them.”

How many innocents were killed on trumped up charges, I will not estimate!

British imagination and invention is passed off as history today.

British imagination and invention is passed off as history today.

The ‘collaborators’

The Act XXX did not identify any criminal activity. Instead it specified that members of ‘thugee’ groups, were ‘criminals’. The act did specify any ‘activity’ as a crime.

British prosecutors built a bank of nearly 500 ‘approvers’, who would ‘identify’ members of alleged ‘thugee’ groups. One source says the British had recruited 483 approvers exactly.

Even after these legal inventions by Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence, from the 3,000 arrests, only some 400 could be executed by the British.

In nearly 20 years.

The ‘people’

One more curious aspect of this entire ‘chapter’ was about religion. ‘Thugs’ were supposedly worshippers of Kali. Yet, many of the ‘alleged’ thugs were Muslims. Muslims worshipping Kali? This worship pattern points towards Pindaris being mis-declared as ‘thugs’.

Some of the most infamous ‘thugs’, like Behram was attributed to have committed more than 900 murders – for which he never faced any trial, for murders he confessed to, even after being captured.

The probable story

Most of these ‘thugs’ were possibly rebel peasants, waging war against the dispossession of the lands – like the Muslim, Santhals, Bhils, Gujjars, etc. A prior story, were the Anglo-Pindari Wars (1815-1820).

Publicity material for a Introduction Lecture by Prof. Dr. Harald Fischer Tiné  titled - "War on Terror" in colonial India: The Thuggee Campaign in the early 19th Century and the demonization of a world religion.  Friday 27 Feburary 2009, 17.15 clock, ETH Zurich, Rämistrasse 101, Main Building, F 30

Publicity material for a Introduction Lecture by Prof. Dr. Harald Fischer Tiné titled – “War on Terror” in colonial India: The Thuggee Campaign in the early 19th Century and the demonization of a world religion. Friday 27 Feburary 2009, 17.15 clock, ETH Zurich, Rämistrasse 101, Main Building, F 30

Many of Pindari leaders, close allies of Maratha chiefs, were mostly Rohillas (for bulk), Pathans (for horses) and general Muslims. Many leaders were Muslims, like Hiru and Barun, sons of Shahbaz Khan. Barun’s son, Muhammad Husein, was allegedly murdered by another Pindari leader’s people. Karim Khan, a wealthy Pindari ruler from MP region, was most famous, whose nephew, Namdar Khan continued to lead a major Pindari faction. Chito, and Wasil and Dost Muhammad are the other names that occur frequently.

Interestingly, annual Pindari conferences of various factions were scheduled for Dusshera, known as Kaali Puja in Bengal, Orissa, etc. These so called ‘thugs’ were probably Pindari stragglers who were led small factions that targetted the British and their Indian allies. And in turn were the focus of British efforts.

The ‘problem’ of ‘thugee’ was recognized and ‘rooted out’ first by Warren Hastings’ administration (1773–85). Subsequent, administrations seized on this ‘creation’ and built an edifice of imagination and invention.

As Maratha power declined in central India, the ‘thugee’ phenomenon reared its head. Similarly, in Punjab also, as the Sikh Empire withered, disbanded soldiers, attacked. More than 552 ‘thugs’ and arrested and some 328 were executed.

The turn in the tale

The mechanics of British propaganda, called modern history, were crafted during the impeachment of Warren Hastings, who did not defend himself, unlike Clive. Instead, Hastings and his team created a narrative of how Hastings and the British Empire were doing ‘Good for India.’

A narrative that survives till today.

Leading By Example?

No analysis examined the effect of British soldiers’ loot of India on Indian soldiers. Is it that Indians soldiers, disbanded and unemployed, emulated British soldiers?

After all, British armies from Plassey (1757), to 1947, were made up of Indian soldiers. However, the loot and wealth from British conquests, went to the British soldiers. Robert Clive for instance. Various thug confessions repeatedly talk of ‘bad omens.’ The idea that ‘bad omens’ can predict Kaal, as the unceasing, unsleeping cycle of Time. And Kaali – who presides over these cycles.

Were Indians soldiers trying to change their ‘bad-times’ by aping British soldiers, who were going through ‘good-times’?

(Book-extract below details how the anti-‘thugee’ campaign was full of holes).

Thugee - Reality and Laws; Extract from Indian traffic: identities in question in colonial and postcolonial India  By Parama Roy; from Pages 56-65. Click to browse the book at books.google.co.in

Thugee – Reality and Laws; Extract from Indian traffic: identities in question in colonial and postcolonial India By Parama Roy; from Pages 56-65. Click to browse the book at books.google.co.in


China’s solution to corruption

Posted in China, Current Affairs, History, India, Media, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on June 15, 2011
Two birds with one stone - Underpaid government employee of the past; and glib rejection of corruption charges. (Cartoon by RK Laxman). Click for larger image.

Two birds with one stone - Underpaid government employee of the past; and glib rejection of corruption charges. (Cartoon by RK Laxman). Click for larger image.

China believes it is a corrupt nation

China has a big ‘corruption’ problem. Apart from Western media reports, China’s own media confirms,

Corruption has long haunted the ruling Communist Party of China. The Party’s General Secretary, Hu Jintao, once said that “determined punishment and effective prevention of corruption concerns… the existence of the Party”. (via Former official executed by lethal injection).

A report carried by Time magazine, says that

The current level of corruption in China is systematic and widespread. It is so entrenched that honest officials are now part of a minority that risks being left behind. It is a system where corruption is the rule rather than the exception. According to the Chinese professor Hu Xing Do, 99% of the corrupt officials will never be caught. The few who do get caught are simply considered unlucky, and even if their punishment is typically heavy, the dissuasive effect remains minimal.

They have an answer

The Chinese answer to corruption has been death penalty. Liberally, widely, explicitly. A bullet in the head. Finito. Finito. Fini. Ände. Revestimento. Vuoden. Eind. Ende. final de la muerte. отделка . Τέλος.

That is the Chinese answer. To further ram home the point (in case the bullet does not do the trick), these executions are photographed, televised, published in newspapers, covered by the media.

Cant miss it.

Everyone must get equal opportunity at corruption. (Cartoon by Kirish Bhatt; courtesy - bamulahija.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

Everyone must get equal opportunity at corruption. (Cartoon by Kirish Bhatt; courtesy - bamulahija.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

Strike Hard

In 1983, Deng Xiaoping initiated what were called ‘Strike-Hard’ campaigns. Based on traditional imperial Chinese attitudes and wisdom, apparent from

traditional sayings like “a life for a life,” “killing one to warn a hundred,” “killing a chicken to warn a monkey” are embodiments of these retributive and deterrent beliefs.

Deng, who initiated the strike-hard campaigns in light of the rampant crimes, commented that the authorities could not be soft on crime, and the death sentence was “a necessary educative tool”

This thinking continues in China

The notion of “returning like for like” is rooted in China. The majority of the public could not accept that some murderers could go free after 10 years’ imprisonment.

It is believed in modern China that,

death penalty does have a strong deterrent effect. Studies do suggest that one execution deters five to 18 potential murderers from committing the ultimate crime. Though there is no detailed study on the death penalty’s deterrent effect on corruption cases, it can be expected to play a similar role. If corruption is struck off the capital punishment list in such a situation, there is a fear that all hell would break loose. (via Opinion: Corruption has to stay capital crime).

From the Deng’s initial ‘Strike-Hard’ campaign in 1983, crimes that qualify for death penalty has increased from 32 to 68 – ranging from corruption to embezzlement, smuggling and tax evasion.

The State has simply public appetite for vengeance, killings and torture. (Cartoon from chinadaily.com.cn/).

The State has simply public appetite for vengeance, killings and torture. (Cartoon from chinadaily.com.cn/).

Simply lovin’ it

What do the Chinese people think of these killings, shootings and executions?

Public opinion in China is rooted in the eye-for-an-eye and a tooth-for-a-tooth idea of justice. Efforts by the Chinese authorities to reduce categories of crimes for which death penalty can be awarded, sparked suspicions that ‘abolishing the death penalty for economic-related and non-violent offences (was) a tool to help privileged officials involved in corruption crimes escape capital punishment’ (text in parentheses supplied).

Chinese public opinion and reactions borders on being vengeful. Pictures on the Chinese internet, of the execution of Wang Shouxin, a woman government official from northern province of Heilongjiang scored more than a million hits. In another case,

Hearing the news of Wen’s execution, some local residents lit firecrackers or held banners that read “Wen’s execution, Chongqing’s stability” at the gates of the Municipal High People’s Court and the municipal Communist Party Committee. (via Former official executed by lethal injection).

Time magazine reports of the Chinese ‘appetite’ for such killings and executions. Even as China tops the world in the number of executions and killings, there is

endless “public demand” for this kind of punishment and (by) the surging popular anger, it would seem that there is actually not enough of it. Of all the criminal cases in China, those involving corrupt officials sentenced to death arouse the greatest interest. The morbid examples abound: from the public cheering for the recent death sentences. People in China viscerally hate corruption and are reluctant to see the death penalty dropped. (text in parentheses supplied).

Was China always like this.

During the time when Buddhism at its peak in China, in early Tang dynasty (618 AD – 907 AD), ‘death penalty was abolished for a time during the reign of Tai Zong emperor (627-650), one of the Tang dynasty’s most admired rulers.’

Chinese plans and measures

The Chinese do understand, that these killings and executions are not the answer.

If cutting hands, legs, heads, was the solution, every Islamic shariat-country would have been free of crime. China has been killing people since 1983, for nearly 30 years, now. Chinese corruption should have reduced. With the largest prisoner-population in the world, with the biggest secret-service, police force, the US should have been crime-free. After a sustained levels of executions at a historic-high, China still believes, it has a corruption problem.

In fact, Time magazine goes further and announces, ‘China is the global leader for the number of corrupt officials who are sentenced to death, and actually executed each year- carrying out 90% of (the executions) worldwide. Though another report by Time Magazine gives a varying estimate that China ‘puts to death more people than the rest of the world combined — about 70% of the global total in 2008.’ In 2001, Amnesty International recorded and confirmed ‘more than 4,000 death sentences and nearly 2,500 executions in China.’ Chinese authorities do not release execution statistics, ‘but rights groups estimate that they number from about 5,000 to 12,000 annually.’

Is the Chinese Government happy with these killings and executions? Using Western models, ideas and thinking, the Chinese look to the West for solutions.

For the first time in 30 years, China’s top legislature proposed this week to reduce the number of crimes punishable by execution. The proposal, largely symbolic, has drawn renewed attention to China’s controversial death-penalty policy, under which 68 crimes are punishable by death.

13 nonviolent economic crimes — ranging from smuggling relics and endangered animals to faking VAT receipts — have been dropped in a pending amendment to China’s capital-punishment law. Convicts above the age of 75 will also be eligible for the exemption. If passed, the revised law could slash the total number of capital crimes in the country by up to 20%. (via China Reviews Death Penalty for Nonviolent Crimes – TIME).

For one, Chinese authorities seem quite amenable to adopting the Western labels of developing country and increased ‘supervision’ as the models to go with.

“As a developing country, China’s current food and drug safety situation is not very satisfactory because supervision of food and drug safety started late. Its foundation is weak so the supervision of food and drug safety is not easy,” (via Former SFDA chief executed for corruption).

Another senior government official echoed similar sentiments

“As for the death penalty, different countries have different situations and different cultural backgrounds,” (said) Gan Yisheng, head of the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

“We still execute people who have committed serious economic crimes on consideration of China’s national condition and cultural background.” (via Execution defended as graft trial nears – The Standard).

After 30 years of sustained, public executions, all that the Chinese Government seems to have done is created a public appetite for more such killings and executions.

Justice that seems to have death and killings as its sole weapon. (Cartoon by Clay Bennett; courtesy - claybennett.com). Click for larger image.

Justice that seems to have death and killings as its sole weapon. (Cartoon by Clay Bennett; courtesy - claybennett.com). Click for larger image.

An end in sight?

How do the Chines see a solution to this situation?

There is considerable disbelief in ‘political re-education’ – a hall-mark of Maoist system of criminal ‘reform’.

If political education is the answer to rampant corruption, then all the propaganda courses we are constantly exposed to would have solved the problem by now. While so many people are “beheaded,” executives at all levels are still determined to brave death by trying to (benefit from) corruption (via Blood, Justice and Corruption: Why the Chinese Love Their Death Penalty – TIME).

Press, elections, democracy?

More Western ideas are more acceptable in China.

It is thus obvious that the reason for corruption lies elsewhere, in the fact that there isn’t enough control and supervision over public power, and in the lack of democratic elections and freedom of the press. (via Blood, Justice and Corruption: Why the Chinese Love Their Death Penalty – TIME).

Some of China’s commentators believe that

It is also time to rope the mass media into this war. The Zhejiang provincial committee of the Communist Party has made a good start by expressly empowering its local media to scrutinize and keep an eye on public officials.

Educational ads should be telecast on TV, broadcast on the radio and published in newspapers, something that Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption has been doing for a long time. (via Opinion: Corruption has to stay capital crime).

If democracy and free press were the answers, why is corruption so rampant in India. Not to mention the West?

People caught up between the State and gangs protected by the State. (Cartoon by Morparia). Click for larger image.

People caught up between the State and gangs protected by the State. (Cartoon by Morparia). Click for larger image.

Echoes from India

China-style killing-and shooting has some admirers of in India. If the Chinese were successful at curbing corruption, it would be worth studying their approach. Have the Chines succeeded?

Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev have captured the media’s attention – and possibly a significant part of ‘middle-India’ also. What Anna-Baba are proposing to impose is a ‘Hindu’ shariat in India. Cut of hands, legs, heads. Flog people. Nail them and jail them. The works. How can India remain backward?

Chetan Bhagat, an admirer of Chinese style anti-corruption campaign, and another darling of ‘middle-India’ has become a Hindu Shariat supporter. Since powerful politicians cannot be ‘embossed’ or ‘tattooed’, Chetan Bhagat wrote on his forearm – मेरा नेता चोर है mera neta chor hai (My leader is a thief). He writes,

Contrast (India) with China where the punishment for the corrupt can be death by firing squad. Not only that, the family of the convict gets a bill for the bullets, just to emphasise the point that no one steals the nation’s money. (via Of Ravages And Kings – Times Of India).

(Cartoonist - Kirk Anderson on the Enron Case). Click for larger image.

(Cartoonist - Kirk Anderson on the Enron Case). Click for larger image.

Root of corruption

The source of corruption is power. Raw, unbridled power. That the modern State enjoys. More laws, more corruption, more crime. More police, more crime.

Any steps (like the Lok Pal) that empowers the State with more power will increase corruption. Reducing powers of the State reduces corruption. By eliminating monopoly, the Indian telecom sector saw a massive decrease in corruption. The opaque Indian railway ticketing system of the past encouraged corruption. That has been eliminated by bringing in transparency, through computerization. Like this Chinese commentator says

To tackle corruption at the roots, prevention is more important than punishment. China needs to thoroughly review its institutional system for preventing and combating corruption and for identifying and plugging loopholes. Corruption in many cases has been the result of power abuse. So we have to think of ways to curb such powers. (via Opinion: Corruption has to stay capital crime).

The three main areas where the State comes in is in land, wealth (as in gold), and people-to-people interaction. By injecting itself in the middle, the State creates abuse of power opportunities – leading to corruption. By arrogating the power of law and justice to itself, the State creates injustice. The end of corruption will be systemic change. End of Desert Bloc ideas. भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra has delivered corruption free regimes for centuries – and can do it again.

People get ready. Time for भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra.

Indic Justice – rediscover or reinvent?

More like Amartya Sen has foot in mouth disease?

More like Amartya Sen has foot in mouth disease?

Indic Justice …

The on-going saga of the Ambani brothers’ dispute, brings home how deeply and completely Indic norms of justice and fair play have been lost. The Ambani brothers have approached the Prime Minister and are pressing their cases in the Supreme Court for justice. Such a form of dispute redressal is alien and remote to Indic thought.

The other apparently unrelated ‘event’ is the much promoted and publicised book, The Idea of Justice by Amartya Sen, has no clue about justice (at least on Indic thoughts on justice). Apart from a few token mentions about Ashoka Maurya and Akbar Moghul, he has very little to say about Indic thought on justice.

But he speaks very volubly on Western thinkers and thought on justice.

The wise king delivers justice

To bring out the contrast, one has only to read the Biblical story of King Solomon’s justice (where two prostitutes claimed the surviving baby as theirs). The point worth noting is that this paradigm of justice centralizes solutions and concentrates power in the hands of some central authorities.

So, whether it King Solomon or Caliph Haroun Al Rashid (the King in disguise), or the Turkish Çapanoglu Ahmet Pasha (of the bell of justice fame which even a donkey could ring to summon the king for justice) – the model was the all-knowing King. Variations of the Donkey /Horse and the Bell of Justice story is localized and retold in various cultures.

King Solomons Justice
King Solomon’s Justice

Going back earlier, the Desert Bloc model of seeking justice was captured in the story of Tehuti-nekht (the oppressive overseer); a sekhti’ (the poor salt-trader) the ‘clever’ Meruitensa (The Grand Vizier /Supreme Judge) and The Wise Pharoah Nebkanra.

The Duke of Venice perpetuates the myth of justice in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. The more than 120 Doges of Venice who ruled Venice for nearly a 1000 years, preserved the myth of justice during the Middle Ages.

In modern times, as republican democracy made Emperors and Kings redundant, the Smart Lawyer took over the justice function, in the garb of legal thrillers.

Perry Mason replaced The Wise Emperor as the fount of justice. John Grisham keeps company with many writers about legal-eagles, who go out to save the innocent from the hangman- and send the guilty into the dock. Like John Buchan, GK Chesterton, Wilkie Collins, et al.

Hollywood used the legal thriller genre with assembly line regularity – with successes galore, like Billy Wilder’s Witness for the Prosecution (1957), with earlier instances like Charles Laughton and Marlene Dietrich, or the screen adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), or the more modern Erin Brockovich (2000)and My Cousin Vinny (1992).

All quiet on the Indian front …

In more than 1000 Indic books, that record more than 10,000 years of history, there is no instance of any dispute reaching an Indic King.

The longest ancient epic in the world, The Mahabharata has no incident where a private dispute reached Yudhisthir (though a mongoose could lecture the King about sacrifices and yagnas). There was never any case of private dispute, recorded in the Ramayana, that reached Ramachandra (though a dhobi could ‘inform’ the king on bazaar talk about the Queen Sita). Even a poor Brahman, Kautsa, could reach King Raghu for help in the disbursal of guru-dakshina गुरु-दक्षिणा.

Kannagi and Devanthi - The Dream, from the epic Silappadhikaram

Kannagi and Devanthi - The Dream, from the epic Silappadhikaram

In yet another instance, rulers were warned against disproportionate punishment – through the Mandavya incident. Mandavya, was punished by Yama (the God of Death) for his ‘crimes’ as a child, of hurting insects. Through a chain events, Mandavya ended up, impaled on a trident /stake.  After best efforts to remove the offending weapon, a part remains inside  Mandavya’s body.

With a trident through his body, Mandavya confronted Yama. Mandavya, the sage, berates Yama for ‘criminalising’ children. Codifying the principle of juvenile justice, Mandavya exhorts “that no action committed by a human being till he is fourteen years of age shall be regarded as a sin  which it would thereafter.” In turn, Mandavya curses Yama to be born as a shudra child – to learn about the ‘reality’ of life. Yama, born to shudra woman, became Vidura, Dhritarashtra’s court.

In Buddha’s childhood, an injured swan becomes a point of legal dispute with his cousin, Devadatta. The injured swan, Devadatta’s hunting /archery practice target, was claimed by Siddhartha. Some minister’s preferred Prince Siddhartha’s claim, due to his position. Since the hunt was not for food, but for pleasure, Devadutta’s claim over the swan was seen as weak. Finally the claim of the saviour was seen as superior to the claim of the hunter /captor. Replace the swan, with a slave, and the legal principle for any dispute between a slave-owner versus slave-liberator, is established. The same principle is evidenced in Artha-shastra in many shlokas.

The Tamil classic, Silappadikaram, is ancient Tamil drama about the perils of royal justice.  Silappadhikaram is, a literary critic informs us is “a saga of the of the cult of the Goddess Pattini … the first ripe fruit of the Aryan-Dravidian synthesis in Tamil Nadu.” Who is Goddess Pattini? Once a widely worshipped Goddess in South India, now limited to modern Sri Lanka “Pattini was an angry deity, whose anger was directed at evil people and she is also associated with rational justice.” The destruction of the city by Pattini, the Goddess of ‘rational’ justice, is a warning against vengeful royal ‘justice’ – and instead move towards ameliorative Indic justice system.

Elango Adigal warns Indic kings from taking over and  interfering with dispute resolution mechanisms. The Pandyan King, Neduncheziyan, in  Silappadikaram, comes to grief, after royal intervention goes horribly wrong, resulting in miscarriage of justice.

It gets worse! No prisons …

Modern econometric modelling 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. The 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?

Without prisons!

But then crime rate in India must be really high …

Cut to modern India. With such an inheritance, India has the lowest prison population in the world. 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.

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 current day India manage low-to-average crime rates. 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, India is not a big player in spamming or in software virusthough a power in computing industry. In August 2008, a hoax story alleged that an Indian hacker, had broken into a credit card database, and sold it to the European underworld. Some ‘experts’ feared that this would spark of a crime wave across Europe.

The Indic model of justice, crime and law

Evidence of a different Indic system goes far back in history. To Lipit Ishtar, Hittite laws, Hammurabi et al. At least as far back as 4000 years back in history. Indian kings did not deliver justice. It was done at the local level by panchayats पंचायत. Indian justice systems did not rely on imprisonment or executions or the police to control crime!

The answer – the world’s most stable marriage system and the extended family-social structures took care of the wayward.

Still from Breaker Morant - Edward Woodward, 3rd from left, portrayed Harry 'Breaker' Morant

Still from Breaker Morant - Edward Woodward, 3rd from left, portrayed Harry 'Breaker' Morant

A recent Hollywood film on the Desert Bloc system of justice was the schizophrenic Breaker Morant – by Bruce Beresford. In the closing lines of Breaker Morant, when asked about his religion, Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant declares that he is a pagan.

When the execution detail comes to get Morant and Handcock, the military chaplain asks their religious affiliation. “Pagan.” replies Morant. “What’s a pagan?” inquires Handcock. Morant replies, “Well, it’s somebody who doesn’t believe there’s a divine being dispensing justice to mankind.” Handcock nods and says to the chaplain, “I’m a pagan too.” (extract from Wikipedia; accessed on 25th January, 2010).

I have always wondered how much the writer knew – and understood the import of that statement.

Crumbling edifice

In India, under the onslaught of the Desert Bloc, Akbar-Birbal stories, Tenali Ram-Krishna Devaraya were used to create expectations of a Wise King. From then on, the Indic system of justice crumbled at a faster pace.

Is it that Indians were ‘saints’ and did not have private disputes? Were they so civilized that they could solve all disputes by talking to each other? Is it that Indian kings were not bothered about delivery of justice!

By Richard Brust
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