Crime and Economic Development in India

Crime is an index of the economic development of a country. The more industrialised and developed is a country, the higher is the level of criminality and vice versa (for example, U.S.A.). As a shadow follows the person, crime may follow prosperity. India, as one of the developing countries, is also displaying patterns similar to the developed countries of the world.

Though poverty leads to crime and furnishes a motive for it, it is not a sufficient and complete explanation. In the game of development, rich become more richer and poor become more poorer. The ‘pockets of poverty’ often become the breeding ground of crime. The poverty theories, however, do not explain crimes of rich i.e. white – collar crimes .

The changes in social process and social structure, with traditional social control mechanisms becoming useless (e.g. lack of parental control over children), has resulted in an increase in crimes. In the absence of the forces of social control, and in the presence of conflict and competition in society, and in the presence of enormous temptations at hand, internalising success goal by any and every means is found to be easiest thing. All this creates and encourages criminal tendencies.

The growing economies lag behind in the development of infrastructure required to control the unhealthy trends which normally emerge along with economic development. Services providing law, order and protection are inadequate and ineffective e.g. police force in India. The increasing crime rate in the States of Bihar, U.P. and M.P. is due to the weak police force. Also, the terror-stricken people ‘who are not sure of protection from the police, become the protectors of these criminals out of fear of repression and revenge; and hence crime continues to thrive.

Communication media, which are the outcome of development and growth, are encouraging people to criminal activities. Cinema and T.V. in the name of entertainment are teaching the ways and means of acquiring riches quickly, and youngsters are” prompted to commit crimes.

Thus, through the ‘development’, the whole mechanism of life widens opportunities and reduces inhibitions, thus gearing society towards more and more crime. The developing nations, like India, engaged in the pursuit of development, seeking affluence and prosperity, would, at the same time, have to handle the higher levels of criminality like an unwanted child. The puzzle for developing countries is made more difficult by the fact that ‘affluence will increase the growth in crime’. This is necessarily the “other side of the development”. The development may result in “side-effects” like crime, violence, conflicts, etc., if not properly planned. For example, the adoption of new agricultural technology has increased the inequalities and conflicts between the rich and the poor farmers.    

For seeking the requisite development keeping the level of criminality under control, the law-enforcement machinery, the mass media of communication, and the change in the political scenario need to be geared  in the right direction. Proper planning’ (taking into account the needs of the lower classes) and the proper implementation of the policies is the need of the hour.

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