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Crime and Urbanization: Linkages


Ved Marwah

MUMBAI: POLITICAL ECONOMY OF CRIME AND SPACE
By Abdul Shaban
Orient Blackswan, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 258, Rs. 565.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 1 January 2011

It is surprising that there are not many serious studies on crime in India, notwithstanding the fact that prevalence of crime affects every day life so seriously. The academic community has by and large ignored this subject. It is not a coincidence that mainstream national media, both print and electronic, is dominated by stories of crime, especially in the urban areas. Mumbai is the commercial capital of the country and also the main centre of organized crime. A coastal metropolis, it is also an industrial hub. Bollywood has brought glamour and all that goes with it. Some of the richest as well as the poorest live in this sprawling city. The influx of a huge migrant population attracted by the city for employment, both skilled and unskilled, has led to many social, economic and religious conflicts that have only added to the citys woes. One of the most heavily populated areas in the world it has the dubious distinction of being the home of the largest slum in the world. One can only hope that this pioneering work by Abdul Shaban will be followed by many more studies by the academic community in Mumbai and other parts of the country.   The study of political economy and space of crime in this metropolis where organized crime flourishes and has national and international roots is indeed a daunting task. The author, Abdul Shaban, who is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Development Studies, which has been doing pioneering work in the field of social science research, must be congratulated for undertaking this study and bringing out an informative and timely volume. The author has included many maps and relevant data on the subject to buttress his arguments and conclusions. His difficulty is that the crime data dished out by the police is not very reliable, though lately some attempt has been made by the police in the urban areas to curb the practice of burking of reported crimes. The police in India have been indulging in the practice of not registering crime or understating their gravity from the colonial days. The pernicious practice suited the colonial rulers because they wanted a cheap and unskilled police to maintain law and order but more importantly safeguard the interests of the British Empire rather than provide life and security to the people. It is indeed unforgivable that even after Independence the new political rulers ...


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