“When Crime Pays” lays down the relationship between power and crime in the Indian polity. India being the largest democracy in the world often makes crime committed in the struggle for power appear legitimate. It raises a complex question on the symbiotic relationship between crime and politics. It highlights the importance of empirical research in interpreting political actions. There are a considerable number of politicians running for state/district election who have criminal cases running against them in the court. These men not only contest the election but also win the seats. The book thus raises the question of what is the exact relationship between voters and party leaders that sustain protection of those with criminal cases ticking? The book by Milan Vaishnav is a thorough research on the intricacies of such a relation which dominates political affair not only in India but also in the rest of the world.
The author widely dwells over empirics and data collected mainly in India. The hypothesis which he seems to have drawn is based on statistics collected on the field. It reflects the trend of politics over the years. The thought that political affair is more inclined towards success and away from moral high ground finds basis through his words. A brief run through of statistics while he introduces the audience to his book is not only fascinating but also reflected the abuse of power taking place in political endeavours.
The guest speaker Mr Yogendra Yadav pointed towards a shift in the nature of criminality, where crime is hidden beneath the white collar sophistication. According to him, the high rate of crime is due to the fallout of democracy. Therefore one needs to go out to the field and make the voters aware of this. They must be aware to not vote for a candidate if they do not deserve it, as formal qualification is not an empirical sanction behind good and bad.
The event was moderated by Ms Anubha Bhosle who is the Executive Editor for CNN-IBN. She laid focus on identity politics playing a dominant role in the election and the never-ending dilemma faced by common people with regard to whom to vote for. The dilemma, as pointed out by both the author and the guest speaker is permanent as voters are nuanced when they analyse performances. They would generally choose from those who can be occasionally depended on since politics shall always remain the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.
(Trisrota is pursuing Master’s Programme in Public Policy at the National Law School of India University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)