The Transformation Of Political Science And The Rise In Crime Rates

The current field of political sciences is dominated by a multitude of ideas that have never in its history featured so prominently in this discipline. The general belief that it has lost its focus once and for all is from time to time counteracted by different opinions. One of those is that the world has come full circle, that mankind has experimented out all possibilities in terms of ideological thinking and that the liberal democracy as we know it has come out of the process as the prize winner both politically and economically. Some define this as the end of history. It also goes by the name of ultra modernism. Globalisation fits in perfectly and all reflects the increasing complexity that we are finding our world to involve us in and which, in order to come to terms with the bigger magnitude of the whole, we are describing in essentially vague terms.The idea that history might have died a death was first launched in the 1980s by Francis Fukayama who wrote a now famous essay entitled ‘The End of History’, in The National Interest on the subject. The idea has persisted during the subsequent historic reality-altering events leading to our understanding of the world in terms of security and globalization, even though the liberal ground is under siege from left and right wing ideologies, parts of which are finding their way into the democratic liberal discourse.However inappropriate it essentially is to define the new ‘winning ideology’ — the policical science discourse is rife with arguments in favor of departing from old fashioned foundationalism and swapping this for a-systemic ideas gathered from all other disciplines– we are at this time almost as happy with any theory that offers a firm grip on reality as the third world would be with a cure for poverty. Much though the world is changing and much though this fast change is reflected in the sciences, the a-systemic ideas making up the political sciences might not necessarily reflect what’s going on in society one hundred percent adequately.Issues like crime and other ‘anti social behavior’ are significantly underexposed in areas of political scientific studies, say researchers. Our highly developed society and increased sophistication in all the disciplines that results in political sciences being a highly esteemed area for study, delivering no doubt high caliber students to society, does not necessarily guarantee a tangible decline in crime rates. We are missing out something big time. Is this the whiplash of a-systemic thinking we all intuitively fear?If you may believe studies undertaken by political scientists, in future, we won’t have a lot of room for corruption and evil wrongdoers in our society. Leaf through an average new book on political science and find hardly a line, let alone a chapter, dedicated to the evil side of human nature. What makes us all think that synchronising everything automatically leads to a better world and therefore a less violence prone society? In the same breath, you might ask, what is the new Left, the new Right, the Libertarian and the other political mainstream thinking on issues such as the Third World? For all our great knowledge and speedy technology-supported understanding of what is going on, we are still not much better at remedying the main problems the world is faced with.

Criminology is part of the exercise of deconstructing the past, deconstructing other disciplines and constructing new ideas from a mixture of all of them which keeps social scientists busy these days. Yet it’s not enough apparently to translate into better thinking on the way safety and society can be organised.Whether a certain approach to crime really is to blame for its rise is debatable. What is certain is that modern societies have become safer and more comfortable in many areas but that crime has risen in equal proportion. “When it comes to crime, or more broadly stated ‘antisocial’ behaviour, society has actually become less safe. Crime constitutes an insecurity risk which is difficult to control. Many citizens and organizations will at some stage fall victim – usually completely unexpected -to behaviour which can harm them, physically or financially”, according to a recent research report by the Foresight Institute of the Netherlands, a semi official consultancy. It is one of the few studies in this field.The increasingly Old World definition of the nation state was primarily driven by the desire to resist this sort of danger, the researchers say. They continue that the way we deal with crime has evolved too. It is at this point that state organization is likely to really begin to crumble. A prime, if not the prime raison d’etre for governments is keeping a population relatively safe and free from crime. The more governments are perceived to be failing in providing the desired high level of societal safety, the less justification there is for governments and their imposing taxes on a country’s population.Changes in the way crime is perceived include treatment of the issue in more scientific disciplines than ever. Yet some, including Fukayama, argue that the social sciences lack a distinct central view on human nature, which stems back from the post Kant era. The only reason that I feel you can raise the human nature argument again is that over the last 30 years in the life sciences there has been a lot of empirical work that has made the concept respectable to scientists. Yet social scientists and certainly people in cultural studies have yet to get that message, says Fukayama. They are very resistant to the notion of human nature.The issue is grappled with mostly by people who try to integrate crime studies into a whole range of disciplines. “Crime has lost its exclusiveness, the approach to crime and crime prevention is no longer exclusively the responsibility of the police and the judicial authorities”, say the Foresight institution researchers. This coincided with a tangible change in society too. In the early 1980s, there was a sea change in the approach to crime and crime prevention. Inspired by understandable self-interest, individual citizens, organizations in the community and local authorities started to feel that they bore a responsibility for crime prevention. Nevertheless, the results are not particularly overwhelming and the researchers at Foresight say that for the situation by the year 2010, some areas of research are still vastly underrepresented.One real life example of high profile people sharing this concern is the situation on the Guernsey islands off the coast of the UK. You’d say this small island offers a perfect case to study the governability of a country with a limited population, to try and test the limits of a system to the full. Politicians might well be aware of this. At least, they appear to have a clear idea and are aware of the unique nature of their society and of the effects of the rules they invent. The measurability of crime renders the subject a good target for analysis, sophisticated ideas of governance and societal structures. The self consciousness leads to frequent interesting debates by politicians on this island. Recently, a senior politician attributed the perceived rise in crime and anti-social behavior the effect of “woolly liberal” thinking. He said the increased emphasis on human rights in particular is to blame for the rise in crime.The politician said that his government’s human rights act had led to offenders becoming “untouchable” by the authorities. Warning of the dangers of liberal thinking, he pointed out that there’s no common sense in Guernsey’s human rights laws which others believe ensure rights and responsibilities of citizens are balanced out rather evenly. He said the woolly thinking underlying the human rights ideas on the island led to alcoholism among the younger population for one.This is one of the issues where the argument that improved technology in the hands of police and law enforcers is going to do the trick, won’t do completely. Developments in modern technology and improved understanding of changes in social control are central to ideas about stamping out crime. The foresight researchers recommend that there should be a radical reorganisation of how financial resources are made available to this effect, if crime prevention is to bear any fruit.Research efforts need to be stepped up dramatically if modern society is to develop adequate knowledge in any form or shape. They believe that the demand for scientific knowledge by the institutions, municipalities, government departments and private sector agencies might seem to be a professionalization of the area, but that in fact it does often not mean anything, especially not in the long run.Fundamental scientific research into issues which are already playing a part at this time needs to be stepped up, the institute believes, in order to keep up with the criminal sector. They predict that by 2010, crime will have changed radically as a result of technological and economic developments and changes in social control and cohesion. There is a great need for fundamental research, for interdisciplinary knowledge and knowledge about long-term, ongoing issues such as criminal careers, say the researchers. In the next ten years there will also be a need for more theoretical research focusing on normative and empirical issues.

The wildly diverging ideas about human beings in the social sciences is exacerbated with a dramatically lowered emphasis on any blatant negative aspects of society in postmodern political science due to the death of positivist thinking. You could argue that this is at the heart of the problem of surging crime despite increased wealth of societies.The political sciences appear most promising in their capacity for addressing the anomalies. It is the best discipline to do so, because it does not plan at neutrality. And, what’s more, the political scientist´s loyalties and engagements will not necessarily be predictable and stable over time. If it doesn’t yield immediate tangible results, it at least is a start. And it makes for less dry reading of the articles and books describing what’s perceived as the state of play in these sciences. You’d imagine that anyone coming up with a theory involving the axiom that history has ended, would be prone to fantasy.And that’s somewhat true; academic attention for total fantastic ideas as a means to understand or create is on the rise. It’s much under attack from critics who say this is a foolish activity, especially when keeping in mind the idea that when you walk the streets of your town you can be subjected to a criminal attack at any given moment. Sceptics will imply that much of the storytelling anyway misses out large parts of reality, especially the less attractive features. Which is, however, not to say that blind spots are not being reduced.But somehow, the rationale itself is changing for the criticism of the ways modern science works. The criticism for instance on the way politicians work, who seem keener to know about the cultural trends, popular culture, the media and power than in the labyrinthine workings of party and parliamentary democracy is that they are not sticking to their own field. Yet the new approaches favored in the political sciences leave more leeway for alternative ways that allow for a greater number of methods to assess reality than many predecessors ever dreamt of.In stead of a total abandonment of all serious work, modern political science presents us with a mixture of both regurgitated theories of old time philosophers and original, rather broad based ideas. And in new, often surprising, ways.Sceptical post modernists will contend that as there is no correct method for political research and researching the political, that it might be wise to adopt an anti-rules method, while the affirmatives may adopt something that can be termed ‘anything goes’. But perhaps several methodologies are best blended together to come to a robust approach to researching a problem. Much hinges too on one’s perspective on history.

India Debt Collection Business

Until the emergence of debt collection business, debt collection in India, was never treated as a specialized job and was always treated as one of the jobs that legal departments of the banks and financial institutions were required to undertake. A typical legal department of an organization would approach the collection job strictly as a legal issue rather than as a revenue collection measure. Litigation would be the only tool used for recoveries and no other tool was either known or used by the industry. Litigation as a recovery measure always had its own limitations due to long and winding court procedures the Indian legal system is always criticized for. On the other hand, foreign banking firms introduced the concept of specialized debt collection services. Debt collection services became one of the many services that began to be outsourced to specialized agencies. The collection business had a very humble beginning and it barely qualified as a specialized service.However over a period of time with the emergence of India as a global outsourcing destination the domestic businesses also adopted the outsourcing as an efficient business tool. With the result today, the third-party debt collection industry plays an important role in the Indian economy. The industry employs hundreds of thousands of Indians as collection professionals, who are servicing several industries ranging from banks, to telecom service providers to insurance companies. Typically, only small recoveries arising from periodic billing defaults by the customers are outsourced to the collection agencies. Not only the collection business has become a direct source of employment to thousands but its contribution to the economy is more pronounced because it helps infuse money back in the economy that otherwise would have remained uncollected. The economic benefits of third-party debt collection are significant. Citibank is the pioneer in introducing third party collection techniques in India.The debt collection industry in India also has grown sharply this year as higher borrowing costs; rising inflation and the general slowdown in the economy force more companies and individuals into difficulties. Underlying debt has gone through the roof and lenders and organizations increasingly want to move any bad debt off their books. Whether it is a high street bank, a credit card lender or a mobile phone company, growing numbers are turning to professional debt collectors in a more difficult environment.The debt collection industry in India is growing at a faster pace and is surely poised for growth. The credit card outstanding have shot up by a whopping 87% at USD 6114 Million during this year, from USD 2844 Million in the period year ago. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which regulates the banking industry in the country encourages banks to shift bad loans off their books more quickly because they will be required to hold more capital against risky assets that may default.COLLECTION INDUSTRY – UNREGULATED SCENARIOThe collection business has its own inherent shortcomings due to unregulated and primitive nature of this business in this country. The persons employed in the industry are untrained both in soft skills and legal skills. Being unregulated, the procedures are not standardized and there are no industry specific checks and balances. Still litigation is used as the last resort tool for recoveries. However the industry has been accused of manipulating the legal system to their advantage by using courts as their agents of recovery. It is seen that big corporations with large volumes of recoveries have unwritten understanding with the local courts at the lowest level. With the patronage of minuscule minority of pliable judges simple civil defaults are registered as criminal cases thus pressurizing the debtors into paying the dues. Slow and long civil recovery court process has no takers in this age of instant results where revenue targets are the most sacrosanct. Under such strict and cut throat environment, there is pressure on the banks to keep their account books healthy therefore such aggressive and extra-legal methods are employed for quick recoveries.

GOVERNMENT / RBI INTERVENTIONDebt collectors in the past had a lot of leeway and it wasn’t uncommon for collectors to embarrass, harass or humiliate debtors by adopting extra-legal measures. In the absence of any regulatory regime the courts had to step in by laying down guidelines for the industry to follow. After the intervention of judiciary, the RBI woke up to the need of regulating the unruly collection agencies and laid down its own guidelines for the banking industry to follow.The guidelines prescribed by RBI are enforced against the banks that have contractually employed collection agencies. The banks in turn via their contracts with the collection agencies ensure that the RBI guidelines are followed. Now, under the RBI guidelines it is illegal to threaten violence or cause harm to debtor, use obscene language, or repeatedly use the phone to harass debtors. In addition, collection agents cannot seize or garnish a consumer’s property or wages without recourse to court procedure.The following are few of the core underpinnings of the collection process. These are the norms formalized by the top bank in India – RBI.1. DSAs/DMAs/Recovery agents to get minimum 100 hours of training.2. Recovery agents should call borrowers only from telephone numbers notified to the borrower.3. Each bank should have a mechanism whereby borrowers’ grievances with regard to the recovery process can be addressed.4. Banks are advised to ensure that contracts with recovery agents do not
induce adoption of uncivilized, unlawful and questionable behavior or recovery process.5. Banks are required to strictly abide by the codes pertaining to collection of dues.RBI in the draft guidelines issued for banks engaging recovery agents, has asked banks to inform borrowers the details of recovery agents engaged for the purpose while forwarding default cases to the recovery agents.The Reserve Bank of India has also considered imposing a temporary ban (or even a permanent ban in case of persistent abusive practices) for engaging recovery agents on those banks where penalties have been imposed by a High Court/Supreme Court or against its directors/officers with regard to the abusive practices followed by their recovery agents. An operational circular in this regard has been issued in November 15, 2007.Other LawsStill the non banking debts collection business is outside the purview of any regulator. There are no licenses or registrations to be obtained from any regulator to pursue collection business in India. The extant guidelines applicable to banking industry are found inadequate as they address only the problem of debtors’ harassment and the guidelines do not regulate the industry as such. The Government is well aware of the need of having a specialized legal mechanism for recovery of institutional debts which has become a huge problem for the entire banking industry.Every bank is grappling with the non-paying accounts, known as Non Performing Accounts (NPA) in the Indian banking parlance. The problem has taken enormous proportion and threatened the economy. Creation of Debt Recovery Tribunals in the year 1993 was a step in the direction of facilitating fast recoveries by the banks . The intention behind creation of such Tribunal was to ensure that banking industry was provided with its own recovery mechanism that was part of the legal system but at the same time exclusive to the banking industry. Bank debts above USD 22,727 could be recovered through the Tribunals.However, over a period of time it was realized that this new mechanism did not yield the desired result since the recoveries were still slow and due to shear volume of work, the Tribunal became like any other court. The whole objective of having a fast track and efficient recovery mechanism was therefore defeated. Bank debts still remained a major problem to be solved since it affected the entire economy of the country. The Government felt the need of having a mechanism that was minimally dependent on the courts for effecting recoveries since the legal system could not be reformed overnight. Therefore instead of reforming the court procedure the government did some clever thinking and came up with a legislation that minimized the intervention of court and empowered the banks with special powers using which the recoveries could be affected.The government thus came up with a new law Scrutinization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act) where under the banks are allowed to liquidate security given by the borrower for recovery of their dues. This law also paved the way for creation of asset reconstruction companies that take over the security interest of the debtors. These agencies are thus another form of debt collection agencies that have been institutionalized.The need to share credit information among the banking industry was also felt in order for the industry to benefit from each other. Thus Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act was enacted in the year 2005.INDIAN LEGAL SYSTEM AND COLLECTION PROCESSESThe Indian legal system is absolutely fair and assures justice to the party involved. There are remedies available under the law to collect the debt, if the debtor does not agree to pay under normal circumstances. The creditor may file a suit for his recovery. Debts based on written contracts could be recovered by following fast track procedure. If the debtor is a company, creditor / his lawyers may apply in the ‘Company Court’ for winding up of the company due to non-payment of substantial amount of debt. Summary trial is another way. The process may take time-1 to 2 years. Evidences are recorded appropriately and produced in the court of law, whenever required. There is also the arrangement of appeal to be filed at later stage.
US OUTSOURCING SCENARIOIndia has attracted many technology jobs in recent years from Western nations, particularly the United States. Now, it is on its way to becoming a hub in another offshore outsourcing area – debt collection. According to the industry report, units of General Electric, Citigroup, HSBC Holdings and American Express have used their India-based staff to pursue credit card debt and mortgage payment by calling defaulters.

US debt collection agencies are the newest to start outsourcing their work to India and are satisfied with the results produced by the polite but persistent Indian experts. After insurance claims and credit card sales, debt collection is a growing business for outsourcing companies at a time of downturn in the US economy when consumers struggle to pay for their purchases.Debt collection is a vital and growing component of US economy. There is more than $2.5 trillion in outstanding consumer debt. As a result, the third-party collection industry makes more than one billion contacts with consumers each year. Recently this year, more than $39.3 billion in debt was returned to creditors.Indians have the advantage of lower salaries and other expenses, which cut drastically costs of collecting debts. Debt collectors in India cost as little as one-quarter the price of their US and European counterparts and are often better at the job. Many such Indian firms run 24-hour services. Indian debt-collection companies comply with strict regulations on operations in the American and / or European markets.
SUMMARYIndia has a long way to go in establishing a mature collection services industry. The collection business needs to be regulated and empowered with legal powers to become an effective tool. Already, there is a realization in the country that court dependent recovery is an inefficient way of way of debt collection. Creation of Assets Reconstruction and Securitization Companies under the SARFARESI Act is a step in the right direction of recognizing debt collection as an independent and specialized business function. While some progress is made for the bank debts but still for a large volume of unrealized non bank debt there are no professionally managed and regulated third party collection service providers. Non bank debts are largely unsecured that makes it even more difficult to realize. No big corporations and business houses are interested in acting as collection agents without there being an attraction of valuable security asset. Lawyers can fill this gap by providing collection services for non bank debts. Indian law does not permit contingency fee that makes the business less lucrative. India is therefore ready to benefit from foreign experience, expertise and ideas to create an efficient debt collection industry of its own at par with global status. This need is more felt now by India due to its global ambitions wherein India must adopt globally recognized practices and models. Transnational businesses need a uniform operating system for seamless transactions. Efficient debt collection industry will only instill confidence in companies doing business with Indian companies. Collection professionals have this challenge facing them of creating an efficient system that reduces people’s dependence on court supported recoveries.