From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much.
Mains level : Paper 2- Delays in NCRB data release, Increasing crime reporting, role played by the media.
Delay in releasing the crime data by NCRB reduces the utility of the data for the policymakers.
Formidable challenges faced by NCRB
- The First-Casual approach of the States: The first is the lackadaisical approach of some of the States in providing data.
- The NCRB merely assembles the figures it receives from the State police forces and does not tinker with them to reach a predetermined conclusion.
- States’ irregularity: Data collection hits a roadblock when a few States either don’t bother to send the figures or send them much after the volume is published.
- The second-Utility of the released data: The second problem is that questions are raised over the utility of the data.
- There was a two-year delay in releasing the crime statistics for 2017.
- Just two months after it was published, the ‘Crime in India’ (CII) 2018 report was released.
- Reduced utility from a policy point of view: These numbers are only relevant to researchers, not policymakers as it does not carry us far in understanding what is happening on the ground.
- A fossilised CII is meaningless.
- The third- Third problem lies with the police and the public.
- The Reluctance of the police to register the complaint: The police are notorious the world over for not registering complaints.
- They do this so that they can present a false picture of a decline in crime.
- The reluctance of the public: The public is also not very enthusiastic about reporting crimes to the police.
- Catch-22 situation: Public is fearful of being harassed at the police station or do not believe that the police are capable of solving the crime. This is a Catch-22 situation.
Crimes difficult to bury
- The positive role played by the media: However, the problem has declined slightly over the years due to public awareness and intense media scrutiny.
- There are a few classes of offences which are becoming increasingly difficult to bury. This is attributable to the extraordinary interest evinced by the media in reporting crime.
- The crimes which are difficult to bury: The following cases of crime are becoming difficult to bury.
- Homicide: The first category of crimes that is difficult to bury is of homicides.
- Matter of distress: India reports an average of 30,000 murders every year (29,017 were registered in 2018). Every murder is a matter of distress.
- Nevertheless, the stabilisation of the figure at 30,000 is a mild assurance.
- The corresponding figure for the period in the U.S. was around 16,200.
- Need to study the US decline: Though the U.S. has about one-third of India’s population, the reported decline in murders in many major U.S cities is worth studying.
- Crime against women: The common man in India does not lag behind others in reacting strongly to attacks on hapless women and men.
- The growth of the visual media possibly explains this welcome feature in Indian society.
- The hope of a decrease in crime: The nationwide outrage over the gang-rape in Delhi and the subsequent tightening of laws on sexual crimes generated the hope that attacks against women would decrease.
The issue of under-reporting
- Under-reporting of crime in rural areas: In 2018, there were 33,356 rapes, a higher number than the previous year.
- But these figures do not fully reflect realities on the ground.
- There is still the unverifiable suspicion that while in urban areas sexual violence cases are reasonably well-reported, the story is different in rural India.
- The role played by money and caste: Money power and caste oppression are believed to play a significant role in under-reporting.
- What is more significant is that a substantial number of such crimes are committed by the ‘friends’ and families of victims.
- To be fair to the NCRB, we must concede that the organisation has more than justified its existence. The CII is used extensively by researchers.
- Need for educating the people on realities of crime and its reporting: There is scope for more dynamism on the NCRB’s part, especially in the area of educating the public on the realities of crime and its reporting.
- Greater pressure on the States to stick to a schedule: The NCRB will also have to be conscious of the expectation that it should bring greater pressure on States to make them stick to schedules and look upon this responsibility as a sacred national duty.