Indian scientists may not be creative enough, and our movie industry may be filled with plagiarists galore. However, our scamsters and criminals distinguish themselves by creating crimes that bear the singular stamp of our great country. Here are some uniquely Indian crimes and scams:
- Khap killings - An obsession with incestuous relationships makes the words "m****c***d" and "b****c**d" as ubiquitous as the "namaste" in the wheat and dust bowls of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan. No wonder that their society has come up with a unique cause for honor killing: the crime of marrying someone with a common mythological ancestor. However, we all know that pop music (especially of the rap genre) is an outlet of rebellion against societal norms. The youth of Haryana have chosen to rebel through music, asking the elders to go away and mind their own business, as this excellent music video shows
- Stamp paper forgery - Abdul Karim Telgi is the criminal's criminal. If crime were to be compared to batsmen, Dawood Ibrahim would be the equivalent of Sachin Tendulkar: adaptible to all situations, with a wide repertoire of strokes and a man for all occassions. The naxalite mastermind Kishenji is like Rahul Dravid, underrated but consistent. Harshad Mehta would be more of a Yuvraj Singh, a maverick, hard hitting batsman who takes no prisoners while he is in form, but fades away with a whimper when he is not. Telgi, however is a dream amalgamation of Brian Lara and Michael Hussey: an all-time great, an artistic maestro with a propensity to inflict little cuts that gradually bleed the victim. His greatness lies in the fact that he managed to screw the government of several millions of dollars while flying completely below the radar. And the quality of his forged stamp papers is so good (he even used the same ink as the mint itself) that there is still no way to distinguish between his fakes and the real deal. Also, like Lara, he has faded into oblivion since his career ended.
- Miracle workers - Another uniquely Indian scam, these geniuses have managed to con even highly educated and accomplished persons, not just in India, but all over the world. Sathya Sai Baba commands the respect of all dignitaries in India, including luminaries like Vajpayee, Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh and MM Joshi. Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, Deepak Chopra, Rajneesh and even Nithyananda are other examples of successful Indian miracle workers who have managed to con rich and poor, illiterate and PhD-holder with equal efficacy. Among them, they can materialize Rolex watches from thin air, leverage quantum theory in meditation, organize orgies, and a lot more.
- Fairness creams - Less of a crime and more of a scam, these products explicitly exploit our inherent racism. There is even a new generation these that target men. Celebrities like Srikkanth, John Abraham, Deepika Padukone and many more, all endorse these miracle gels that promise you a Michael Jackson-like transformation in weeks. Even a well known victim and opponent of racism, Shah Rukh Khan has no qualms about being a poster boy for a fairness cream for men. A hugely profitable segment in the subcontionent, these are made and marketed by the world's leading FMCG companies.
- Cash for riots - Pramod Muthalik was a hero. We believed that he and his army were selfless messiahs of Hindu culture, risking life and limb in beating up those who violated our ancient scriptures.
We were outraged when some misguided and loose women women decided to hurt our sentiments further by sending him offensive gifts as an act of revenge. Our world has come crashing down now, as we realise that behind the facade of the selfless crusader lies a venal mercenary, a thorough professional who commands a high price for his skills. Yes, Pramod Muthalik and his army are merely freelance professionals who will do your bidding if the price is right.
- Porn doctor - Voyeur cams are popular all over the world, but trust the Indian masterminds to add a whole new dimension to voyeurism. Bedrooms and bathrooms are passe; one mastermind has instituted an altogether new genre of voyeur porn - the doctor's examination room. Dr. Prakash is truly a visionary. Starting with filming patients being examined, he soon diversified into more conventional categories of pornography, becoming the Indian Larry Flynt. He enlisted professionals and coaxed and threatened amateurs and innocents into performing for his camera.Unfortunately, the government was not amused, and he now cools his heels in jail.
These are just some crimes and scams which I believe have a unique Indian flavor to them. We have more than our share of terrorists, bigots, brigands, ponzis, extortionists, embezzlers, rapists, racists, murderers, forgers and and every other kind of criminal possible. But that is the subject of another, and probably more fascinating story.