One needs to be a Sanjay Dutt to fetch lakhs in auction for his work, and that too while serving his jail term. For other prisoners, even a few hundreds is a boon. Indian prisons are still more like Nazi-era concentration camps than being places for correcting the guilty. With over 3 lakh prisoners packed across 1200 plus jails, the government is shamelessly unable to manage these centers and has reduced our prisons to human slaughter houses, where self-respect, dignity and morale are butchered at every single moment.

Prisons in India are not only a liability on society but have lost the very essence of their objective. Let me discuss this issue point by point. Most of the prisons in our country (barring two or maximum three) are a cost for the nation. The total expenditure on all prisons combined, across the nation, was estimated to be around Rs.2,69,726.80 lakhs during the year 2010-11, with every prisoner, on an average, costing the exchequer Rs.19,446.60 (2010-11 data)! Now, here is where the paradox lies. These criminals are stuffed (literally) into our prisons since they have created either an economic loss or social loss to the country; and they are then made to survive on the tax paid by that very aggrieved society. In simple terms, the total cost on all prisoners put together is shared by around 150,000 taxpayers!

What’s worse is that our prisons are no more corrective centers. With time, these are increasingly become training centers for to-be criminals. Since there is no such concept of correction in our prisons, even a one-time criminal comes out as a seasoned criminal. And why not? With the training of inmates for skill enhancements being poor, they are left with no option other than resorting back to the criminal world. For the uninitiated, the functions performed in Indian jails include tailoring, paper and leather work, carpentry, baking, textiles and candle making. And it requires no NSSO-type survey to find out that such skill sets without an enabling environment generate little productive engagements.

Strangely, Gautam Doshi (group MD of ADAG) was assigned the work of making chairs and baking cakes and was paid peanuts in return. With 42.9 per cent prisoners being educated till class 10 and 6.44 per cent being graduates and above, it makes little sense for our authorities not to utilize their competencies. At least the more educated (professionals) can train those who are not that well educated, so that they can lead decent lives after their incarceration is complete. It’s astounding but true that the average monthly output per prisoner in India is no more than Rs.150, which is at the ebb of utilized resources. The compromise with performance is writ clear on the wall with annual pan India turnover being a meager Rs.66 crores.  Read More....

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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