It is an irony that when we try to evaluate a person’s quality, good or bad, with the help of gene theory, we tend to forget that we have a very powerful mind of our own and the game of permutations and combinations that genes always play. In our way of oversimplifying and limiting everything to casteist inheritance, we have been doing those honest ones a grave injustice whose ancestors resorted to criminal act.
An estimated one in five Australians has a convict ancestry. The figure is even higher in Tasmania as 74 per cent of Tasmania’s population are estimated to be descended from convicts.
Now, what is the outcome of it? What is about the level of corrupt and criminal inheritance in Australia in general and Tasmania in particular?
Victoria Parliamentary Report 2001 on crime in Australia found that Tasmania with highest proportion of convict descendants had the second – lowest crime rate in Australia. And Australia ranked as the 13th least – corrupt nation in the corruption perceptions index in a study of 180 countries conducted by Transparency International in 2018.
Unfortunately, India is perhaps the only country that has been following the British raj legacy of tagging tribes as hereditary criminals. Many tribes helped freedom fighters with information, food and arms during 1857 mutiny. As a result, many tribes were branded as criminals after the mutiny. Eventually, 237 castes and tribes were given criminal – by – birth tag under the Criminal Tribes Act, 1931.
After independence, the government of India had replaced this Act with the Habitual Offenders Act, 1952. This Act makes many tribes live in fear and they have been made easy scapegoats and sometimes even replacements for criminals who the police fails to arrest. The National Human Rights Commission has recommended the repeal of this Act. The need of the hour is to immediately scrap such a vindictive and irrational Act.
Sujit De, Kolkata