Name: Comeuppance: My Experiences in an Indian Prison
Author: James Tooley
Publisher: Speaking Tiger
Price: Rs 299
A professor from England (author himself), who is out there to do some good work on low cost education in India, gets caught in the yarn of deep-rooted corruption in India. Professor James Tooley lucidly describes this journey in his book Comeuppance.
The professor is associated with an educational Trust, which accepts foreign funding but fails to maintain the books. Even though he is no longer a part of the Trust, the professor is hounded by the officials of Hyderabad criminal investigation department (CID) who charge him under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. The team accuses Tooley of spending foreign funds for leading a lavish lifestyle, rather than working for the larger good of society.
After his arrest, Tooley spends six weeks in an Indian prison before getting out on bail and then leaving for England. Although Tooley has been harassed badly by the Indian criminal justice system, in the book he chooses to view people only as victims of the system. He is concerned about the 2.5 lakh undertrials in Indian prisons and presents them as victims, which is not the case always. The incidents, which he shares about his prison acquaintances, present only one side of the story and fail to highlight the dark side of the prison life. A balanced approach would have given us a complete picture.
In the book’s title, Tooley mentions his ‘experience in Indian prison’. But he is in prison for only six weeks — which is too brief a period to grasp the functioning of the judiciary and policing. His descriptions about prisons, court rooms and the demand of bribe from police officials is a familiar narrative. The book also shows the first investigating officer of the case, Mrs T Mantra, Deputy Superintendent of CID in an unfavourable light. This might create a discord with readers given the swagger carried by women officers of such a rank in India. A brief analysis on the causes leading to corruption would have made the book a better read. Indians continue to have faith in the police and the judiciary which can be seen by the sheer number of cases lodged in Indian courts. So the book might not connect too well with the readers.