In the Tata company town of Jamshedpur, incisive popular discourses of
corruption posit a mutually beneficial relationship between ‘legitimate’
institutions and organised criminality, a dynamic believed to enable pervasive
transformations in the city’s industrial and financial infrastructures. This
article situates this local discourse within the wider body of anthropological
work on South Asian corruption, noting a discursive departure from the
hegemonic, personalised and essentially provincialising corruption models
encountered by many researchers. The article interrogates the popular model
of crime and corruption in Jamshedpur through a focus upon the business
practices of local violent entrepreneurs, exploring the extent to which their
negotiations with corrupt institutions and ‘legitimate’ capital may indeed
inform their successes. Drawing analytic cues from material on organised
crime in the former USSR, this article identifies a mutually beneficial
relationship between political influence, violence and industrial capital in an
Indian company town.
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