Please tell us about yourself
R Rochin Chandra presently works as a Visiting Policy Analyst for Rajasthan Prisons Department, at the Jail Training Institute, Ajmer. He received his master’s degree in Criminology & Criminal Justice Science from Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli. At PG level, he was acclaimed as ‘Young Change Maker’ in India. He also serves in the International Peer Review Committee of International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences and International Journal of Cyber Criminology.
Rochin Chandra, a budding criminologist from Udaipur, has made it big at an early stage of career. He is the youngest of the fraternity from India to get a chance to be heard at an international symposium of the World Society of Victimology (WSV) slated in Perth from July 5 onward.
The society conducts the symposium once-in-three years to respond to the diverse and complex needs of crime victims. It brings together victimologists, the judiciary, policing, researchers, non-Government organisations and policy maker to an international engagement.
“My research paper ‘Men as victims of online crimes: An Examination’ has been selected for oral presentation in the early career research category. This is an extra ordinary feat while pursuing 1st year of master’s in criminology and criminal justice science” Rochin said.
His research paper has been selected in top 4 papers featuring Victimization through newer forms of crime. “This paper is acknowledged because typically we portray women as victims of online crimes, which indeed is a default idea or norm, whereas we never imagine or rather less likely to acknowledge the frequently invisible victimization of men by online crimes.”
At the masters level, Rochin presented over 7 research papers in crime and victimization with three papers featuring newer forms of online crimes (including this) at various international and national criminology and victimology conferences.
He has to his credit one research paper published in peer reviewed and edited book with International standard book number and was selected to intern through a rigorous selection process in Rajasthan police academy to take classes on causes of crime for upcoming Sub Inspectors’s.
Rochin has been lately working with US based organization “International Justice Mission” on a project featuring sumnagali scheme- to examine the legal position.
What prompted you to make such a career choice?
Right from my childhood, I was curious about crime serials like cid, Crime Patrol etc. My inclination towards such serials grew in my teens, but certainly not to the extent of jumping into criminology. This critical decision to redirect my career towards criminology came during the fag end of my U-19 cricket career, after I was treated unfairly by the Board members of my own District Cricket Association. Hadn’t I experienced this negative stimulus, I wouldn’t have jumped into criminology.
How are criminals and victims perceived in India?
The social contract between the public and State in India, is a sensitive matter. Once it is broken by any individual, it sparks huge public outcry to condemn the crimnals. Therefore, according to the public, they ought to be punished for their anti-social actions.
However, what is so disconcerting is the attitude of the public towards the victim. They are often treated unfavourably. After facing all anguish, they find themselves victimised for the second time at the hands of the society at large. Therefore, I espouse changing criminal justice system to victim justice system, as victims are often sidelined from the judicial process while offenders enjoy privileges.
We have witnessed the emergence of some newer forms of it such as cyber-terrorism and credit card frauds. One of the lethal features of cyber crimes is that it does not require an offender to physically confront the victim in order to attack them. Today, the advancement of social networking sites provides unparalleled opportunity to commit such crimes.
India’s stance in dealing with juvenile delinquents does not seem very promising. Although, the nuanced version of Juvenile Justice Act has duly come into force, its merits to contain juvenile delinquency is yet to be determined. The social context within which this problem is embedded needs to be addressed from grass root levels.
Tell us about Criminology
It’s one of the dreams that most people have secretly had at one time or another: of being a crime-stopper, of using intuition and knowledge to crack the clue, and follow the threads to the end of the mystery. But for those with a more than a passing fancy for crime and justice, criminology is so much more than merely a detective school.
It opens up a vast range of opportunities that are only slowly being recognised in India. The importance of Criminology and Criminal Justice is only growing in India
What does a criminologist do?
A criminologist aims to help society develop a better understanding of what makes people commit crimes, how to better protect against it, how to improve rehabilitation of offenders, and how to help victims of crimes. In essence, he or she works to build a society less prone to or susceptible to crimes by finding reasonable and workable proposals to prevent and control crime.
How do people see Criminology and victimology in India?
Criminology, as an academic discipline, has gained some prominence in recent years. A section of students are becoming more adventurous about their career choices. And an increasing number of (provocative) television shows like “Crime Patrol”, “Gumraah”, “Dexter” and “Sherlock Holmes”, have also encouraged an influx of students who want to study criminal behaviour and human science.
The dearth of awareness among people about Criminology in India is a matter of some concern. But, what is more problematic is the gap that has emerged between young people’s expectations (as cultivated by social norms, parents) and the realities of labour market, which, discourage them from courses in the arts and humanities. The steady drift of students towards engineering and medicine has very much evolved as a culture. In the face of consistent pressure, candidates keen to pursue a career along off-beat tracks like Criminology, are often left with no option but to bury this idea.
As far as victimology is concerned, few people outside of academicians, human rights activists and criminal justice professionals have more than a vague idea of the subject. But we need to understand that India, as a country, has not quite grasped the idea fully of responding to the needs of victims. It will therefore be a long wait before victimology finds firm roots in mainstream education. Although, some institutions in India do offer courses on this subject, it is still in a nascent stage and requires major impetus.
Is Criminology gaining importance in India?
Yes, it is. A few institutions have reached an understanding with their respective state governments; so that, students with a Master’s degree in Criminology will be preferred for recruitment to the police and to prisons. A special reservation has been made in this regard. Karnataka and Gujarat are at the forefront of such efforts.
The South Asian Society of Criminology and Victimology (SASCV), the Indian Society of Criminology (ISC) and the Indian Society of Victimology (ISV), are the forerunners, advancing the field with successful conferences and other events. The growth of Criminology over the last decade has been so rapid that the University Grants Commission has recognized it as a subject for qualification for the Junior Research Fellowship and the National Eligibility Test.
At present, there are more than seven departments which offer full time Master’s degrees and PhD programmes in Criminology. But there is a need to lobby the government and NGOs, to set up more departments of Criminology across India and provide adequate job opportunities to Criminology graduates.
What are the possibilities open to a criminologist in India?
Criminology is an interdisciplinary field, as it looks into the context of sociology, economics, psychology, law, social work, and political science among others to understand crime and criminal behaviour. Besides examining behaviour, institutions and systems to deal with criminal offenders through a multidisciplinary lens, it also affords students a very fine insight on the functioning of the society as a whole. Therefore, by gaining a composite knowledge of multiple fields and disciplines related toCriminology, students can contribute much to the development of such fields.
In India, a Master’s program in Criminology and Criminal Justice generally trains students for a variety of professions such as Private Investigation, Security Management, Law, Crime Prevention, Bank Fraud Management, Counselling and Guidance, Investigative Journalism, Criminal Psychology, Child Protection Services and so on. So, there are possibilities galore but the job market still needs to grow as many are not aware of the availability of such qualified professionals emerging from theCriminology background.
The importance of undertaking social sciences research has gained a premium in recent times. Many governmental, non-governmental and international human rights organizations in India – like National Human Rights Commission, BPRD, Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative, Amnesty International, International Justice Mission – are recruiting criminologists as Research Consultants or Officers after the completion of Masters, MPhil and Doctorate programmes in Criminology.
Further, UN organisations like Unicef, UNDP, ILO, & UN Women (India), provide a unique opportunity for Criminology graduates in the capacities of policy analysts, child protection officers, emergency preparedness and response officers, program co-ordinators and so on.
As Criminology exposes the students to topics like police administration and penology, this knowledge can also be translated in policing and prisons management. One can always write the UPSC, apply for state police services (at any level), or to agencies like the Intelligence Bureau, the Central Bureau of Investigation and so on.
Besides, Criminology can yield great results for enthusiasts who aspire to pursue a career in criminal justice policies and crime prevention strategies. NGOs may also hire criminologists for advocacy building and victim counselling.
What are the challenges in pursuing a career in Criminology?
There are two major challenges in pursuing a full-fledged career in Criminology. First, individuals from other substantive social sciences disciplines (who claim ownership of Criminology) normally show resistance to acknowledging and valuing Criminologyas a profession. Second, since criminologists study law, psychology, sociology, political science, human rights, and so on in small proportions, and given that the typical Master’s program is so crime-focused, it may often leave students in a spot of bother after their post-graduate degree. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that students also earn some extra credentials such as a PG diploma in human rights law, child rights law, or social work, or online certification in subjects like anti-money laundering, cyber forensics, GPS and so on.
What needs to be done to enhance the scope of employment in Criminology?
The scope of employment can be significantly improved by offering greater numbers of internships to students in accordance with their areas of interest. Ideally, such hands-on-training offers them a unique opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge to real-time problems. Apart from operating at the application level, student can also hone their writing, analytical, research and management skills.
What skills does a successful career in Criminology require?
To gain elevation in this discipline, one should have good writing, speaking and research skills besides having a knack for critically analysing social issues. In addition, one should constantly feed one’s mind with current instances of crime, victimisation and justice. A broad awareness of latest issues, allows one to better understand and examine the dynamics of a given problem from the lens of criminological and victimological theories. Soft skills can also be an asset.