chapter  3
25 Pages

The political economy of criminal enterprise

One evening, I received a somewhat mysterious telephone call from a close research participant. Known to his friends as ‘Lucky’, he was the 21-year-old unemployed son of a retired worker in the Tata Tinplate company. Lucky’s family were the descendants of Punjabi Sikh migrants who travelled to Jamshedpur in 1907 to seek employment in TISCO, and had worked in Tata industries ever since. Almost a century later, Lucky’s father was forced into early retirement and was unable to petition for Tata employment for either of his two sons. He did, however, benefit from a substantial company retirement settlement, which Lucky slowly squandered in a variety of business ventures, while his elder brother migrated to London to work in a convenience store. The films and photographs which Lucky’s brother sent home showed him strolling through Trafalgar Square in a leather jacket and new white trainers, sitting in a McDonald’s restaurant talking loudly in English on a mobile telephone, listening contentedly to an iPod in his bedroom in Hounslow. His proud family were pleased that their considerable financial investment in his migration had made him comfortable and happy. For Lucky, however, things did not seem to be going as well.