India is in transition between tradition and modernity, impacted by its colonial history, which has consequences for its social order and social control efforts. Community policing, considered to be a new mode of social control, has actually been an important role of village panchayats since ancient times. These community councils of five or more elders also served as courts in settling disputes and as governmental bodies in administration of village affairs (Basham, 1954, pp. 105-107). When conflicts arose or crimes occurred, panchayat members or village heads, who lived in the same
Introduction 257 The Police and Panchayat in Modern India 259 Communities, Panchayats, and the Caste System 263 Disputes, Panchayats, and Police Expansion 264 Research Methods 267 Communities and Case Studies 268
Anbur 268 Valavu 270 Natham 271 Medu, Pallam, and Kandam 272 Pudur 274 Ennakulam 277
Conclusion 279 References 284
close-knit community, would either witness them first-hand or hear about them through gossip, complaints, or night watchmen under their command, and could address matters swiftly to prevent escalation into more serious conflicts and crimes. Usually village elders were selected from the community’s various kin groups and castes, among whom they lived, or from major streets of the community, with an orientation to prevent conflicts or settle disputes at their onset. When more serious conflicts did arise, the panchayat, functioning as a court, would process the dispute with a focus on reestablishing village harmony and peace.