IIAS Newsletter 42 Autumn 2006
A housewife in Kolkata buys bhindi (okra) from her neighbourhood vegetable seller for her child’s dinner. In doing so, she may have participated in an illegal activity. Depending on how far back we want to go, the chain of illegality can be said to have begun with the Bangladeshi farmer who planted the vegetable six months earlier. Or it may be more sensible to start with the social ‘commodity chain’ of women who transport bundles of vegetables by foot and ferry in the early hours of every morning across the hundreds of legal and unmarked border-crossing points from Bangladesh into India. Crossing without papers or passports, they sometimes bribe border guards to let them pass. This is when the first ‘crime’ takes place.