The role of norms and law in economics: An essay on political economy

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The THREE - HOUR stretch of road between Hazaribagh and Dhanbad in eastern India is as desolate as it is beautiful. One winter evening, some half a dozen years ago, as I was traveling ibis route by taxi to catch a train from Dhanbad to get to Calcutta, 1 was lucky—or, 1 suppose, unlucky, depending on one’s point of view—to be stopped by a road block created by a gang of youngsters wielding lathis' and swords. In front of us, also slopped by the ramshackle road block, was a truck, and some of (he youngsters were talking to the truck driver. From the sight of some distant lanterns I figured that we were close to a village. My taxi driver looked very nervous as lie wailed for the youngsters to come to our ear. He told me that they were hoodlums, collecting illegal money by threatening to beat up passengers and drivers. He asked me not to speak and to leave it all to him. Eventually, a bearded young man walked up to our car regally anti asked me to lower my window glass. He spoke courteously and explained that he was collecting rangdari tax. He had a wad of papers in one hand (the other held a lathi) and he explained that after we paid the money, which, he added firmly, we would have to, he would even give us a receipt.
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2006-11-21T09:48:38Z
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