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Unpublished Paper
Before Bhopal: Explaining the Infrequency of Railway Accident Victim Compensation, 1889-1931: Karmic Fatalism or Colonial Law and Policy?
ExpressO (2015)
  • peter karsten
Abstract
Countless thousands experienced the loss of property or suffered injury or death due to negligence on railways of India during the 19th and 20th centuries. This essay notes striking differences between the treatment of victims in India and those in other Imperial jurisdictions, and in the similar common-law United States. Two explanations for the differences have been proposed: (1) Cultural ones: These include the propensity to view one’s turning to legal remedies in India as a “slot-machine,” and fatalistic “karmic vision” (more generally referred to as “Hindu fatalism),” which is said to lead injured parties to accept their lot and decline to sue. (2) British Imperial policies and law: These include a low ratio of available courts to potential litigants, a “loser pays winner’s fees” rule, and a lack of a Code of Civil Wrongs. This essay compares the experiences of railway accident victims in, and the compensation practices of, India, the U. S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, assesses the evidence regarding these two theoretical explanations for such differences as were detected, and offers the author’s view as to which clearly has more explanatory power.
Keywords
  • Tort law,
  • Railway Accidents,
  • British Empire,
  • india,
  • Parliament
Disciplines
Publication Date
April 29, 2015
Citation Information
peter karsten. "Before Bhopal: Explaining the Infrequency of Railway Accident Victim Compensation, 1889-1931: Karmic Fatalism or Colonial Law and Policy?" ExpressO (2015)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/peter_karsten/1/