Solving the Current Dilemma with Legal Measures
Author: Aliya Hussain
Designation: Law Student
Email ID: email@example.com
The current global pandemic has been brutal to not specific groups but to each individual in its own ways. India as a country buckled up early in March, 2020 to fight this virus diligently. However, a large section of our society has been left behind and the only hope we can give it is through our government and legal machinery.The labour force in India is 400 million strong. Yet, the government has no record of how many workers have lost their lives or their jobs in the midst of the lockdown implemented during the pandemic. Even though this virus has taken us all by shock, there have to be legal measures thought of and incorporated to make up for the loss and damage done.
The questions we as a country must ask are how do we support those who have no further job security and how do we reinstate them in reshaping our economy? Secondly, the way most labourers were abandoned by their employers, can we enforce a sense of moral and legal obligation on them through legal instruments?
One must understand the seriousness of the consequences faced by our society due to the lack of laws to protect it in such grave circumstances.
For the last eight months, our government has been unstoppable in rolling out different programmes for food contribution, monetary support, encouraging local businesses and other such benefits to the poor. However, history repeats itself until the lesson is learnt. The core issue is the lack of legal provisions backing up the government in their stance to help the public. Law is a driving force which creates a sense of responsibility as well as fear. The responsibility to create a welfare state and the fear to not misuse one’s power and act in contrary. For instance, every Indian State is prepared with a Special Task Force to deal with peculiar situations.
In a similar fashion, why can’t our country have designated legal implications to roll out in such circumstances which get enforced for the time being?
What good are these programmes launched by our Government if there are no means for it to reach the required population?
These are times especially when the foundation of the Constitution of India has to be exercised. Respect for human dignity on the grounds of equality, non-discrimination, secularism, right to livelihood and dignity have been missing. Where the education of 320 million children has been affected by the lack of access to the internet and smartphones, it only sheds light on the need for law to intervene and bridge this digital divide for overall growth. This is possible only when we do away with outdated laws for Digital India to thrive. That being said, it is not something achievable in a short span of time. It includes rigorous research, data analysis, studying the implications and then passing laws suitable for the society as a whole. In India, law and governance has been side by side but never on a time frame. We know that as per Article 21-A of the Indian Constitution, free and compulsory education for children upto the age of 14 is a fundamental right, as per Article 21, each citizen is guaranteed the protection of life and so on and so forth. Hence, the government also has to be proactive in formulating laws for such unprecedented situations to enforce these rights as a constant in the lives of the citizens to avoid depriving them of such rights.
Scientists do not come up with vaccines in weeks or months. It takes a long time for them to research what they are dealing with, what are the variants, the consequences and the probable solutions. Similarly, the lawmakers of our country who have now been faced with the inevitable must understand the urgency of having laws ready to be enforced in such emergencies. We cannot as a country afford to let our poor migrant workers walk back home due to lack of transportation, lack of money or lack of support. With a think tank like ours, the citizens of our country must be comparatively relaxed being backed by the legal machinery whether it comes to their business environment, professional environment or personal environment. Areas which require legal support the most are health setups in the rural areas which have been absent, to prevent hospitals in the urban areas from exploiting the middle class for treating a virus nobody has really understood till today, to abolish corruption which has been constant and to refrain people from becoming indifferent. These issues need to be tackled in a sensitive, efficient and a swift manner.
Members of the government and police and the healthcare workers have worked tirelessly to bring the country together keeping us as their priority. For these efforts to not go wasted, there must be legal implications imposed. As Leo Tolstoy rightly said, “Writing laws is easy, but governing is difficult.” There need to be laws as simple as making it mandatory for us to wear masks in public, fixating on a number of people from a given household to be allowed on the streets, harsh penalties for cafes and restaurants encouraging the public, a systematic order for offices to continue functioning from home, a plan for reduced remunerations to executives of top companies in order to not snatch away the little stipend a peon or a clerk would be receiving, and a planned course of action for students to follow unlike what we had witnessed during the CLAT and NEET examinations conducted in India in 2020.
More importantly, the need to employ more healthcare in the rural areas, educate the poor on the ongoing adversities and implement a ration distribution scheme to make life easier for them. This leaves us all with an enlightening lesson, "prosperity is a great teacher; adversity is greater."