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New Coronavirus Variants and Why People Need to be More Cautious

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By – Vinay KumarResearch Scholar, Department of Pharmacy, Central University of Rajasthan, Ajmer

This piece deals with the current Coronavirus situation, after the massive rise in cases and fatalities has perturbed the country in the last few weeks. Special focus is laid on the new variants and as to why people need to be more cautious.

The Present Coronavirus Situation

In this recent wave of Coronavirus, lakhs of cases have been registered on a daily basis and according to numerous reports surfacing it may just be the beginning. Close to 3 lakh new cases are being reported every single day in India since the last few days, in this sudden surge in the daily new cases, many are being detected in relation to the highly infectious double mutant and triple mutant variants of SARS-CoV-2 (The mutant variants  are of  B.1617 and B.1.618 lineage). The double mutant variant (namely B.1617) has also been detected in Himachal Pradesh, and many believe the variant has a major role to play in the 10,000 + cases and 100+ fatalities reported in the province in the last week. Though the triple mutated variant has not been detected till now in the state, but it may have already made its way due to influx of travelers from all over India during this ongoing tourist season, which is a point of concern.

 Why this wave could be more fatal

Coronavirus is basically a positive single stranded RNA genome, which represents a typical crown-like structure under an electron microscope that is highly expressed and has abundant availability of glycoprotein spikes on its outer structure. The virus represents a large group of family Coronaviridae, that originated from avian and mammalian species which causes upper respiratory tract infection in humans, leading to a high fatality rate. Further, the genetic code of the virus can change through mutation and can evolve into newer strains and the new variants are a result of all this. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the virus during the replication process makes copies of itself with slight changes. These changes are categorised as “mutation”. A virus with one or more new mutations is referred to as a “variant” of the original virus. Mutations in viruses are common but most of them are not significant and do not cause any change in its ability to transmit or cause serious infection. But some mutations can, and the new Coronavirus “double” and “triple” mutations which have originated from the United Kingdom supposedly, have made the virus more infectious and deadlier as they have the ability to escape the human defence immune system.

Also, as has been reported the symptoms of the mutated version are not like that of previous variants and the usual method for the detection i.e. RT-PCR, is also not working. Also, the new variants are of more serious nature as they neutralize the antibody potency, recent research investigations of different  convalescent plasma samples have found that the spike mutant proteins in the variants have the capability to neutralize the antibodies. Most of this was observed in the United Kingdom, from early January this year as close to 4.4 million cases of coronavirus were confirmed there and more 127,00 people were reported to have lost their lives according to official UK government figures. Majorly, as discussed the B.1.1.7 lineage variant was said to be prevalent there and experts state that this variant leads to severe pneumonia and acute respiratory distress which ultimately causes more fatality. Also, the variant provokes the risk of long term diseases like blood pressure, cardiovascular and cerebral disease, chronic renal failure, diabetes, and hyperlipemia. Numerous reports also highlight an association between drastic cardiovascular conditions and risk of mortality in Coronavirus patients. Sudden cardiac death has emerged as one of the disturbing concerns, also the Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) can be related to direct Coronavirus deaths from especially the mutated variants.

Why the people need to be cautious

The same double mutant variant (B.1617) which created havoc in the United Kingdom is creating problems in India. Though states like Maharashtra and Delhi are the worst affected but Himachal Pradesh is not far behind. The current situation is deteriorating in the several districts of the state especially Kangra, Una, Solan and Sirmour where a night curfew has been imposed from 27th April to 10th May 2021. In the last one week, Himachal Pradesh reported a substantial surge in Coronavirus cases and related deaths as stated earlier. But the shocking effect of all this has been that many serious cases are being reported of people below the age of 50 years which was not the case earlier. Also, in many of the fatalities reported no other pre-existing medical condition, existed. In fact, on April 23, two kids aged 5 and 10 years were among those who died of the virus.

All this signifies and points us towards the fact that in many parts of Himachal the mutated variant of the virus has started to spread. This is an issue of concern as the medical infrastructure in Himachal Pradesh is not that great, and in the absence of proper medical facilities it would become very tough to tackle this situation in the coming days. If the wave reaches the far-flung districts of Chamba, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti, which are relatedly safe till now, then things may become more tough. The government is also running out of beds for coronavirus patients now only in this initial stage and if the situation further escalates then things may be out of control. Thus, the people of Himachal Pradesh especially need to be very cautious as the mutated version of the virus is more fatal and targets people of any age group.

Precaution, Prevention and Vaccination

Prevention and awareness are the best practices to reduce the effects of this virus. To achieve this goal, key measures need to be taken into consideration like using face masks, covering cough and sneezes with tissues, frequently washing hands with soap and disinfecting with hand sanitizers (with at least 70% alcohol), avoiding contact with infected people, practicing respiratory hygiene, seeking medical care early etc. There is also a need to avoid visiting public places and marriage meetings, to break the chain. Regular meditation and increased water consumption as well as intake of vitamin C is also recommended. Further, the government of India has also issued fresh guidelines to wear masks even at home. Experts too suggest that there is need to wear N95 or KN95 masks to deal with an airborne pathogen.

People should also register to the government vaccination drives starting from May 1st, which is for everyone above the age of 18 years. The vaccination would help a lot as, recently it has been reported by the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), that both Indian origin vaccines namely Covishield and Covaxin, have exhibited greater efficacy against the mutant variants of the virus. Also, research investigation has found out that the UK’s vaccination programme post the sudden outbreak in early-Jan of 2021 helped a lot in breaking the chain and reducing cases as well as deaths. Further, researchers at Imperial College London have also found that Coronavirus infections dropped about 60 per cent in March in the UK as national lockdown measures slowed the spread of the virus. The same policy measure can be thought of if the situation worsens by especially a province like Himachal Pradesh where the medical infrastructure is not that good as compared to other neighboring states.

Feature Images: Pixabay

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Himachal Watcher or its members.

Opinion

Rabindranath Tagore and Translation Studies: The Perpetual Impact of South Asian Culture on World Literature

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By- Dr. Faisal Barkat, Islamic University of Science & Technology, Awantipora, Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir

Translation studies has bought world cultures together to be recognized as a single culture. It is this delicate and sophisticated thread that has brought world literature under one roof by transcending cultural, ethnic, religious, social, and regional barriers. South Asian writing has reserved a significant place in world literature and translation works have played a vital role in the same. The translation of South Asian literature into English by regional or foreign writers ultimately gave birth to a variety of English literature now recognized and acknowledged as South Asian English Literature. The compilation of all the great poets of  South Asian Literature has been translated into many languages and one such great South Asian literary figure is Rabindranath Tagore; his work has set records and has crossed the oceans to let other parts of the world concede the vastness of South Asian diversity. His poetry in the form of pearls has always inspired the arid and restless souls. His poetry has no limitations, it guides and consoles every restive soul and during the current pandemic times when everyone is destitute, his poetry could be the source of calmness and ultimate composure. Thus, this write-up focuses on the English translations of Tagore’s work and invariably pays a tribute to him on his Birth Anniversary.

 

Rabindranath Tagore is a world-famous literary figure who doesn’t need any introduction. He occupies a considerable place in South Asian Literature on account of his world class literary contribution. Although behind the firm recognition of South Asian Literature there are many gigantic literary figures from almost every corner of the Indian Subcontinent however, Tagore’s contribution played a major and vital role in the recognition of South Asian Literature as a part of Global Literature. His vision, scholarship, universal outlook, and profundity won him many accolades from the East to the West. His contribution to South Asian literature spans over a vast body of writings that developed a cautious and visionary balance between tradition and modernity. His iconic work Gitanjali, Song Offerings is without any doubt a masterpiece that has stimulated many Western poets.

The following poem titled, ‘Where the mind is without fear’ originally written in Bengali is one among the most discussed poems of Tagore, the choice of words used to convey a desire, a wish to see undivided India as a free country, exhibits the gist of real freedom. The golden words of this poem hold a great significance if related to our current scenario:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action;

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. (Where the Mind Is Without Fear)

It was Tagore’s artistic vision that fascinated many foreign writers and readers who wanted to imbibe and interact with the poetic insight of Tagore but were unable to ensue because of the great linguistic walls. Thus, what inspired Tagore to translate his work into English was his willingness to share his thoughts, feelings, and ideas with the global audience. English being a universal language catalysed his thoughts and beliefs to reach his readers across the world. Regarding the translation of his own poems, Krishna Kripalani very aptly summarizes the birth of Tagore’s translation works: Tagore was due to sail from Calcutta, on March 19, but suddenly fell ill on the night before his departure and the doctors forbade an immediate voyage. His luggage, already on board, had to be sent back from Madras where the ship halted next. Disappointed at this unforeseen postponement of his voyage, he sought consolation and strength, as of old, by retiring to Shelidah on the bank of his beloved river Padma. It was here that he began to translate, for the first time, some of his Gitanjali songs into English.  (Kripalani, 2011, p.122)

Over time Tagore took up the translation works keenly and religiously and started to translate songs from Gitanjali. In one of his letters written to his niece Indira Devi, Tagore shares: So, I took up the poems of Gitanjali and set myself to translate them one by one. You may wonder why such a crazy ambition should possess one in such a weak state of health. But believe me, I did not undertake this task in a spirit of reckless bravado. I felt an urge to recapture through the medium of another language the feelings and sentiments which had created such a feast of joy within me in the days gone by. The pages of a small exercise-book came to be filled gradually, and with it in my pocket I boarded the ship.(Radice, 2011). It is worth mentioning here that around the 1900s Tagore’s translations were not established for publication by the British in their journals keeping in view their lack of curiosity in oriental style.

While Tagore was translating his songs, he could have never envisaged the fact that these translations are going to influence the world literature so deeply. In the year 1913 when Tagore’s Gitanjali won the Nobel Prize in Literature, Tagore transformed into a star with eternal luminosity. These translations indeed made him the poet of the world. In fact, one of the great Western poets W.B. Yeats acknowledged the universality and greatness of Gitanjali in these words: I have carried the manuscript of these translations with me for days, reading it in railway trains, or on the tops of omnibuses and in restaurants, and I have often had to close it lest some stranger sees how much it moved me. These lyrics -which are in the original, many Indians tell me, full of subtlety of rhythm, of untranslatable delicacies of colour, of metrical invention – display in their thought a world I have dreamed of all my life long. The work of a supreme culture, they yet appear as much the growth of the common soil as the grass and the rushes. (Saha, 2009)

It is also very important to note that Tagore started his translations long before he was awarded the Noble Prize. One of his friends namely Ramananda Chatterjee published a literary journal titled The Modern Review in the year 1907. This journal was published from Calcutta having many readers both in America and England. The Modern Review played a significant role in promoting Tagore’s translations to the people of the West thereby stimulating interesting discussions among them. As time passed the number of translators translating Tagore’s work increased among which included some distinguished personalities like Debendranath Mitra, Sister Nivedita, Jadunath Sarkar, Lokendranath Palit and Ajitkumar Chakraborty (Chakravarty, 1961).

While Tagore’s work was being translated by many of his admirers, the complicated task was all about the sincere translation of his poems. In view of this difficult task, Ramananda Chatterjee requested Tagore to translate his own poems into English. At the same time, Tagore felt the emptiness in the translations of his poems by translators which gradually ignited a desire in him to translate his poems more seriously. All his seriousness towards his translations paved the path for his greatest achievement in the form of Gitanjali, Song Offerings. Of the many forms of translation like word-for-word and literal translation, Tagore opted for his English version of Gitanjali a form that retained the true essence and beauty of the original text, ‘a rhythmically free’ [ and] ‘slightly biblical style of prose-poetry’ (Radice, 2011, p.282). 

Tagore confesses in his letter to Dinesh Chandra Sen about the prejudice to any work being translated by others, where he remarked, “I feel translation can never be satisfactory unless done by myself. Since the melody of the Bengali language and Bengali rhythm cannot be transferred to English, the rendering of ideas in simple English can only bring out its inner beauty. I can easily do this work without any mistake”. This clearly reflects the earnest attitude of Tagore towards his original text the originality of which could have lost if he would have not taken the task of translation on himself.

Reviewing the poems of Gitanjali, Ezra Pound expresses: “It is a little over a month since I went to Mr. Yeats’ rooms and found him much excited over the advent of a great poet, someone ‘greater than any one of us.’ It is hard to tell where to begin…We have found our new Greece, suddenly. As the sense of balance came back upon Europe in the days before the Renaissance, so it seems to me does this sense of saner stillness come now to us during our clangour of mechanism. I am not saying this hastily, nor in an emotional flurry,… I have had a month to think it over…There is in him the stillness of nature. The poems do not seem to have been produced by storm or by ignition but seem to show the normal habit of his mind. He is at one with nature and finds no contradictions. And this is in sharp contrast with the Western mode, where man must be shown attempting to master nature if we are to have ‘great drama’….” (Kripalani, 2011, p.125-126).

In conclusion, this write-up inculcates that Tagore’s literature is the repository of rare gems and pearls; each word he uses has an unfathomable meaning. The fact of the matter is that it is due to these translations that I was able to read and grasp Tagore. That being said, there is much more to explore, and his literature envisions further scope which could certainly untie many knots overlooked by scholars and philosophers so far.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Himachal Watcher or its members.

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Opinion

The Western Himalayan Beda Tribe and their Struggle for Existence

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By- Prof. Harish K Thakur, Chairman, Department of Political Science, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. He is currently researching on the Beda Tribe and this piece highlights some of his findings.

Tribal people have over the centuries undergone stages of unplanned development and have suffered a great deal from the changes made to their natural habitats. Even the planned efforts from within and outside have many a times changed the complexion of the tribe for all the wrong reasons, which have been done without proper insights on the specific tribal lifestyle and hence the desired results were not achieved. The government of India also has many a times introduced certain changes to protect the indigeneity of tribal life with the aim to help them integrate with the mainland, but the socio-economic problems of the tribes still evade solutions and require reconsideration and readjustments. As in this age of technology the sanctity of the tribal life has been seriously endangered. However, the ones who have so far survived are being marginalized and many are at the verge of extinction. Beda is one such tribe of Ladakh which has witnessed a drastic dilution over the recent decades and is struggling for existence.

 Origins and Composition

The origins of the Beda tribe of Ladakh are unclear, but they are considered as the first settlers of Ladakh. Also, many from within the tribe approve of their origins in Himachal Pradesh mainly from the Kaza area of the Lahaul Spiti District. Ethnically they reflect strong Mongoloid features with a broad flat face, wide nostrils, broad nose, and prominent cheeks. According to the latest Census Report of 2011 their number is said to be 420. They live primarily in Nubra and Indus valleys of Leh and speak languages of the Western Himalayish language family which includes languages spoken in neighboring Kargil District as well as Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur, Western Tibet and even Baltistan. Majority of these people were Buddhists but many in the recent decades have embraced Islam. The primary reason behind this shift was societal segregation as a many people from within the tribe believed that shifting into a newer identity would change their fortunes. As according to many members of the tribe the Ladakhi mainstream community have been quite ruthless and indifferent towards them. The Beda people are placed at the lowest rung among the Ladakhis, especially in Leh as the other people of the district do not participate in their funeral ceremonies and this forms the height of discrimination. However, the services of the Lamas (to the Buddhists) are always available on such occasions, but this poor social placing of the tribe seems to be one major reason behind the deliberate attempt to assimilate with the Muslim community. But even Muslim Beda’s are called by the name ‘Beda’ and face discrimination which does not completely make them discrimination free.

 Estrangement and Disenchantment

The people from this tribe used to earn through musical performances by playing upon lutes (Surna) and drums (Daman, Dhap) and by doing such kind of performances they would beg for grains, sattu or coins. Now a days, many of them have been earning their livelihood through other ways. The followers of the traditional Beda culture from within the tribe are significantly declining over the years, while the factors behind the decrease in numbers primarily seems to be social discrimination, poverty, unemployment, impact of globalization, non-ownership of land, technological advancement, increased literacy, and unacceptability among especially the Beda youth. But according to the field investigations the primary reason which has led to the dilution in the number of their population adopting their traditional culture, seems to be the trans-migration of the members from the Orthodox-Buddhist community in the Beda majority areas. These orthodox influencers according to the Beda’s question their cultural beliefs, and that invariably gives them an inferiority complex, many say that those people are too rigid and even after the consistent appeals by the Dalai Lama himself to those people things remain the same. In addition to that the general indifference towards the community is very high and their non-acceptance on egalitarian basis at different social, economic, political, and cultural levels has led to the Beda estrangement from the larger order and disenchantment from the whole system.

Effects of Globalization

It is not a hidden fact that globalization annihilates localism and cultures of closed societies and at the same time also endanger the very existence of tribes and remotely inhabited autonomous cultural groups which have sustained themselves through centuries through their close relationship with the geography and environment of the area. This globalization and the resultant consumerism, marketing, increased tourism and most importantly the development drives on account of projects, infrastructural facilities, defense build up and exploitation of natural resources have endangered the Beda identity over the years. With the availability of the latest means of entertainment, musical instruments, and performers the significance of the Beda performers has gone down especially in the areas of origin. In the investigations it was found that many members of the tribe were disinterested in their traditional occupation since it did not fetch them much monetarily and thus wanted to migrate.

Many of them also have been doing kuligiri (labor work) with construction companies or the Indian army that helps them earn more. Lack of government jobs on a permanent basis is another area of complaint for Beda’s and they regard unemployment as one of the major reasons behind the decline of their traditional role and culture. On the other hand, the same has also led to most of the youth being engaged in formally educating themselves. The Beda’s have understood the significance of education in this era of globalization and hence, are sending their children to school. But with that being said, again massive discrimination has been reported against them in schools, specifically concerning non-deliverance of scholarships to their children. Thus, even in this era of globalization, social discrimination is rampant at this needs to be dealt strictly, so that the confidence of the community could be restored back in the system.

The Way Forward

Inclusion of marginalized people especially of an area that carries a strategic importance becomes more significant on account of national development and security and thus to safeguard the cultural heritage of the Beda’s a lot needs to be done. Thus, in this concern, it is strongly recommended that at least one member of every Beda household (the total number of posts required may not exceed 100) should be ensured in a governmental or semi-governmental job. Similarly, jobs regarding Beda music and practices could be reserved in the departments of Youth and Services, Cultural Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, Drama Division, Radio Stations, Public Relations etc. Also, more Beda’s should be encouraged to get their wards registered in schools, but this can only be achieved by effectively utilizing different scholarship schemes, provision of free uniforms and mid-day meals to children. Education should be made free for them till the matric level to remove the financial burden on this poor tribe. Also, the youth of the Beda tribe should be encouraged to especially get technical education so that their career safety could be ensured. Different long and short-term career-oriented courses (diplomas and certificates) should also be introduced according to the actual requirements of the UT. They should also be made aware of different tribal welfare programs and schemes through school and college education.

Thus, the government should do whatever is in their arsenal to halt the final obliteration of the Beda people and help the tribe in their struggle for survival.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Himachal Watcher or its members.

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Opinion

Need for Greater Public Participation in the Law Making Process

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By– Arsh Dhanotia, who holds an LL.M in Constitutional and Administrative Law from the Symbiosis Law School, Pune and is currently practicing as an Advocate in the Supreme Court of India, High Court of Delhi and other Tribunals.

The article deals with how public participation is significant and essential towards lawmaking in especially uncertain times like these. The Covid crisis has made us realize the fact that the basic tenant of healthy democracy is more participation of the public in decision making. Numerous incidents guide us in this direction and thus, in this concern the piece tries to showcase how such participation can be vital for both the government and the public.

Lawmaking in India and How it is Incomprehensible

Laws tend to rely on different perspectives which makes the understanding of it complex. As one starts to acknowledge its real essence one must investigate so many concepts, which makes laws so ambiguous, at the same time what we extract out of it in most cases tends to be semantic and the same becomes indeterminate. In reality, laws simply are nothing but opinions, past experiences, current scenarios, future possibilities, thoughts, etc., and the list is non-exhaustive. The major concern is law-making is manipulated by the ones who are in power to serve agendas which are not for the betterment of the masses. In this connection, law making has seen the lowest of lows in India, as the problem is not only associated with the current law making, but has been prevalent since a very long time. For example, laws made during the emergency period can be seen in this concern, as lawmakers approved laws which were totally against the fundamentals of the Indian constitution especially violating civil liberties like the freedom of speech and expression. One such law was the Maintenance of Internal Security Act, 1971-1977, this act was amended several times to complement the agenda of the then government in power and included draconian provisions related to the search and seizure of property including detention of individuals. The provisions were used as a tool for arresting, torturing and in some cases shockingly sterilizing people. It is believed that around 1 lakh people which included opposition politicians, scholars and journalists were arrested and detained without giving a fair trial. All this showcases how law making can be molded by the one’s in power to satisfy their agendas.

Apart from that, in this category one can also include the recently formulated farm laws namely the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment), Act, 2020 which has brought the farmers from their farms to the roads in protest. The main dissatisfaction of the agitating farmers is that these new farm laws will make the Minimum Support Price (MSP) inconsequential and the farmers would not have any assurance as to a fixed income. But their voices are not being heard as the ones in power believe that the ones working in the fields do not know much about what policy and governance mechanism they need. The other legislation which can also be put in this category is the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, as basically this law is said to be unconstitutional, as according to many constitutional experts its passage directly works against the secular nature of the Indian state as stated in the dicta enumerated by the Hon’ble Apex court in Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala (1974). The legislation also goes against numerous international laws like Convention on refugee law 1951 and its 1967 protocol, whose Article 3 clearly states that the state shall not discriminate on the basis of religion and nation when dealing with refugees. The same also points out as to how section 2(1) of the new CAA act is violative of the basic principles of human rights as well as the constitution of India, which clearly without any valid reason excluded persecuted Muslims. Apart from all these laws there is a list of 100 such legislations reported by three organizations i.e. Macro/Finance Group at the national Institute of Public Finance and Policy, Vidhi center for legal policy and Center for Civil Society which reports that all such Indian laws are not valid in today’s day and age. But in that connection, there is nothing which the public can do about it as there is no participation of the public in modifying or replacing laws on a major scale in India and even if they wanted the ones in power would never allow that to happen.

Need for Public Participation in the Law Making Process

When you concentrate all powers in government, it leads to tyranny, incompetence, and mass murder. But when you distribute that power from the government down to the people, it results in much more stability. We in theoretical terms have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. It basically means that for things to work properly, people have got to take care of their communities, about who is running the administration and why? but that does not happen at all. Instead, most of us think about escaping such issues, and do not think about fixing things. This would also help us overcome the trauma all of us face after perpetually electing the same incompetent people who push an agenda instead of fixing or addressing our problems. Society requires public participation, it should be our will to rescue our own society instead of having faith in incompetent leaders who fail us every single time. The Coronavirus pandemic and the current situation in India is proof of this and leaders from across the political spectrum are to be blamed.

Coming back to law making, it is true that for almost every infringement there are laws, but the practical applicability is not achieved in most cases because of time constraints and other technical aspects. But if public participation is allowed in the law-making process, it would be the most comprehensive way to provide what the law has always entrusted for, which is justice. The term justice in the current times is so vague that there can be volumes written on it. But in order to achieve actual justice, one must understand the concept of justice first so that we are able to formulate the notion of law and build our common sense upon as to how laws are framed. The same will also help us understand the permutations and combinations of it, and thus after recognizing all this one will understand why there is a need for public participation in law-making. The most logical way to move forward in this direction on an individual level is to come out of our comfort zone and bring a change in one’s surroundings through being vocal and critical which will in many ways create an awakening; desperately needed in these current times. 

Successful Trials

In India, central and state governments are still lacking in including greater public participation in law making, and the current situation in relation to the pandemic is again proof of that. But a lot of can be learnt from countries with direct democratic institutions like Switzerland, whereby any citizen can initiate amendments in the constitution with popular support. It is further evident that the laws made by the Swiss government during the Pandemic concerning coronavirus were subject to a referendum (public opinion). Another prominent democratic state which has stepped up in this direction is Canada where the citizens participate in law making in different ways, there exists a specific legal code which deals with how people will participate in legislative process. The best example in this concern can be the recent poll conducted throughout Canada during the Pandemic where the citizens of Canada were asked upon as to whether they were satisfied with the policy making of Canada, though not clearly concerned with law-making, but at least citizen participation was invited. Such steps can also be taken by the government in India if not binding opinions, then at least advisory opinions can be taken from the public.

Self-Reliance Coupled with Justice is the Key

Thus, during these Covid times where the entire nation is struggling governments must leave aside the tricky dynamics of power politics and should try to accommodate greater public participation in law making to bring an end to their own fallacy. The Pandemic has majorly derailed the country in every sector and hence, the entire community must work together for helping things come back to normal. The citizens of India can collectively give their valuable opinions on how to row this sinking boat so that our society can soar from these unprecedented times, as it is us who must safeguard our own rights and question the government on the numerous legislations they frame. Though I will not give any specific policy suggestion concerning public participation in law making, but what I can suggest is that justice should be the key element present in any such policy framed. Though it also cannot be denied that majoritarian can be one drawback of such an initiation, whereby the people in majority in any composition can try to implement laws which is more suited for them and their inner circle. But if one looks at urgent and emergency issues like the current Coronavirus pandemic such inclusive initiatives in fact can be very useful as the majoritarian notions based on religion, caste, color, race and sex seem to get neutralized as the virus does not make calculations on whom to hit.

Hence, greater public participation in the law-making process in especially the current times is the need of the hour…

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Himachal Watcher or its members.

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