It’s always easy to find a scapegoat and blame it for all our failures. It helps us live in an illusionary world where we feel that everything evil is outside us and we ourselves are infallible. If one takes a closer look at constitution, one would realize that makers of Indian constitution had left no stone unturned to provide us as elaborate and as resourceful law book as humanly possible. This being the case, why do we always seem to be blaming one law or another?
Scan through any of the newspapers or tune into any of the news channels and you are likely to bump into headlines as:
Government fails to unify the nation with a Uniform Civil Code.
UP elections: reservation in education and jobs top on agenda.
Punjab and Haryana HC’s word of caution to trial courts on dowry complaints.
I can just go on and on. There is an endless list of incidents reported daily where either the law has failed us or has been incompetent to serve its purpose. Right from drawing room activists to our esteemed parliamentarians, we all are often seen locking horns over acts in the constitution which have failed the state and sections in the IPC which are too poorly framed to be retained.
While all this gives us a sense that our nation is built over weak set of laws and our constitution makers did miss few tricks of the trade, what we need to understand is that our constitution has picked up the best elements from all the existing constitutions. The very laws, we seem to criticize have worked wonders elsewhere. It’s not the law that has failed us but the other way round. While the laws are meant to guide us build a better nation, we have bent over backwards to find loopholes in them and misuse them. Isn’t law a system of rules that is enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, so as to evolve the society into a better version? Haven’t we failed to see the purpose of the law making exercise by either looking at its short term results or nit-picking on its technicalities? The point that I want to drive home is that it is not the system of law and order which has failed to perform. Laws were supposed to be our guiding hands. But instead, we have turned them into punching bags for all our follies. So it’s the attitude of the society which has failed us.
India as a nation is only 70 years old, but the Indian soil has been nourishing its people since 4000 years. Widely known as “Sone ki chidiya”, our subcontinent has seen empires rising and falling but has never witnessed a societal collapse like that of the Malayan civilization or of the Western Roman Empire. Our people have always stuck together, come what may. Then, what has changed in this little time that the dissatisfaction among our citizens has risen to such alarming levels? We have forgotten that it is we, the citizens, who build a society and the purpose of the coded system of rules is only to guide us.
The laws are sometimes to act as a deterrent and sometimes to buy time till the particular consciousness arises in every section of the society. For example, the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, with its short term goal, was meant to act as a deterrent. Its long term purpose was to buy time, till education and awareness changes the thought process of the society and people can actually see it as a social evil. But not only does dowry still prevail, section 498(A) is many a time misused to trouble men and their relatives too. The purpose was to create a consciousness among the people about the ill effects of dowry, which surely did not happen. Likewise, there are many laws which haven’t performed the way they were envisioned by the lawmakers. Who is to be blamed for this? Ofcourse, us. We overlook the essence behind the laws. For example, the law to wear helmet while driving is not meant for riders to put it on only when one sees a traffic police. It’s for our own safety. But as long as we neglect the essence of this law, we would continue blaming one thing or the other while facing high casualties to road accidents each year.
There is a silver ling to this story. We have talked about laws which have not been understood in their true essence. One of the exception to this trend would be the Hindu Code Bills of 1950s which have not only codified the Hindu personal law, but also have reformed the Hindu society with men and women getting right to choose their life partners, equal succession rights to women etc. This happened because people could discern the malpractices prevalent in the Hindu society and understood that with their conscious efforts only they could overcome them.
For all the laws to be as effective as these, it is us who will need to change.”Taale imaandaron ke liye lagae Jate hain, choron ke liye nahi”. Choice is ours. We could either keep finding the loopholes and stay discontent or follow these laws in true spirit and prosper. Laws are not the end. They are the means to achieve the end. Every law is meant for our betterment. If we shy away from these laws, we are shying away from our own betterment. It’s our loss. If we can understand this small concept, not only our perspective towards the state of our law & order would change but we will be able to contribute more towards a better Nation.