Mere Legislation, Awareness Won’t Help Widows’ Cause

There is a general perception when it comes to the plight of widows. Bereft of their husbands, an Indian widow is perceived as losing her ‘unique’ social status too. And, in this regard, there have been innumerable instances in history, mythology, movies and art to underline the pain. And, if that’s not bad enough, there’s Sati, Johar and more by way of social practice that amplify the exacerbated position of the widow – read the Hindu widow - in particular.

In the formulation of a resolution to the issue, the British initiated a legislation under their East India Company rule legalising the remarriage of widows in all jurisdictions of India and passed The Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act 1856, also Act XV, 1856 on 16 July 1856. 

Law, Awareness Must Address Inherent Risks of ‘Natural’ Foods

When Western Russia Sarov’s Saint Seraphim, one of the most renowned Russian saints and venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church also generally considered ‘the greatest of the 18th-century startsy’, had said, “Drink water from the spring where horses drink. The horse will never drink bad water. Lay your bed where the cat sleeps. Eat the fruit that has been touched by a worm. Boldly pick the mushroom on which the insects sit. Plant the tree where the mole digs.” 

Back home, when Lord Rama chose to visit Shabari’s hut, now in Shivrinarayan, Chhattisgarh, and consumed her half-eaten berries (bers), despite brother Laxman’s disapproval, even when Ram could have opted for other fresh food, speaks reams of the merits of truly ‘natural’ food otherwise looked down by modern society.

Medical Ethics Is Casualty in COVID Pandemic

The issue with ethics is that it is, by far, perceived as possessing an element of persuasion that is enforced by fear of social disassociation as opposed to law which is, in most quarters, mandated and ascertained by threat of penal action, material loss or professional banishment. 

The role of the medical professional, across continents, has been in sharp focus over the last two years owing to the COVID pandemic. And, actions as necessitated by situations extraordinary and urgent as forced by the pandemic could be mostly generalised as ‘Acts Done In Good Faith’ and, concurrently, implied and protected to some extent by law.

Failing the Spirit Of Law on Affirmative Action

The issue of caste throws open the floodgates of intellectualised criticism across India. Posturing depends, as always, on positions taken by birth, gender, or profession and in the order affected. Liberty is assured to those who reach out for it. Modelled on tenets that work along the lines of first-come-first-served, justice being available to those who make a bid for it, and more, the defences of contributory negligence, limitation lapses and provocations offset claims and nullify pleas. Law is within the reach of the privileged in a democracy, who comprise it too, brought within the reach of the marginalised few by Affirmative Action which, as a rule, fails a few. 

Intention Of No Consequence In Cases of Medical Negligence

In a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of India, issues of medical negligence, mens rea and legal procedures laid down by the Apex Court came into focus, once again. The bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna set aside a judgment of the Patna High Court as well as the summoning order issued by the Trial Court and ruled mens rea was not required in Medical Negligence cases.

Amrut Mahotsav To Showcase India’s Azaadi Over A Year

India’s year-long celebration from 15 August 2021 to commemorate 75 years of Independence with a range of programmes and projects will showcase “development, governance, technology, reform, progress and policy,” over the years. The exercise is being initiated by the Prime Minister’s office and is most likely to be flagged off on August 15, 2021 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Red Fort. To showcase India’s trajectory over the years, all Central ministries and departments have been asked to identify 10 projects that would be implemented and on the anvil are projects ranging from energy-efficient street lighting to Command and Control Centres in all 100 Smart Cities, Garbage-Free 2,022 Cities and the Skilling Programme for migrant workers. The projects lined up by the ministries would be completed by August 2022 and inaugurated by Modi during the celebratory year.

The Bias of Commercial Surrogacy Must Be Smashed

Perception, almost always, has a symbiotic relation with perspective. One shapes the other and only in a manner that one can. A person, whose perception is honed, over time and with experience, is perceived as one possessing an exhaustive perspective on the issue. That the perspective is subjective doesn’t matter in the least to a homogenous audience, with views similarly coloured, which conveniently considers it entirely objective. 

Laws To Claim The Right To Be Forgotten Must Be In Place

That a law is expected to be in sync with the need of the hour is a given. That it must and ultimately as a rule, catch up with the need is an integral part of the very nature of jurisprudence. That it, till then, cannot, is the unavoidable issue in contention. During this period, there’s academic and media reportage of the need, analysis of the offence that needs to be addressed, deliberation over the lacunae in the system and then formulation of legislation to tackle the issue. This period, from the time the need of the hour is identified till the letter of the law formulated, comprises a grey area. In this interlude, the law cannot catch up with the offender simply because the act is not, for practical purposes, yet an offence in the eyes of law.

'Nationalism' for most, for others 'Hate', unifies Indians

Nationalism, as a concept, is subjective in form and substance. Never before in the history of free India has the concept of 'Nationalism' been of more relevance than today when factions are deeply divided both in loyalty and in the interpretation of some basic concepts like Freedom, Liberty and Secularism. The notion of nationalism that has percolated down history has been primarily in British India and deals with a sense of nationalism that had to be won over from the British to further a concept of ‘free’ India. Till India earned her freedom, 'Nationalists' were divided only on their choice of ‘ways’ to achieve freedom. The goal remained one - Freedom from the British Rule yet the paths varied from one of Gandhi's route of non-violence and the other, the way of Netaji – a violent uprising against the British. Yet, although the approaches differed, the goal remained the same. And then, India got her Independence from the British in 1947 and alongside Nationalism, as a concept, went through a transformation of sorts.

Self-Styled Custodian Of Freedom And Liberty Needs To Look Within

French media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) aka Reporters Without Borders recently named India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a ‘predator of press freedom’, in a flagrant display of populism and unabashed disinformation. For one, few countries permit their nationals to bash its polity and stay protected at all times by a Fundamental Law like the one affecting Speech and Expression or the Law on Privacy under the Right to Life, like India.

The Star-Spangled Banner Must Dump Legacy Of Hate

"My purpose and my mission is bigger than sports,"​ said hammer thrower and activist Gwen Berry in retort to the backlash following her turning her back to the American flag as the national anthem was being played at the U.S. Olympic Trials on 29 June 2021. Competitors DeAnna Price, who won first place, and Brooke Andersen, second place winner, put their hands over their hearts and faced the flag. "I'm here to represent those ... who died due to systemic racism. That's the important part. That's why I'm going. That's why I'm here today,"​ she said. It wasn't the first time she was protesting. In 2019, Berry had protested racial injustice on the medal stand during the Pan American Games in Lima by raising her fist at the end of the national anthem. It fetched her a year-long probation that was eventually overturned.

Solutions To Human Rights Violations, Displace Nearly A Fifth Of Venezuelans

Second, only to Syria, in terms of external displacements, Venezuela has been hit hard. Since 2015, of its population of 30 million, almost a fifth - more than 5.6 million - have left the South American country to "escape political, economic and social hardships​." Since oil was discovered in the country in the 1920s, it has taken Venezuela on a ride that offers textbook lessons to resource-rich states. The government has been said to be "highly dependent on income from fossil fuels, power is concentrated in an elite minority and corruption is spread beyond control."

Vatican Protest Of Italy Bill Reeks of Homophobia

In an unusual move to get involved in Italy's legislation, the Vatican has just recently protested to Italy's embassy over the 'Zan Bill'​ , named after Democratic legislator Alessandro Zan, intended to combat homophobia. Criminalising discriminatory conduct on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity "would have the effect of negatively impacting the freedoms assured to the Catholic Church,"​ wrote the Vatican Secretariat of State adding that in doing so it violates the Lateran Pacts that establish Vatican City as a sovereign state and provide religious freedoms in its relationship with Italy.

So much for Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

In what is swiftly transforming into a highly controversial legal proceeding affecting women in France, the murder trial of Valerie Bacot who killed her stepfather turned abusive husband, presently underway in the Chalon-sur-Saône, her three eldest children testify about their family life, saying their mother was 'not guilty'​ and had only killed Polette to 'protect us'​ after police refused to help. Valerie's do-or-die situation is similar to Jacqueline Sauvage's, a French woman who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing her abusive husband but won a presidential pardon in 2016 after becoming a symbol for the fight against violence directed at women. The same lawyers, Janine Bonaggiunta and Nathalie Tomasini are now fighting to save Valerie from a life in prison.

Of Freedoms, Exceptions and Propaganda in India

It is in the seemingly, innocuous employment of propaganda, disguised with practiced deft as the exercise of a Fundamental Right camouflaged as ‘freedom’ that lie the bane of existence of the very same right. And, ironically too, the enforcement of the said ‘freedom’ itself risks quashing the constitutional right while on its intended path. Therein lies the truth and need to identify and weed out propaganda - the real stumbling block in the quest for freedom. So, while paradoxically, and on the face of things, a right may be curtailed, the restriction may work in the favour of upholding the very right that appears to be hindered…the intended reach of democracy could well justify the impediment. The exercise of one’s right to speech and expression, when curtailed for documented lawful reasons, could cause more damage than good to its intended goal.