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Legal Awareness In India: Need Of The Hour And Strategy To Spread Legal Awareness

The laymen in India are unfamiliar with the statutory provisions of the country. Accordingly legal consciousness assists with building public abilities relating with law and equity framework consequently enabling an individual in regards to issues including the law, participation in legal development, admittance to equity so forward.

Anna-Marie Marshall explains in her words:
People need to take the initiative to realize their rights and this initiative, in turn, depends upon the availability and relevance of legal scheme to people confronting problems.

The motto behind the article is to channelize the legal awareness programme in India by providing an effective strategy to spread awareness from the grass-root level, including the aid of youths, modern technology and governmental agencies.

Introduction
The Latin phrase ignorantia juris non-excusat which provides ignorance of the law is no excuse. This principle is applied to laymen as well. Knowledge of laws/ remedies of one's country enables a person to stand for herself/ himself and fight against injustice in society.[1]

Meaning
Legal awareness, also known as legal consciousness, is the empowerment of individuals regarding issues involving the law.
Legal awareness helps to promote consciousness of legal culture, participation in the formation of laws and the rule of law.[2]

Lack of public legal awareness
About 70% of the people living in rural areas are illiterate and even more than that percentage of the people are not aware of the right conferred upon them by law.[3] It has been discovered that even literate people on occasion lack awareness.

Non-awareness among the marginalized sections not only resulted in denial of their fundamental rights but also due to the legal incomprehensiveness on their part they were not able to avail the benefits of the government welfare schemes and plans.

Importance of Legal Awareness
Legal Awareness is a powerful instrument for the following purposes:
Demand Justice: Through the activism of the citizens they can challenge the injustice, also the rights furnished under the Constitution can be made real.
Access to Justice: Is impartial, transparent and nondiscriminatory to all citizens and it can be facilitated at the maximum outreach through legal consciousness.
Remedies guaranteed by the law: People at large can be motivated to protest against injustice with the aid of practical knowledge about the various machinery/organs of the Justice delivery system available for redressal of their grievances.

Knowing the law of the company is also important to protect oneself from being subjected to unfair treatments and to avoid legal punishments in different situations.

Obstacles in Legal Awareness
In a note to the UN General Assembly 67th session, the UN Secretary-General states that the deprivations that persons living in poverty encounter throughout their lives lack access to quality education and reduced access to information.

limited political voice and social capital translate into lower levels of legal literacy and awareness of their rights, creating social obstacles to seeking redress.[4]

According to Hanna Hasl-Kelchner:
At times lack of zeal among lawyers make them prone to saying no and killing a deal rather than working through the issues and finding solutions that are both practical and legally sound.

Strategy to spread Legal Awareness:
  1. Children and young people can be instrumental as a target group to raise awareness and education are one of the powerful weapons to unfold legal consciousness in our society. Elementary knowledge of the law is crucial as it is turning into a compulsory prerequisite for our society due to a rapid surge in crimes, frauds, misrepresentation, illegal activities, infringement or suppression of civil human rights thus eventually settling for injustice.

    Educating the senior secondary students via conducting summer-winter interactive lectures can be advantageous since they can at least have fundamental knowledge about the law in India.

    At the university level, irrespective of the course pursued by the students, there is a need to arrange seminars, workshops, exhibitions etc dealing with fundamental rights, protection laws for women, environmental laws and various schemes and programmes furnished by the government for the marginalized section of our population. Under the guidance of the nearby NGOs, volunteer groups the students can assist with elevating the awareness campaigns at maximum outreach thereby reducing the pressing factor upon the government organisations, law students, attorneys and others.
     
  2. Legal Aid Committee can carry out awareness programmes more efficiently as legal expertise and law students can help enforce the basic rights of the underprivileged section.
    Legal Volunteer Committees organized at the university level need to prepare a strategy:
    1. Firstly, they need to visit rural areas to have a clear insight of the problems encountered by the people at the grass-roots level one requires to have direct communication with the people therein.
       
    2. Secondly, the people who have shallow knowledge of reading can be furnished with pamphlets in their local language containing information including addresses, contact list of the pro-bono volunteers this can help an individual who gets entangled in situations wherein his/her rights are being suppressed or in case of need of legal assistance.
       
    3. Thirdly, monthly surveys are an important part of any awareness programme to monitor the plan and work upon the loopholes and make necessary adjustments to ensure success.
  3. The students can organise a monthly street play or storytelling focusing on the rural audience in various regions as the traditional folk media is not only deeply rooted in our way of life yet additionally it's more close to the hearts of people, especially in vast rural areas. Street plays for ages have been the most popular medium of communication and amusement in India can be used as a medium to sensitize the crowd about their rights and motivate them to take action.
     
  4. Art as a medium for promoting social change:
    The art including the paintings and posters truly portray the sentiments of the people and they feel connected with it. Even an illiterate man can understand the language of art so the volunteer groups, local NGOs should focus on creating posters and charts that reflect the fight against racism, torture and custodial violence, over-exploitation of natural resources and so forth thus representing consumers' rights, women and child rights, equality of genders thereby driving people towards the change. An eye-catching image with a concise and simple key message is always appreciated.
     
  5. Weekly free medical camps particularly for women need to be encouraged as they can be sensitized about the laws about female foeticide, sex-selective abortion, medical negligence and more.
     
  6. Strategically located play boards in public places (railway stations, bus stations, market places, in front of major government offices and police stations) are also used to help government officials, police, and the public to understand the spirit of the law.[5]

Role of Legal Journalism
Law undergraduates must work on writing a legal blog, article and extensive research paper on legal issues for this they can enrol themselves in a continuing education programme, certificate course, internships, blogging so forth.

We live in an era where the majority of the population is connected through social platforms so it's pivotal to impart transparent, reliable and unbiased information through reports, studies and infographics to the public at large to present the real stage of society. Content with evidence-based data and arguments would assist the public at large to comprehend complex legal subjects easily thus consequently disseminating awareness worldwide.

Legal Literacy Campaigns
  1. Generally the people are reluctant to approach the courtroom due to prolonged and time-consuming proceedings. Delays often force potential litigants to forfeit litigation. The panel needs to stress resolving legal confrontations by explaining to them the positive attributes of dispute settlement by way of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) and Mediation.
  2. Legal-based mobile apps, pro-bono aid applications on the smartphone need to be emphasized for expeditious and convenient means of communication between an attorney and his client.
  3. For the visually, hearing and speaking impaired section they can be educated about Mono Voix, Ear Hear android applications that can help them communicate conveniently with others. The panel must necessarily comprise members who can communicate in sign language, make liberal use of hand gestures to sensitize such classes of people.
  4. Information regarding sensitive topics can be shared with the aid of animated images, examples in comics that are helpful to draw the attention of children and people.
  5. Networking (online and offline) including creating and maintaining a network of contacts to share and disseminate information to build awareness.[6]

Media as the most popular tool to spread awareness
The Indian mass media comprises over 300 TV channels that reach over 112 households, 50,000 newspapers and magazines having a readership of over 250 million, around 300 radio stations, over a thousand feature films in 18 languages made yearly and a plethora of electronic, print, digital and telecommunications media.[7]

The 21st century has witnessed the necessity of cell phones on an equal footing with food and clothing in our lives. Nowadays cell phones are even common in rural areas.

Social media platforms are the best and effective ways to operate a campaign worldwide. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp are some of the trending platforms for every user as they are fast, convenient and conceivably just empowering correspondence.
Webinars, documentary films can be frequently conducted on social platforms.
Viral marketing is a kind of marketing wherein messages are circulated rapidly from one individual to another. An audio-video, presentation or any sort of content can be created and simply one can put it on the internet.
Debates, information programmes, news, documentaries and advertisements on television contribute to our education and knowledge.

Seeking the aid of Government
Unlike Uk where both print and broadcast media are self-regulated. In India, the press and media are regulated by government guidelines and to some extent influenced by political authority.
The panel working in the direction of legal campaigning can arrange for joint meetings with the government officials where emphasis can be put to sponsor display of advertisements and slogans related to legal consciousness on the television as it is easily accessible to all.
Written or oral submissions along with draft bills can be proposed to the parliamentary committees.
Engaging the media by conducting media campaigns.
The campaign should cover these two dialects as well as Hindi and some even in English.[8]

Conclusion
We have witnessed the Independence movements, prohibition on sati and child marriage, women's right to remarry were accomplished due to constant endeavours and support of individuals.

Thus the revolution can only be bought if everyone took the responsibility to educate themselves and others about the law, many futile legal cases can be avoided and the judicial system can focus more efficiently on more pressing cases. Last but not least, citizens will develop a deeper sense of patriotism and kinship towards one another.[9]

References
  1. Guidelines for implementation of legal awareness programmes by National Commission for Women, September 2019.
  2. Available at https://blog.ipleaders.in/legal-awareness/ last visited 5 August, 2021.
  3. Available at https://legalserviceindia.com/article/l361-Legal-Aid-Movement.html last visited 5 August, 2021.
  4. Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights page 6 from Note by the Secretary General on Extreme poverty and human rights for UNGA 67th session A67/278 Distri:General 9 Aug 2012.
  5. Pulikuthi Il, George. Legal Literacy for Social Empowerment jananeethi.org/.
  6. Available at https://www.sdgaccountability.org/working-with-informal-processes/raising-awareness-through-public-outreach-campaigns last visited 6 August, 2021.
  7. Available at https://blog.ipleaders.in/regulation-of-broadcasting-of-media-in-india/amp/ last visited 6 August, 2021.
  8. Available at https://blog.ipleaders.in/legal-awareness/ last visited 7 August, 2021.
  9. Available at: https://nexter.org/why-is-it-important-to-know-the-law-of-your-country last visited 7 August, 2021.

    Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Shweta Pathania
    Awarded certificate of Excellence
    Authentication No: AU35569078653-28-0821

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