Saturday, November 17, 2012

How to Spread Legal Awareness among a Community: E.g. Uttarakhand

Map of Uttarakhand: Three regions
The following plan is a simple yet effective method to connect with the people with Uttarakhand and make them aware of their rights. It is cost-effective and realistic. A good plan need not constitute one complex strategy with several graph and map references but rather a mixture of several simple ones while keeping in mind short term as well as long term goals. If followed, the people's lives will be as beautiful as the region.

Name and slogan:
 People of Uttarakhand mainly speak the dialect of Kumaoni (in the Kumaoni area i.e. in Almora and northern Nainital, north-eastern Kumaoni in Pithoragarh, south-eastern Kumaoni in south-eastern Nainital, etc.) and Garhwali
(in Garhwal area i.e. Tehri Garhwal, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Dehradun, Haridwar and Rudraprayag districts)[1]Every initiative should have a catchy name or a slogan which becomes a common phrase in daily use. The campaign should cover these two dialects as well as Hindi and some even in English. This is more of a marketing strategy. People still remember Tata tea’s ‘Jaago re’ which encouraged people to question government authorities, stand against corruption, vote, etc. Did it work? All these little ads, slogans, movements, etc do not directly don’t seem to make much difference, but the statistics of the desired results should speak for itself. After the ‘Jaago re’ campaign, the number of people between age groups 18-25 who applied for election cards increased substantially. Just like advertising increases sale. Comparing a social awareness campaign to a product or service may not seem appropriate, but in reality the methods that have to be used to spread awareness of a product and campaign are similar. It would be worth noting here, that while using a symbol to represent the initiative, the symbol should not be something over used like scales or a gavel (judge's mallet). Even when selecting people to represent the initiative, the person should be someone who the people of Uttarakhand, especially those in undeveloped areas can actually relate to. Either famous celebrities like Anushka Sharma, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Jaspal Rana, Bachendri Pal, etc. who were born and brought up in Uttarakhand or just simple labourers of Uttarakhand.

Legal education:
Fortunately, Compared to medicine and engineering, law is a much more affordable course, especially for students belonging to backward classes. However, non-governmental organizations, particularly law firms should be encouraged to offer legal scholarships to other students who want to pursue law but cannot afford it.  But would law firms be ready to shell out cash for such a cause? By Indian law, no law firm is allowed to advertise itself. Many law firms would jump at the opportunity of putting up posters with their law firm’s name under the disguise of encouraging legal education.  Even commercial organizations would be more ready to sponsor such a programme. There are several non-governmental organizations in Uttarakhand[2]  (Also read article on Incorporating Legal Education in School Curriculum)

Law schools:
Uttarakhand is already a wonderful place for law studies and the law colleges of Uttarakhand have shaped many well known lawyers. A growing affinity towards law as a discipline for higher studies has been observed in the youth of Uttarakhand in the recent years. A big segment of the students are opting for a career in law as they look at it as a solution to the problems of their families and society. The significance of Uttarakhand law colleges have therefore increased in the recent years. The Indian judicial Services also open up avenues for high-status government jobs in the public sector. The law colleges in Uttarakhand teach their students how to fight against social evils and stand up for their, as well as other's, basic rights.
However, as the campaign grows, the requirement of efficient law colleges will increase. Admission into law courses should not be too competitive. List of law institutes in Uttarakhand are given in ANNEXURE A.

Legal aid committees:
One must not underestimate the legal-aid committee in Law colleges. The law students in these committees, although lacking legal expertise, have the ability to not only spread awareness, but also help enforce the basic rights of those in undeveloped regions. For example, they can associate themselves with an RTI activist organization and help people file RTIs. It is not uncommon for these students to visit rural and undeveloped areas to talk to the people. In some cases, they also organize street plays in the local languages and perform it weekly, each time in a different area. They even help people get in touch with lawyers who can file PILs or other petitions or suits for them. Visiting jails and helping inmates apply for bails or deportation is also part of their programmes. But why should such activities be limited to only law students? People will be surprised to know how many students want to contribute to society but are not organized enough to do so. Will power is ample in the youth, methodology is rare.  In return, they expect nothing, no money, no pictures in news papers; they may not even put it on their C.V. Among all the methods to connect with a community, this by far is one of the most direct, effective and pure.

people of uttarakhandHoardings that block people’s view or simply come in the way should be avoided. In fact, stationary hoardings should be discouraged. Instead, sticking posters or painting the same matter on trucks and public vehicles is much better idea. But the use of words should be as less as possible. Rather, pictures should dominate such posters as pictures relate more to an illiterate citizen. Even if such person does not understand what the picture is about, the picture should be such that, at the very least, that person will ask someone else what its about. An animated picture of domestic violence or a real picture of a happy farmer and his family are just some of the many such images that could generate curiosity and interest. It is not practical to make posters of every language.    Flow of language changes every few kilometres. Each dialect has a small range. Although a great fusion of dialects has taken place and mainly two dialects – Kumaoni and Gadwali which are left from the olden days, there are still a number of local dialects apart from those evolved with fusion of local with outsiders. Such dialects are those of Tharu’s, Boksha’s with Ruhelkhadi language (mainly spoken in Bareli area) Gorkhali (Mix of Nepali and Kumaoni and Gadwali) etc. Images will speak louder to these people than words. List of dialects still active in Uttarakhand is given in ANNEXURE B. (Image taken from here)

Viral Marketing:
Now a day, having a mobile is common, even in undeveloped or rural areas. Viral marketing[4] is basically a marketing strategy that compares spread of ideas to spread of viruses. Imagine if one interesting SMS is sent to ten people. Out of those maybe five will forward it to ten other people. And each of those ten send it to ten more... and so on. The message multiplies at an exponential rate. This of course, is all theoretical. However, imagine if the 'legal awareness' campaign associates itself with Mobile Operators and sends just one lakh messages to those mobile numbers that SMS frequently and have a good messaging scheme. Furthermore, imagine if the message is one worth forwarding like for example, 'Under Section 51 of Cr.P.C., a female can only be searched by another female with strict regard to decency. Forward to all women! '. Such a message can be sent using different languages and wordings. Since the people in Uttarakhand are often deprived of their rights to the use of common land, sending messages in relation to property rights may prove fruitful.
To spread the word in urban areas, simply advertising a Facebook page, frequently giving updates on a Twitter account and using other social networking sites can make ample of difference.

Associate the initiative with a product. Preferably something that uses a slogan or motto similar to the one you are using. Once again a good example would be the ‘Jaago re’ of Tata tea. Advertising your campaign directly on T.V. is an unnecessary waste of time and money. People who are well off enough to afford cable should not be first priority. Advertising this way is something that should be considered once the campaign has already had a good start.

Governmental assistance:
Once a full-fledged campaign is launched, government assistance can be sought. Apart from sponsoring programmes they can also grant tax exemptions for movies, literature, etc. that encourage people to stand up for their rights. Joint meetings with Government officials can give the campaign a better direction. Focus can be put on rights related to right in common land, livelihood, subsidiaries and facilities. Special permissions such as those required for to enter jails and interview with inmates to check if they are not being ill-treated can also only be obtained quicker with Government co-operation. Draft bills can be proposed to be tabled at the state Parliament.

Think long-term and dip hands in other fields: 
Strictly sticking to only spreading of awareness of basic and fundamental rights is not enough. You have to think long-term and look into other areas that require attention. Like plans that encourage education upto even just 10th grade or creating awareness of HIV/AIDS. Taking up the task of ridding anti-social elements such as superstitious and harmful rituals, which hardly any activists groups have taken up is even better.

Geographical Indications:
Among other rights, knowledge of even Intellectual Property rights should be distributed. The arts, crafts and handiwork of the people of Uttarakhand are dear to them and imitation of these by others is a major problem. For this association and co-ordination with the Intellectual Property Facilitation Centre (IPFC) should be maintained.[5] Once a GI is obtained the producers get organized which leads to a win-win-win situation for producers, traders and consumers. (Read more about Geographical Indications here.)


List of Law Colleges in:
Unison Law College (BCI Approved) (Affiliated to Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University)
D.A.V. College (BCI Approved) (Affiliated to Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University)
Law College Dehradun (BCI Approved)
Sushila Devi Centre for Professional Studies and Research's Law College (BCI Approved) (Affiliated to Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University)
Pauri Garhwal:
Dr. B.G.Reddy Const. College (BCI Approved) (Affiliated to Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University)
Roorkee Law College (BCI Approved) (Affiliated to Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University)
B. S. M. Law College (BCI Approved) (Affiliated to Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University)
Bishamber Sahai Law Institute (BCI Approved)
Tehri Garhwal:
S.R.T. Const. College (BCI Approved) (Affiliated to Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University)
Udham Singh Nagar:
Chanakya Law College (BCI Approved) (Affiliated to Kumaon University)
Almora Campus College (Affiliated to Kumaun University)
Govt. Degree College (BCI Approved) (Affiliated to Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University)
The Faculty of Law, Kumaon Univ. (BCI Approved) (Affiliated to Kumaon University)
The ICFAI Law School
 (Affiliated to Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University)
School of Law, I.C.F.A.I. Univ (BCI Approved) (Affiliated to I.C.F.A.I. University)


List of dialects in Uttarakhand

  1. Hindi
  2. Almodiya kumaoni
  3. Kali Kumaon’s dialect
  4. Kumaoni spoken in Shor area
  5. Pali Pachhau’s Kumaoni
  6. Kumaoni spoken in Danpur
  7. Gargwali spoken in Srinagar area
  8. Garhwali spoken in Tehri area
  9. Lohba Garhwal’s Dialect
  10. Johar (Bhotiya) dialect
  11. Gorkhali
  12. Dotyali
  13. Tharu
  14. Boksha
  15. Dialect of Bhabar

Keywords: legal awareness, community connect,  uttarakhand, Garhwal, Kumaon, Hardwar, Law Colleges in Uttarakhand, Dialects in Uttarakhand,  legal aid, Incorporating Legal Education into School Curriculum

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post written on legal awareness. I like the content and points about legal help.

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