Pragmatic laws form the backbone of any democratic society. The case of India, however, is a curious one. Although it has (arguably) made tremendous progress in close to 67 years of independence, the largest democracy in the world has the tendency to produce laws that deserved to be abolished in the 18th century at least, if not earlier. From 377 to the constantly oscillating status of rapes, we have time and again failed to posit sensible, pragmatic laws that take us forward as a society on the whole. Today, we take a look at some of the most Progressive Laws from other countries that have the potential to change India for the better, if only they were implemented here.
I. Gay Rights
Laws for the LGBT community in India have always been archaic. The 2009 Delhi High Court verdict seemed like a turning point, but then came the infamous section 377 upturn that many thought was a slap on the face of Modern India. While countries like Nepal, Iraq and North Korea even have decriminalised gay sex, India’s still stuck with a law that has subsequently been looked down on by the enforcers themselves.
Why The Argentinean Model?
Not only have pro-gay laws been established here since 1887, their new LGBT law also supports the transgender community. Transgender persons in Argentina can change their legal gender and name without the need for surgeries or judicial permission.
Homegrown Verdict: The story of Gay rights in India has always been a case of one step forward, two steps back. Each time we come close to reaching a sane decision, common sense goes for a toss and we’re left with an archaic law that apart from wrongfully targeting the LGBT community, allows the authorities to have a control over what goes on behind the closed doors of two consenting adults. They call it a “western trend”, while conveniently ignoring the multifarious graphic sculptures of the Khajuraho Monuments (which, might we add, includes a man being sexually intimate with a Horse) and also forgetting that both fellatio and gay sex form an integral part of the Kama Sutra. Another argument is that the sex is “unnatural” and hence an end must be put to it. You know what kind of sex is unnatural? Rape. Instead of wasting our time and energy on ruining perfectly happy lives, we must focus on forming sturdier laws for rapists. The damning verdict of 2013 set us back at least a century, and the imbeciles in power must make sure common sense prevails, and that 377 is abolished – once and for all.
II. Legalising Gay Marriage
This is merely a continuation of what we’ve already discussed in the point prior to this and technically, falls under the same subtext. For a country which refuses to take its blinders off and recognise the LGBT that community is every bit as human as the rest of us, it’s not exactly surprising that Although, once legalised, we could adopt the Dutch model, which became the first country in the world to legalise gay marriages.
Why The Netherlands Model?
It’s true that many countries today have, in fact, legalized gay marriage however, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to do so back in 2001 which we find incredibly commendable.
Homegrown Verdict: Although a Gurgaon Court did recognise a gay marriage, same-sex marriages in India on the whole are illegal. The lesbian couple who did manage to marry, had to face a lot of hardships and received death threats from their friends and family alike, and continue to receive these even till date without adequate protection from the government.
III. Adoption by Same-sex couples
Model: South Africa
Why the South African Model?
At the rate at which we’re going, one can safely say that this won’t happen for another century at least. But once it does, we could adopt the South African model of 2002, which allowed same-sex couples to jointly adopt children and is still one of the only countries in the world to allow it.
Homegrown Verdict: What’s the general argument? “BUT A KID NEEDS A FATHER/MOTHER!” Or maybe, the kid simply needs two decent human beings who will help him/her become a good, responsible citizen? Hell, there are plenty of single parents out there, none of which seem to require another figure of the opposite sex to raise their kids. In truth though, we need to recognise them and give them their rights first; only then can we even think about discussing adoption.
IV. Sturdier Rape Laws
Model: The USA
Rape laws in India were a joke till about last year, when the country finally woke up after the brutal and barbaric Nirbhaya case and passed new laws that offered much more punishment. However, this doesn’t mean that stronger laws cannot be passed in the future.
Why The US Model?
In certain cities in the USA, chemical castration can be used in favour of a shorter sentence. How about, we ignore the shorter sentence bit, but seriously consider the chemical castration? Quite simply put, is there anything an Indian man cares more about that his manhood? We’re aware that the extremity of this statement may cause backlash,
Homegrown Verdict: For the longest time in India, the punishment for rape was just a few years of imprisonment. It took the brutal gang rape and murder of an innocent girl to change that. Even then, the law is so ambiguous that it might simply leave you completely dumbfounded. In the case of a rape carried out by one person only, the law may punish him by at least seven years. In the case of an “aggravated” situation, the number rises to ten years. If the person inflicts an injury that either kills the victim or leaves her in a vegetative state, then he shall be imprisoned for at least twenty years, which may go on to life imprisonment. However, in the case of a gang rape, the people involved shall all be imprisoned for twenty years, and will also have to pay compensation to the victim. Juveniles who rape are simply sent to Youth Detention Centres or Correctional Homes. Marital rape, on the other hand, is not considered a crime at all. Why? Because the authorities feel that the contract of marriage presumes consent to sex and that criminalising marital rape in turn would weaken family values in India. Is seven years in jail enough time to tame the savage beasts? So we have to wait and see if she dies from her injuries so that we can increase the number by another ten years or so? Can any amount of compensation be worth the trauma she went through? There is so much that needs to be changed, so many rape related topics that need to be addressed. We need new laws – stronger, sturdier and more stringent, and let’s hope it doesn’t take another brutal death for that to happen.
V. Healthcare System
Yes, Government hospitals provide free treatment in India. But the truth is that the deplorable conditions and lack of facilities makes it next to impossible to be treated there. So who should we look to for inspiration? Well, we could take a look at Canada’s model.
Why The Canadian Model?
Healthcare in Canada is deducted as a part of the people’s taxes, which means that if they need medical attention of any sorts, they get it for free. The facilities they offer in the government funded hospitals are almost as good as the private hospitals, and the patients are treated with utmost care, just the way it would be in a private hospital.
Homegrown Verdict: Now due to a few complications, we may not be able to adopt the whole model completely. For starters, a negligible amount of population pays their taxes in the first place. Secondly, the standard of living is higher in Canada, not to mention their population is sparse, which makes it that much easier for them. However, we could use the taxes to improve the conditions in the hospitals and also to provide them with facilities and machines that would otherwise only be available in expensive, private hospitals. Laws should be formed to ensure that the hospitals maintain a certain standard, which will only benefit the common man.
VI. Legalisation of Betting
Model: The UK
Betting has been a major problem in India, and an oft-offered solution is to legalise, regulate and control it.
Why The UK Model?
The UK has a brilliant model for this, where betting is controlled and monitored, and various laws are set up so that children are protected from it and it has benefitted their economy tremendously.
Homegrown Verdict: It is no secret that betting exists illegally in India and has been at the helm of various match-fixing scandals. Crores of rupees change hands and enter the black market due to these illicit practices. So why not legalise betting and have Betting companies operate openly to regulate and keep betting in check? The transparency will curb the menace of black money, while laws can be established to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand. The system works pretty well in the UK, might we add. Just ask Paddy Power.
VII. Legalisation of Prostitution
Although prostitution is legal in India, there are a number of conditions under which it has to function. However, little is done to see whether or not the laws are imposed. Pimps run brothels, where women are constantly abused. Trafficking is at an all time high. 1.2 million Minors are said to be involved in prostitution.
Why The Latvian Model?
The model we can adopt is the Latvian one, where prostitution is regulated. Prostitutes must register and must undergo monthly health checks. They must also carry a health card, without which they can be penalised. However, brothels and pimping is illegal, which ensures that the prostitutes don’t undergo any abuse.
Homegrown Verdict: So what happens if we legalise prostitution completely? A lot could change. We could give them identity cards, for starters. Make sure that a minimum age of 18 is set, and underage prostitution is dealt with severely. As everything will be on the books, unregistered prostitutes would cease to exist, and that would severely affect trafficking. Their interests can be protected by giving them specific rights, which will go a long way in preventing abuse by third parties or pimps. Above all, make prostitution a registered profession so that they pay taxes like the rest of us and in turn, feel like they are contributing to society too. Easier said than done, of course.
VIII. The Daddy Leave
Why The Norwegian Model?
This one has been directly imported from Norway. Picture this: Out of the total paid parental leave allotted after childbirth, a special 10-week quota was allotted for fathers that could not be transferred to mothers. The quota does more than just guarantee fathers some time off; it actually goes a long way in changing their attitude about gender and child-rearing.
Homegrown Verdict: Most women in India struggle to land top jobs despite being qualified to do so, and the maternity leave plays a vital role in that decision. The “Daddy” Leave will ensure that the mothers return to work quicker, and that the men also develop a sense of fatherhood and responsibility. Although this is a far-fetched idea in a patriarchal society like ours, it is by no means a bad one.
IX. Laws against Misleading Advertisements
Model: The USA
Exaggeration in advertisements is anything but unheard of. Although the Indian advertisement scenario is hitting puberty (an in-depth analysis of which you can find here) the fact that most ads today feature unrealistic claims is something that needs to be tackled.
Why The US Model?
The USA has laws for this, where the federal government regulates advertising through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) while various state laws are also in place for the same.
Homegrown Verdict: Do fairness creams actually make you handsome? Does spraying a can-full of deodorant on your body help you get laid? Does eating a bar of chocolate give you temporary amnesia? Indian television is filled with such ludicrous advertisements. While exaggeration to a point is understandable, some ads simply mislead their customers to an extent where they start questioning themselves and their abilities. The younger audience, especially, is easily susceptible to this, and there are talks about laws which will monitor and fine ridiculous advertisements.
Words: Rameez Shaikh