Tele-Law Initiative Brings Video Conferencing to Indian Villages
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how easy and privileged your life is when it’s what you’re used to. Anyone fortunate enough to not live in poverty would have a hard time understanding the struggles people go through on a daily basis. For instance, i the U.S., everyone is entitled to a lawyer if they need one, whether they can afford to hire one or not. It’s not a question of if you can access legal representation, but of what kind.
In countries like India, not everyone is that fortunate. Living in some areas of the country can make it incredibly difficult for residents to access or contact lawyers when needed. As a result, disputes go unsolved and legal cases take much longer than necessary.
To combat this problem, the “Tele-Law” initiative was launched on Sunday. The program will be piloted in 500 village councils in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Bilhar, before it is rolled out across the rest of India in phases.
According to The Hindu, villagers will be able to access the video conferencing service through newly established “Common Service Centers,” which are single-window centers that provide online services in rural areas where Internet connectivity is poor. By utilizing the “Tele-Law” portal, people will be able to contact and confer with lawyers that have been selected by the government of their state capitals.
In these rural villages, most cases will likely consist of land disputes and domestic violence charges, which would typically go unsolved because of the lack of lawyers. Thanks to the new video conferencing initiative, these cases will hopefully be recognized and taken care of in a timely manner.
To make matters even better, The Law Ministry will be training hundreds of village women as paralegal volunteers. They will be able to explain the advice given by lawyers and assist in cases if further action is needed.
“Tele-Law will fulfill our commitment to ensure access to justice and empowerment of the poor,” Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Law and Information Technology, said in a statement. “The Common Services Centers and paralegal volunteers will offer easy legal advice to litigants in rural India making them digitally and financially inclusive.”
From the looks of it, it seems like video conferencing is about to empower a whole lot of women, while simultaneously allowing villagers to voice their legal concerns. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Edited by Maurice Nagle