For decades now legal fraternity has been preoccupied with attempts to explain the relationship between legal and social change in the context of development and society. They viewed the law both as an independent and dependent and variable (cause and effect) in society and emphasized the interdependence of the law with other social systems. In its most concrete sense, social transformation means the change the society envisages in keeping with the demands of social, economic, political and historical factors. Social change brings about a change in the thought process of the people living in the society. Social change also has an impact upon the governance of a country. Such changes impact upon the rights of the people and also subaltern thoughts.
Law is the reflection of the will and wish of the society. It is responsible for the social transformations. The relationship between law and society works in a circular motion. On one hand the law changes the society and compels the society to be changed according to it. And on the other hand society changes the law as per its demands and needs. Legislated law, judicial interpretations, and custom and usages having the force of law play an important role in bringing about social change. When law changes the society it is the sign of beginning of the development of the society. When society changes law it is the sign of maturity of the society. The Shahabano case, Vishakha case, transgender case, the Nirbhaya case, Shabarimala case, Triple Talaque case environmental cases were some of the areas where the commonest of the common man was able to raise a voice and say how the law must be, what must be the punishment etc. The change required in the society can be initiated by a single person also and this has been proved in India right from Raja Ram Mohan Roy; Eishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Dayanand Saraswati to Mahatma Phule, Mahatma Baseswar, and Mahatma Gandhi up to Mother
Teresa, Baba Amte, Anna Hazare! Thus the demand takes root and compels the government to either reform the existing laws or make new or even delete the existing unworthy laws.
Education too is a very important instrument of social change. Social change refers to an alteration in the social order of a society. As a result of rapid industrialization, growing urbanization and changes in the human intellect society needs to change in order to cope with the gradual changes. Education can initiate social change by bringing about changes in the outlook and attitude of people. Present education system is totally mechanized and homogenising which curbs the individual thinking and self-learning.
Education is the root cause of social and cultural changes that takes place within the society. Education has been and is being played as an agent of socialization of the youth so as to reach the expectations of the society. Technology is another instrument of social change and development. With the introduction of technology in all walks of life, minimal knowledge of technology is the need of the hour.
Keeping the current developments and the emerging trends in mind, the Department of Law, University of North Bengal, had organised the National Law
Conclave on the theme “Law as an Instrument of Social Change: Issues, Challenges and Emerging Trends” in November 2019.This special issue of the Indian Journal of Law and Justice is an anthology of the selected papers presented in the Conclave which intends obtain the bird’s eye view of the changes that have occurred and to ascertain how the jurists interpret the phenomenon of change.
Prof. Gangotri Chakraborty