Society existed before the idea of the state came into being. Society is the oldest institution that guided the individuals and groups of individuals before the modern nation state was born. Since the invention of the modern nation state/sovereign state system due to the signing of Westphalia Treaty in 1648, societies took a back seat and the state rose to the fore front and it was now the duty of the state to guide the societies. The society and state continued to reciprocate with each other as well as shape each other but the state always had an upper hand in the matters of decision-making.
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak in India, the existence of societies has challenged the powers of state. Housing societies, per se, have become or are acting like small sovereign state systems within themselves. Most residential localities are not towing the line of state’s instructions but forming their own rules and regulations which are extra-constitutional. The committee members of these societies who earlier never paid any heed to the pending work of making community life better have suddenly started acting like the Mayor or Governor of these housing societies. Individual societies are now suffering from hysteria and not allowing any relative/s of the members residing in these housing societies to visit or to enter so that they can start living with their family members. In the time of crisis how can they stop the family members from letting in their relatives to start living with them? Are these societies and their rules and regulations above that of the sovereign state system? The state provides for a safe passage and assistance to the people who are returning to their homes from the other states in India.
These so called dictatorial housing/residential societies have no facility to run a Coronavirus check on the individuals who look forward to be united with their family members. Thereby they reject everyone who is at the society gate willing to be reunited with their family members and create an atmosphere of panic and distrust. How can they treat everyone with an equal measure?
The state needs to intervene and address such issues on priority along with the other welfare work it is doing. This kind of behavior of the few people within these residential societies acting up like a Mayor or Governor is a threat to the freedom of the people who are allowed to move and migrate by the state but not allowed by such individual housing societies. Where should one go for demanding justice in such cases?
Dr. Udayprakash Sharma, Assistant Professor, Unitedworld School of Liberal Arts and Mass Communication (USLM)
Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.