PAPERLESS IN COVID
It has been 5 months into the pandemic and we have all been cooped up in the house and are finding alternatives to resume the normalcy of our lives, taking in regard the limited social freedom. In the present world, Covid-19 has now become a synonym for destruction. However, for the environmental system, Covid-19 is considered to be something godsend.
Lockdown has caused an upheaval in our lives but on the brighter side it has toned down the pollution in the environment. The air quality has displayed considerable improvement owing to a reduction in the emission of nitrous oxide. The wildlife is flourishing due to a considerable degrade in human interference. Even sea turtles, which have not been spotted for a long time, have made reappearance. The vegetation is thriving as plants are growing better and are not been inhumanely cut down to fulfill all human needs and desires.
But, most importantly, Covid has manifested in fulfilling a long lost dream of going paperless. For ages now, the world has been struggling to achieve the goal of becoming paperless. India too has been battling its own fights in rendering the fulfillment of the dream. It seemed nearly impossible for all these decades but as we say, necessity is the mother of invention. Suddenly, the houses that couldn’t wake up without a cup of tea and a newspaper in hand have adopted the e-media, the offices which required and ordered bundles of notepads and worksheets found a better way of working, schools wherein notebooks played a pivotal role in handing down notes have resorted to a simple word document.
But the question that arises is, do we need a serial killing virus to adopt these measures and safeguard the environment?
Origin of the idea of a “paperless office”
The idea of going a paperless office was introduced as early as in 1975 by a business week article titled “The Office of the future”. However, it was not a very near future as it was only after 2 decades that one could see Microsoft trying to incorporate the notion of a “paperless office”.
Since then, a few baby steps have been taken towards rendering the idea of going paperless. However, one could never see any staunch movement that was taken by the world at large. It seemed quite convenient to stick to traditional methods.
The main question that rippled in the minds of corporations and businesses were, “Why should anybody try to improve something which doesn’t require improvement?” The idea of saving the planet didn’t seem to be a matter of concern, enough to inconvenience one to go through the struggle of digitization.
However, digitization is now being looked at with vigour and enthusiasm owing to the covid-19 scenario. According to research, the average office worker uses about four dozen sheet of paper per day, of which about half is considered as waste. So if one does the math correctly, in about one month of this pandemic, an average office has saved about 120 dozen sheets of paper. And that is just one office that we are roughly calculating for.
Global efforts to enter digitization
United Nations have been committed to harnessing Information and Technology in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. This has also led to them give a push on digitization and successfully establishing a greener and paperless world. The UNEP had set forth the first step towards it in 2007 when they had conducted a paperless meeting. The UNEP has ever since then been contributing towards this goal. Several NGOs have had this mission on their mind. The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations could take considerable pride in the fact that it was the first United Nations Committee to fully employ information technology in its official work. NGOs have done exemplary works and conducted campaigns toward bolstering the idea of saving paper and saving trees.
India and Its Efforts to enter Digitization
India has been craving since a long time to see the dawn of the day when it goes paperless. But there has been a lot hiccups in achieving it. Indian government has been urging the country to enter a cashless economy, demonetization being the stepping stone in embarking on the journey of Digital India. Indian Railways have chipped in its contribution by replacing all its manual files into digital files. However, none of the efforts delivered the expectant result that a pandemic did.
The Indian judiciary is committed to the idea of paperless court system but it is so entrenched with its reliance on paper that it seems to be a herculean task to switch to the digital platform. The Supreme Court introduced a paperless courtroom in mid-2017 and announced plans for integrated case management in all high courts and subordinate courts. In July 2019, the Delhi High Court’s Chief Justice presided over the first paperless court, with other High Courts expected to follow suit. On Jun 1st 2020, the SC in order to save the environment and making it compatible in the midst of the pandemic, worked without paper files while hearing the cases. The SC also stated that digitization of cases will help to save the axing of over 4500 trees approximately a year as, on an average, nearly 500 petitions or annexures are filed in the apex court and each petition is over 400 pages.
The entire world is fighting this pandemic and is agonized constantly at the thought of surviving this disaster. Trees have been living under this fear of survival everyday and we were the ones to imbibe it. We were the virus for the world of trees, and it’s time that we reform our paths.
We would like to conclude with the same question that we began with letting all of you to ponder on it. Do we need a virus to cultivate better habits for our environment? When it comes to the environment, what we do and what you do every day, really does matter.
B.L.S L.L.B(final year) Dr. D.Y. Patil College Of Law
B.L.S L.L.B(final year) Dr. D.Y. Patil College Of Law