It is often said that the opposite of poverty is not wealth but justice. Evidence shows that enabling access to justice has a disproportionate impact on a country’s economic development and on individuals’ quality and standard of living. Without access to legal services, citizens cannot enforce property rights, demand punishment for violence, or ensure adherence to environmental standards. These and other unmet legal needs are linked to adverse impacts on employment, housing, and health.

Despite the multiplier effect of a robust legal and justice system, funding for nonprofits working in the space remains abysmally poor in India.

We try and counter each of these below.

  • Breaking down the issue: Understanding how access to justice is linked to development: Discussions around the lack of access to justice in India are often centred on dissecting the inefficiencies of the police, prisons, and courts. While it is important to take stock of the problem, when approaching funders, it is worthwhile to focus on the impact that access to justice can have on broader development outcomes.
  • Highlighting the role of philanthropy: The second deterrent to funding for access to justice is the belief that government, and not civil society and philanthropy, must solve the issue. While the government’s role and responsibility remains primary, consequences of the lack of access to justice are too urgent and debilitating for us to wait for the government to mobilise the political will and resources required.
  • Moving past the fear of political backlash: There is no doubt that funders are exposed to the threat of political backlash for supporting access to justice initiatives in the country, but it is also true that a problem as deep-rooted and pervasive as the lack of access to justice requires a change in mind set and action.

Read the full article about investing in access to justice by Kriti Krishnan and Prapti Patel at India Development Review.