Sunday, May 16, 2010

Results of 1st Subrata Roy Chowdhury Memorial Essay Competition

Dear All,

We have received the results from the judges for the 1st Subrata Roy Chowdhury Memorial Essay Competition, and they are as follows:-

1st: Prantar B. Chowdhury, NUJS (Topic: Non state actors, transnational armed groups and the regulation of hostilities: Should International Humanitarian Law recognize a hybrid category of armed conflict?)

2nd: Amit Maheshwari, GNLU (Topic: Is India ready for Sovereign Wealth Funds?)

3rd: Siram P. Govind, ILS (Topic: Does Climate Change have an impact on National Security? An Indian perspective)

4th: Vishnu Kale, GNLU (Topic: Does Climate Change have an impact on National Security? An Indian perspective)

5th: Mathews P. George, Akansha Mahapatra, NUJS (Topic: Is India ready for Sovereign Wealth Funds?)

Congratulations to the winners!

Friday, February 5, 2010

On NUJS: Prabhash Ranjan

Before Mr. Prabhash Ranjan left NUJS to commence his PhD programme at King’s College, London, MagCom had the opportunity to spend some time with him as he shared some of his thoughts regarding his time here, and his impressions regarding both students and faculty. Mr Ranjan was extremely frank and outspoken to the point of sounding extremely critical of some of the practices in NUJS, and it was evident that in his few years here he has come to care deeply about this institution. Reproduced below are extracts from our interaction with Mr. Ranjan. The full text of the interview:-

On Mr. Ranjan’s 2 years at NUJS:

[It was] a wonderful experience – most fascinating watching young students [who are] bright and fascinating do so well. I wish I was as enterprising as most of the students of NUJS when I was of their age. Teaching bright students and engaging with them in academic discussion inside and outside the class was a great experience. [I can] look back with satisfaction in terms of work done, whether teaching, publishing or any other academic work or administrative work. [I am] satisfied that I took lots of initiative to contribute to [the] university and especially happy that I contributed in getting the website going. .

NUJS is a better place than what it was when I joined. For this we owe a lot to our VC. One thing that has improved over the last 2 years is quality of faculty. I think there is now at least a debate on academic reforms and on other academic matters [which is] very important for any young university.

NUJS still lacks a culture to the extent desired where people are held accountable for their actions. [It is] extremely important that NUJS develops a culture where performance matters and those who perform should get due recognition, even if the university feels helpless on how to deal with non-performers.

On Academic Reforms:

[It is] important to understand 2 basic objectives sought to be achieved through academic reforms –

1. To free time of faculty members so that they can do quality publishing and do better preparation for classes

2. Students should get more time to think critically about what is taught in class and to have more time for writing projects – focus being on quality as against quantitative focus of previous regime.

However, [it is] important to test these objectives with certain benchmarks. If in spite of having more time available for research and publications, the faculty, at large, do not produce any worthwhile publications then we need to reassess the entire concept of freeing time for this. I would also like to make a distinction between quality publications and publications for the sake of publishing. When I say publications, I mean the former and not the latter. Therefore I recommend that the University should officially have a minimum research and publication requirement for each faculty member. This should be part of our jobs just like going to the class and teaching. Again, if the students do not do quality work and perform a cut-and-paste job in the new regime also, then obviously we need to reassess the new regime. I know that there are students who work very hard for projects, but then it is also a fact that there are students who resort to short cuts. Therefore it is important for faculty members not just to use their non-teaching time in publishing and preparing well for classes, but also to emphasize on quality writing to students. With less projects to evaluate, teachers will have more time to critically reflect on each project and give useful feedback to students. It should be made mandatory for each teacher to give written comments on each project to the student – something that I did with the majority of tutorials in Legal Methods with the present first years. This will ensure that teacher puts in the required effort to read the project and will also keep the students on their toes. I know this is not easy but then this [is] the goal we all should have. I agree that students should have been effectively communicated, not just about changes and decisions but also the rationale behind them. Maybe in future the faculty-student committee now established can perform this role. Last but not the least, no regime or system can work unless there is commitment and sincerity of all involved in that regime.

On the new class participation requirements:

The rationale behind class participation is to incentivize preparation for the classes on a regular basis. This will push students towards reading for classes on a regular basis. I completely agree with the scepticism of some students that this whole process could result in bias. But then everything is capable of being abused, like projects, vivas, end-semester examinations and also class participation. Therefore the university should come out with a clear guideline of what is class participation and indicators of the same. To ensure effective and unbiased class participation by students requires a very sincere and dedicated effort by teachers. A student will feel motivated enough to prepare only if he or she sees the teacher putting in the effort to prepare for class and this has to happen across the board not just in few select courses or subjects. It is foolish to expect students to show commitment and sincerity if the teachers don’t show commitment and sincerity to their job. No offences to anyone please.

On the [then] proposed bell-curve grading system:

[I] understand anxiety of all students. To the best of my knowledge it has officially not been accepted and it is still in the discussion stage. To keep things simple, the basic objective is to avoid extreme situations in final results such as 30 E/F and to have more balance in the system. [Editorial note: In the time since this interview was conducted, we have learned that the bell-curve grading system shall be enforced from this semester itself, though there has yet been no official intimation from the authorities of the same.]

On the hostels:

[I see a] positive change in hostel from what the situation was two years ago. I, Pritam and Jasmine invested a lot of time, effort and energy in improving the overall discipline in the hostels. Wardens can only do so much. [The] student body has to realize that there are certain boundaries that should never be crossed. I am happy that we have at least prepared detailed hostel rules which are now publicly available on the website. I think the university needs to invest much more in the hostels by establishing a separate hostel office and appointing full time staff dedicated to hostel work. [It is] not fair to expect a warden who also has to teach to look after the hostels completely.

Being warden [was] one of the most challenging [things] I’ve ever done in my lie. My message to all the students I reprimanded in hostel is that I was only doing my job.

Concluding remarks to his students and colleagues:

I’m a little emotional because I will not be able to see 4th and 5th years together as a group, because I taught both. My message to each student of mine would be to excel not just professionally, but to excel in conduct – become a good human being. You may go to any field – corporate, academic, litigation – never lose sensitivity towards society. It is this sensitivity which will make you stand out in a crowd. NUJS students have the capability to do very well. It is important that they fully realise their potential.

[I have] often heard people say NUJS students are not serious enough – if that is true then it is because of us, the teachers. Perhaps we have failed in showing the right path and setting the right example. I am not generalising but as an individual teacher I would take responsibility. The faculty as a collective group is to be held responsible for all the good and bad things that happen to a university. I earn my livelihood from the money that a student pays, therefore if as a teacher I do not set the right example and am not accountable to my students then I should refund the money back to the students. An increase in salary has to be accompanied with a corresponding increase in responsibility and accountability – to students, to institution, to high research standards and to legal education and legal academics in India. Legal scholarship in India has largely been confined to scholarship of lawyers and judges. While India has produced some outstanding legal academics, it is much less when compared with other academic disciplines such as Economics or other social sciences in the country. This has to change. The kind of respect that legal academics enjoy amongst practising lawyers and judges in the UK, for instance, is amazing. I hope that the same happens in India as well. The new generation of legal academics in India have to take up this challenge and make their mark in the field of legal scholarship in India and abroad. This will obviously not happen just by going to the class and reproducing the knowledge. This requires creation of new knowledge. I guess all this has to become a part of our job as faculty members of NUJS.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Subrata Roy Memorial Essay Writing Competition

The International Law Students Association's Chapter at NUJS and the Society for International Law and Practice are organizing the 1st Subrata Roy Memorial Essay Competition. The competition is open to the students of law, undergraduate and post-graduate, enrolled in any institution in India. In addition to the cash prizes, the winning entry shall be considered for publication in the Indian Yearbook of International Law and Policy.
You can check out the details of the Competition here.
The deadline for submission entries is 11:59 P.M., February 10, 2010.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Right to Read Campaign

Imagine yourself in a world without books, the pain of living like that. This campaign is all about me and the 700 million other people who are denied the ‘right to read’.
– Moiz, 5th year, LLB, NUJS

On 7th November, 2009, NUJS became the venue for the Right to Read campaign that seeks to accelerate change in copyright law and raise public awareness on the issue of access to reading for the print impaired.

The panel discussion that marked the beginning of the campaign was moderated by Dr. Shamnad Basheer, IPR chair, NUJS. He introduced the four panelists and topic: Copyright laws and access to read for the print impaired He also announced the measures that NUJS would be taking for making legal education inclusive like setting CLAT paper access to all differentially-abled and providing free education for the deserving students.

Dr. S.S. Roy steered the discussions in the right directions by pointing out the economic constrains faced by NGOs and others who work with the print impaired and the largescale implementation failure of the existing laws for the print impaired.

Dr. S. Patnaik from the School for Blind explained the violation of copyright law in the process of conversion of books in Braille form, inability in understanding of many available audio records due to the difference in accents, etc. He recommended an amendment in copyright law.

The 3rd panelist, Ms Chandrima Bhattacharya from the Telegraph offered media support for the campaign.

Dr. Rukmini Sen, Asst. Professor, NUJS, suggested an amendment to the Protection of Disabilities Act, 1995 that would broaden the definition of access so as to include access to all kinds of information (educational, literary, etc). She also supported the amendment of Copyright law and referred to the UN Convention on the Blind… of which India is a signatory.

After the panel discussion, the stage was set for comments and inputs from the supporters, the audience, was vehemently insistent on public action to make more books and atleast one newspaper available in Braille form.

Rahul Cherian, one of the co-founders of Inclusive Planet, an organization that has spearheaded the collection of more than 10000 books that are compatible for the visually challenged and put them up in their website ‘Bookbole’, urged for more support for the cause

The campaign ended by enlightening many and opening a new world of words for many more.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Legal Aid Drafting Workshop

The Legal Aid Society conducted a “Workshop on Drafting of Basic Legal Documents” on the 22nd August, 2009. This Workshop was meant for the 5th year students of the University as well as representatives of several eminent NGOs of Kolkata. The primary aim of the Workshop was to impart basic knowledge of legal drafting, both civil and criminal, to the audience. The civil law drafting session was conducted by Mr. Protik Prokash Banerji, a reputed civil lawyer of the Calcutta High Court and the criminal law drafting session was conducted by Mr. Joymalya Bagchi, one of the most eminent criminal lawyers from the Calcutta Bar. This was followed by a discussion of the representatives of the NGOs with Mr. Banerji and Mr. Bagchi and a sumptuous lunch for the participants in the programme from outside the college.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Further Mooting Triumphs

NUJS building on its excellent mooting records posted an impressive win at the 2nd NLS International Arbitration Moot Court Competition. The team, consisting of Udit Sood, Vivek Menon, Shabdita Gupta and Kartik Khanna, faced some stiff competition at the quarters and withstood a tough panel of judges in the finals to come out champions.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Recent Moot Achievements

The NUJS Mooting flag flew high within the final rung of competitions in the National Mooting Season. The team, consisting of Prateek Dutta, Rohan Sahai and Mayur Bhandari, won the NLS–NFCG Corporate Governance Moot. Sashwata Dutta, Abhudaya Agarwal and Geetanjali Shankar reached the semi-finals of the D.M. Harish International Moot at GLC, Mumbai. Prajna Mahapatra, Vidyulata and Abhijeet Sinha emerged runners-up at the Annual KLA Moot Court Competition, while Prajna bagged the Best Lady Advocate Award. Similarly did Prateeks Shroff and Dutta along with Kaushik Krishnan fall just one short at the Surana Corporate Law Moot Court Competition at Jodhpur. Looks like the green patch is back to stay.