Meet Our New Faculty | Dr. Ashna Singh
June 21, 2022
We extend a warm welcome to Dr. Ashna Singh who joins us as Assistant Professor of Law for the new Academic Year. Ashna, NLS LLM 2016, is a recipient of the M/S. Sitaram Jindal Foundation Gold Medal for Best Outgoing LL.M. Student from NLSIU. She pursued her BA LLB (Hons) degree and her PhD from Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow. Her areas of interest are Human Rights Law, International Law and Environmental Law.
In the July 2022 term, she will be teaching students of the BA LLB (Hons) programme. In this interview, she shares more about her interests and her plans ahead.
Can you tell us more about yourself/your background?
My family hails from Uttar Pradesh but due to my father’s job in the Indian Railways, I lived in various cities while growing up, and primarily in South India; I spent a large part of my childhood in Mysore and Bangalore. At home, I had a largely atheistic upbringing and the environment was one where questioning, inquisitiveness, and even irreverence were encouraged. Understanding the society and the world at large was something I was encouraged to do as well. Right from a very young age, I loved to read on a variety of subjects; Thus, I naturally gravitated towards the field of humanities and then discovered the field of Law where there is immense scope for interdisciplinarity.
What are your primary areas of interest/teaching?
My primary areas of interest are human rights law, international law, and environmental law. However, I am open to teaching anything and as you may have already guessed by now, I love variety. Almost everything interests me. My interest in teaching probably began when I was in school. I really enjoyed the classroom as a space but at times felt that some things were lacking. It was probably my desire to fill those gaps that made me take up academia as a career option.
At NLS, I will be teaching a foundational course to the first-year students, i.e., Legal Methods. Students should study it because it is going to lay the foundation to understand not only all the other laws that they will be reading but also a foundation to understand the society and themselves within it. The idea is to help students to develop a questioning mind and think for themselves.
Your thoughts on starting your teaching journey at NLS? What are your plans ahead?
I am very excited because all the preparation for classes is making me feel like a student again and therefore, it is also going to be a learning journey for me. Teaching wise, my plan is to focus on self-reflection and to create a safe space within the classrooms and on campus for students to express themselves freely, especially for the students belonging to marginalized backgrounds. I believe that a public institution such as NLS is one of those few places where prevailing social hierarchies and power structures can be transgressed, and perhaps even be attempted to be broken down.
Personally, I have recently started taking an interest in drawing comics and I want to explore the same in intersection with the law. My teaching philosophy is mainly inspired by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Prof. Dr. N.R. Madhava Menon, and bell hooks. (Author bell hooks opted not to capitalize her name, hoping to keep the public’s focus on her work)
Since you are also an alumna, could you reflect on your NLS experience?
At NLS, in terms of the course, it was a huge learning experience. I got the chance to read such great materials and this kind of exposure is something that I had always craved. The field trip to Bylakuppe (a Tibetan settlement) as part of the Refugee Law course was one of the best experiences I had at NLS! Being at NLS gave me further clarity as to pursuing a career in academics. In terms of my personal life, I was struggling immensely with my mental health and I would really like to thank the on-campus counsellor at the time, Ms. Sumana Hari, for helping me pull through that year. She taught me the art of mindfulness which I practice to this day.
Could you please highlight your key projects/publications?
Most recently, I pursued my Ph.D. in the area of Climate Change Displacement in the South Asian and the South East Asian Region. My publications in the past were a reflection of my old self and in recent times, I have evolved to think and write differently and I myself am looking forward to write with this new energy, new ideas, and new ways of thinking and being. A few of my publications are listed below:
- Paper titled “Reasonable Accommodation of the Differently Abled – Expanding the Horizons Towards more ‘Meaningful’ Accommodation” published in RMLNLU Journal, volume 9
- Paper titled “An Overview on Climate Change Displacement: Exploring New Principles and Frameworks for Funding” published in volume 5, issue 1 (April 2017) of Kathmandu School of Law Review
- Paper titled “Emerging Contours of Crime of Aggression” published in volume 3, issue 2 (2017) of MS Ramaiah Journal of Law