Meet Our New Faculty | Dr. Salmoli Choudhuri

We extend a warm welcome to Dr. Salmoli Choudhuri who has joined NLSIU as Assistant Professor of Law. Salmoli has previously taught law, history, and politics at NLU Delhi and the University of Cambridge. Before embarking on an academic career, she practiced civil and commercial matters as a lawyer associated with Amarchand Mangaldas-Delhi (2013-14). Her areas of interest include constitutional theory, public law, intellectual history and global political thought.

In this interview, she tells us more about her interests and her work.

1. Can you tell us more about yourself and your work?

I was born and raised in Kolkata and moved to Delhi for college education. After completing an integrated undergraduate degree in law and humanities at NLU Delhi, I briefly worked as a legal associate in the Delhi office of the law firm Amarchand Mangaldas. Realizing that my true calling was academics, I went back to NLU Delhi to teach legal history and simultaneously pursued an LLM specializing in Public Law. Following this, I read for BCL at the University of Oxford on a Felix Scholarship where I studied jurisprudence and political theory, constitutional theory, comparative equality law, and law in society. After receiving a robust training in analytical theory, I moved to the University of Cambridge to pursue an MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies on a Malaysian Commonwealth Studies bursary.

During my MPhil year, I wrote a dissertation on Rabindranath Tagore’s idea of state, society and nation, that received the CA Bayly prize for best dissertation. For a more in-depth intellectual engagement with the questions that my MPhil project threw up, I undertook doctoral studies at the Faculty of History in Cambridge, funded by the Cambridge Trust scholarship. My PhD thesis reconstructs Tagore as an original thinker of selfhood, sovereignty, law, freedom and universality. It shows how he went beyond the formal boundaries of politics to remake the  scope and terms of the political through his critical and creative engagement with religion, education, philosophy and aesthetics. While I have been shaped by all the cities and institutions I have inhabited thus far, my doctoral experience has been the most fulfilling. It has enabled me to finally bring together my interest in history, law and politics on the one hand, and theory, philosophy and humanities on the other, in an original way.

2. What are your main areas of interest and teaching? How did your interest in these areas begin?

I am a historian of legal and political thought researching on the key ideas that have shaped democratic and constitutional cultures of modern South Asia in the progressively global context of colonialism and capitalism from the 18t to the 20th centuries. Sidestepping the usual characterization of this period as one only marked by coercive violence, my scholarship shows how an active intellectual ferment in the Indian subcontinent fostered new ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity that did not depend on a wholesale rejection or acceptance of their European origin and history. Situating myself in the new and important scholarship of canonizing South Asian political thought, I interpret and analyze the practical choices made by Indian actors and thinkers, shot with both realism and idealism, that produced radically modified political and moral visions and vocabularies.

At Cambridge, I have taught courses on “Gandhi and self-rule”, modules on fundamental political concepts in world history in “Historical Arguments and Practices” and “Theory and Practice in History and Politics”. I have also taught and supervised papers on modern India and the global history of empires.

On developing interest in these areas:

Despite a solid legal education in India and the UK, I wanted to go beyond its abstract generality and therefore turned to the social sciences for a more grounded approach to the study of law, history and politics. Gradually, with a keen interest in humanities and philosophy, I have been able to bring my love for ideas and context together in a rich  intellectual framework. This renewed turn to theory would not have been possible without the fertile and creative space of imagination provided by the Cambridge historians of political thought.

4. What will you be teaching at NLS?

In keeping with my interest in Public Law, I am currently teaching Indian Administrative Law in the March 2023 term. The birth of modern administrative law involved the state shedding its laissez-faire orientation towards society and assuming a more active interventionist role in providing social and economic services to the people. Administrative law not only studies the architecture of the state associated with the welfare function but also its legal regulation based on different techniques and principles.

In the terms ahead, I hope to offer other core courses in public law, including, constitutional law and comparative law, as well as electives on my area of specialization in the history of political thought. I wish to offer courses on topics such as “Gandhi, Tagore and self-rule”, “Sex and gender in Indian Political Thought” and the “Intellectual history of freedom in the non-west”.

5. Your thoughts on starting your teaching journey at NLS? What are your plans ahead?

I joined NLS not only for its traditional pedigree as India’s premiere law school but also because this would give me an opportunity to teach and engage with some of the best students in the country who are equally representative of its social diversity. Moreover, I look forward to a generative intellectual exchange with an exciting bunch of colleagues both in law as well as the social sciences.

Other than teaching, my future plan is to pursue further research, including, converting my doctoral thesis into a monograph on Tagore’s political thought, and additionally, writing standalone articles on select themes in law, history and politics.

6. Could you highlight some of your key projects or publications?

My five key publications in the recent years are:

To view more of her publications, please visit her faculty profile.

Meet Our New Faculty | Bhanu Tanwar

We are happy to welcome Ms. Bhanu Tanwar who has joined us this term as Assistant Professor of Law. Prior to joining NLSIU, Bhanu worked as Assistant Professor Law at UPES School of Law where she served as the programme coordinator for a batch of BA LLB students. She taught a specialised course on Forensic Science and the Law and core courses on Law of Evidence and Environmental Law. She has previously worked as an Academic Tutor and TRIP Fellow at Jindal Global Law School, O P Jindal Global University Sonepat, where she assisted senior faculty in conducting classes for undergraduate courses. Her research interest lies in Intellectual Property Rights, Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines, Health Law and Criminal Law.

In this interview, she tells us more about her interests and her work.

 

Can you tell us more about yourself?

My family hails from Delhi and it is where I was born and brought up. I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Law from National Law University, Delhi. I specialised in Business Laws at the Master’s level and wrote my dissertation on ‘Data Exclusivity in Healthcare and Access to Pharmaceutical Products in India’. I then went on to pursue a specialised Masters in Health and Medical Law at Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne.

My family instilled the importance of education in me from the very childhood. Education indeed has the power to change lives, and bridge social gaps. Since childhood I have been very inquisitive, and as a teenager I loved to question and know more about almost everything around me. My mother has played a major role in motivating me and helping me pursue my hobbies along with my studies.

On the personal front, I like travelling and painting and firmly believe that one can learn so much more about life from the hobbies and extracurricular activities one pursues. I undertook a one-month Thangka painting training workshop at the Thangde Gatsal Art School at Dharamshala and have trekked to the Sunderdhunga and Kafni Glaciers situated in the Kumaon Himalayas.

What are your main areas of interest and teaching? How did your interest in these areas begin?

My main areas of interest are the legal and regulatory aspects of health. My interest in health law particularly began with a seminar elective course on Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines that I took in the final year of my undergraduate law degree at the National Law University, Delhi. This was an eye-opener for me as it helped me critically analyse the intricacies of intellectual property rights and its impact on access to affordable medicines. I went on to further explore the issue relating to the data exclusivity regime and its impact on access to pharmaceutical products in India as part of my LL.M. dissertation.

Apart from being interested in health and medical law, I thoroughly enjoy teaching Law of Evidence and have also previously taught Forensic Science and the Law to undergraduate law students. What is interesting and must be appreciated about the criminal procedure laws is that its very purpose is to do justice not only to the society and the victim, but also to the accused.

Your thoughts on starting your teaching journey at NLS? What are your plans ahead?

I am very excited to be a part of the vibrant NLS community. I believe that there is a lot to learn at NLS and I would like to contribute towards the institution to the best of my abilities. Apart from beginning to teach certain core courses at NLS, I would also like to offer certain electives, particularly on health and medical law.

I also plan to dedicate a major portion of my time to researching certain niche and unexplored areas in the health and medical law sphere. This area of law has specifically gained a lot of prominence during the times of pandemic, but is not just limited to the regulatory and legal issues that arose as a result of the COVID pandemic. Through research, I would like to look at these issues from an Indian perspective and contribute towards the existing scholarship.

Could you highlight some of your key projects or publications?

I co-authored a paper titled “Sustainable Development Through Smart Cities: Issues and Challenges” that was published in Indian Journal on Environmental Protection in September 2022. I am currently working on a paper on the ‘Right to not know’ and another one which analyses the concept of ‘health security’ from a bottoms-up approach by giving due weightage to the interests and contributions of all segments of our society.

To reach out to Bhanu, please write to

NLSIU Registrar Dr. Nigam Nuggehalli Appointed on GOI Panel

We congratulate Dr. Nigam Nuggehalli, Registrar, NLSIU, who has been appointed by the Government of India as a member of the Approving Panel for implementation of General Anti Avoidance Rulings (GAAR). The three-member statutory committee will decide on the application of the GAAR, under the Income Tax Act, 1961, to transactions referred to the Panel by the income tax authorities. The GAAR is meant to apply to transactions that are considered as abusive or exploitative of the tax legislation.

According to an official notification released by the Revenue Department, Ministry of Finance, the other two members of the committee are Shri. Rajat Bansal, Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, New Delhi, and Justice Chander Shekhar, retired Judge of the Delhi High Court, who will chair the committee. The term of the approving panel is one year.

Speaking on his appointment, Dr. Nigam said: “I look forward to serving on the Approving Panel. I have been researching GAAR related issues for some time now and it’s a great opportunity to contribute to the GAAR framework in India.”

What Did NLSIU Read In 2021? | Part I

Curious about what was on NLSIU faculty members’ reading list during 2021? We sure are! As we begin a new year, we asked our faculty members to reflect on the year that passed by and share with us some of the books they found most meaningful in 2021 and why.

We begin this series by featuring three faculty members from NLSIU this week. Find out what impressed them most about these books, and why it made it to the top of their lists.

Part I of the Series:

 

Sushmita PatiDr. Sushmita Pati

Book Title: The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis

Author: Amitav Ghosh

Why this is my pick: The book begins with the violent conquest of Banda archipelago by the Dutch in the year 1621 for nutmegs and takes us all the way into the contemporary horrors of COVID-19. It retells the history of the world to talk about the ecological crisis staring us in the face. He tells us a non-linear story involving anecdotes from different parts of the world, snippets from literary classics, and human stories of a migrant, a shaman and sometimes his own. This book is a classic.

 

 

 

 

 

Sony PelliserryDr. Sony Pellissery

Book Title: Thondra Thunai

Author: Perumal Murugan

Why this is my pick: Perumal Murugan’s description of childhood in agrarian society in his book Thondra Thunai (Tamil) was touching. The book is truly inspirational in its telling of how inner courage can be developed to overcome the pressures of social norms. Didn’t Indian farmers just display the same kind of courage through their persistent year-long struggle to repeal the farm laws, which led to their eventual victory?

 

 

 

Sabarish Suresh

Book Title: The Imaginary Institution of Society

Author: Cornelius Castoriadis

Translator: Kathleen Blamey

Why this is my pick: In this stunning work, Castoriadis manages to radically reorient studies of social structures by conceptualizing an idiosyncratic notion of the social ‘imaginary’. By moving away from traditional Platonic ontology (eidolon) as well as psychoanalytic conceptions of the imaginary (à-la Jacques Lacan), Castoriadis weaves a unique analysis of social institutions as being based on an ‘imaginary’ fabric. He does this by incorporating a revolutionary Marxist theory of the social along with a subject-centric theory of the structure. This will be fundamentally useful to not just Marxist theory and poststructuralism (which has undermined the subject at the cost of the social), and psychoanalytic criticism (which has often, at least before Lacan, stressed on the personal at the cost of missing the social), but also, perhaps first and foremost, to readers of the law, a system which is replete with legal ‘fictions’. Castoriadis’s work is an epistemological investigation of the fictional, the imaginary and the imaginal, and will be profoundly beneficial to anyone interested in how structures imagine and how the social converts the imaginal to the real.

 

CCL Commences Phase II of ‘Bread for the World’ Project

The Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University, commenced the second phase of the ‘Bread for the World’ project on October 1, 2021. The project  seeks to ensure food security for marginalised people in India. The Centre conducted the the first phase of the project from August 2018 – September 2021. The second phase will be conducted over a three-year period.

About The Project

The first phase of the project aimed at ensuring food security for the marginalised people through enabling progressive implementation of the National Food Security Act, (NFSA) 2013. A systems strengthening approach was adopted and the capacities of the stakeholders were built along with highlighting the key issues and gaps in implementation of the law. The Centre conducted studies in the following areas:

  • The role of the State and Judiciary in ensuring food and nutrition security in light of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Response of state food commissions in the context of COVID-19
  • Policy alternatives for food and nutrition security in India apart from manuals for members of Panchayat Raj institutions, Bal Vikas Samitis, vigilance committees, State food commissions and civil society organisations.

In the second phase, the project will focus on engagement with the community to strengthen their capacities and make use of the grievance redressal mechanism under NFSA. This is being done along with strengthening capacities of the officials who are discharging these duties under the Act.

Team

The project is led by Dr Neetu Sharma, Coordinator of Centre for Child and the Law and Programme Head of the Right to Food Programme. The other members on the team are Ms Jyotsna Sripada, Ms Shruthi Raman, Mr Kumaraswamy T and Ms Sudha S.

About Bread for the World

Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World) is a development and relief agency of the Protestant Churches in Germany. With a network across 90 countries, they empower the poor and marginalised to improve their living conditions. Key issues of their work are food security, the promotion of health and education, the access to water, the strengthening of democracy, respecting human rights, keeping peace and the integrity of creation. Brot für die Welt takes steps to make sure that there is enough food for everyone.

NLSIU’s Regulatory Governance Project to Assist the Reserve Bank of India

The National Law School of India University is happy to announce that its Regulatory Governance Project is set to collaborate with the Reserve Bank of India’s Regulations Review Authority (RRA 2.0) in streamlining and rationalising the RBI’s regulatory functions. The collaboration will be for an initial period of three months.

The Reserve Bank’s RRA 2.0, was constituted in April 2021 and is headed by RBI Deputy Governor M Rajeshwar Rao. The recommendations of the previous RRA in 1999, simplified regulatory procedures, and paved the way for issuance of master circulars and reduced reporting burden on regulated entities.

RRA 2.0 will focus on streamlining regulatory instructions, reducing compliance burden of the regulated entities by simplifying procedures and reducing reporting requirements, wherever possible. It will recommend ways to make regulatory and supervisory instructions more effective by removing redundancies and duplications.

The Regulatory Governance Project will extend it inputs and support to the RRA 2.0 in the following areas:

  • Developing a suitable framework for codification of regulations such as unified annotated codes or compliance handbooks
  • Developing tools for drafting regulatory instructions. Developing improved and consistent communication practices such as introductions to regulations, guidance notes, FAQs and compliance calendar
    – Formulation of Compendium or Handbook on Compliance Instructions
    – Standardisation of the manner of articulation of FAQs / guidance notes / mailbox clarifications issued by RBI

About the Regulatory Governance Project

National Law School of India University’s two-year research project aims to enquire into how Indian regulatory bodies can reimagine their systems and processes for the 21st century. The project has been working on generating original research aimed at ‘restocking the regulatory toolkit’ for India. The research will identify the administrative aspects and norms of regulatory authorities and their parent bodies that can be optimised to create autonomous, accountable and effective institutions.

Read more at: reg-gov.nls.ac.in

Meet our faculty member | Harsha N

We extend a warm welcome to Harsha N, NLS ‘LLM 2016, who recently joined NLSIU as Assistant Professor. He previously worked as a law officer with the Airports Authority of India where he was involved in matters pertaining to tender, environment, construction, labour, commercial contracts among others. He has also worked as a transactional lawyer where he advised multinational clients with business interests in India.

We asked him to share more about his interests and his work.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself/your background?

I hail from Bangalore, and completed my B.A.LL.B.(Hons.) from Hidayatullah National Law University and LL.M. from NLS. I had the opportunity to work at the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and on transactional matters in a law firm. These diverse experiences have broadened my perspective towards the industrial approaches to law. My keen interest in the theoretical side of law has inspired me to start my academic career after gaining experience on the professional front.

2. What are your main areas of teaching? How did your interest in these areas begin?

I teach Environmental Law and Financial Market Regulation (FMR). During my previous professional engagements, I had encountered situations where the knowledge of FMR helped me in dealing with complexities of transactional matters and government contracts. There were also situations wherein I was able to contribute to add new dimensions in the workings of PSU based on knowledge of FMR. It captured my interest when I experienced that a contract structured on FMR principles could bring clarity in complex transactions.

During my work at AAI, I was also involved in matters pertaining to environmental issues and thus developed an interest in the tight rope walk between environmental law and developmental activities. Laws governing environment protection are primarily anthropocentric and when the interest of human development takes precedence over protection of environment there are instances of violating these laws. The margin for error is absent in environment protection and certain actions are from a point of no return. I always felt frustrated when human development and self-centred interests of certain groups were destroying the environmental balance and hence, I would like to work towards protecting the environment.

3. In your opinion, please elaborate on the importance of these subjects you teach at NLS.

Financial Market Regulation and Environmental Law are areas that impact each one of us with or without our knowledge. The dynamism of Financial Market Regulation keeps one involved in the field to be a part of continuous changes in financial markets. Currently, machine learning, artificial intelligence and blockchain technology are the driving forces of markets. Financial market adopts technologies and are developing financial instruments at a very fast pace. Law regulating the market has to develop addressing the issues especially investor protection and asymmetry of information.

Environmental Law is facing challenges with rapid industrialization and economic development. Environmental law is seen as an impediment to development, but on the contrary, it is a field that governs the behaviour in the developmental activities. There are contrasting perspectives on what is allowed and what is not like in the instance of the forest dwellers required to relocate outside the core forest areas and there is tourism developing near the forest areas. There cannot be a denial of the right to livelihood of the two groups and but which one should take precedence is evident. Environmental law has numerous conflicts that need to be addressed and to protect the interest of those who cannot reach the pedestal of justice.

4. Since you are also an NLS alum, could you briefly share your experience at law school?

My law school days were a highly enriching experience. I had the opportunity to learn from inspiring professors who not only motivated me to push my limits in the classroom but also in my professional life. The seminars during my LL.M. year allowed me to delve deep into research on different areas like cryptocurrency and revenge pornography. The theoretical underpinnings that I learnt at NLS helped me overcome professional challenges with ease.

5. Your thoughts on starting your teaching journey at NLS? What are your plans ahead?

It feels great to be back! After having been a student here, I’m looking forward to being a part of the faculty. I endeavour to translate my professional experiences into my classroom teaching and also theorise the same in due course.

NLSIU Welcomes MPP Batch 2021-23! 

Welcome to the 8th Cohort of the Master of Public Policy programme!

The University recently marked the beginning of the two-year interdisciplinary MPP programme that focuses on law as an interface between inclusive sustainable development and public policy.

“It is inspiring for us to see students from such varied backgrounds take an interest in public policy. This year, we have students from Economics, Engineering, Political Science, Sociology, Law, History and Finance & Accounting, which makes it stimulating for us as well,” said Chairperson of MPP Council and Associate Professor, Dr. Sony Pellissery.

Every year, the MPP programme sees a remarkable mix of students from a variety of academic and  professional backgrounds. The 8th cohort of the MPP programme has 30 male and 40 female students. 50% of the cohort bring relevant work experience in assignments such as managing flagship programmes of governments, managing large projects in private companies and working in research organisations. The batch also represents a wide variety of ethnic diversity, drawing participants from almost every region in India.

Innovative Pedagogy

The course has adopted an innovative pedagogy which combines reflective learning through classroom discussions, in-field exposures, solving problems for real-world clients, internships and a research dissertation.

Doyita Basu

Background:  Doyita Basu (B.A. Hons., Political Science), is from West Bengal and has worked as a part of the UN Global Compact Network India and Inkpot India, among other things.

Why the MPP Programme?: “Post my UG programme, I was looking forward to subjects that were research-intensive as well as application-based in their approach, and it was the MPP programme that offered this perfect blend. I am hoping to learn the nuances and practices of research, as I wish to pursue higher education in the future. I am also keen on understanding an application-based approach for all the concepts that I learned during my undergraduate days.”

 

 

 

Aditi Vasudevan

Background: Aditi Vasudevan is from Tamil Nadu. She graduated with a degree in B.A. Social Sciences last year, and has interned with several organisations, including Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged and Horizon Lanka Academy.

Why the MPP Programme?: “I was particularly attracted to the MPP programme as it had a unique nexus between public policy and law. I believe it will hone my quantitative abilities; which will create a balance with the qualitative practices TISS honed during my graduation days. And the emphasis on internships and fieldwork greatly enhances all theoretical understanding. It is my dream to work towards bridging the problems with education in India, especially in view of the large divide between urban and rural resources.”

 

Creating Impact

The MPP programme is designed to train young professionals to become policy practitioners capable of supporting inclusive and sustainable development. NLSIU emphasizes a dialectical pedagogy that encourages students to question the complexities in the practice of public policy.

Sharath Chandra

Background: Sharath Chandra is a civil engineer from Karnataka. He worked as a Research Intern at IISc- Bengaluru for a year.

Why the MPP Programme?: As a part of a 70-year-old family business, he chose to take up the MPP programme to make a difference. He said, “My family has been in the construction business for more than 70 years now and it was quite obvious what subject I would take up for my bachelor degree. In 2019, I graduated with a degree in civil engineering with a good CGPA. But I always wanted to bring about change in the environmental sector, and I believe the MPP programme will help me create an impact.”

 

 

Srishti Rongpipi

Background: Srishti Rongpipi (B.A. Hons., Psychology),  is from Karbi Anglong, an autonomous tribal district in Assam. She has worked with several NGOs and welfare organisations, namely Uttaran Special Education Foundation, Growing Buds School and Srishti NGO.

Why the MPP Programme?: “For many decades, my district was plagued with statehood-demand violence and insurgency. Witnessing this turbulent nature of politics instigated a deep interest in the Constitution, governance and policy-making. I travelled India extensively for various collegiate debate tournaments which ultimately sparked my academic transition from Psychology to Public Policy. With NLSIU’s MPP programme, I could find the underscored the relevance of law in policy-making. Being a part of this programme holds a significant meaning for me as it will play a part in the realisation of my life-long objective of becoming a public servant for my state; and contributing towards tangible growth and restructuring of my community.”

 

The NLSIU community welcomes the new cohort, and wishes every student the best in their journey of academics and beyond!

 

NLS Faculty Member Receives Indian Law Review Prize 2021 | Preeti Pratishruti Dash

 

We congratulate NLS faculty member Preeti Pratishruti Dash for winning the Indian Law Review Best Article Prize 2021 for her article: ‘Rape adjudication in India in the aftermath of Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013: findings from trial courts of Delhi’.

Reacting to the prize, Preeti said: “I am deeply honoured to have received this prize, and it is a huge encouragement to pursue research on difficult topics. I owe a huge thanks to Prof. Janet Halley at Harvard Law School who supervised this paper as part of my LLM thesis, and Prof. Mrinal Satish and Prof. Prabha Kotiswaran, both of whose work inspired me to take up this project. I am also truly grateful to the editorial team and the reviewers at the Indian Law Review who made the publication process incredibly smooth.”

She is one of the two joint winners of the ILR Best Article Prize this year, from among all research articles published by the Indian Law Review in 2020.

 

On why she chose this topic:

Elaborating on why she chose to pursue this topic for her paper, Preeti explained that the paper questions the current trend in India of relying on punitive, carceral solutions in response to sexual violence against women. She hopes that findings from her paper will help initiate conversations around the inherent problems of the criminal justice system in India, and further an understanding of why an unjust system cannot provide solutions to violence against women.

“I also hope that in the coming years, there will be a lot more empirical research that unearths the disparate impact of the criminal justice system on the marginalised, thereby discouraging women’s rights groups from seeking so-called feminist solutions within criminal law,” she said.

Abstract of the paper:

This paper asesses the impact of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 (CLA-2013) on rape adjudication, by examining 1635 rape judgments from trial courts of Delhi pronounced between 2013 and 2018. Of these, 726 cases were adjudicated under the old law, of which 16.11% resulted in convictions and 909 cases were adjudicated under the CLA-2013, of which 5.72% resulted in convictions. Analysing this data, the paper argues that absence of engagement with criminal justice literature linking mandatory minimum punishments with higher acquittal rates, led to unintended consequences, like reduced convictions under the CLA-2013. The paper also finds similar patterns between nature of rapes and reasons for acquittal under both laws, highlighting that mere legal reform, unaccompanied by governance and social reform, does not yield far-reaching results. The paper concludes by questioning the use of criminal law as a site for feminist reform.

To read the full article, click here: Rape adjudication in India in the aftermath of Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013: findings from trial courts of Delhi

 

 

Alumni Feature | Aparna Mittal on Samāna: Making a Difference with Equality

In 2017, Aparna Mittal, NLS ‘LLB 2005, had worked with some of the leading law firms in the country, and been a Partner for over five years. While her work was intellectually exciting, somewhere in her journey, the NLSIU alum felt that her worldview was beginning to get limited to the “privileged bubble” she lived in.

It is this thought that gave birth to India’s leading consultancy focused on equality and inclusion. Samāna Centre for Gender, Policy and Law, set up in 2018, specialises in gender and LGBTQ inclusion. About her vision, Aparna says “I believe in multidimensional learning and professional growth, and have always wanted to do more than what the defined path entailed. I had a very clear vision for how I could use my experience and skills to make corporate India  and workplaces inclusive, equitable and safe for all segments of diversity such as gender, religion, faith, ethnicity, race, age, abilities, caste, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientation and more.”

However, given the Indian market, the initial phase was not devoid of challenges. Aparna invested a significant amount of time building awareness around the business and legal imperatives of equity, equal opportunity and inclusion. “In the first year, a lot of our work entailed seeding these ideas in India and in the corporate landscape. In the past few years, our advisory work and curated interventions and programmes have impacted more than one million people, and have garnered interest from clients in Europe, APAC and the US,” she added.

Today, the venture engages in multi-themed advisory work across impact investment and ESG, entrepreneurship development and financial empowerment, workplace diversity, equity and inclusion, gender mainstreaming in philanthropy, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment frameworks. “A key differentiator in Samāna’s approach is that our work and inputs are comprehensive and highly customised for clients’ business and sector. We work holistically,  covering legal, policy, data analysis, human resource, D&I, and all related aspects,” Aparna posits.

Last year, Aparna was invited to join the advisory board of ET HRWorld, a human resources-focused platform of the Economic Times, and the Task Force on Diversity & Inclusion set up by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI); both with an aim to give direction to and guide corporate India’s efforts on equity and inclusion.

Imbibing Inclusive Living

Aparna spoke about her years at NLSIU, saying “In addition to a strong foundation in law and social sciences, law school taught me the importance of independent thinking and critical analysis, which is an essential tool for any lawyer, as it helps you approach any issue or problem with knowledge and confidence, and bring your own unique perspective to it.” Aparna Mittal was the Vice-President of the Student Bar Association (2003-04) , and graduated in 2005 with a BA LLB (Hons) degree.

She believes her time at the University played a pivotal role in her personal and professional development. “Given the vibrant and diverse student community, faculty and staff at NLSIU, it also gave me the rare opportunity to closely work, live and interact with people from across India (and abroad as well), and in doing so really imbibe what inclusive living and multiculturalism is all about.”

Words of Advice

“Use the time at NLSIU to discover and explore your own unique personality, your ideologies, values, and skills; try and figure out what your own aspirations are, what area of law do you enjoy engaging with the most, what form of legal work do you find the most fascinating or exciting; and develop a strong community of friends and allies to last a lifetime.

“Making choices based on quality, range and depth of learning and experience (and not merely based on quantitative goals or peer-pressure), will always give you a strong foundation – no matter what direction your professional life takes (or even if you change directions, like I did, after more than a decade of practice!).”