2nd GNLU Essay Competition on Law and Society, 2017: Prizes worth Rs. 50,000 + Internships at Luthra & Luthra, Aarna Law and more.
The Centre for Law and Society, Gujarat National Law University has great pleasure in announcing the 2nd edition of the GNLU Essay Competition on Law and Society, 2017, a national-level essay competition being organized under the able guidance of Prof. Upendra Baxi, in collaboration with the Chambers of Ratan K. Singh.
Women, as the architects of society, hold the key to progress in a developing country like India. Their rights and duties, assimilated and crystallized within the framework of legislations and welfare schemes, mirror their status in the society. Recent amendments in laws related to women are slated to effect a metamorphosis in the social dynamics that require a thorough understanding of their newfound role in the society. In order to encourage further research and reflections along these lines in the Indian context, the Law and Society Wing of the Centre is organizing the 2nd edition of the essay competition on the theme “Toward Empowering The Indian Woman: Legal Reforms And Implementation”. The following sub-themes have been identified as requiring academic consideration in the Indian context:
Eligibility: The competition is open to all undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled in any discipline in a recognized University/ College/ Institute in India.
Last date of Submission: April 16, 2017
Prizes: Cash Prizes up to INR 50,000 are up for grabs. Winners will also be offered internships by Luthra & Luthra Law Offices, Aarna Law Advocates, LawLex, Centre for Social Research, ActionAid and Centre for Social Justice. They will also be offered Certificate Courses by Enhelion on “Preventing Sexual Harassment at the Workplace”. Certificates will be issued to all participants.
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To mark International Women’s Day, the GNLU Centre for Law and Society conducted a panel discussion with Mr. Saurabh Anand, Ms. Saira Gori, Ms. Bindu Vijay, Ms. Prabhavati Baskey, Mr. Tarun, Ms. Esha Meher, Mr. Sujoy Sur, Mr. Ambrish Tewari and Ms. Esha Tomar offering their insights on the Role of Women in Contemporary Indian Politics.
The discussion brought up many vital issues prevalent in today’s political context, but it also offered individual and sometimes conflicting perspectives to the approaches to be adopted in combating problems faced by women in politics.
The session began with Mr. Tarun setting the agenda and the guidelines for the discussion and then giving the floor to the other panellists.
Ms. Esha Meher advocated a comprehensive approach and looking at problems with feminism at large. The issues with empowerment do not lie so much with how many people have voting rights but more so with how many people are able to exercise those voting rights. There should be a focus on how socially and politically aware a woman is. When she casts her vote, the questions we must ask ourselves is whether she cast that vote of her own free will, making an informed choice based on personal and individual political ideations, or if she was coerced into doing so by her husband.
Another issue she brought up was that a number of successful women in the political arena are women who have emerged from political dynasties. Having a family of male politicians bodes well for an Indian woman who wants to enter politics. However, breaking into the system should not be so dependent on nepotism.
Ms. Esha Tomar brought up the success of women in NGOs and how social workers who though do not play a direct role in politics, do help in raising awareness and other forms of social empowerment.
Ms. Saira Gori emphasised the rural -urban divide in empowerment and how that needs to be an area of focused change. Mr. Saurabh Anand raised the issue of despite there being reservation, the power to effect change is still frustrated when the top posts are held by men, and society and families are inherently patriarchal. Men need to stop being the only ones holding the reins and women need to be heard.
Mr. Sujoy Sur argued that women should not be given political identities as women but rather, as able politicians. Recognising her contribution based on her gender and not on her merit is not giving her full credit. There should not be a separate assimilation of gender identity in politics.
Ms. Esha Meher offered a different opinion on that subject. She believed, to ensure that there is empowerment, a woman should use her gender identity. She cited the example of Jayalalithaa, who created the “Amma” identity, intrinsically tied to her image as a motherly and caring figure. Women have something special to offer as a separate gender and that has to be identified and utilised.
Ms Prabhavati Baskey, promoted reservations as a solution to the problem. However, they have to be effectively implemented. She pointed out that often, seats reserved for women lie vacant as there are no competent candidates to contest elections The issue lies not with no woman being able, but rather, no able woman wanting to contest the seat. That is for reasons inherent in politics. Women are hesitant to join politics because of the way the nature of the political arena has degenerated into corruption and unfair practices. For women, a trend of dirty politics has to change before they enter politics. Ms. Esha Meher concurred and added that that applies equally to both men and women. No educated, decent human wants to devote their lives to practices and politics devoid of ethics.
Mr. Ambrish Tewari believed that the problems lie with societal misconceptions of what a politician should be – because of stereotypes on how an ideal politician should meet certain parameters, able women are not elected to power.
Ms. Bindu supported the ideas of evaluation of parties in terms of the levels to which they empower women and reprimanding them for failures. Furthermore, the government must focus on effective implementation of existing schemes for empowerment.
Mr. Sujoy pointed out that subtle changes need to occur. Even the language we use could promote a subtly patriarchal mindset and reinforce gender prejudices. To sum up he proffered suggestions – to educate both men and women about empowerment and the contribution women can make to politics, and to ensure upward political mobility among the labour force. Ms. Esha Meher added that we need to start ensuring there is economic empowerment of women as political change would appear incidental to that, and we need to acknowledge biological differences between sexes and concomitant differences in ability.
The discussion posed some thought provoking questions- questions that can only be answered individually, but it was a significant mark of the day. A fitting testament to the progress and change women have made and have the potential to make.
Report written Samira Mathias, Member, GNLU Centre for Law and Society)
(Image courtesy: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About)
Ms. Ira Singhal (Rank 1, UPSC 2014) on 'Overcoming Barriers in the Pursuit of Civil Services Examination'
On February 18, 2016, the GNLU Centre for Law and Society organised an ‘Open House with Ms. Ira Singhal’ on the topic “Overcoming Barriers in the Pursuit of Civil Services Examination”.
Ms. Singhal is a 2015 batch, AGMUT cadre IAS officer. She was the highest scoring individual in the UPSC’s Civil Services Examination for the year 2014. She got Indian Administrative Service (IAS) on her fourth attempt. In her first three attempts, she got the Indian Revenue Service (IRS). Ira Singhal is an engineer and also holds an MBA degree. Before joining the civil services, she worked as a Strategy Manager with Cadbury India for two years. She designed the launch plan of Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk and many other projects during her tenure. Disillusioned with the idea of the sole pursuit of money and wanting to bring about change in society irrespective of the magnitude, she left her job and appeared for the UPSC exams.
The ‘Open House with Ms. Ira Singhal’ witnessed a huge turnout with around two hundred civil services aspirants from GNLU, PDPU, SPIPA, Chahal Academy and many other institutes attending the session and interacting with Ms. Singhal.
After a brief introduction with the audience by Ms. Singhal, students got the chance to ask her questions. With her succinct and often humour-laced answers, the session was engrossing and informative.
The following are a few questions the students posed:
Student: What should I focus more on - Prelims or Mains?
Ira Singhal: One needs to have a very practical approach while making such strategies. You should understand that you only need to pass Prelims, but it is the Mains that you need to score well in to clear the examination. So, I personally believe that you should focus more on the Mains. Someone might ask what the difference is between preparation for these two. Now fundamentally, Prelims have questions which ask ‘What’, whereas in Mains they ask ‘Why’. So, there is a different approach altogether in attempting these papers. If you only focus on ‘What’, you will never be able to clear the Mains.
Student: Should I join some test series?
Ira Singhal: Whether or not you should join a test series is something that differs from person to person. Personally, I could not join a test series since I started late and did not have time to write test papers. Nevertheless, writing test series does help bring a flow in your answers. I have seen many people who mean something else but when they write they are not able to present their views. In such cases, writing test series helps you. Test series may also help you gauge how much you know.
Student: What is the difference between a corporate job and a government job?
Ira Singhal: Corporate jobs and government jobs are very different things. With regard to your personal life, you get more freedom in a corporate job. But I personally feel that there is more job satisfaction in being a civil servant. You can bring about change in the society. If you see that something is wrong, you have the authority to amend it. But there are times in the office where work is very slow, as opposed to jobs in the private sector where everything is fast paced.
Student: What are the benefits of having work experience and then appearing for UPSC exams?
Ira Singhal: Having work experience helps you a lot and I personally feel that one should have work experience of at least two years. The reason being, first it helps you have a backup plan. Second, it gives you maturity which shows in the answers you write. Third, it teaches you how to handle pressure.
Student: How do you choose an optional subject?
Ira Singhal: Many people say that you should select such and such a subject just for the reason that they feel that people do not pass it. But there is no optional in which no one passes. So choose an optional, which you are interested in because the syllabus is so vast that if you are not interested in it, you will never be able to complete the subject.
Student: How was your life in Mussoorie?
Ira Singhal: The academy has an extremely beautiful campus but we had no time to go see it. We were busy throughout with our classes on weekdays and treks and hikes on the weekends. We were so busy with our classes, treks, mid-terms and finals that we couldn’t explore the campus. The only time we could go around the campus and click pictures was when our families visited us. The experience at the academy is extremely interesting since one meets and interacts with hundreds of new people from different states and cultural backgrounds. For me the three months at the academy whizzed past.
Student: How helpful are coaching institutes?
Ira Singhal: Even this is something which is very dependent on the individual. Coaching institutions help you make a schedule. They also tell you how to begin and from where to begin. For someone like me who studies at her own pace, they were not beneficial for me. But at the same time, I had to take coaching for Geography, since I had taken an optional subject in which I had no background.
Student: How did you prepare when you never made notes?
Ira Singhal: I never made notes so I read the books again and again. The problem with making notes is that when you read a book you only understand sixty percent of it and while making the notes you only write 20-30% of what you have understood. So, effectively you only write 20% of what has been written in the books. I feel that making notes is a short-cut and a lazy way to do things and there is a limit to lazy ways you can opt for while giving UPSC.
Student: While writing answers should I be diplomatic or should I be honest?
Ira Singhal: There are few questions where you have to put in your opinion, for example, there are questions where they ask for a critique of the government. In such cases, many people believe that writing a diplomatic answer is a smarter option. But I do not feel the same. The question requires you to objectively analyse the government policy or whatever is asked and write accordingly. By not doing so you will end up writing an incomplete answer. However if you have a very biased or very radical opinion about something, it is better not to write it. There is a difference between a biased and an analytical opinion. You should realise which it is and write an analytical/honest answer.
Student: Can you give some tips about the interview?
Ira Singhal: An interview carries 275 marks and all other subject carry 250 marks. So first, don’t view the interview as a next step, but look at it like another subject. In the interview, you should present yourself as you are and not someone else. There can be two kinds of questions: one, where the interviewer focuses more on the candidate’s personal life, his/her interests and hobbies, his/her decision making skills and ability to deal with certain situations rather than facts. The other type is where the questions would tend to be more factual and related to current affairs. I personally believe that the former makes more sense. Also, communication skills matter but the interview is not dependent on it alone. So, even if you don’t have very good communication skills, do not worry much about it.
Student: What were the mistakes that you made in your first three attempts?
Ira Singhal: I made quite a few mistakes and before giving my fourth attempt I had to analyse my previous mistakes and prepare accordingly. One mistake that I made was that, on being told by coaching institutions to do so, I started writing answers in paragraphs when I was more comfortable with writing answers in points. Another mistake that I made was that I used to attempt questions which I did not know and because of this I wasted my time and it was never fruitful. In my fourth attempt, I attempted only those questions, which I knew.
Two things that you should note - while writing answers think like an examiner. Also, everyone makes different mistakes and so you should analyse the reasons behind these and amend them.
Student: How did you prepare for current affairs?
Ira Singhal: I used reading material of coaching institutes and some online websites.
Student: When should I start practicing answering questions?
Ira Singhal: When you are done with preparing the content, because for a major part of it, it is not the way you write but what you write that matters.
Student: Does any prior internship at government institutes help?
Ira Singhal: It is fine even if you do not have any such experience.
Student: How does one apply for foreign services?
Ira Singhal: You are given options, you can choose it as a top preference.
Student: What kept you motivated?
Ira Singhal: One factor because of which I was never de-motivated was that my preparation was not continuous. Also, you need to see why you get de-motivated. You get de-motivated when you start feeling that you will not be able to achieve your goal. Never allow these thoughts to gather and try removing them.
Student: How did you manage your hobbies with your studies?
Ira Singhal: I never thought that I will study for eight hours or some definite number of hours. I used to schedule my studies according to content. I used to plan to study certain topics every day and not plan to study for eight hours every day. This strategy helped me save time and allowed me to pursue my interests along with it.
Student: What is the goal of your life?
Ira Singhal: To create some change in society and better the lives of as many people as I can.
Student: I am a first year student, from when should I start preparing for UPSC examinations?
Ira Singhal: You are too young to even narrow down that you want to appear for the UPSC. Do not restrict your growth. It often happens that students start preparing for the UPSC from their first year and because of this they forget to study in college. After this, they take a drop year and attempt it again. In case such a student does not clear the test, he/she opts for a career in the private sector. But because he/she had closed many doors in his/her graduation time, his/her market value falls. As a first year, you should not fall for this, you should always have something to fall back on and so, at this stage don’t restrict your growth.
Student: What do you think when you fail?
Ira Singhal: I have grown accustomed to failure. The definition of failure is different for everyone and the stage of failure also matters. But one thing my parents have taught me is to never blame the circumstances.
Student: How does one adjust to social pressure?
Ira Singhal: You should learn how to adjust to social pressure not only for the UPSC but for life. This applies especially to women. You need to understand that people are not going to live your life, it is you who has to. So don’t let anyone tell you what you should do in life.
Student: How do you navigate the vast amount of information available online?
Ira Singhal: You should first complete a study of all offline material such as books etc. and then move on to online material. Books act as your base.
With these and many more questions, the doubts and apprehensions of UPSC aspirants were resolved. The interactive session went on for a couple of hours. Towards the end of the event, Ms. Ira Singhal was felicitated by Prof. Saurabh Anand, Director, GNLU Centre for Law and Society. The event was concluded by a vote of thanks delivered by Mr. Sameer Rashid Bhat, Student Convener, GNLU Centre for Law and Society.
(Report written by Jayaditya Mallik & Anmol Rathore and edited by Muizz Drabu & Samira Mathias; Pictures by Sanskriti Sanghi & Jayaditya Mallik)
The GNLU Centre for Law and Society is organising an interactive session, “Open House with Prof. Upendra Baxi” tomorrow at 2.30PM (Thursday, July 21, 2016). Prof. Baxi will speak on various issues like Uniform Civil Code and interact with the audience.
About Prof. Upendra Baxi:
Prof. Upendra Baxi is a renowned legal scholar and currently Emeritus Professor of Law at University of Warwick. He has been the Vice Chancellor of University of Delhi (1990–1994), prior to which he held the position of Professor of Law at the same university for 23 years (1973–1996). He has also served as the vice chancellor of the University of South Gujarat, Surat, India (1982–1985).
Professor Baxi has taught various courses in law and science, comparative constitutionalism and social theory of human rights at Universities of Sydney, Duke University, the American University, the New York University Law School Global Law Program, and the University of Toronto. Prof. Baxi’s areas of teaching and research include comparative constitutionalism, social theory of human rights, human rights responsibilities in corporate governance and business conduct, and materiality of globalization.
In 2011, he was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India, by the Government of India.
You are cordially invited to join us for the Open House with Prof. Upendra Baxi.
Time: 2.30 PM
Venue: Orientation Hall, Admin Block, GNLU
You may access Prof. Baxi’s article “Securing the Code” (Indian Express, July 20, 2016) here.
“I’m a nomad. I don’t live in one particular place. I go where the world wants me to go and share my ideas about the LGBT Community, being a part of it and working for change.”
The GNLU Centre for Law and Society organized a Special Guest Lecture on ‘LGBT Community and their Legal Rights’ on April 18, 2016, Monday. The lecture was delivered by Mr. Manvendra Singh Gohil, Chairperson of the Lakshya Trust Foundation which works for and with the LGBT Community. Mr. Gohil is an openly gay Indian male whose story of coming out had made headlines in 2006 by virtue of his being the son and probable heir of the Maharaja of Rajpipla in Gujarat. He faced extreme resistance from the society with effigies of him being burnt publicly. He has appeared as a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show and been featured in a show entitled ‘Gay around the World’ and a BBC Television series, Undercover Princes. He shared the journey and his experience pertaining to these milestones with the students of GNLU.
Mr. Manvendra Singh discussed his views regarding the LGBT community’s backward position and the ostracization faced by them, as well as the role of identity as unique to each individual. He also briefly discussed the role of the courts and the Naaz Foundation judgment by the Delhi High Court. He expected positive outcomes in the future in light of the NALSA judgement pertaining to Transgender Rights, as a symbol of the impending change.
The session was extremely interactive with students raising questions pertaining to the interpretation of Section 377, Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Mr. Manvendra’s views on the same. He also raised various points regarding the hypocritical nature of society in light of the images and sculptures in Indian places of worship as well as the history of eunuchs in Indian courts and the role played by them. Students questioned him on the parallels between the LGBT movement and the Feminist movement as well as his views on Gay Prides which have resulted in severe opposition in society.
He also posed students questions regarding funds for the cause and whether supporting homosexuality could also be considered a crime in itself when it furthered and resulted in the progress of society as well as the various terms used by society in light of one common identity- of being humans. The lecture was extremely honest and provided the students with food for thought with various perceptions and stereotypes shattered.
GNLU Centre for Law and Society is organising a Special Guest Lecture on 'Disability Rights: Challenges and Opportunities' on Thursday, April 21, 2016. Mr. George Abraham, Founding Chairman, World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC) will deliver the lecture and interact with the audience.
About the Guest Speaker: George Abraham is a social worker. He is the founding Chairman of the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC) and the Association for Cricket for the Blind in India (ACBI). He is also the founder of the SCORE Foundation in New Delhi that helps several visually impaired people live their life on their own terms by providing them with employment and teaching them new skills.
In 1996 Abraham was chosen to run in the Olympic Torch Relay in the Atlanta Olympics. He received the Sanskriti Award in 1993, the Rotary Vocation Award in 1996 and the Rotary for the Sake of Honour Award in 2003. Abraham was elected as an Ashoka Fellow in 2001 and in 2007 he was chosen as a Limca Book of Records People of the Year for his contribution to Blind Cricket and his work with Project Eyeway along with the likes of A R Rahman and Mahesh Bhupati. Abraham has been featured on Discovery Channel's Discovery People. He was part of the Aviva Forward Thinkers 2007 TV campaign.
Time: 2.30 PM (please be seated by 2.20 PM)
Date: Thursday, April 21, 2016
Venue: Hall No. 0.8, Academic Block, GNLU
You are invited to attend the lecture.
GNLU Centre for Law and Society is organising a Special Guest Lecture on 'LGBT Community and their Legal Rights' on Monday, April 18, 2016. Mr. Manvendra Singh Gohil, Chairperson Lakshya Trust, will deliver the lecture and interact with students.
About the Guest Speaker: Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil is an openly gay Indian man who runs a charity, The Lakshya Trust, which works with the LGBT community. Manvendra is the son and probable heir of the Maharaja of Rajpipla in Gujarat. On 14 March 2006, the story of Manvendra's coming out made headlines in India and around the world. His effigies were burnt in Rajpipla, where the traditional society was shocked.Manavendra appeared as a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show on October 24, 2007. He was one of three persons featured in the show entitled 'Gay Around the World'. He inaugurated the Euro Pride gay festival in Stockholm, Sweden, on 25 July 2008 and featured in a BBC Television series, Undercover Princes, screened on BBC Three in the UK in January 2009 which documented his search for a British boyfriend in Brighton. In 2000, Manvendra started the Lakshya Trust, which he is the chairman, a group dedicated to HIV/AIDS education and prevention.
You can read more about Mr. Gohil by clicking here.
Time: 2.30 PM (please be seated by 2.20 PM)
Date: Monday, April 18, 2016
Venue: Hall No. 0.8, Academic Block, GNLU
You are invited to attend the lecture.