GNLU 6th Foundation Day Address-17th July 2009
Dear dignitaries, colleagues and friends,
On behalf of the Gujarat National Law University and on my own behalf, I extend most cordial invitation to Hon Chief Justice Shri Radhakrishnan, our continuous source of support and inspiration, Hon Speaker Shri Ashok Bhatt, members of the Bench of High Court of Gujarat and judiciary at large, Members of the General Council, Executive Council of the GNLU, Officials from the High Court and departments of Government of Gujarat, well-wishers, our faculty members, both full-time and visiting and staff members and their family members and our Legal Ambassadors, the students of the GNLU.
It gives me great pleasure in welcoming you all to the 6th Foundation day or in the language of Dr Kalam, our former President, our commencement in the 6th orbit, of the Gujarat National Law University- A world Class University in the making.
One of the foundational aims of the GNLU is to advance and disseminate learning and knowledge of law and legal processes and their role in national development. This is a huge responsibility but we are sure with the motivated staff and committed students, the GNLU can and will make its recognizable contribution in the process of our nation’s development.
Our contribution will be seen in terms of creating lawyers with ethics and values, assisting law colleges of Gujarat in their efforts to raise standards of legal education, research and training, providing training and courses to the members of the Bar and the judiciary, providing excellent legal support to the government departments and public sector undertakings, partnering with companies and associations in their efforts to formulate legal policies to meet the challenges of the day, providing legal assistance to needy communities, among others. In the last six-seven months of my tenure, I have closely observed that if we will achieve this on a sustainable basis, then we would be proud to say that we are a university with difference and indeed a role model law university.
We have worked on a medium – term plan which compliments our vision and identified clear indicators of achievement to see where we are today and where we will be in 2014. I would like to set my address in this context.
Our first objective is to become a premier law university in the nation in terms of education, research and training. What we have done and what are our plans?
GNLU’s curriculum includes teaching and research of all contemporise of law. This year, GNLU will be starting new emerging courses in subjects like sports law, air and space law, competition law, maritime law, parliamentary procedures, energy law and election laws among other laws which will be the first of its kind among the NLUs as the GNLU will be the first NLU to start these courses. GNLU also proposes to set up various centres of excellence in sports law, private international law or family law, corporate investment, food security and agro-economy, maritime law, and environment law for which the process has already begun. GNLU has also proposed to start diploma courses in sports law, securities and investment law among other emerging areas of law. Thus if a student proposes to study and specialize in Biotechnology law, GNLU will assist him as it will be offering the particular course thereby catering to the widest possible demand from the students. We are working on rules and planning for distant educational courses, PG Diplomas, Certificate courses, and Ph.D in various areas of law too.
Students have been getting their articles published in various journals of international and national repute like the Indian Journal of International Law, Indian Business Law Journal, Asia IP Law Review, Company Law Journal, Journal of World Intellectual Property Organisation and India Law Journal among others. Two students of GNLU recently published a book on copyright laws which has been widely appreciated. This was first of its kind achievement by the students of any NLUs. A faculty also authored a book on security in South Asia. One of our student’s even runs his own law publication which has a global presence and is the first of its kind in India which has been appreciated by several legal luminaries. There has been regular publication of the GNLU Law Review which is GNLU’s flagship law journal covering issue of legal importance. Meanwhile, GNLU also launched the GNLU Journal of Law, Development and Politics which studies and analyses the issues and problems from an interdisciplinary approach. GNLU will shortly be launching its third journal titled Developing World Review on Trade Law enabling us to understand the positions and practices adopted by the developing countries on the burgeoning issues of world trade.
Our second objective is to provide excellent legal education, training and career service to students and participants.
In the world of materialistic competition of sending or opting for careers only in corporate and legal firms, GNLU is placing its efforts to counsel students to opt for wider variety of services. Let me reemphasise to all students and their parents, how vital and useful it would be if we are to serve all sectors of legal and judiciary services. A student serving as a legal assistant to a judge in the High Court would get immeasurable experience in terms of insight into various case-law, contacts and stature. Similarly, by serving a government department as a legal officer, the student would learn the intricacies of law, politics, and administration as well. I invite the students to weigh the short-term v long-term benefits to their career as well as the nation at large. The government, the PSUs, the judiciary at all levels need good lawyers/judges and what better than a student from the GNLU, groomed with high standards of ethics, values and commitment to the society opts for these avenues. We at the GNLU are deeply thankful to the Government of Gujarat and the High Court of Gujarat for creating opportunities in this regard. In my interactions with other NLUs and during the visit of the University Grants Commission team, we appraised them about these initiatives of the government and the judiciary and they have, too, appreciated these initiatives and noted for emulation in their respective states. Our students are being placed in the Supreme Court, High Court, various departments of the Government, leading legal and corporate firms of the country and the remarks which we are receiving is that the GNLU students have outstanding talents, knowledge, drafting and analytical abilities. What else than such remarks can make us more proud and humble? To help students in finding placements and internship and providing career counselling, we will be employing a full-time placement coordinator. Our achievements in the moot competition are par excellence, just to name a few – only team from the South Asia to represent the country at the International Negotiation Competition on Climate Change at Copenhagen, runner up team at the world rounds of the Henry Dunant Moot in Hong Kong, runner up in Surana International Technology moot, best memorandum in Steson International Moot and GLC Pondicherry, best team in parliamentary debates in Patna. We have established special funds to support the work of the students and faculty members who help poor masses of the society. I am much grateful to the members of the Executive Council of the University for their support towards this initiative which will go a long way to provide legal services to the weaker sections of our society. Hon Speaker, Bhatt Sir, let me tell you, your idea of working for “litigation free” village is very much in our mind and our legal services cell has commitment to achieve such noble ideas.
GNLU is truly a national law university, as no other NLUs, represent 23 states of India in its composition of student and faculty members. Indeed, “unity in diversity” is well represented in the university. To recognise the talents, hard work and sincerity of student, faculty and staff members, we have initiated awards at internal as well as national level. We, like any other NLUs, are facing challenges of scarcity of good faculty. While academics is not necessarily the best preferred first option for many, we are offering research associateship to GNLU graduates who can teach, assist in research and administer our centres of excellence.
How overwhelming one is to learn that several students of our first batch have committed their first salaries to the GNLU. In the days when one tends to throw a party or give first salary to the parents, our students are setting a new trend which is a laudable achievement. Let me admit, even I did not contribute my first salary to my university. These students have given me a new example. By organising career fairs, workshops, conferences, CV submissions programme, electronic job bank, coordination with legal firms, senior advocates, government departments, judiciary, companies, associations, we will make sure that our students find good placement and serve their employers with distinction.
Our third objective aims for creating excellent platform for the public-private partnership for the development of the nation and the society.
GNLU has made great strides in this regard. Our Swarnim Gujarat Legal Reforms project precisely aims to carry out survey, analysis and prepare recommendations for the Government and the Judiciary as to how the combined efforts and collective will can result into reducing the massive backlog of cases. Our assistance in drafting bills have been highly appreciated. In this regard, GNLU, together with the Parliamentary Bureau of Training and Studies will initiate a national training course for legislative drafting for officers involved in drafting bills in various states. We have received offer of a positive support from the office of the Speaker of the Parliament. To sensitize media about the role of the legal education, research and training in particular and role of media itself in general in the nation’s development, we are organising media and law training programme in September this year. As I mentioned earlier, GNLU is not only producing good lawyers but it will help legal education at large. In this regard, to build the capacity of law colleges of Gujarat we are carrying out a survey and will be discussing the results and recommendations with the principals of law colleges in the near future. GNLU has also entered into MoU with the Bar Council of Gujarat to provide training and organising courses on contemporary legal issues for their members. Our offer of legal support and assistance has been well appreciated by various other universities and departments with whom we have entered into working relationship or are finalising the same. We are also reaching out to industrial ventures and big projects of the government wherein we can provide much needed holistic and integrated legal support. As much as we are interested in learning the implementation of law, we are indeed willing to learn where the law is made. In this regard, we have started seminar wherein after the completion of the session of the parliament and assembly, we invite representatives to discuss the major agenda items and accomplishments, etc. The first seminar already took place and we are in the planning to organise the same after the current sessions of these House of Representatives are over. Our faculty are contributing their scholastic views to various media in recent days and I take this opportunity to appeal representatives of commissions or associations, present here, to fully utilise the potential which the GNLU faculty offers in terms of their honorary services in your bodies. Believe me, involvement of academicians and scholars, unlike full-time legal professionals, remains a very attractive and affordable proposition !!!
Managing human and financial resources as effectively and efficiently as possible remains our fourth objective.
GNLU is the first university to adopt Performance Management and Appraisal System (PMAS) where it evaluates the performance of its faculty and staff members and gives an award for the best performers. Our introduction of the result-based budget permits us to see which results the University wants to achieve and how much resources are required to achieve these results. We have been able to manage these results so far without much hassle for additional funding but I am sure we all believe that adequate resources are must for achieving best results. We have faculty crunch and are placing efforts to employ talented and committed faculty who can match up to the demands and standards of our brilliant upcoming lawyers. By involving students in various committees, we make sure that they derive a sense of and insights into partnership in the university affairs too.
National and international outreach or reputation remains our distinct objective.
In this regard, we have initiated Foreign Visiting Faculty programme under which faculty from foreign countries will impart knowledge on legal and judicial system of their home countries. This will also enable us to establish long term cooperation with their universities. We are getting offers of cooperation from various corners of the world in this regard. Our first international law conference was just a beginning to bring scholars, legal-policy makers from various parts of the world and we are busy in developing similar events in 2010. Our first international moot court competition witnessed presence of teams from South Asia and was considered by many as setting a bench mark of its own. We are now working for the second edition. We are indeed grateful to the sitting and retired judges of the Supreme Court of India and Gujarat who are engaged in academic interactions with us. We are inviting administrators and senior officials of the government to tell us what legal challenges they are facing, which initiatives they are taking and how the GNLU can provide its services. The positive response is simply overwhelming. Our library is becoming richer and richer day by day. We are thankful to our foreign donors, High Court of Gujarat, several judges and individuals, publication houses who have or are planning to give literature to our library.
Physical, social, cultural and sports environment is necessary and it remains our objective to provide conducive environment.
The construction of our campus has started and the first buildings will be ready before April 2010. The academic buildings will be simultaneously seeing the construction. But for the technical difficulties, the beautiful model of the campus would have been placed in the corridors of this town hall for viewing. We are thankful to the Government of Gujarat for its full financial support in creating a world class infrastructure at the university and the members of the Campus Development Committee, our architects, construction company who are making sure that we indeed have such infrastructure. We wish and I am sure we will organize our first convocation at our new campus. By organizing cultural events and by enabling students to participate in sports activities, we are trying to ensure that their legal minds are equipped with cultural and sports aptitude too.
Last but not the least, we have created GNLU Alumni Association and will undertake mutually beneficial activities.
I see today in front of me a wave of energy, a wave of enthusiasm, a wave of creativity and it does not need much of an effort for me or any one else as a matter of fact, to see it. You, the students of today’s age, not only have the potential but also the opportunity, the platform, to make a difference in the true sense of the word. And that is the purpose of Gujarat National Law University, to keep up this spirit, channelize it and refine it. This is what drives us at present, and will continue to drive us in the future also.
On behalf of the GNLU authorities, I express my deep gratitude to my faculty and administrative staff members for their commitment, enthusiasm and efforts. Similarly, all the students, past and present owe our deep appreciation for their sincerity, hard work and contribution to the GNLU. Thanks go out to our all service providers.
I take this opportunity to thank each and every one for their support, good will and guidance and invite to become a partner in our endeavors.
Finally, let me make some important announcements:
GNLU, with an objective to raise awareness of alternative dispute resolution, will be starting a training course on mediation from September 2009. We are thankful to the High Court and the Institute for Arbitration, Mediation Legal Education and Development for their support and guidance.
We are also launching the second GNLU International Moot Court Competition; the finals will take place in February 2010. I invite you to become our partners in whatever way you can in this competition.
We would also like to announce the Best Alumni and Best Contribution to GNLU Award from our alumni. The Best Alumni Award goes to Ms Trayosha and the Best Contribution to the GNLU award goes to Ms Aditi Agarwala. The Best Alumni award is based on the criteria of best academic records, publication, achievements in the moot and other achievements, while the Best Contribution to the GNLU award is given on the above criteria as well as student’s direct and indirect contribution to the GNLU. The award carries a five thousand rupees prize and a citation which will be presented to the recipients during our first convocation function.
Bimal N. Patel