Gujarat National Law University
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Director(Vice-Chancellor) Speeches & Important Messages

"Laws for the 21st Century India address at the Seminar by the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly", Gandhinagar, 31 October 2009.

Dear friends – if I may say, our future leaders, judges, insightful lawyers, NGO associates, journalists, influential farmers, knowledgeable traders, socially responsible industrialists,
I thank Shri Ashok Bhatt, Speaker of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly and Shri D.M.Patel, Secretary for giving me an opportunity to address you on the topic of Laws for the 21st Century of India.
Why we are here – to learn whether the existing legal framework is qualitatively and quantitatively adequate enough to respond to our present and future needs, interests and concerns. Whether our laws at the state and the union level enable us to gainfully employed as soon as we are out in markets…whether the regulatory measures of our higher education system provide the most conducive environment to fully tap our potential, to increase our learning outcomes. While the regulatory and legislative framework in the sphere of law is far from adequate, I am going to speak on the laws which we require for our 21st century.

Forum

Shri D. M. Patel and the faculty members of the University - you have chosen the best avenue for today’s discussion – the premises of Gujarat Legislative Assembly, the house, the temple, the akhada, which witness the creation of the finest and the most enforceable as well as, at times, toothless and impotent laws. The governments, political parties, the opposition, which create laws, meet here – the birthplace and the birth giver of our laws. Interaction between you and me and other speakers at this forum provides us today an opportunity to us to discuss which laws are needed. My humble suggestion to the representatives today is not to consider this, as simply another lecture but fully attend what the current generation needs in terms of laws. Let us convey the important points of discussion to our MLAs, our Honorable Chief Minister, the Law Minister, the Education Minister, and I am sure their attention to this venture will have truly fulfilled the goals of this forum.
Focus: Let me focus on seven main areas which I am sure you will agree need additional laws or regulatory framework at state and national level. These areas are technology, food and agriculture; materials, chemical and biological wealth; manufacturing; services sector; strategic industries; and health care.
Technology: we have several areas where we have a strong technology base. We have strong software engineering and associated IT produces and services base or in other words – information technology. In order to maintain India’s supremacy and niche in these areas, we should have qualitatively and quantitatively adequate laws. For example, we are having explosion of services through internet, several contracts, agreements are concluded on internet but do we have laws for e-contracts. I request students those who are having inclination to go in business laws – study the e-contracts which are being developed in other countries – go and talk to industries in your area, especially those who are having relations with foreign companies, ask them about e-contracts, tell them that you will study and give advice on importance of e-contracts. Imagine a South Korean company wishing to do business with Chitra based Boron Rubbers Company and you advise both a possibility of concluding an e-contract. Financial transactions concluded on emails need to be regulated – not only we do not have the laws but our judiciary is also need to be trained to recognize the importance of such transactions on internet or otherwise. I would request you to visit various medium and big sized industrial units of Bhavnagar and study the indigenous cost-effective technologies they develop and see how such technologies can be exported to other nations, how the patents of such technologies can be applied and obtained. We are not only talking big patents but also grassroot level one. Various technologies are developed by farmers, innovators in Bhavaanagar. Please talk to the Grassroot Innovations Augmentation Network (www.gian.org) study important achievements and see how you can use your legal background to help the Bhavnagar based innovators to protect their innovations through patent licence. We need laws which protect, promote nationally and internationally such innovations. Imagine the royalty of such patent going to our grassroot innovators which will sustain their livelihood. Please go and visit industries located on Ruvapari and Nari road in Bhavnagar and see how you, the legal researchers, can help the industrial unit. According to one estimate Bhavnagar district has 10,080 SSI units which employ nearly 50,000 employees and totaling investment up to 28,955 lakh rupees or 70.72 million dollars. Study the legal problems and issues, propose government at state level and national level, how you can protect legal interests of these employees through continuous gainful employment and how you can help in contributing the increase in the investment in the SSI.
Food and agriculture: Volume of food and agriculture production in 1995 was 61 million tones. In 2020 to cater our needs and achieve the developed nation status, we need 300 million tones, the business will grow from 61000 crore to 300,000 crorers rupees. Think of related industries like chilling, packaging and value-addition new products the business will grow from 31000 crore rupees a year to 310,000 crore a year. The core technologies cold chains, cryogenic fluids, containers, aseptic packing, fodders, electronic testing, hygiene and cleanliness and wastage need to be developed and augmented. The task is indeed a giant and daunting. Food processing industry in Bhavnagar has shown tremendous investment growth since 1998. Food processing industries has grown by over 250 times during 1998-07 with an investment of 79 crore rupees or 19 million USD. Imagine the sheer scale. My appeal to you is study these investments, the food processing units and see how we can help these businesses through improved use and acquisition of core technologies. You might ask how, I, a junior lawyer or a student of law can help. My dear friends, in Gujarat, we have Milk and Milk Product Order of 1992, Agriculture Relief Package of 2007, we have policies on Cattle Shed Assistance, Fisheries Training and Extension Activities. Study these acts and regulations and see what changes are required, propose the government through district collector, through cooperative agencies, through your MLAs and MPs to enact and implement subsidiary regulations so that the full potential of Bhavnagar district in the area of food and agro-processing can be fully utilized. In the USA, Europe, people do not wait for union government or regional government to enact and implement laws all the time, they study, they propose, they create enforcement mechanisms at local level and protect their own as well as interest of the surrounding area. You must have seen sometime back on TV, the farmers in some European countries throwing hundreds of thousands liters of milk away. Do you know why? They were dissatisfied with the scenario of the subsidiary. We are being told to cut these subsidies. Just think the plight of marginal farmers who are dependent on subsidies. We, the law students, can play an important role in creating awareness among these farmers about the importance of subsidies and if required, promote them to take action so that the law makers ensure their interests. I am stand to be corrected but Bhavnagar, according to one estimate is the largest producer of salt in the country with the production of 34,500 tons of salts. We, the lawyers, have an obligation to see that salt-producers livelihood is protected and promoted. Go and talk to them, propose the government at state and national level how to enhance through regulatory and other promotional measures their income, production of salt, their competitiveness….etc. Bhavsinhji Gohel in 1823 (almost 190 years ago) made various far sighted decisions to ensure revenue from marine trade for Bhavnagar. We the population of 8th generation since his time, must have such a legal farsightedness so that the marine trade, be it fish, fruits, salts of Bhavnagar is increased.
A lot of commodities are traded from Bhavnagar with African countries, Mozambique, Tanzania, the Persian Gulf and even Singapore. Go and visit the warehouses of commodities and understand their problems and propose them legal solutions.
Materials and minerals: India needs to be a world leader in at least 13 materials and minerals, steel, rare earths, aluminum, titanium, composite materials, ceramic materials, building materials, photonic materials, superconducting materials, polymeric, nuclear, surfacing and bioengineering materials. While this is true for the nation, some of these materials are found in Gujarat and your region too. Maximum number of industry in Bhavnagar district is engaged in ceramic and glass materials. A total of 11 MoUs have been signed during 2003, 2005 and 2007 Vibrant Gujarat Summits and Bhavnagar based mineral-based industries is one of the most important recipients of such investments. Let us study our Minerals Act, Materials Act and propose changes and amendments, some of these acts are outdated. GNLU has recently proposed the GMDC that it would study such acts and propose amendments. I am sure with your commitment to advance growth in the district, you can help these mineral and material industries in a very big way. You do not need to go out of the district, the wealth and potential is just there. You with your legal ability can convince the government as well as local authorities how we can make best use of the existing laws and which laws or regulations are needed to promote the material and mineral industry of the Bhavnagar district.
Chemical and biological wealth: Petrochemicals, pharmaceutical, performance, agrochemicals, textiles, inorganic and other chemicals, leather and dye, surface coating. Friends, huge investments during 1998-07 has been contributed by infrastructure projects, cement and gypsum, and chemicals sector, and even more of the investments during 1988-97 was contributed by industries such as chemicals, cement and gypsum Miscellaneous machinery and engineering sector showed increase in number of units while chemicals. Look at the sheer size of the chemical industry of the district. I must say our existing legal framework both at the state and the national level are not adequate enough to protect the interests of these two important sectors which are vital for our vision 2020. If we will not propose laws, the Americans, the Europeans, the Japanese, the Australians, will propose and we will be on reactionary or receiving end. I would encourage you to study the landscape of chemical industry and see which problems they are facing in terms of import, export, processing, pollution and propose legal but practical and pragmatic solutions.
Manufacturing: We do not envision an India which gives up manufacturing in favour of agriculture and services, as Dr Kalam said, but manufacturing is one of the most important sectors. Bhavnagar has about 550 units manufacturing various products and other large scale manufacturing industries like Fertilizer, Soda-Ash, Steel-Casting etc. are also in your area. Study the investment patterns, study the legal framework which regulates the manufacturing industry, ask these 550 units which are the legal issues and problems they have, ranging from employment of child labour to inability to compete with foreign glass manufacturing industry due to lack of incentives. Can we not think of incentives through legal regulations which promote this potential industry to compete with European markets. With the Special Economic Zones, Special Investment Regions and now Financial Free Zones coming in picture, we ought to study these economic frameworks and see whether economic policies are fine tuned from legal angles. If not, we the students of law of the 21st century must make suggestions.
Service: My friends, between the years 1870-78, Mr. E.H. Percival, of the Bombay Civil Service and Sri Gaurishankar Oza of Bhavnagar made important reforms in the areas of administration, revenue collection and judiciaries. Post and telegraph services along with railways were introduced and augmented. Service industry in India is growing exponentially…and so its growth depends on a small contribution which also made by the Bhavnagar district. Financial, trade promotion, marketing, human resource development, management and consultancy, security services, tourism, hotels, insurance, leisure, culture, old age services…the list of services goes on. You as law students should study the laws in various service sectors. Bhavnagar and Gujarat have strong potential in some of these service sectors. As a student of Bhavnagar district, I would study the potential of my district and suggest regulations to government, authorities at district level to promote these services. If the regulations are inadequate, propose new one or change the existing ones…but let us study these regulations and their application for Gujarat and Bhavnagar.
Strategic sector: Friends, strength respects strength, aptly put by Dr Kalam in his Vision 2020. Food security, economic security, critical technologies, defence, space, dual-use technologies, some of these strategic are within our reach in terms of technology, investment and schedule. We need not only achieve advances in designing, developing, implementing these industries but make sure that we have strong legal framework and laws which protect our interests which is very vital in these areas. It may be difficult for some of us to digest the legal framework of strategic industries but as a layman I would encourage you to study nuclear laws, dual-use technologies laws, space laws. For example, our space industry is a multi-billion industry, but we do not have a comprehensive space legislation. Other day, I was addressing the ISRO scientists in Ahmedabad and I was amused by the fact that most of the scientists were not aware that we do not have a comprehensive space law. Imagine India now sending satellites of other countries from Sri Harikota, but we are yet to be fully aware of the implications of a global convention on liability of space objects which includes among others liability of sending state as well as owner state.
Health: Being the sixth-largest city of Gujarat and the third-largest in Saurastra, with 51 lakh population in 2001 and now perhaps 55 lakh, we should see whether India of 2009 provides health care for all the population of this city. The Government of Gujarat has proposed a new health bill - a unique legislation of its kind. However, we must make sure that the benefit of right to health which is a fundamental percolates to common men in reality, it promotes Public Private Partnership, evaluates the effectiveness of various health programmes and projects undertaken by Government of Gujarat, formulates a health insurance program for under privileged class, prepares a review report of health status, ensures that a central control centre at state level is established from where all health program and projects can be effectively monitored, ensures effective and quick control of epidemic diseases and also ensures the increased role of all civil society organizations, including NGOs in raising the health awareness and consciousness.
In sum, we need laws or changes in existing laws which cater to the needs, interests and concerns of above sectors.
Today is the important date for you and for the nation as a whole – Bhavnagar was the first state, among 565 princely states, to join the Indian Union, thanks to the efforts of Sardar Patel whose anniversary we are celebrating today. Mahatma Gandhi studied at Bhavnagar’s Shamaldas Arts College in 1884. Both tall leaders and visionary lawyers which this country has produced. I invite you all to study their legacies, their role in formulating many laws which this country still uses. If we do so, then it would be our true Shraddhanjali to them.
Thank you very much.
Bimal N. Patel,
Director