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An Interview with Amit Ram Chandra Singh Senior Faculty at the UPES School of Law

1. Sir please introduces yourself to our readers?

Mr. Amit Singh is currently serving as a Senior Faculty at the UPES School of Law, Dehradun, Uttarakhand. He specializes in, inter alia, Public International Law, Law of International Organizations, WTO Law and Policy, IPR Law/TRIPS, Environmental Law, Trade & Environment, Human Rights and Internet Law & Governance. He has completed his B.Sc. degree from Allahabad University, LL.B. degree from Dr. R.M.L. Awadh University, Faizabad and LL.M. degree from Lucknow University. He holds M.Phil. (Research Degree) in Public International Law from Centre for International Legal Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He has qualified UGC National Eligibility Test (NET) in Law in the year 2009. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Labour Laws and Personnel Management from Lucknow University; in which he emerged as the Topper of the Batch in Year- 2001.

2. Tell us a bit about your childhood and pre-college life.

I come from a humble background and strongly believe in the motto“simple living and high thinking”. I used to be inspired a lot by the living legend of our times Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, who constitute a natural role model for many coming from a humble socio-economic strata. Swami Vivekananda, Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Subhash Chandra Bose, Jai Prakash Narayan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, HG Khurana, MC Mehta, Jal- purush Rajendra Singh are inspiration points in their different roles and contribution towards nation’s cause. Being inquisitive and thinking out of box & unorthodox has been part of our training since childhood. I gratefully remember my mother’s (Smt. Usha Singh) rigorous discipline in our upbringing, and putting lot of efforts to enhance our prospects in our educational outcomes. There were two teachers (Late Shri Vikramaditya Singh and Dr. Bharat Singh) under whose tutelage I underwent learning English grammar, language and literature, as my mother used to emphasize mastering English as a sina-quo-non in order to be successful in life.

3. Why did you choose law as your career?

Switching to Law from Science was a turning point of my career. While studying Law I got exposed to the complex legal system of the country and the web of different statutes, legal instruments and regulatory regimes; which certainly broadened my perspective and mental horizon. Pursuing LL.M. was a natural course as I was inclined to pursue advanced studies and research in the legal field. Although I studied LL.M. from Lucknow University with specialization in Constitutional and Labour Laws; my dream of studying at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi made me join one of its prestigious research courses i.e. MPhil/PhD in International Legal Studies at Centre for International Legal Studies, School of International Legal Studies. I took up my first job as a Research Assistant under a Project titled “India’s Obligations towards United Nations Human Rights Conventions” executed by the Indian Society of International Law (ISIL) sponsored by the Ministry of External Affairs, GoI. Before joining to a full-time career in academics, I worked in various capacities (all part-time) at IIPA, IILM Institute for Higher

Education, Gurgaon, ICRIER; and lastly as Consultant (Legal) employed at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to provide research inputs on International Trade/Economic and WTO related matters. I was fortunate that within six months of my formal start of a full-time career in academics, I got an excellent offer to join the prestigious National Law University, Jodhpur; wherein I served for about five years (2010-15) before moving for better career prospects to Jaipur National University, Jaipur and SGT University as Associate Professor of Law. Meanwhile, as many of my colleagues at NLU Jodhpur have joined UPES in the past, I too explored UPES for a further career move; wherein I joined in April 2017. The academic journey goes on with increasing vigor and enthusiasm aimed at shaping the lives and careers of the multifariously talented lot of students who are now consciously opting for Law as a preferred career choice in India.

4. What areas of law fascinated you the most?

What do Mahatma Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher and Barack Obama have in common? Interestingly, they are few amongst many world leaders who studied law. One of the oldest academic fields in the world, a law degree is a highly regarded qualification and promises great career opportunities. For some, to study law is to uphold justice (a noble cause that is most commendable), nevertheless, law is not just for lawyers or in the courtroom as it affects all aspects of society; from the protection of life and liberty to corporate or international relations, law graduates are capable of doing many important roles in various professions. The knowledge and skills gained from studying law facilitate students to analyze both sides of complex situations or problems and to devise the best solution based on strong reasoning and critical thinking. Studying law is an empowering experience. Law students often work in groups and actively participate in debates or discussions, such environments nurture good self-esteem and confidence. Studying law is demanding and a true intellectual challenge. If you enjoy working your little grey cells, this may well be the biggest benefit of studying law. Law students develop the ability to argue in a way, which can be hard for others to do; this actively cultivates advanced communication skills, keen problem-solving abilities and the capacity for independent thinking. Obtaining a law degree may not guarantee immediate success or an exceedingly large amount of money but it’s close. This professional qualification allows you to enjoy more job security and a higher salary compared to those without. The rest is up to you, and sky is just not the limit. Law with all these aspects has fascinated me as to many others who have chosen law as a career option in their lives.

5. Do you think that legal profession has significantly changed from the time you decided to study law?

Law, being a vital component in the successful integration of people, impresses me with its inbuilt readiness to change in accordance with society. The long-standing legal system in this country and the relationship between Parliament and the Courts provide a dynamic professional environment within which to work. Of course, the legal education has witnessed transformation since the successful introduction of the five-years integrated law courses; which is now adopted all over the country almost invariably. Legal education has emerged as one of the favourite options after 10+2 offering a myriad of career options and opportunities. It has never received such attention as it receives today from society, government and the private corporate sector. This has resulted in better infrastructure, greater private participation and increased investment, wherein this phenomenon resulted into a good number of private sector law schools in the country; which has fundamentally catapulted the legal education landscape in India. India today has the largest legal profession in the world. If solo practice has been the dominant pattern in the past, the trend today is more towards partnerships and large firms involving multiple areas of specialization. Though the legal profession has been the monopoly of the male gender in the past, women are now joining legal practice in increasing numbers, and are finding their places in the judiciary as well. People from the lower socio-economic strata are entering into legal careers, which is changing the composition of the profession and strengthening democracy and rule of law in the country.

6. How did you decide to go into Academics?

What would be your advice to those law students who wish to go into Academics? Frankly speaking, it was my eldest maternal uncle (Mr. R.P. Singh, ex. IPS Officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre) who should be credited with advising me to switch to the discipline of Law from Science. Also, having grown up under the tutelage of my father (Shri Lal Ram Chandra Singh), who was a History Teacher at the College level; teaching came as a natural choice for me. Today, I am carrying forward the baton passed on to us by our beloved father.

I would like to state about the teaching methodology I follow while teaching my students. I prefer the Socrates method of interactive-teaching. Active involvement of all the students is key to the success of any teaching methodology. The teaching will have to be a blend of formal lecturing and class discussions. Particular importance should be attached to the class-room discussions, as the foremost aim of teaching is to encourage analytical and critical thinking ability amongst the students. Pre-reading is a sina-qua-non for such a teaching methodology to ensure quality teaching-learning process. Students are expected to come prepared by reading the course material provided, and conducting research as directed.

My advice to all the law students would be to stay focused on their learning and understating of all the basic concepts and principles of each discipline they study right from the very beginning. They should keep on consolidating this knowledge by way of participating in moots/debate/quiz/essay writing competitions and publishing research papers. I would also urge the students to come prepared in classes in order to be a better recipient of knowledge and training we teachers strive to impart on to them. They must develop the logical and critical thinking ability and a legal knack which is required to be successful in any legal career.

7. How important does research paper and article writing is in a law student’s life?

Well, writing research papers expands one’s horizon of knowledge, and mostly law firms do take into account the research papers one has written and where they’ve been published. It gives you an added advantage besides your regular grades. Writing research papers is like an exercise for the cognitive part of one’s brain and helps to improve their mental abilities. The more you go down to

the crux of the problem, the more it is suitable for your analytical skills. It helps develop focus, discipline, and logical thinking. Writing research papers enhances one’s writing abilities. It is one of the critical modes of communication. Any research paper needs good data and research to back up the opinions or take of the author. The author has to be clear in his writing, regarding the concept, language and execution.

8. Please tell us your special moment in your career.

There have been many memorable moments from College life, which I am sure each one of us experiences inevitably. I fondly recall my yearning towards acting which got somewhat fulfilled when I was chosen as a part of the team who were to stage a street-play with the name “Duh- swapna” basically sensitizing people towards environmental awareness. We did it with immense passion and enthusiasm. In addition, I fondly recall getting the opportunity of listening/meeting and interacting many role models and inspirational personalities during my academic journey, viz. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Justice PN Bhagwati, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Prof. Bin Cheng, Prof. Richard Falk, Prof. Edith Brown Weiss, Prof. Ernst Ulrich Petersmann, Prof. Ved P Nanda, Prof. M. Sornarajah, Dr. PS Rao, Prof. Antony Anghie, Prof. Stephen P Marks, Kiran Bedi, KPS Gill, Kuldeep Nayar, KK Venugopal, late Shri PP Rao, Ram Jethmalani etc. Being at JNU provided opportunities of listening/learnings from some of the finest teachers of the country, viz. Prof. RP Anand, Prof. Rahmatullah Khan, Prof. VS Mani, Prof. YK Tyagi, Prof. BS Chimni, Prof. MP Singh, Prof. NR Madhava Menon, Prof. Pushpesh Pant, Prof. C. Rajamohan, Prof. SD Muni, Prof. Anand Kumar, etc.

9. Anything you want to say to enlighten and encourage our readers?

You may be pressed for time, or you may have deadlines, obligations and many other reasons, but do not give up on exercising your brain. What consumes your mind controls your life. You only get a limited amount of time, choose carefully what controls your life!

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