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An Interview With Dr. Sangeeta Roy (Maitra), [Asst. Prof. of Law, Government Centre of Legal Education, Hooghly Mohsin College, West Bengal]

1. Hello Madam, Please Tell Us Something About Yourself to Our Readers.

Hello everybody…I have done my B.A. LL.B., LL.M., and Ph.D. from the University of North Bengal. I was a silver medalist in LL.B. and gold medalist in LL.M. I qualified UGC NET in 2010. I also got a scholarship bestowed by the International Institute of Human Rights, Strasbourg, France to attend their 44th Study Session. I have also done a certificate course in Human Rights teaching from Strasbourg.

This is my academic side. Professionally I have been teaching for more than 15 years. I began my career as a Part-time Lecturer at Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri Law College along with South Calcutta Law College, both in Kolkata, in 2006. Thereafter I worked in the capacity of Contractual Whole Time Teacher till April 2014. I then joined Sikkim Central University in May 2014 and continued till October 2014. Meanwhile, I was selected through West Bengal Public Service Commission and joined Hooghly Mohsin College in October 2014. The nomenclature of Law Section, Hooghly Mohsin College changed and the Government Centre of Legal Education was created. I am continuing to serve this institution.

2. Madam, What Inspired You to Choose Law as Your Career? Why Law and Not other professions?

I lost my father at the tender age of 16. He always wanted me to take up law. Gradually I also developed a liking towards the subject and from Class 8 in school, I knew I would take up law. More so I didn’t want to do simple graduation. I always wanted to take up a professional course.

During the final year of my 5 years B.A..LL.B. I got married and the very next year my son was born. It was a huge struggle for me to battle health issues, take care of a newborn, manage a family and study. My Professors at North Bengal University encouraged me thoroughly and gave all possible support. Particularly Prof. Atul Kumar Tiwari, Late Prof B.P. Dwiwedi and my mentor Prof. Rathin Bandopadhyay.

3. You Completed Your LL.B., LL.M., and Ph.D. from the University of North Bengal. Please, Tell Us About Your Law School Journey and Experience.

It was very different in 1997-2002 than what we have now. It is a 25 year old story. We had some excellent faculties who were mostly practicing lawyers who enriched us with their practical knowledge. They didn’t stick to any book but rather their own experiences and what was happening around them and linked it with legal issues of the subject they taught. We learned legal writing which I find amiss today. That was the foundation of going to the court.

4. Madam, Did You Pursue Any Extracurricular Activities Such as Mooting, Debate, Seminar, Online courses, Publication, and Sports? How Did This Contribute to Your Holistic Development? Do You Think Such Activities Are Important in Law Student’s Life?

We did have moot courts, debates and seminars back then. Sports of course. No doubt these activities are very important in a student’s life and contribute to holistic development. Such activities boost confidence and enhance reading, writing and analytical skills without a doubt. The legal profession be it academics, be it practice or the corporate world does require an efficient analytical skill which I believe is developed through these extracurricular activities.

5. Madam, You have successfully written one book titled “Law and the Disabled” and also written and published around 33 research papers. Could you please tell us about your writing journey? When Would You Say a Legal Academician Is Ready to Start Writing Books?

At present, my publication status is 37 including an authored book and one edited book. As I have told you I had a struggling time during my LL.M. shuffling between family, kid and studies. So though I wanted to but didn’t get an opportunity. I started writing after I got registered for Ph.D. When I first wrote my supervisor would reject it outright. I kept on writing, he kept on rejecting. Finally, after 6 months of effort, he said yes now it is fairly okay and you may go ahead with its publication. So this was way back in 2007. Initially, I co-authored a few articles with my supervisor so that I could understand every nuance of writing skill. Gradually my single publications came out.

I can’t point out any specific time to bring out a book but it should be only when you have mastered writing skills. No copy-pasting. Originality should be there. No plagiarism and thorough with footnoting. There is also one thing I would like to add go for publishers who don’t charge money. In my writing journey, I have never paid a single penny to anybody for publication.

6. How Did You Find Time to Produce So Many Scholarly Articles? What, In Your View, Are the Few Most Important Skills That Law Students Should Strive to Acquire in Order to Write Research Papers Effectively?

First I study the legal topics prevalent in a particular period of time. I set a target for writing and keep finding journals where I could send them. I am a slow writer and can’t write more than 3 scholarly articles in a year. Plus since I have been for so many years in academics my colleagues in the legal fraternity also approach me to contribute in their edited volumes. But you have to keep updating and grooming yourself. That is very important and develops your own signature style of writing. It will not happen in a day but it is not impossible also.

For students who want to write research papers, you should always thrive towards contributing something new. There are areas which are overworked. Too many articles and research work have been done, if you are not able to contribute something new then no point in filling up pages. The second important thing is you should be thorough with the footnoting system. Third and most importantly the writing must be plag free. Write a page and check plagiarism. Correct it and go ahead. If you don’t have access to paid plagiarism software you can check through Duplichecker. If your plagiarism extent is 0-2% in Duplichecker your result in Turnitin or Urkund will be below 5% which is the desirable international standard.

7. Do You Feel That There Are Differences Between Students Of ‘Elite’ Law Schools and Students from Other Law Colleges and Traditional Universities?

There is a huge gap. Now we have law schools, traditional universities, govt. or govt. Aided law colleges, private colleges, and private universities. The crowd is different, the approach is different, the age criterion is different. But whatever it may be the majority contribution in the legal profession is still dominated by traditional universities and colleges. I personally believe NLUS is catering mostly to the corporate world but law practice and judicial and legal service are still dominated by traditional universities and colleges.

8. Madam, Could You Please Give Young Readers Certain Tips on Excelling in Academics? As A Teacher What Tips Do You Give to Your Students for Proper Understanding of a Subject?

These days students don’t want to understand things. They just want attendance to be managed and somehow write their exams and get huge marks. I come across various students who say we maintain the minimum attendance in college and go for tuition. This is an incorrect approach. You have to be regular to understand why what is happening and how. Else you can’t bloom fully. Mugging up and getting marks will not help in the practical field.

9. Presently, virtual Classes and education are going on in the education sector. What, In Your View How effective online education in the student’s life. What are the major differences between virtual and physical education?

It’s a boon and bane. It’s a boon that despite the pandemic we have been able to keep connected with our students and take classes regularly. But a bane as students in most cases tries to skip the classes. Keep their camera off and it’s difficult to interact.

The major difference between virtual and physical classes is the connection between teachers and students. In physical class, if we see a student’s expression we understand whether the lecture has been understood by him/her. But that is practically impossible in virtual classes. Virtual classes are a stop-gap arrangement in my opinion and can never replace the charm of offline classes.

10. The Best Experience and Success Habit You Would Like to Share with Law Students to Encourage Them. What Is The Golden Rule That You Follow In Your Life?

Perseverance, patience, and hard work. Just these three things. To this day I am learning and struggling. But I have never given up in life. When people groom their careers I was a mother. From that point today I have carved out an identity for myself. So my dear students never give up your fighting spirit. You have the will you’ll have the way too. Just be patient and work hard. There is no shortcut to success.

11. Lastly, What Would Be Your Message to People Who Want to Take Up A Career in Teaching?

A very noble profession not to be mentioned. Remember you are an idol to many so apart from being a good educator and mentor, try to be a friend first and then philosopher and guide. I have been with my students not only in their professional journies but also their personal turmoils many times. Encourage them in their pursuits. Always be positive to resolve their issues. Many professors would disagree with me who believe maintaining a distance from students yields more respect and fear. But I believe respect and fear are the natural outcomes if you deal your students with love and care.

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