Winds of change are wafting through the corridors of the country’s top law universities, with the National Law University, Delhi (NLU-D) emerging as the leader of the pack. Following in the footsteps of what was thus far a distinctly western model, NLU-D, ranked second in the National Institutional Ranking Framework among top law schools, is offering fellowships to professionals in a slew of diverse fields from death row cases to digital rights advocacy.
Vice-chancellor SK Deva Rao told FE that the university has made tremendous contributions in public discourse on law through pedagogy and research over the last decade. This includes setting up of specialised research centres such as the Centre for Communication Governance, Centre for Innovation, Intellectual Property and Competition, Centre for Corporate Law and Governance, Centre for Criminology and Victimology, and Project 39A.
“Now that these centres have made a mark for themselves both in domestic and international legal stratosphere through their submissions, recommendations, and work in advisory and consultant capacities with government entities, universities in India and abroad, think tanks, private sector organisations, and international organisations, we feel it is time to pay back to the society,” Rao said.
It is with this in mind that NLU-D has over the past few years launched several fellowships to provide mentoring and specialisation to young lawyers and professionals. These are different from the traditional student fellowships that most universities offer. “As a leading institution of higher learning in India, NLU-D is keen to create interdisciplinary approaches as part of its commitment towards disseminating high-quality education and research. Our endeavour through these specially curated fellowships for professionals is to help build capacity in critical, upcoming areas of law,” he said.
Some of the fellowships are already names to reckon with in academia as well as the legal professional circuit. Foremost is the Project 39A’s FAIR TRIAL FELLOWSHIP which trains and mentors young professionals to work in collaboration with the State Legal Services Authority towards ensuring fair trial for undertrial prisoners at both pre-trial and trial stages. The fellowship is currently rolled out for work in the Nagpur and Pune Central prisons. “Supported by a grant from the Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives, Project 39A has imparted training to 30 legal and social work fellows over the past four years and has recently made forays into prisons and forensic science labs,” Rao elaborated.
Equally prestigious is the Centre for Communication Governance’s DIGITAL (Digital Rights and Inclusive Technology for All) Fellowship which was initiated last year for professionals. The key objectives are to support the development of digital rights by providing high quality legal and research support in cases relating to digital rights, to engage in and produce legal and policy research around the theme of digital rights and to build an inclusive and mutually supportive digital rights and technology policy community in India with a long-term vision for shaping the development of law and policy in this domain in India. The selected fellows are hosted by civil society organisations and litigation chambers to provide them with exposure to digital rights litigation.
On offer also are the recently launched academic fellowships where NLU-D is inviting applications for 10 academic fellows, a flagship programme to nurture early career academics in teaching and research. Academic fellows are expected to contribute to intellectual growth of the university, and would be mentored by senior faculty members. Applications are invited from academics and early career scholars in law, social sciences, humanities, technology and other allied disciplines.
That apart, NLU-D’s numerous doctoral fellowships are also coveted. These include the IPR (intellectual property rights) Chair PhD fellowship constituted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry; the Centre for Innovation, Intellectual Property and Competition’s PhD fellowship, and the Centre for Regulatory Studies’ Fellowship.
Following the overwhelming response to the existing fellowships, NLU-D is all set to launch at least two more fellowships during the current academic year: one to be constituted by the government’s Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority and the other in association with Gandhinagar-based GIFT City.
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