A peer-reviewed academic journal published by the students of NLIU Bhopal

Category: 10th Anniversary Interview Series

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A Long-standing Journey – Sankalp Sharma

Sankalp Sharma

After having spoken with one of our co-founders, Swapnil Verma, we bring to you our conversation with Sankalp Sharma who was also a co-founder of the NLIU Law Review. Mr. Sharma is now the managing partner of a litigation firm and still continues to actively contribute to the journal as a peer. 

Here is what Mr. Sankalp Sharma had to say about his decade long journey with us so far – 

Q1. What drove you to establish the NLIU Law Review? Were there any difficulties you faced in publishing the first volume of the journal?

The real credit for the initiative must go to Prof. (Dr.) Ghayur Alam and Swapnil, and for the determined effort, it must go to the first team of NLIU Law Review or the “student body” as we loved to call it. I, for one, was more of a spectator to a brilliant event unfolding before my eyes; my contribution to the Law Review can be best compared with the water boy of an amazing playing 11.

But before I venture into how it all started, I cannot stop myself from mentioning that it was the 2010 batch that saw history unfold before itself in too many ways. We were the last to have studied at the old campus, the Gyan Mandir was inaugurated before us, the list is endless…I believe when you are part of an institute that grows before you, inevitably, you also try or make an effort to contribute something to that growth.

In our time, we were lucky to be taught by great professors, and all of them always focused on good research and writing, but it was Prof. (Dr.) Ghayur Alam who always used to tell us the importance of research coupled with a worthy publication. Many a times he would name great journals, and over a period of time we realised that most of these famous journals are run by student bodies and not by institutions as such. In our classes and discussions, Alam Sir would probe all of us for an effort to begin a student run journal and make it the best that there is. Amongst all of us, I would not shy away to say that it was Swapnil, who not only inculcated and improvised on what he taught us but kept on holding to the idea of making this work.

In 2010, when we were in our last trimester, I vaguely remember having a conversation with Swapnil and a few of our friends after a class with Alam Sir and there was this realisation that we have pushed the issue too far. Somewhere towards the end of January and early February of 2010, we started placing a plan together; if I remember correctly, we went from batch to batch and informed everyone to come and meet us on some day in some classroom, the idea was mooted and participation was sought.

So, to answer the first part of your first question, what drove us as a team was the desire to build something that could be a part of the institution for years to come; irrespective of the fact as to who started it and how it survived the tough times, one day the institution as a whole would feel proud to be associated with it.

Now, to answer the second part of the first question, the difficulties were many – in my time at college I had seen many ideas go to waste for lack of planning and proper execution, coupled with the fact that not everyone would share the enthusiasm that one may have about a particular initiative. So, the first and foremost difficulty was to attract the crème de la crème of the institute and to make them believe in something that we did. Thus, I say that the real people worthy of praise and admiration were the young members of our team who not only grabbed on to the idea but with their sheer determination made it a success. If you will go back to the first issue and see the names of people who were part of the student body, and see where there are today, you will find that they were the best of the lot and proved their mettle in both academic and professional life.  

Once we had a team, the next task was to make it completely self-reliant and independent of interference from the University administration. This required not only the drafting of the Constitution but also assignment of roles in a manner that would result in maximum co-operation and least friction. I assume that at the back of the mind of each and everyone, the most difficult task was how to make the Law Review worthy of its name and recognition, how to stand out and how to create something that will just not die down over a period of time.

Everything, right from the posters for the Call of Papers to publication guidelines, was made with an extra bit of effort and zeal. I must say once that it was Swapnil’s brain that actually made this endeavour possible in terms of the vision, planning and the ideas for each of the hurdles that may arise in the future. In retrospect, it may seem that anyone could have done all of this and started the Law Review, all the difficulties and hurdles seem so simple to overcome. However, keeping in mind that it all started with a young team with no experience and no one to fall back, I believe that the student body did an amazing job.

Q2. What was your vision for the journal? How far do you think the journal has come towards achieving it?

My vision for the journal is rather simple, I want the articles in the journal to be referred as study material across the globe; I want our journal to be referred by not only our courts but courts across the globe, and thus I say we have a long way to go. However, I have no doubt in saying that we have come a long way over the years. I have seen team after team working towards making the journal better and witnessed students work selflessly towards something that may not give them the same amount of glare and recognition as may be a moot or a debate. I should summarise by saying that we are on the right path, and all that we need to do is to keep moving.

Q3. Any advice for the student members of the Law Review, prospective authors of the journal or its readers?

My advice to the members of the journal is to ask yourself this every time you think of the journal – how can we be the best? Am I putting in my best effort or is there more I can do? To the authors, I would say, keep on looking for new ideas and new areas to work on, keep yourself aware of the current as well as the historical aspects of issues that surround us today and those that have surrounded us from ages altogether. To the readers of the journal, I just have a word of thanks and gratitude, because it is their word of mouth that has till now and will ultimately in the future help the journal reach the heights that all of us have worked for.

Reflecting Upon the Decade that was – Swapnil Verma

Swapnil Verma

Recently, we reached out to our alumnus, Mr. Swapnil Verma, who is now a Deputy Manager (Law) at the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. However, in 2010, Mr. Verma was a student at the National Law Institute University, Bhopal and on his way to establish the NLIU Law Review, the first student-run journal of the university. He continues to actively contribute to the journal as a peer even today. We talked to him about his vision for the Law Review, the initial struggles faced by the first team and how far they believe the journal has come over the past ten years.

Here is the conversation we had with Mr. Swapnil Verma – 

Q1. What drove you to establish the NLIU Law Review? Were there any difficulties you faced in publishing the first volume of the journal?

Honestly, we felt that the fifth year of our B.A.LL.B. (Hons.) programme was somewhat superfluous to our needs. We had already seen and been through almost everything that was within our expectations and well beyond. From a perceptible loss of purpose came out the idea of trying to do something novel, useful and possibly with some longevity. There was also an earnest desire to try and give something back to the place that had made us. Having said that, it may be an exaggeration to say that Sankalp and I established the NLIU Law Review. It was and, in my understanding, continues to be a team effort of a handful of committed hands and inspired minds. We were fortunate to be attempting something that captured the imagination of a lot of students and found favour with Professor Ghayur Alam, who readily agreed to be the Faculty Advisor and guided us.

The biggest challenge we faced was in terms of time. We were into our last trimester and wading into February 2010 when we started taking concrete steps. It took some convincing that we shall be able to any tangible progress before we eventually pass out in April 2010.

We made some questionable but firm decisions, none more than limiting the management of the law review till only up to the then Third Year Batch representatives (Batch of 2012) while only reserving the role of peers for the two senior batches. The relatively dim placement/PPO prospects at the time had the senior students economizing all their energies and focus. The decision, we believed, injected a strong drive and purpose in the young student body members who were suddenly and perhaps unexpectedly spearheading the venture. We definitely benefited from their energy and enthusiasm while simultaneously earning the ire of some senior batch students who were desirous of a more direct involvement.

Young and excited as we were, we tried to emulate the methods of Constituent Assembly Debates in adopting a Constitution for the law review, holding passionate brainstorming sessions and distributing responsibilities based on the skills and willingness of individuals. Once we had that sorted, our younger friends led the charge and delivered, while Sankalp and I subsisted as mere mentors.

There were other challenges such as ensuring quality content for the first issue and some teething troubles such as procuring a software for checking plagiarism. But we were more invested in the process than the outcome and student body members showed great responsibility, optimism and resourcefulness to ensure that we could have the pleasure of holding a copy of the first volume of the NLIU Law Review late in April 2010. It was a journey made possible by all those who came together, shared our aspirations and apparently gave us something worth cherishing to look back from so far.

Q2. What was your vision for the journal? How far do you think the journal has come towards achieving it?

The idea was to promote legal research by having a flagship student law review. It was felt that even though the students of NLIU Bhopal were excelling in international and national moot court and like competitions, there was little emphasis on scholarly legal research. We had also witnessed and had been a part of a sub-culture where mandatory project papers submitted by students would not hold much academic merit. It thus appeared that establishment of a student law review may be a small step to encourage the quality and incidence of legal research in the students. In the larger context, it was also a part of the vision that with the sustained efforts of the student body behind the law review, it may gradually but progressively become a publication of national and international importance and repute. Frankly speaking, when working on the blueprint, we used to think of ‘Harvard Law Review’ all the time!

Having been a peer to the NLIU Law Review, I can attest to the fact that the quality of papers received and approved for publication has definitely improved over the years. However, having been established in and operating from a premier law institute of the country, I feel the NLIU Law Review can possibly achieve much more acknowledgement, prestige and impact. I say this with utmost respect and without discounting the immense efforts of all student members, contributors and support of the administration.

Q3. Any advice for the student members of the Law Review, prospective authors of the journal or its readers?

I congratulate all the student members of the NLIU Law Review who have contributed to, nourished and nurtured this project since the last ten years. I feel that this journey of ten years must have given us valuable and tangible learnings, experiences and insights which can be harnessed to chart the path forward. This juncture can be a platform to reflect on the past, adapt to the changed expectations, ‘review’ the relative highs and lows that the law review witnessed and thereby rise to the next level. If required, I shall love to contribute further to the cause. In fact, I entreat all ex-students of the university to shower some attention to the law review and thus hop-on to the wonderful journey that this venture has continued to make long after we were gone.

Meanwhile, I entreat both the student members as well as prospective content-contributors to identify legal situations and frameworks where there is relative dearth of research in India and provide impactful studies and deductions. I request authors to be inquisitive and fearless in their approach and contribute content that can invigorate legal debates and challenge settled assumptions.

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