24 February 2017

Har Har Mahadev!

By His grace, I say these words,
With His blessings, there is freedom from this worldly herd;
He is the keeper of all shunned objects,
He is the welcomer of all castes and sects.

In the trinity, He is the destroyer,
By drinking the Halahala, He is our saviour;
Personified knowledge, He is our teacher,
As गंगाधर, He is the purifier!

No one is more innocent than Him,
He accepts all offerings - no matter if proper or prim;
He is admired by all pilgrims,
His infinite glory can’t be captured in any hymn!

Inspires the ascetics and householders alike,
He is the eternal indestructible light;
He is the grantor of all boons and दण्ड,
He is सच्चिदानन्द!

The gods play the instruments for His dance,
O! Mahadev! When will I get a glance?
I seemed to have wasted several lives,
But now I bow to thee -
Free me from this illusionary world immediately!

Har Har Mahadev!
Har Har Mahadev!
Har Har Mahadev!


1 February 2017

O Maa Saraswati!

To speak something clever, I need not whisky or rum,
My life is adorned by your pearls of wisdom;
Your grace has helped me make many a difficult decision,
Now, I can see even beyond my immediate vision;
How can I forget those times when I wasn't sure,
And a guess of the mind turned out to be the cure!

Study has never been a torture for me,
Philosophy and Finance, I have learnt with glee;
Each time I picked a book to read,
I was afraid I would not finish the deed;
Despite my failings, I think I know a decent lot,
Without your blessings, my intelligence would have certainly rot!

To which door do I drop my gratitude?
The temple or school or library - I want no feud;
Should I light the lamp and the incense?
Or should I donate to a school to break the ignorance fence?
Perhaps, it matters less what exactly I do,
So long as my heart is faithful and true.

O Mother! I owe all my life to you,
Like the painting to the painter's view;
Forever, I hope I am at your feet,
No matter the highness of my seat;
My salutations to you, O Maa Saraswati!
I bow to thee,
I bow to thee,
I bow to thee!


18 January 2017

Marks for Attendance - II

In this post, I will try and argue in favour of the Marks for Attendance policy. But before embarking on that, it must be said that this is not an administration versus students move; wherein the former is propagating and the latter is rebelling. Ideally, the administration and the students should be on the same side and there shouldn't be an "other". Both should attempt to work for the welfare of the institution. So lets try and not make it an Us versus Them. We have had enough of that in the previous semester and by no means was it pleasant.

The attendance requirement to sit for examinations is about 67% to 70%. This is the bare minimum that a student has to achieve to sit for examinations. This is not the goal. Ideally, a student should attend all classes. Ceteris paribus, she should be there for all classes. It could then be argued that the institution is giving marks to a student for doing something that the student ought to do anyway. 

To my understanding, the instant policy is not a problem in cases where there is no genuine reason to miss class (such as laziness). In fact, in those cases, the policy acts as incentive to attend class. It is true that mere physical presence does not guarantee attentiveness. However, it creates an avenue to participate. Perhaps, that is a better outcome than not attending class at all for a non-genuine reason.  

Indeed, the entire problem is only in the field where the student has a genuine reason to not be in class. Previously, I had argued that this amounts to punishing the student for no fault of her own. I now propose three measures that may counterbalance such eventualities -

1. Tutorials/Remedial Classes

Around the first week of November 2016, the Faculty had introduced a policy of Tutorial classes. A student could attend these classes and gain attendance. Such attendance would be counted in the numerator and would be excluded from the denominator. For instance, lets assume a student's attendance is 6 out of 10 classes in Subject X. Such student could attend 4 tutorials of that subject and then her cumulative attendance would be (6+4) i.e.: 10 out of 10 classes. The tutorials are in that way benefit classes.

But, how many tutorials are there per subject? In the last semester, there were about 5 weeks of tutorial classes. There used to be one tutorial per subject per week. Like mentioned earlier, these classes began in November 2016; while the semester began in September 2016.

If the tutorial classes were to begin from February 2017 and continue upto the end of the semester in mid-April, there would be about 8 to 10 tutorial classes per subject in the whole semester. Thus, such a policy if introduced soonly could ease some of the pain that maybe caused due to missed classes for genuine reasons.

2. Attendance for Moot Court/Seminars/College Activities/College Conferences

A comprehensive policy for granting attendance for extracurricular activities conducted by/through the Faculty may also assist in covering up the loss of attendance caused by such activities in the given two subjects.

3. Change of section

Some students are preparing for competitive exams (for their career or higher studies) and have coaching classes that borderline conflict with the classes in the two subjects. It may not be the duty of an educational institute to accommodate for coaching classes. However, the Faculty could favourably treat the 'change of section' application of such a student; to enable her to shift to a section that best accommodates her coaching classes.  

Notwithstanding the above, there may still be cases wherein a student for no fault of her own may not be able to cover up even in the tutorials. These are hard cases. They deserve our sympathy. But there is little one can do. In this regard, even the 70% attendance for exams policy is strict. In that policy, no relaxation is made even in cases of medical or family emergencies.

Previously, I had argued that there was lack of information regarding the extent of the policy and its exemptions. I am guilty of not seeking this information. Therefore, to be fair, it might be too early/premature to comment on the policy in toto. The above three measures are only my suggestions and the actual exemptions (if any) that may follow may be even more liberal. We just don't know. And we should acknowledge that.

Should the Faculty have waited till a full policy was ready and designed? I don't know. The students are somewhat stressed because classes started immediately after exams. But so are the teachers and staff. They also did not have any break. There was no break even for them to chalk out a comprehensive policy. Maybe there is a detailed policy and we will see its shape and form in the coming days. Until such time, we should be a little patient. Like I said before, the Faculty has seen much impatience and anger and some cooperation may do some good.

A word or two may also be said about the subjects in which there are marks for attendance. Moot Court is an entirely practical subject and Ethics/Advocacy has some practical element. For a good grasp of these subjects, class discussion is paramount. For instance, in Moot Courts, developing case theories requires the interaction of various brains. Same for Ethics - what is right and what is wrong is different for everyone and listening to divergent views is intellectually stimulating.

In fact, team activities require the presence of sufficient students. A student would be left stranded if her teammate is absent. In such circumstances, marks may be the extra nudge that a student needs to attend class.

I am not aware of the mechanism in which other universities ensure attendance of students for team activities. Perhaps, students have a zeal to participate in such activities in other universities. That zeal is certainly missing in the Faculty. Marks for Attendance may act as a stop-gap arrangement till the zeal is revived.

Further, Marks for Attendance may help inculcate a discipline in future lawyers that is certainly missing in the today's courts of law - where adjournments and delay are the norm.

One may also argue that if the quality of classes is great, then students will automatically turn up for class. I agree. That is the ideal case. But we don't live in an ideal world. The Moot Court paper has been made compulsory for all students for the first time. The scale is enormous. There are bound to be mistakes and hiccups. There will be flip-flops and the teachers will not be fully equipped. This is true for any new enterprise. We should call out the mistakes and hiccups. However, criticism does not imply that we don't cooperate. Or that we behave harshly. That is certainly not the road to progress. 

A legitimate follow up would be that the mistakes of the Faculty should not cause suffering to the students. A student should not lose out because a faulty policy. I think the Faculty is conscious of the same. But even if it is not, it is not an admission that we need from the Faculty. The principle stands on its own - A student can't suffer for a faulty policy. In the worst case scenario, if it should come to that, then the students always have the option to approach an adjudicatory body which will then decide on the merits of the matter. This has happened before and will continue to happen in the future. The benefit of the doubt must be given. However, when doubt shows signs of certainty, then surely one should put forward their case.

I have said whatever I had to. And I am thankful to the reader for having read this far. Perhaps, you already knew all of this. Perhaps, you didn't. Anyway, you now know some arguments for both sides. You may choose to decide. Or you may choose not to.

The Faculty has seen a lot in the last few years - de-recognition, re-recognition, hunger strikes, attacks on the Dean and what not. However, not all has been downhill. In the last few months, there have been several positive changes, which we have ungratefully ignored. For the first time the LL.B. programme has a compulsory 'practical' element. We shifted to a new building where the loos are clean. Timetables and section lists were uploaded on time. Classes started on time. Attendance is updated regularly. Attendance requirements are taken seriously. We have a dedicated website. The soft copies of the case materials have been uploaded. An environment is being created where studies are taken seriously. It might not suit those of us who are pursuing other interests. But it suits the image of a law school. We did say we wanted more efficiency. We did say we wanted stricter implementation of rules. We did say we wanted practical skills and not just theory rote learn exams. 

We shouldn't shy away now.

Image source: http://lawfaculty.du.ac.in/images/slides/slide-1.jpg