College Manager Samali Verma interviewed associate professor Mr. Manish Sharma of Amity Law School Delhi (GGSIPU).
He talks about his personal inhibitions and experiences, moves over to his teaching experience and deliberates on the educational system of the country.
Read on for a very well-detailed interview
1. Tell us something about yourself?
I believe in mixture of traditional and modern thinking, I believe in mixture of both socialist and capitalist ideology; I learn from the history and look forward towards future; I have faith in both religion and science; I have belief in inter-dependence and independence; I believe in idealism but do not ignore realism too.
In total, I believe in principles but prefer righteousness over principles.
2. Your sources of inspiration in life, as a child, or as a young adult, driving forces, your interests aside from your profession?
Since my childhood, my source of inspiration is my father, the way he works with full dedication, the way he helps others. He devoted most of his life for his parents and family; the kind of respect he gets from each and every one who has come to his contact…
When I was in school, I was inspired with my brother, the way he was dedicated towards his studies.
When I entered into 20s, I got inspired the most by Gandhian philosophy, Gandhi’s principles, ideology, his way of fighting with the worldly vices, his dedication not only to his country but to the whole humanity.
I get inspired by those people who sacrifice themselves for the sake of others. I believe that one can learn something or the other from anything living or non-living.
3. How was your college life like? Which college did you attend? Your fondest memories of that place?
I went Gwalior for my under-graduation.
I attended Institute of Law, Jiwaji University from 2007-10. My schooling was, since the starting, in Hindi medium, so I was little nervous because the law course, there, was in English medium. But I was felt comfortable by the teachers, classmates and my flat-mates.
Very soon, I started learning new things, and those were the most important and exiting years to learn something new every day.
I used to feel happy to adopt new things in my life and I must say that I was quick in learning.
I enjoyed those 5 years of my college – friends, night out, walking 8 kms for movie, playing cards for whole night, exams and watching movie after every exam, flirting, dating, fighting, spending time with classmates in college parking, spending evenings in swimming pool, gyming, time pass at KCD (Kallu Coffee Day, it was a tea shop which we named like CCD) and watching exiting cricket matches, trips to Agra, Nainital, Kolkata and Bangladesh Border, mooting in Bhopal and Pune, there are actually lot of memories and if I start writing, it will become a bulky manuscript.
Then for masters, I was in NALSAR, that was again a wonderful experience, especially with a feeling that I was entering into the top law school of India. The most amazing thing of NALSAR was students-with–cultural-diversity.
I remember, when I entered, that year saw heavy rain and the lake nearby was full and on Sundays or on any day without classes, I used to have a feel like we had come to a resort for leisure and relaxation. But to be honest, on the serious note, that was the place where I realized, what I have to do in future.
4. What strategies, tricks, did you use to be successful in college (in terms of studies, making good relations)?
My definition of success is not restricted to get good marks in the exams. For me, success is more related to your overall personality development.
For exams, I always believed and still believe that studying hard is the only solution and that too from books, not from any shortcut study material.
Apart from that participation in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities is very important and need of the hour too. Yes, good relations with your peers, juniors, seniors and teachers is also important which I maintained and I still have, but that I never tried to exploit to get any undue advantage.
To sum up, for me, the greatness and success of a person is, how many faces smile because of you, how many lives are inspired by you and how many people are showing up for your last journey from this world, but not how many marks one gets, not how many power point presentation one makes or not how much money one earns.
So, first yearn, then learn and earning will be incidental.
5. What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?
Strengths – I am self-disciplined, calm and composed, spiritual, Gandhian way of thinking and the most important I am not greedy.
Weaknesses- I am little lazy, I procrastinate things, sometimes I become less emotional.
6. What according to you should be the focus of the law students at law school? How should they shape up their potential career graph?
“When you enter into a law school, don’t pray for the lesser burden, pray for the stronger back.” I would say students should aspire to acquire more and more knowledge first, which will lead to their confidence building and towards structuring their career.
Now-a-days from the very first day, they start thinking about six digit salary and placement. My suggestion is to live the college life and gain knowledge; placement will come eventually, if they have knowledge.
They should follow ethics of healthy competition; do not fight only for grades or marks, seek for the overall personality development. Stop using shortcuts. And try to use your education for the development and betterment of your own people.
Think Big, Act Bigger.
7. Was the college that you attended anything like ALSD?
I attended two colleges. My under-graduation college was not like ALSD, it was a state university and the whole environment was like a usual government university only.
But yes, NALSAR, where I went for LL.M, was far better than ALSD. But I think every college has its pros and cons. There are lots of benefits of ALSD too.
8. What made you choose this career line? Did you always want to pursue law?
When I was studying, students always used to say – there are no good law teachers available, and the generation of good and old teachers is retiring, but they themselves never wanted to become a teacher.
So I used to ask a question to myself that everyone wants good teachers but no one wants to become a teacher. That was the time in my last semester of LL.M., I had in my mind, what if go for teaching profession and eventually I entered into it.
But honestly, I started teaching on a trial basis, but when I started I liked it and I am still enjoying. So, it was by choice but not because there were no options available.
9. Tell us about a little more your journey from a law student to a law professor. And what has it been like?
I started my teaching career from Faculty of Law, ICFAI University Dehradun at the age of 25, so there was not much difference between me and final year students. For some time I was not out of student mode. The first time I realized the difference was when my students wished me for Teacher’s Day.
As a student, I never had any idea about the kind of efforts a teacher puts into his teaching, but I understood it only when I started teaching.
From the very first day till date, I always try to think from students’ perspective that what a student wants from his teacher, what he expect in his teaching, his behavior, and treatment with a student.
I try to put my efforts to make a class interesting so that students can enjoy it and try to include in the class even those students who are totally lost. I don’t know to what extent I have succeeded in it.
10. Any particular people who inspired you to enter the revered teaching profession?
Prof. V. Balakista Reddy and Prof, P. V. Rao, both were my teachers in NALSAR.
11. What do you like best about teaching? What is the best thing about being a Professor at ALSD?
The best part, I like, is interaction with students, professionally and I think that makes me feel always young and energetic; fixed working hours and lot of time for my personal life.
The best part of ALSD is less interference by administration, as I strongly believe that a teacher and researcher should have intellectual freedom, and I think I get that in ALSD. I get my space to teach in class my own way.
12. How would you describe your teaching style? What is it that you would like your students to remember you for?
In teaching profession, I try not to teach but to share issues about the topic, to start discussion in the class, to make them think about those problems and find the solutions.
I have my own ideology but never try to impose it upon students but I try to provide space to them so that they can learn from my experience and understanding and have their own views, thoughts and ideology.
I like to explain subject with the help of movies, novels, biographies and autobiographies, examples of happenings in society and live examples. I always try to adopt inter-disciplinary approach – mixing law with politics, sociology, economics, philosophy, history etc. I would describe it as unconventional teaching.
I like my students to remember me as a good human being.
13. What are your favorite subjects? What subjects are you currently teaching?
Public International Law, International Trade Law, Human Rights.
14. What are your current research interests? Have you involved your students in your research?
Public International Law, International Trade Law, Human Rights. Yes, I do involve them, but again it’s a matter of choice.
15. Do you think students should behave the professors like friends, or is it necessary to maintain a disciplined environment to create a good classroom environment?
There should always be some difference between student and teacher. They can be friendly but not friends.
Classroom environment should be healthy but disciplined. I don’t believe in forced discipline but in self-discipline. Both should share respect to each other.
16. How do you like today’s students? How were the students in your time? Do you notice any difference? Any word of advice for your students?
I passed my college in 2010 and today we are in 2013, so there is not much difference in time. I have found good students who are proactive, focused, who know what they have to do in college and after college, they are disciplined, respect their teachers, multi-talented.
But there are students, who are not focused, not disciplined, they don’t walk their talk, they don’t believe in morals and ethics, they run after money andare not hesitant to adopt shortcuts, they highly dependent on internet and online resources and less connected with books, they talk about problems, but are not ready for solutions, they can’t compromise with their self-interest and are less sensitive to the needs of the society.
These two types of students, I found, even when was in college. Only advice, I would like to convey through your website, Think Globally, Act Locally and Be sincere, Don’t be serious.
17. Also do you feel any changes need to be introduced in the current legal education system of our country? What do you, as a law professor feel has scope for improvement?
Yes, Indian legal education needs second generation reforms. There is no uniformity and universality in legal education India. We provide two options to get a law degree – three years and five years.
There are problems with the evaluation system, syllabus, academic sessions, teaching methodology, dearth of good law teachers, etc.
The law colleges are not serious with the improvement of post graduate studies also. Without the improvement in post graduate legal education, we can’t get good law teachers if no good law teachers, there is no quality legal education in colleges. Everything is interconnected.