Campus Manager Samarth Trigunayat from CNLU, Patna interviewed Prof (Dr.) Shaiwal Satyarthi as a part of our “FaculTea” initiative.
Sir talks about the drive behind him choosing law as his career, the joy of teaching and sharing knowledge with his students.
Identify your greatest ‘time-wasters’ and begin to examine ways to reduce them.
Hello, Prof. (Dr.) Shaiwal Satyarthi. Tell us something about yourself?
I was born and brought up in Siwan (Bihar). I moved to University of Delhi to study commerce at undergraduate level in 1995, thereafter I shifted to BHU, Varanasi where I had been for 7-8 years to complete my LL.B, LL.M and Ph.D. I am happily married to my wife, Abiruchi and I have a lovely son Shambhav.
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In my personal life, I like to play sports, read, travel, and spend time with my family and friends.
Describe your childhood in brief? Your sources of inspiration i.e. your driving forces?
My Childhood Memory, I remember it like yesterday but the difficulty is that as we grow older and return to the places of our childhood, we are often surprised to discover things are not as we remember. My father is prominent lawyer of District Court at Siwan. However, my parents never imposed their preferences on me.
So, when I decided not to practice as a lawyer at District Court of Siwan and joined the Chanakya National Law University as an Assistant Professor of Law, I was convinced of their support.
Probably, this conviction and confidence I got from my parents, my wife and other family members, who have been an essential part of my life, made me take this challenging opportunity to teach law students.
What made you choose this career line? Any particular people who inspired you to enter the revered teaching profession?
The elder brother Dr. Sabya Sachin was a real inspiration to me, and he is one of the major reasons I pursued a teaching career. His ability to guide, his fairness, and his sense of justice made me aspire to bring these things to my own classroom.
So far as choosing law subject for my career is concerned, my father Shri Ram Dayal Tiwari was a real inspiration to me because I used to assist him in his professional works by finding out required books and journals from his personal law library during my school days.
As my father was my source of inspiration, I decided to study law only during my childhood (school days). Subsequently I joined Law School, BHU to complete my LL.B.
How was your college life like? What bent you towards Law?
As an undergraduate law (LL.B) student at School of Law, Banaras Hindu University, I participated in many research programmes focused mainly on Intellectual Property Law that strengthened my resolve to pursue Master’s and doctoral degree in Law.
Those of us in the Law School at the time had an amazing camaraderie and developed life-long friendships. We celebrated each other’s birthdays and many other milestones.
What are your strengths and weaknesses? What incidents do you perceive as your failures?
My strengths are: believe in myself, positive thinking, hardworking, honest to my work, friendly behaviour. At the same time I want to state my weakness. My weakness is that I am a simple person, who always repeats the same mistake that believing every one.
What strategies did you use to be successful in college?
Yes, I can share with you some essential strategies which I used to change the momentum of my academic career for the better. College is an important part of life.
If you take plan to succeed by creating achievable goals, attending your courses, taking notes, scheduling time to study, seeking assistance when you need it, maintaining your health, and finding balance between academics and your social life, you will do well.
It is important to enjoy college, but it is equally as important to make decisions that will help you do well. Good time management is critical for success in both college and career.
A daily “to-do” list and weekly or monthly planner help you stay on track.
Identify your greatest time-wasters and begin to examine ways to reduce them. Some basic time-scheduling principles include avoiding marathon study sessions. Study in blocks of one hour with ten-minute breaks.
Was the college that you attended like Chanakya National Law University? How was it different?
I have studied in a traditional university but presently I teach in a professional university.
The difference which I found is that in a traditional university generally the teachers are hesitant to try the constructivist model, because it requires additional planning and a relaxation of the traditional rules of the classroom, whereas in a professional university teachers assist the students in developing new insights and connecting them with previous knowledge.
There is a significant difference between the constructivist class and the traditional class.
What do you like best about teaching at Chanakya National Law University?
The thing I like best about teaching at Chanakya National Law University is being able to actually give my students good knowledge of law and give them something that I have and always be able to.
It’s like a gift that you can give without having to actually spend money for something…other than giving my time. I teach at CNLU because I want to teach law students who are committed to making a positive difference in their lives. I teach here because a predominant percentage of our students is dedicated to securing greater social justice within our communities, the nation, and worldwide.
CNLU Law students inspire me to go to work each day. It is an honour to serve an institution with such an important mission and such outstanding students. I have stayed at CNLU because I am inspired and enriched by my student.
What is the best thing about being a Law Professor? And what’s the worst?
For me, however, the best aspect of law teaching has been a more general one: Being in legal academia gives me the opportunity to learn simply out of interest in the subject. This occupation gives me the opportunity to develop courses relating to my academic interests, and the freedom to pursue those interests.
At the same time being a law professor is not just about teaching; there is a scholarly aspect to being a good law professor. Law schools put a lot of weight on our writing ability because we are evaluated, in part, based on our calibre.
Describe your teaching style. How do you define good teaching?
If we present one or two examples and expressly point out their significance, students need only to record and remember what we say. That’s why I firmly believe in teaching by example. To show how lawyers think, I constantly give examples of the questions we ask when reading a case and of the steps we take when building a legal argument.
I long have hoped that these examples would make my students better lawyers. In my opinion, good teaching is not that how well we know our subject or how important we consider the law and doctrines we teach, but good teaching is that our words should reach to more students than we expect.
What are your current research interests? Have you involved your students in your research?
My research mainly concentrates on Intellectual Property Law and Family Law because I have written my thesis on Intellectual Property Law and I teach Family Law at Chanakya National Law University.
I always encourage and help my students to write research papers in various fields of law and prospective students interested in pursuing research matching my scholarly and research interests are always welcome to take my academic help.
How do you like today’s students? How were the students in your time? What’s the difference (good and bad)?
When I hear people talking about “law students these days” I think it is much more representative of the changes in the speaker than in the generations.
“Law students these days” are not the foul-ups many people imagine them to be and “the good old days” were not as good as most of us remember.
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?
The law students of today are very techno-savvy. A different breed of lawyer, equipped with different societal skills, and different level of training of law students is necessary for society and legal fraternity because technological development accelerates much quicker with each successive decade that passes by.
Opposition to legal education reforms are often quite myopic. They should be trained and groomed by developing a sense of history of where the legal profession was in the past, and where it will go in the upcoming decades–and what skills lawyers will need. Then only a clearer picture of the future of legal education emerges.