This interview has been conducted by Guneet Banga, Campus Manager, Institute of Law, Nirma University.
Swarnabh Dutta. Currently working as a United Nations Volunteer for the UNHCR as Refugee Status Determination Assistant Officer Swarnabh was the founder President of Nirma Institute of Law Students Activity Association and the Managing Editor of the Nirma University Law Journal.
Swarnabh, an ardent mooter and debater has participated in the 5th Frankfurt Investment Arbitration MCC 2011, won the 5th Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Pre MCC 2011 and was adjudged the second best speaker and was a quarter finalist in Stetsons international environmental MCC 2010.
After completing his LL.B degree from Institute of Law, Nirma University, Swarnabh went on to pursue LLM from National Law School, Bangalore. Swarnabh was the Gold medalist of the LLM (human rights) (2014) and was awarded the Hunasagahalli Muthanna Parvathamma Medal for highest CGPA in LLM and the Nani A Palkhiwala gold medal for highest CGPA in human rights law.
1. What made you take up law?
Many a times I have been asked this question and almost all the time I have responded to it lightly that I didn’t get into anything else and law was the only area that was left for me to be tested.
Though there is an element of truth to it, I was a science student in 10+2 and gave all the engineering exams that were expected out of me be it IIT, AIEEE, VIT, and the unending list.
But I believe this is the right platform to tell you all about my decision to go with law. And the answer lies in two words, my parents. Both of them belong to the teaching fields in commercial arts and visual arts, but never ever did they force me to take up anything against my will.
The story is very simple to comprehend, I always saw Baba getting entangled into one or the other cases, regarding property, regarding promotion, regarding financial matters, and I saw him struggling on the days when his matters used to come up and the courts simply went on adjourning the matters for a new date.
It causes great impatience to see someone who has taught you how to walk and talk suffer so much because of our gradual and mundane system. I was eager to know where the roots to the problems lie and what could be done about them, and thats how the interest in law took its shape and I worked to get through CLAT and then Nirma happened.
One of the most beautiful and learning experiences that I have ever had in my life so far, began from ILNU. Even though it might seem highly unlikely, this story truly is the only reason for me to take up law as a career.
2. You have been an inspiration for many. Who has been your inspiration?
If you had asked me this question 5 years ago, I would have answered it quite differently and without taking a single pause, gone on and said that it was my parents. But over time, I have realised that this isn’t my real case.
I feel honoured when you say that I have been an inspiration for many, but I might disappoint you with this answer. For me, I am my own inspiration. And this doesnt come from a high-headed attitude that many might mistake it for, or having a self loathing outlook or a feeling that everyone is lesser than me, or that I need none to live my life with, no. and I hope you don’t take me wrong.
Its simply that, all my life, after I have understood my thoughts, it is you who needs to determine the course of your life. Your parents would always be your concrete support, so will be your peers, your teachers and above all, the Almighty, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to what you are going to do with your life that lies ahead of you.
You can follow what people around you have to say, and in case you fail, you will always have them to blame. If you have your own self, you yourself decide whats going to be the best for you, then thats it, it is your burden to carry and it is your responsibility to shoulder and to make way for yourself, to fight your fears and to win your battles.
You’ve got to stand up for yourself, because perhaps not everyone and not every time, you would find someone who can do it for you. You drive your own inspiration. Always value those who matter to you in your life and those who have impacted you in good or bad ways.
3. How did you manage academics along with your extra curricular activities?
Its a very tricky question with a very simple answer. I can explain to you my version of it and this is how it goes:
You always need popcorn/nachos when you watch a movie, you always need a dessert when you go out for a meal, and that’s how I see the relation between academics and extra curricular activities. Both of them are very essential to build one’s persona and to learn how to take on new challenges with the most effective solutions.
Its always a matter of prioritisation that plays a very crucial role. And not everyone has a similar perspective about this. How was I able to manage it, easy to state, I fell in love with both.
4. How did Nirma help you shape your goals?
I owe everything that I have today on my CV and as an individual, to the Institute of Law. And it’s not just the name but all the people behind that name who I have to thank and feel gratitude towards.
We were the second batch of law after ILNU was established and we were the ones who had a plethora of opportunities ahead of us. And ILNU gave them to us served on the platter.
Be it from being a student in the class, to being a master of ceremony, to participating in the moots and to representing the Institute at the national and international levels, to becoming the President of the Student body, it was all a blessing from the Institute. And that is how much i value my Institute. It helped me stand where I am and made me who I am.
If it wasn’t for the Institute, perhaps I might not have been interviewed like this today.
5. How many internships did you do while you were still studying? How have they helped you?
In a span of 6 years of my academic life, I was able to manage 9 internships, and they ranged from working with a NGO at the grassroots in Rajasthan to the Human Rights Watch and the UNHCR at the international arena, and including several law firms and senior advocates in India.
How have they helped me? Massively.
Now I know how to talk to the top lot of advocates, how to work under the most stressful conditions and, even how to survive when you have nothing to do but just kill your time.
And this is how the internships mould you and that’s one lesson that I have learnt, how to get the work done efficiently and expeditiously, and how to survive in the lowest and the highest of pressure working environments.
6. Which achievement is the most special for you and why?
This is another tough one to crack. There have been many special moments that I have come across, but yes, when you ask me, there is one at the tip of my tongue.
It was when the team of 4 of us, Vijita Mohanan, Sandeep Bansiwal, Ritu Modi and I, won the National Rounds for the 5th Frankfurt Investment Arbitration MCC, 2011 at Amarchand Mangaldas, New Delhi, and we were the top team from India to proceed for Arbitration to be held at the Goethe Universitat, Germany.
One of the most memorable achievements of my life, and the reason behind it was the amount of work that we did continuously, the sleepless nights that were spent just to get one paragraph written and the unending toiling to get the memorial in shape, and then finally, when it all turned out to our advantage, it was just splendid to witness that all our efforts were worth it.
Such satisfaction. all those times that were spent, perhaps I will cherish them for the rest of my remaining life.
7. What are your future goals?
If I answer this and mention one of the many long awaited goals, I would do wrong to the readers for I have not a single one that qualifies as permanent.
I would want to go around the world and taste all the cuisines that exist, to earn loads of money so that I never have to worry about my pocket when I am buying a Rs. 10/- dairy milk from the canteen, to climb the highest peak and go to the depths of the sea.
Alright, I’ll stop with the mindless answers, and to be very honest, I just want to stay happy, make my parents proud and live a life that would be worth it. That is all I have ever dreamt of and continuously strive for, to look behind and find that I have lived a life with very few regrets.
8. What is the one advice you would like to give to all the law students?
I hope you wouldn’t mind if I share two.
One that I have learnt from my father, and I put it like this, “We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong, the amount of work required in both is the same“, it’s only the people who matter that stay in times when you’re at your worst phase of your life, and that has always guided me thus far.
And the other one, that I follow comes from the legendary movie and my favourite, Batman, and in those very words, “Why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up and rise.”