Adventures in India
by Dean Shelley Broderick
After a year of planning, in November, I had the pleasure of leading a law delegation to India. Alumni Ray Covington (’99), Wayne Turner (’08) and Jose Campos (’12) participated along with social justice lawyers and friends. We spent two days with the president of the India Bar Association, met with the faculty and students of both private and public law schools, the faculty of the India Law Institute, and the Chief Judge of the High Court in the largest state, Rajastan. We visited law firms, watched court proceedings and interacted with social justice lawyers. One delightful evening, we dined with a prominent couple who have adopted nearly forty children affected by the HIV AIDS crises. Every day was fascinating!!
Below, please find a journal entry that endeavors to portray my sense of the place and our experience along with some photos. Next year, we travel either to Myanmar or to Vietnam and Cambodia. Hope you’ll consider joining the delegation!
Journal Entry: November 10, 2016
Our guides, while enroute from place to place, have described the workings of the caste system from personal experience, daily life in the villages, various forms of arranged marriages, the tensions between and among the cultures and faiths, the effects of the Moghul invasion, the Karma Suture, various forms of architecture, politics, corruption, art, and crafts, among countless other topics. We have also seen master craftsman demonstrate the dying art of handmade Kashmiri silk carpet making, block printmaking on fabric and master tailoring. I'm not going to lie. Some of us may have engaged in retail therapy!!
I am exhausted for all the reasons Joe Libertelli told me to expect from his visit here, and more--the overwhelming crowds with no sense of personal space; the traffic; the roads chock a block with cars and trucks and motorbikes and cows and camels and dogs and elephants and monkeys and boar, but no lanes or traffic lights and always break neck speed and people darting in and out; the smells of spices and exhaust and unprecedented smog--unbelievable!!!
Our schedule is packed with 12-hour days. Each day features long rides hanging on for dear life in busses and jeeps. I have been asked at a moment's notice to address law school faculties and deans and chancellors, large classes of students, groups of lawyers in chambers and firms, the president of the India Bar Association, the head of and faculty of the Indian Law Institute, the Chief Justice of the largest state court and on and on. We have had robust exchanges about efforts to expand civil and human rights for the LGBTQ community, indigenous tribes and other vulnerable people; immigration; pretrial detention; intellectual property in pharmaceuticals; health care and policy; criminal law; the status of women; employment issues; and the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and the effective use of passive resistance and non-cooperation, to name just a few topics. Each member of our delegation was called on to speak about or respond to questions about his or her areas of law practice and views on aspects of social justice, law reform, and systemic change. I have reveled in the opportunity to sing the praises of our extraordinary law school, its diversity and social justice mission, faculty, students, service learning and clinical work. I have been enormously proud of our eloquent alumni!! Yesterday, for example, Wayne Turner '08, spoke passionately to 150 students and faculty members at Rajasthan Law School about the influence of Gandhi on the stages of the gay rights movement in the US and the out -of -the -box strategies employed to bring about change. His detailed knowledge about the status of the law in India and his personal experience of peaceful protest and regular arrests moved us all. He even managed to tie in the 45-page report he had to submit to prove his character and fitness for bar admission in light of his extensive police record!
I have worn heels and suits every day and walked millions of miles at high speed through gigantic law schools and high courts, lawyers' chambers, law firms and markets and mosques, Gandhi's assassination site, and temples, all poorly lit and teeming with people, and all totally inaccessible to anyone with physical limitations. We have been treated like rock stars with crowds following, countless photographers, regular presentations of huge bouquets of roses and plaques and other gifts, applause and hugs. We have been asked to form partnerships and consider MOUs. We anticipated none of this. We understood that we would be visiting law schools and courts, really as tourists. It didn't turn out that way!!
We are all sleep deprived and overloaded with emotion paired with shock at the election results. Everyone we met yesterday -- lawyers, judges, law students, shopkeepers, and waiters -- pressed us to try to understand how our country elected Donald Trump. We are reeling.
I say all this but need to add that we have loved this experience!!! Today, we are having a cultural day, riding elephants up a giant hill to the storied Amber Fort, touring Jaipher's Pink City and having dinner with a prominent Indian family. We see the Taj Mahal at sunrise! I feel so privileged to experience this week in another world!!!