Interview: Sanya Darakshan Kishwar | Lecturer
Sanya Darakshan Kishwar is an enthusiast in the field of human rights, she is currently working as a Lecturer at the Jindal Global Law School (JGLS), India. Sanya Darakshan Kishwar is a Council Member of WICCI and has been the President of the Indian Lawyers Association, Sonipat Chapter, and Research Mentor for the Project PVoice.
She holds a Masters in International Human Rights Law from the University of Leeds and a Master in General Laws (LL.M.) from the Pennsylvania State University, U.S.A. A recipient of the Best Law Student Award, she was a part of the team that won the 26th Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Vienna. She has previously worked as a Research Assistant under the tutelage of Prof. Catherine Rogers assisting her on the project Arbitrator Intelligence. Her areas of interest are gender studies, feminist theories, and intersectional issues. She is enrolled as a doctoral candidate at NLU, Delhi, researching the topic of rising digital antifeminism in the Global South.
Interview: Sanya Darakshan Kishwar
We recently got a chance to interview Sanya Darakshan Kishwar here’s the transcript of the interview with Sanya Darakshan Kishwar.
Legal Bites: Ma’am, as you are an enthusiast in the field of Human rights, in your opinion, what is the most important Human Right? How can the world make sure that human rights are protected?
Sanya Darakhshan Kishwar: I would not say that there is a thing like the ‘most important human right’. In other words, all human rights are equal and co-existent. For the same reasons, I am of the opinion that the classification of rights as first, second, and third-generation is misleading. To illustrate, the right to food, shelter, and employment are second-generation human rights, and the right to life is a first-generation right. However, food and shelter are essential for sustenance, and without employment, a person would not be able to sustain their life, in the long run. This demonstrates that the right to food and shelter stands on the same pedestal as the right to life and the right to employment, in fact, need to be safeguarded first, in order to safeguard the right to life. It is difficult to segregate one human right from the other so as to place them in a hierarchy.
As the human body requires all its organs to function together, human rights also function together to ensure the healthy functioning of society. For the second part of your question, since there is no international mechanism for the protection and enforcement of human rights and redressal of its breach, the best way to ensure the protection of human rights would be to strengthen the regional and domestic human rights enforcement mechanisms.
An important way of doing this is by spreading awareness among people about their rights and the corollary obligation of the state to safeguard these rights. Until and unless people from all strata are aware of their rights and redressal mechanism in case of breach of such rights, the regional/domestic human rights enforcement bodies would merely be symbolic and a project of the elite.
Legal Bites: Ma’am, you have completed your master’s in International Human Rights, so we request you to suggest certain benefits of studying International Human Rights for the students of Law.
Sanya Darakhshan Kishwar: International Human Rights is a vast field and one would need to narrow down their core interest, in the first place, if they wish to pursue an academic career in the field. That being said, academics is just one of the many career opportunities. You can get really good internships in law firms abroad that help clients with cases of human rights violations. Having studied human rights helps you understand the cases from a more nuanced angle, be it a criminal trial in a district court or the International Criminal Court.
A student of human rights would be able to understand the underlying legal issues from all three perspectives, namely the state, the victim/witnesses, and the accused. Given its intersection with almost all the fields of law, the field of human rights presents vast opportunities for interdisciplinary research and job opportunities. Personally, studying human rights has been an eye-opener to the many atrocities ongoing around the globe, both during times of peace and armed conflict.
Legal Bites: Ma’am, before joining in as a tutor, you worked as a research assistant under the tutelage of Prof. Catherine Rogers. What motivated you to choose academics as your career?
Sanya Darakhshan Kishwar: At Penn State, I exposed myself to multiple opportunities in order to understand what career would suit me the best (or what career I would be most comfortable in). While preparing for Vis Moot, I had understood that arbitration might interest me for the time being but certainly not in the long run. While researching under Prof. Rogers, I found myself leaning more towards topics that intersected with human rights of gender studies, for e.g., the under-representation of women in the field of international commercial arbitration.
I thoroughly enjoyed my classes for Human Rights with Prof. Tiyanjana Maluwa. It was under his guidance that I completed an essay and for that, I had to undertake intensive research. This made me realize how much I enjoyed researching and writing on topics in the field of human rights. This made me pursue a second LLM with a specialization in the field. At this point, I was clear that I would be most comfortable as well as happy with academics as a career. Researching the theoretical aspect behind a practical issue was my trait since my school days and I could best translate this trait into my career as an academician.
Legal Bites: Ma’am, you are the Council Member of the Women’s Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and we can see that we have progressed towards a modern society, and budgeting & money management comes naturally to women, still, they shy away from making financial decisions. This is the condition of even urban women earning good salaries too, they are dependent on their father or husband for investment decisions. Mam, what could be the reasons for this situation?
Sanya Darakhshan Kishwar: This, in my understanding, is due to the way society has conditioned women for ages. The nascent-most understanding of the scope and extent of autonomy a woman receives is from her mother, who in turn has been made to adjust to the gendered roles, stereotypes, and assignments. This is passed on to the next generation and what is primarily a violation of autonomy, is accepted as the general rule, both by society and the individual. When it comes to investment and financial matters, gendered roles come into the highlight.
The stereotype of men being the providers of the family and women being the nurturers rob women of their opportunity to make their own financial decisions.
Often, it is assumed that men would be better at mathematics than women. Women are seldom asked for their opinions even if the investment is for the future of the family. It is assumed that they would not understand the fiscal benefits of an investment plan as well as a man could. This is of course stereotype that has no grounding in science and women are as capable of handling their finances as men are, and sometimes even better. However, even though we have excellent female economists, mutual fund analysts, and share market experts, society is yet to accept this as the norm. If their example is cited by women, their male guardians turn them down by advising them not to be encouraged by a few exceptions.
Legal Bites: Ma’am, you have received an award of the Best Law Student during your college days, so suggest the law students tips to excel in their law school and kindly emphasize the subjects to be more attentive during college days.
Sanya Darakhshan Kishwar: I would suggest students not to leave out uncovered the practical understanding of the papers that they are taught. For this, the internship is the most useful means. Moot court, trial advocacy, and other co-curricular activities are equally important for you to get a beginner’s insight into the practice of law.
The most basic of law papers that are taught in the first few semesters of your law school form the foundation of the advanced law papers that you study in the later semesters. It is, therefore, of utmost necessity for a law student to be clear with and have a grasp on those papers. These include the Law of Contract, Tort, Civil and Criminal law, and Constitutional Law.
It is also extremely important to stay up to date with the latest legal news. You can follow LiveLaw, Bar and Bench, SCC Online, etc. for the latest updates on recent judgments. Lastly, have your own copies of bare acts rather than depending on library copies. Bare acts are the windows to the massive world of law that you are being taught. Textbooks and reference books will act as your constant guide by adding to the understanding that you get by reading the bare provisions.
Legal Bites: Ma’am, it’s a matter of pride that you have won the 26th William C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Vienna, and we would like to know about the changing trends of international commercial arbitration in India.
Sanya Darakhshan Kishwar: With the pandemic, the Indian contract laws found a gap in the existing jurisprudence with regard to the scope and extent of application of the force majeure clause during a global pandemic. This certainly has implications for international commercial transactions as well. Apart from that, in my opinion, India has been progressing in the adoption and usage of the different forms of Alternate Dispute Resolution Mechanisms, of which arbitration is just one, international commercial arbitration is an even more specific field.
One aspect in which India still lags behind is the list of arbitrators being under-representative of certain genders and classes. Also, with the increasing use of social media markets and the role of artificial intelligence in commercial transactions, India needs to get prepared to understand the intersection between technology and commerce better.
Legal Bites: Ma’am, so many e-learning avenues are open for students today. How can e-learning repositories like Legal Bites aid law students in law school?
Sanya Darakhshan Kishwar: In every class, there is always something that your law faculty would leave out for you to research. This self-learning requires you to stay up to date with the latest judgments, and opinions of judges, scholars, and advocates. E-learning repositories help you get hold of these. Moreover, many students start to prepare for competitive exams in their early years of law school and such websites are very useful for getting notes and practice question sets along with tutorials, which could be available for free or through an institutional subscription.
Legal Bites, for instance, has amazingly arranged the reading materials topic-wise and I personally find this easy-to-refer repository very user-friendly. Moreover, these websites also share announcements of co-curricular activities, internship vacancies, and job opportunities, which is indeed extremely helpful for students.