Wednesday, August 4, 2010

National Law University, Delhi

The National Law University in Delhi is the last of the national law schools we are visiting and the newest.  The physical plant is still being constructed.  The campus is beautiful -- these photos give some idea -- and is connected to central Delhi by the new metro.

 The school is phasing in its program, in fact its third entering class was welcomed just this week.  When the program is fully operating NLU will have 5 "batches" of students working toward the first law degree as well as LLM and PhD students.  Because we were there on the first day of class, there was no opportunity to give a formal lecture as I had done at the other schools.  However, the Constitutional History professor graciously gave me and Bob about 20 minutes of class time to talk about public interest law and to answer questions.  The students asked great questions, including why the U.S. does not join international environmental protection efforts such as those directed at limiting greenhouse gasses. 

Save the Ganges

This is an auspicious month to go to towns in the Himalayan foothills to get water from the Ganges (called Ganga here).  People--mostly young men, but also some older men and some women--walk hundreds of miles from their home villages to towns that are the center of this activity.  They get the water and walk back home in time to offer some of the water to Lord Shiva on the 8th of August.  (The rest is evidently saved for other rituals.)  Dressed in orange or red, most of these people, called Kanwar, seem to do this trek in flip-flops or barefoot.  If they let the water containers touch the ground, the offering becomes impure, so a popular way to transport the water is on decorative shoulder carriers that can be parked on racks provided for that purpose at stopping points along the route.  We're down in Delhi now, and we see them walking south along the highways heading back to their villages.  These photos were taken in Haridwar, though, one of the pilgrimage cities we visited.

We went there with M.C. Mehta, the father of environmental litigation in India, to understand why is is passionate about stopping the building of large hydroelectric dams on this portion of the Ganga.  The project would destroy the free run of the river and thus the sanctity of the spots.  We also visited Prof. G.D. Agrawal, a prominent scientist trained at University of California, Berkeley, who is in the second week of his third fast unto death to prevent the dam project from going forward.  His first two attempts successfully forestalled the project, but the promises to scale it back have repeatedly been broken.  For Prof. Agrawal the issue has nothing to do with economics or the need for energy but rather is an entirely spiritual concern.  This juxtaposition of spirituality and litigation is a prominent factor in other human rights legal endeavors we have learned about during our stay.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS)

On Monday the 26th we spent the day at NUJS in Kolkata (Calcutta).  This is the most urban school we've visited so far.  It's in a relatively new area of Kolkata called (interestingly enough) "Salt Lake City."  Unlike the other two schools I've visited, this campus is very compact.  The classroom and office building is several stories tall and built in a ring surrounding a grassy area.  The student dorms (called hostels) are behind that building and have their own courtyard, complete with fountain (which isn't in this photo) and dogs (which have their own photo).  Bob and I had many chances to talk to students and faculty here, and found a lively, engaged group of people we very much enjoyed getting to know.

Kolkata is an intense, busy city with a rich intellectual life.  It offers great opportunities for someone who is able to meet its many challenges.  We have identified a very exciting externship opportunity here -- more on that once we're back in Portland.

We are off to Dehra Dun at the crack of dawn (it's midnight here now).  I'm not sure I'll be able to blog from there, so there may be a brief hiatus.  

Friday, July 23, 2010

Environmental Enforcement at NLSI

Here's my class -- or at least some of the students in it -- at the National Law School of India University.  I had the great privilege of teaching a 1-credit course to about 40 LLM students.  The course was essentially a distillation of the Environmental Enforcement class that Craig and I teach at L&C.  I focused on the aspects of our administration and enforcement of pollution control law that I thought might be useful bases for comparison with India's system.   These students are well-informed and thoughtful people.  We had some very lively discussions and debates. 

There are many ways in which our legal systems are similar, as they are both based in the common law, but of course each country has made adaptations suitable to its own needs and experiences.  For example, India does not use jury trials for criminal cases.  Students explained that the diversity in this country--and the strong identification that people have with their own groups--make it hard for people to trust juries with the important decisions involved in criminal cases.  But there are so many ways in which we share legal traditions and concepts that it was easy to get beyond basics to a discussion of the subtle issues and choices involved in developing an environmental enforcement system.

I was impressed and gratified at the dedication of the students in this class.  Normally a 1-credit course would be spread out over 2 weeks, but I had only 4 days.  So the students had their normal classes from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and then had class with me from 2:30 to 6:30 (with some breaks, of course).  I had distributed reading materials electronically, and even with their normal heavy preparation burdens most of the students found time to be very familiar with the statutes, cases, and EPA guidance documents I provided.

 Each student will be writing a short paper comparing some aspect of India's approach to enforcement with what they have learned about our approach.  I've seen some of the papers they've written for other courses, and the quality is excellent.  I'm looking forward to reading this batch once I'm back at L&C.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

National Law School of India University

NLSI, in Bangalore, is the school at which I'm spending the most time.  The welcome has been wonderful.  Bob and I met with Vice Chancelor Dr. R. Venkata Rao and senior members of the faculty and made detailed plans for future joint activities.  Since Tuesday, I've been teaching a short course on environmental enforcement -- I'll post something specifically about that soon.  Right now, perhaps a few views of the campus:  outside the library . . .   

. . . the "quad" (classrooms and faculty offices surround it)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Getting From Here to There

In Hyderabad, the law school is about an hour and a half away from the city center.  In Bangalore, I'm staying about an hour and a half away from the law school (more on that later).  This means long journeys by car, as non-auto public transportation is either non-existent or impossible for a short-timer to learn to use.

I know you've probably heard this, but I'll confirm it:  traffic in Indian cities is fearsome.  At least that has been my experience so far (and I don't expect Calcutta or Delhi to be better).  The roads are filled with cars, busses, motor scooters, motorcycles, taxi rickshaws (see photo), trucks, donkey carts, oxen-drawn carts, bicycles, and (surprisingly) pedestrians.

I've tried to capture the chaos in a photo, but so far haven't been able to do it justice.  This is the best I have to date:

There are traffic lanes marked on the streets, but from what I can tell they function as mere suggestions that are not taken very seriously.  Head-on collisions seem to be averted with barely a whisper between vehicles, and the scooters and motorcycles weave in and out, just barely avoiding being smashed.  Some of them have entire families riding on them, including quite young children.  Helmets?  Almost none.  And the gridlock can be endless.  To drive a vehicle here you need great patience and nerves of steel.

The volume of traffic and the amount of time spent idling in gridlock raises concerns about pollution, of course.  In Hyderabad there were roadside pollution check booths that people could use (not sure if they're required to do so).  I haven't seen those in Bangalore, but the booths do exist at gas stations.

Posting from Bob -- Mumbai (Bombay)

I met with some outstanding attorneys from a prominent Mumbai law firm.  We discussed exciting externship opportunities for our students.

Mumbai is a fascinating city--India's version of New York.  It is the financial, cultural, and entertainment capitol of the country and has some of the finest restaurants in the world.  It also has a number of important historical attractions.

The most famous monument in Mumbai is the Gateway of India.

One of the most interesting attractions is the Mani Bhavan, the home Gandi lived in between 1917 and 1934 when he was in Mumbai.

In addition to its collection of statutes, memorabilia, and exhibits, the museum contains important historical treasures including a letter written by Ghandi to Adolph Hitler in 1939, urging Hitler to pursue a path of peace rather than war.

A highlight of the museum is the recreation of Ghandi's bedroom, showing his spartan belongings.  The room contains several spinning wheels, a symbol of Ghandi's simplicity and the device he used to make his own clothing.