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Maharashtra’s first national law university, MNLU, housed at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) campus that marks its foundation day on October 10 is, according to the director of TISS, S Parasuraman, a rare example of collaboration between two institutions, which is needed to improve higher education in the country.
A structure, a little more than 10,000 square feet, is coming up on the left side of the Naoroji campus of TISS. It will be ready in another month, after which MNLU will move there.
MNLU received 3000 applications for 60 seats for the five-year integrated undergraduate programme, and 10 seats for the PG programme.
“It is an arrangement between TISS and MNLU, where we are letting a sister university set up its initial programme on the campus until their structure comes up,” said Parasuraman.
A key lesson from this tie-up is that the reason for declining state of higher education in the country is not shortage of space, but lack of spirit of accommodation between institutions, said Parasuraman.
“In this country, it is not because of want of space or resources that we are not doing well. It is because we do not have an accommodating spirit, a spirit of cooperation and working together. If we can work together, our higher education system can improve substantially. We should share resources because at the end of the day, we are all funded by the public…Our classrooms or laboratories are not always occupied, why don’t we make it available to the community?” said Parasuraman.
Vice chancellor of MNLU, Prof Bhavani Prasad Panda, said that a proposal had been submitted for alloting 60 acres of land. He said the state has identified around 190 acres in Gorai, adjacent to the state judicial academy, near which they propose to give part of the land to MNLU for a permanent campus.
According to the TISS Director, law universities in India are not in competitive mode. “They have learned to co-exist and support each other. They are not working against each other, nor fighting for students. They are not fighting for resources as every institution is raising its own resources. There are enough young Indians who want to do law. We have a much better structure, value system and ethics. All (representatives from established law schools) are happy to come here. This is fascinating as compared to our ordinary universities. They do not cooperate with each other and that is a huge problem,” he said.
Panda said when plans for a campus in Jogeshwari fell through, the feeling was that setting up the state’s first national law school should be postponed till space was identified.
“During that time, we had a general council meeting, where Parasuraman, the chancellor’s nominee, was present. He proposed we explore the TISS campus. When the National Law School began in Bangalore, it started with hardly three to four rooms. So I jumped at his idea. March 8 was the meeting and during June-July, we had admission tests,” said Panda.
When asked about the challenges for MNLU compared to established national law schools, Panda said MNLU has many advantages. “There is the advantage of starting the temporary campus with TISS, which has its own brand name. And we can gain from that. We are associated with all law schools like Bangalore and Kolkata, and the founder of National Law School of India University, Bangalore, N R Madhava Menon, has been associated with our university as member of our executive and general councils. He is guiding us and hence, we are collaborating with all national law universities,” he said.
Panda said, “Vice Chancellors and other distinguished faculty from established law universities in the country come here voluntarily, there is wholehearted support. Bombay High Court has been very supportive. In the last two months, former Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court Mohit S Shah, Justice V M Kanade, and Justice A S Oka have come and interacted with the students.”