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IDAP Interview Series: Interview XIV with Tomer Rosner

Written by by on Apr 16, 2018

IDAP Interview Series: Interview XIV with Tomer Rosner

Tomer Rosner, an Israeli civil servant, developed an optic nerve condition at the age of 13 which eventually led to complete blindness. As a legal advisor to the Parliament of Israel, Tomer’s position is one of great importance and responsibility. He directly advises three parliamentary committees including the committee on internal affairs. This has allowed him to make great contributions to the disability rights movement in Israel. He has played a fundamental role in the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty by the Israeli Parliament and inclusion of the copyright exemption in their domestic law. An advocate by qualification, Tomer pursued a Master’s in Public Administration at the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School. In this interview, among other things, he discusses his experience of studying in a mainstream school and the role that the State played in providing adequate support to him during his formative years.

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Formal Collaboration between Herbert Smith Freehills and IDIA

Written by by on Mar 27, 2018

Formal Collaboration between Herbert Smith Freehills and IDIA

We are happy to announce a formal collaboration between Herbert Smith Freehills, a leading global law firm and IDIA. As part of Herbert Smith Freehills India Practice’s wider commitment to “give back” to India, the firm will provide financial, mentoring and pastoral support to a number of IDIA Scholars during the course of their legal education in various law colleges in India. In addition to assistance with fees and ancillary university expenses, Herbert Smith Freehills will also provide practical assistance through other means to the IDIA scholars which it will support, such as providing graduate recruitment support and internship opportunities, which can help the scholars in shaping their legal careers.

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IDAP Interview Series: Interview XIII with David Shannon

Written by by on Mar 21, 2018

IDAP Interview Series: Interview XIII with David Shannon

as an author, activist, lawyer, policy-maker, human rights commissioner, accessibility advisory council founder, first quadriplegic to the North Pole (and accessible parking sign planter!) — and so much more. In recognition of his lifelong work, David was inducted into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame, and granted some of the highest citizen honours – the Order of Ontario and Canada. In this interview, David shares that he believes there is a very thin line between people with disabilities, and those without; and that the solutions are often extremely simple. The biggest barriers are often attitudinal — the insidious, subtle lowered expectations of people with disabilities, and the resultant social exclusions. These ultimately lead to what David terms as ‘learned subordination’.

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IDAP Interview Series: Interview XII with Judge David Szumowski

Written by by on Mar 12, 2018

IDAP Interview Series: Interview XII with Judge David Szumowski

Judge David Szumowski. a war veteran, lost his eyesight at age 23 when shrapnel from a grenade hit his face during the Vietnam War. Instead of lamenting over this accident, Judge Szumowski displayed tremendous grit and perseverance to overcome the odds stacked against him.
After becoming blind, Judge Szumowski studied law and spent 12 years in the office of the District Attorney in trial advocacy. Thereafter, he was appointed to the Superior Court of San Diego County in California in the year 1998 and served on the court for 18 years until his retirement. In this interview, Judge Szumowski shatters the myth that a blind lawyer cannot successfully partake in a jury trial as he cannot see the faces of the jurors. While doing so, he provides detailed insights of how he discharged his functions effectively as an advocate and later on, as a judge on the criminal side. Judge Szumowski also shares with us many life lessons on overcoming adversity, in order to lead a meaningful and productive life.

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Creative Destruction at it’s Best: The Death of Manual Scavenging?

Written by by on Mar 9, 2018

Creative Destruction at it’s Best: The Death of Manual Scavenging?

IDIA had the opportunity to welcome Dr. Bezwada Wilson at its Annual Conference 2017, where he delivered a powerful keynote address on “Creative Leadership and Social Change”. He had rightly pointed out that with creativity and willingness, it is possible to eradicate manual scavenging with technological solutions. And now, Genrobotics, a Kerala based firm, has come up with ingenious solutions for this problem. Dr. Shamnad Basheer writes about this creative advancement that will change potentially the law and practice relating to manual scavenging.

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Creative Fund Raising: Legal Luminaries Evolve Ingenious Ways to Support IDIA!

Written by by on Feb 26, 2018

Creative Fund Raising: Legal Luminaries Evolve Ingenious Ways to Support IDIA!

IDIA has always championed creativity in all of its myriad forms. In fact, the acronym for our training programme “CHAMPS” starts with “C” for Creativity—a value we seek to instill in all our scholars. We’re very fortunate in having some of the most creative minds serve on our advisory board. Two of them just helped us raise money in a rather creative way. Justice Prabha Sridevan, a celebrated former judge and a champion of equality and human rights, has been a long-standing IDIA supporter. But her talents are not limited to the law alone. She is also a great artist! For more on her, see this interview. For an IDIA fund raising event, she agreed to contribute two of her sketches. These sketches titled “Access to Justice” fetched a fair price (Rs 75,000) at an auction during the IDEX Legal Awards 2017, an amount that was then sent to IDIA. And next, we had an even more creative fund raising idea from Mr. Pravin Anand, widely revered as the country’s leading IP lawyer, and managing Partner of “Anand and Anand”. Easily one of the most creative legal professionals in India, Mr Anand not only helps clients on the legal side, but also helps them come up with smart and savvy brand names. He once advised that the mark METRO be flipped around. And thus was born the mark “ORTEM”, famously applied on many household appliances several decades ago. He decided to leverage this talent for coining creative brands by registering them with the Indian trademark office. He then proposed that companies desirous of having strong brands pick from his repertoire. All they needed to do was pay a fair sum for the assignment. Given that trademark registration is a long-drawn process and companies often need them at a short notice, this creative idea worked. At our IDIA annual conference last year, Mr Anand proposed that the proceeds of these trademark assignments be transferred to IDIA to help fund the legal education of our underprivileged scholars. With the first assignment of one of Mr Anand’s brands to a client, IDIA received a wonderful contribution of INR 5,11,000; enough to support two years at law school for one of our...

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Creating Inclusive Spaces in the Legal Industry

Written by by on Feb 20, 2018

Creating Inclusive Spaces in the Legal Industry

The Constitution of India speaks about equality. And yet we practice rampant inequality on the ground; excluding those that are less privileged than ourselves. Worse still, we do this within the legal ecosystem: one that is meant to safeguard constitutional values. “Honestly, it is unfortunate that there are 4-5 crore disabled persons in the country and there is very little in terms of infrastructure or in terms of resources allocated to them. I think the mindset is not really a very helpful mindset or where you feel it is very accommodative. It has to stem down from the government. It has to be a priority and not in a very special way. I have always maintained this – that I don’t want concessions and I don’t want anything better. All I want is you make life a little simple, the way you make it for everyone else. It is not really about resources.“ – Shweta Bansal [Shweta Bansal, formerly at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, fought vehemently against discriminatory rules for joining the Indian Foreign Service] “The main apprehension that the society has against disabled lawyers stems from their inability to read. Once court processes are completely digitized, that limitation is gone and we will be on par with our able-bodied counterparts. The only difference will be that able-bodied lawyers will use laptops and their disabled counterparts will use braille displays or screen reading technology, so there will be real equality.” – Senior Advocate SK Rungta [Blind since birth, SK Rungta has many accolades to his credit including being conferred the prestigious senior advocate title by the Delhi High Court in 2011) CREATING INCLUSIVE SPACES | AN EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM FOR THE LEGAL INDUSTRY A large part of the discriminatory attitude towards people with disabilities springs from our lack of awareness and a concern that the differently abled may be more of a liability than an asset. IDIA is organising a conference though which we hope to bust these assumptions and prove two important points. Firstly, the differently abled (particularly the visually impaired) can make for outstanding lawyers, given the right support and ecosystem. In fact, studies demonstrate that addition of such diversity not only furthers social justice, but also makes for a more creative and productive working environment (the “business case for diversity”). Secondly, the cost of creating an inclusive ecosystem to support the differently abled is not that significant. About IDIA IDIA works towards creating a more inclusive and diverse legal industry in order to foster greater creativity, holistic thinking, efficiency and equality. It supports a number of visually impaired scholars who are studying in various law schools. Through their admissions to the leading law schools (through CLAT and other competitive law entrance exams), we’ve busted the notion that they are unfit for the top law schools. You may read IDAP Interview Series, a unique initiative that interviews disabled lawyers in all spheres of the legal profession to solicit actionable insights from them on the strategies adopted by them to excel in their field. The series also seeks to educate and increase awareness within the legal fraternity, with the ultimate aim of fostering meaningful dialogue on reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. We receive a number of queries from law firms and other institutions on how they can support our differently abled scholars through internships (and later employment as well). We therefore felt...

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IDAP Interview Series: Interview XI with Yetnebersh Nigussie

Written by by on Jan 3, 2018

IDAP Interview Series: Interview XI with Yetnebersh Nigussie

This interview in the IDAP interview series features Yetnebersh Nigussie, an acclaimed disability rights activist and lawyer in Ethiopia. Her optimism and positive frame of mind is best epitomized by the fact that she has described the fact of losing her eyesight at the tender age of a five as an event which freed her from the potential clutches of child marriage. Born in an era in which the very fact of being a woman with a disability in a developing African country would have sounded the death knell for most, Yetnebersh’s indomitable spirit not only helped her pursue her education in a mainstream school but also to become a lawyer and social worker of great repute. After receiving her postgraduate education at the Addis Ababa University, Yetnebersh devoted herself to using the transformative power of her education to open doorways and create opportunities for millions of fellow Ethiopians with disabilities.

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IDAP Interview Series: Interview X with Nirmita Narasimhan

Written by by on Sep 26, 2017

IDAP Interview Series: Interview X with Nirmita Narasimhan

Our next interview in this series features Nirmita Narasimhan, a Policy Director with the Centre for Internet and Society. Nirmita did her LL.B. from Campus Law Centre, Delhi University in 2002. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in German and a Ph.D. in Music. As a part of CIS she has done extensive work on web accessibility and was involved in drafting the Indian National Policy on Universal Electronic Accessibility. She has worked closely with different departments of the Government of India to bring accessibility into their policies and programmes. In recognition of her path-breaking work in the field of digital accessibility, she has received numerous awards such as the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (2010), the NIVH (National Institute for the Visually Handicapped) Excellence Award (2011) and the NCPEDP-Emphasis Universal Design award in 2016. She played a key role in amending the Indian Copyright Act to incorporate exceptions for people with print disabilities and launched the widely acclaimed nationwide Right to Read campaigns. Nirmita’s experience is not just limited to policy work – she is a widely published author and has assisted national and international bodies in the creation of several reports on promoting accessibility rights of people with disabilities. This interview was conducted by Madhavi Singh and Anusha Reddy. The interview was transcribed by Veda Singh, IDIA intern and student at Jindal Global Law School. The interview has been lightly edited for clarity.  Could you please describe to us the exact nature of your disability? I have something called Stargardt disease. For me it came when I was 9 or so. When I started, I could read with the help of a magnifying glass and I would enlarge things to read and now I completely rely on screen reading software. Could you please describe to us the reasonable accommodation provided by your school and college, if any? In school nothing! I used to read and write using a magnifying glass –reading was a bit of a struggle. My handwriting was really bad and people didn’t understand it. I never asked for anything. Only for my Board exams I had asked for a writer because that’s something you really can’t risk. Most schools use boards to teach. How did you manage? No, it just depended on the individual teacher and maybe I was also very inhibited at that time in my life. I wouldn’t go up to the teacher and simply say “please read it out.” Consequently, I always regretted that I was not good at math, because it was always on the board. I managed back then with the help of my parents and sister. You have a large number of educational qualifications to your name. You initially studied German and Carnatic music and only pursued law later. What factors influenced you in deciding to study law? It may not be anything glamourous as really being passionate about it. But going back to German – I really liked the language, and more so due to the teaching methods because this was the first time I was out of a classroom setting into a setting where there were 10-12 students and the teachers were really good and used unconventional methods. They were accommodative about exams. The teacher could write exams for me or tell me...

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Walk the Talk

Written by by on Sep 14, 2017

Walk the Talk

We’ve been shocked and saddened by the heinous assault on our IDIA student volunteers from WB NUJS. None of us expected that a court order (to prevent the eviction of slum dwellers in the Subhas Sarobar area) would be breached with this level of impunity. And that our students would be ravaged and mauled in this beastly a fashion. Their trauma will take a long time to heal. But we will pursue all avenues of justice, with due regard to the safety and security of our students. Read more.

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