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Leading IP Academics Fired: Protest Petition Against Unfair Dismissals


As many of you now know, two leading figures in Indian IP academia were axed by their whimsical bosses, sending shockwaves across the Indian acadmic community. Swaraj’s earlier post on this notes:

 
“In a shocking development, LiveLaw reports that as of last month, Professor N.S.Gopalakrishnan (NSG) has been removed as Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) Chair Professor at Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) without any reason being disclosed. 
As those in the IP community would know, Prof Gopalakrishnan is one of the foremost authorities and an internationally recognized expert in the field. And it appears that the MHRD Chair coordinator on IP at NLU-Jodhput too has been victim to an arbitrary removal notice. On August 19th, Asst Prof Yogesh Pai received a one line notice that the Vice Chancellor of NLU-Jodhpur had announced his replacement with immediate effect, with no reason given.”
I’ve had the great privilege of being taught by Professor NS Gopalakrishnan (fondly known as NSG), by far one of the finest academics I’ve known, not just in terms of subject matter expertise, but the passion and conviction with which he teaches and the zealousness with which he refuses to compromise on principles dear to his heart; a rare gem in today’s world where political expedience trumps all else.
I’ve also had the great honour of working closely with Prof Yogesh Pai, a rising star in the global IP firmament and one of the most decent human beings I’ve ever known. Like Prof NSG, he is extremely devoted to his craft, obsessive about protecting national interest and supremely selfless when it comes to mentoring and guiding his students.

 

The reactions to these firings are testament to the enormous love and respect with which these IP academics are held. I extract some of them below:
Madhukar sinha (Professor at Center for WTO law and former Registrar of Copyrights, India) comments on Livelaw, a leading law blog that broke this story, as below:
“I have had official and personal interactions with Prof. Gopalakrishnan over the last almost 10 years. He is amongst the foremost authorities on IPRs in the world. He has been the key negotiator for India at the WIPO on many of its platforms. The HRD Chair for IPRs was located at CUSAT only because the Government of India wanted to continue to gain from his expertise ever since he moved to CUSAT from NLSIU Bangalore.”
A student of Prof Yogesh Pai emails us as below:
“The events that have unfolded over the last week culminating in the arbitrary removal of Professor Gopalakrishnan and Mr. Yogesh Pai (both highly distinguished academicians) in the field of IP Law has left many of us disillusioned and disgruntled.
I write to you expressing my complete support and cooperation in any which way possible in your fight against institutional autocracy. I can personally vouch for Mr.Pai’s stellar record as the Head of the IPR Chair. He was absolutely instrumental in organizing various Roundtables, Seminars, Conferences etc. under the aegis of the MHRD IPR Chair which apart from imparting knowledge provided a great platform for students and practitioners alike to the field of IP Law. The manner of his removal is highly appalling and I would like to convey my absolute solidarity with his cause.”
Both Prof NSG and Pai are rare national assets and we simply cannot afford to take this lying down. “Vice” chancellors and their “vicious” ilk have gone too far with treating institutions as their personal fiefdoms. The tipping point is near and we must send out a clear message that enough is enough! So if you care about justice, fairness, institutional growth and nurturing talent in this country, then please append your signatures to the protest petitions below.
1. Protest against dismissal of Prof NSG (addressed to the Chief Minister of Kerala): Link available here.
2. Protest against dismissal of Prof Pai (addressed to the Chancellor of NLU Jodhpur): Link available here.
These are quick drafts, and we’ll add some finishing touches soon; if you spot any obvious errors, please let us know.
Please use this online form to indicate your interest in supporting the petitions. Please note that you have the option of supporting either petition or both (we do hope many of you will support both).
Please do not email me or Swaraj directly on this, since we’ve already received a great number of emails and are struggling to keep up. Please click on this online form (link available here), as it  makes our lives infinitely easier! (Many thanks to the IT wizard, Sai Vinod for crafting this online form for us).
Given that these firings are a huge affront to academic freedom and integrity and represent institutional autocracy of the worst sort, we hope many of you will join cause and send out a clear message that enough is enough! Thank you.
[emailpetition id=”1″]

Shamnad Basheer

Prof. (Dr.) Shamnad Basheer founded SpicyIP in 2005. He's also the Founder of IDIA, a project to train underprivileged students for admissions to the leading law schools. He served for two years as an expert on the IP global advisory council (GAC) of the World Economic Forum (WEF). In 2015, he received the Infosys Prize in Humanities in 2015 for his work on legal education and on democratising the discourse around intellectual property law and policy. The jury was headed by Nobel laureate, Prof. Amartya Sen. Professional History: After graduating from the NLS, Bangalore Prof. Basheer joined Anand and Anand, one of India’s leading IP firms. He went on to head their telecommunication and technology practice and was rated by the IFLR as a leading technology lawyer. He left for the University of Oxford to pursue post-graduate studies, completing the BCL, MPhil and DPhil as a Wellcome Trust scholar. His first academic appointment was at the George Washington University Law School, where he served as the Frank H Marks Visiting Associate Professor of IP Law. He then relocated to India in 2008 to take up the MHRD Chaired Professorship in IP Law at WB NUJS, a leading Indian law school. Later, he was the Honorary Research Chair of IP Law at Nirma University and also a visiting professor of law at the National Law School (NLS), Bangalore. Prof. Basheer has published widely and his articles have won awards, including those instituted by ATRIP, the Stanford Technology Law Review and CREATe. He was consulted widely by the government, industry, international organisations and civil society on a variety of IP issues. He also served on several government committees.

8 comments.

  1. Anonymous

    Dear Prof.Shamnad,

    We, the Senior Prof. at universities, would not like to participate in this episode.

    We also feel that a task of Prof. is to contribute to educational scholarships, whether one has or have not a chair.

    Sorry, Mr. Shamnad, I personally very much like your presentation and commitment to subject. There is no doubt on it. But right now we feel that you have pressed wrong buzz. Please be careful on what you write and express.

    With Warm Regards,

    Senior Professor’s

    Reply
  2. Arpit Gupta

    I wanted certain answer that could make things more clear for many, I believe.

    1. When Prof. Pai is removed as the ‘MHRD Chair Coordinator’, does it mean that he can no longer teach at NLU, Jodhpur? Or does it mean that he’s not the Coordinator anymore?

    2. Is the NLU administration even entitled to remove Prof. Pai, whether arbitrarily or not, considering that this appointment is done by the HRD Ministry?

    Reply
  3. Contrarian

    I find it strange that Shamnad Basheer & co are protesting against CUSAT and using Spicy IP as a forum but are not indulging in a smilar campaign against the admin at NUJS. If the issue here is a fight for greater transparency, then why look further than the very college where all of you are based? At least be consistent and organise a protest against ALL colleges where this is misgovernance. Otherwise, you will lose sight of the bigger picture.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    I cannot understand how you vouch for Yogesh pai than Prof NSG or rather equate both…. Please publish the reason behind axing Mr. Pai…. Aren’t you people working for Mr Pai…..

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    @Anon 10:42 pm: “please publish the reason behind axing Mr. Pai” This is what everyone is asking and protesting against. As you may know reasons were not cited in the order! Someone once remarked: “You don’t give reasons because you don’t have reasons to give!” And this is not just about Prof. NSG or Pai as individuals. This is about how institutions act arbitrarily and the protest is against arbitrariness! A six year old will understand this.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    I understand that Dr. NSG was only in charge of the MHRD Chair on deputation. Deputation has been revoked and fresh appointment on regular basis is awaited. However the manner in which his deputation was revoked warrants protest.

    The so called campaign evidently seem to be a sinister design to serve Mr. Pai’s perspective.. Both issues seem to be very different and have to be delinked and dealt separately..

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    @ Anon 6:18 Why should they be “delinked” or dealt seperately? How are the issues different if both are protests against arbitrariness? So don’t you think that an arbitrary order citing no reasons and without complying with due process well serve’s the “sinister design” of that university! Come on… If manner in which deputation is terminated warrants protest, why not the manner in which chair profs/coordinators are removed should be a matter of concern? Your rant against Mr. Pai is without any sound reason and logic!

    Reply

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