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.