We are absolutely delighted to hear that Prof Shamnad Basheer has recently been selected as one of six winners for the Infosys Prize, 2014, for his work in IP as well as in legal education. The Infosys Prize, administered by the Infosys Science Foundation and now in its 6th year, honours ‘high-caliber researchers [under the age of 50] for impactful contributions to their fields’ – and ‘impact’ is certainly something that that Shamnad has had – be it in bridging theory and practice in the IP & innovation policy field, or in representing marginalised interests in access to legal education through IDIA. Shamnad, winning it in the “Humanities” category, is also the first legal academic to receive the prize. We, on the SpicyIP team, (and I’m sure, the IDIA team and P-PIL team as well) couldn’t be happier for him.
I would personally also like to take a moment to appreciate the well worded description (reproduced further below) by the Infosys jury team, chaired by Prof Amartya Sen, which seems to acknowledge as a major contributing factor, the balanced, holistic approach that Shamnad, as well as the blog more generally, has often been criticized so harshly for, with some members of both the pro-patent lobby as well as the activist lobby taking a Bush-esque (if you’re not for us, you’re against us) approach. With shallow allegations of being a Big Pharma shill being as common as claims of not understanding the needs of innovators, it is a welcome moment, to instead, hear some public words of recognition for being balanced.
Along similar lines – it was certainly a humbling moment for the SpicyIP team, to hear that in his congratulatory phone call to Shamnad, Prof Sen had wonderful things to say about SpicyIP and how it has helped to break down IP issues into an accessible language and yet not lose nuance(!) A quick congratulations and thanks to the team, (past and present), as well as our ever vigilant readers, for helping us reach where we are today!
The other winners of the Infosys prize, 2014 include Prof. Jayant Haritsa (Engineering and Computer Science), Prof. Shubha Tole (life sciences), Prof. Madhu Sudan (Mathematical Sciences), Prof. Srivari Chandrasekhar (Physical Sciences), and Prof. Esther Duflo (Social Sciences). You can view the press release here.
Prof Shamnad Basheer’s page is here. I reproduce some of the relevant text from it below:
Congratulatory Message From The Jury Chair – Amartya Sen
It is my wonderful duty to congratulate Prof. Basheer for his remarkable work on legal theory, legal practice and also legal education. And he’s being honored by the Infosys Prize in Humanities for the major breakthroughs he has made, particularly in his academic work dealing with intellectual property rights generally, but patent laws in particular. He has also linked up the practice of law with the theory of it in a totally remarkable and convincing way. He has also been a major factor in the expansion of legal education in India whereby people can participate in the reasoning that goes into legal decisions on subjects including patent rights and so on, which affect the lives of so many people. So we are delighted on behalf of the Infosys Science Foundation and the jury committee to be able to honor Prof. Basheer for the fantastic work that he has done and which has made a major difference to the world of legal education and legal practice, and legal understanding across the country.
Scope And Impact Of Work
Prof. Shamnad Basheer is a legal scholar of great distinction whose work has had some impact on the legal policy space, particularly intellectual property laws and regulations. Since the cogency and consistency of legal arguments are sometimes sacrificed in legal decisions and swayed, if only implicitly, by the force of immediacy, Basheer’s contribution in highlighting a broader policy vision and undertaking comparative analysis with global jurisprudence has been of great theoretical as well as applicational interest. Basheer’s demonstration of his ability to rise above immediate passions, without losing sight of the important life and death issues that generate those passions, has made him a much sought-after voice of legal illumination. In particular, the impact of his suggestions regarding pharmaceutical patents will be particularly interesting to watch.
Basheer’s work on intellectual property laws includes three important contributions. He provides a fuller understanding of debates on Indian patent legislation in different contexts (historical as well as contemporary, and national as well as international). He brings this understanding to bear on discussions of legislative and policy reforms as well as reforms in dispute resolution. He has straddled the world of academia and practice and contributed richly to not only a theoretical understanding of law, but also a more grounded practical evolution of jurisprudence through various interventions in courts.
Going beyond these immediate legal procedures, Basheer has also undertaken pioneering work in fostering access to premier legal education in favor of underprivileged communities through his IDIA project. More broadly he has also fostered access to law and knowledge through various efforts on his blog and writings, as also through court interventions and through a non-profit, P-PIL (Promoting Public Interest Lawyering). Through all of this, Prof. Basheer has helped disadvantaged groups have greater access to legal knowledge and institutions. Shamnad Basheer’s multifaceted impact on legal thinking, legal learning, and legal practice in India has been a powerful and enriching influence that deserves admiration and acclaim.