Anubhav Dutt Tiwari graduated from NUJS in 2013, and worked for about a year before enrolling for the LLM in International Human Rights Law from Essex University (Class of ’15). He is currently a Senior Research Associate a Jindal Global Law School (JGLS).
In this edition of First Person Accounts, Anubhav discusses the reasons behind his decision to study at Essex University, the state of Indian legal academy, and his advice for Indian law students interested in an LLM abroad.
At what point of time did you realise you wanted to do an LLM? Was it as an undergrad, or only after working?
Anubhav Tiwari: All my internships had been at corporate firms, and I got a PPO in my fifth year. So, I sort of stumbled into a law firm for a year. It was during this time that I realised I wanted to do an LLM primarily because I did not feel I was being challenged intellectually. I also thought that the LLM was a good way to change my field of practice.
How did you use or explain the Clasis work experience while applying for a degree in human rights?
Anubhav Tiwari: I did explain the good aspects of working in a demanding corporate law firm environment and the takeaways of professionalism, in my motivation letter.
How did you go about course/university selection? Essex is known for its HR faculty, but were there any other courses that you looked at?
Anubhav Tiwari: I was sure I wanted to study further human rights, humanitarian law within PIL. Essex was a natural choice due to its reputed faculty and Human Rights Centre. Moreover, [former NUJS Registrar] Sarfaraz sir from NUJS had also done his LLM from there and he gave very good reviews of the faculty.
I had also applied and got through Leiden, though eventually the faculty profiles at Essex convinced me to go there. In fact, I had also gained admission at Queens Mary but decided against it because living in London would have been too expensive.
Did you apply for any sort of financial aid?
Anubhav Tiwari: I did not mainly due to the fact that I was late. I took a student loan.
At Essex, what were some of the big changes in the learning experience as, say, compared to your undergrad days?
Anubhav Tiwari: Essex was quite different from NUJS – the entire orientation of lecturing and discussion was very different. We did not have examinations, instead we were expected to write publishable papers for ever subject taken. In the eight months I was there, my research style completely changed.
Moreover, the environment is conducive to studying more than in any university I have seen. I have been to Christ for a year, then NUJS and now Jindal and I have to say, UK universities have an environment which compels you to study!
The accessibility of professors and the empathy they have with the students was also very nice. Further, the faculty were actively using their professional experience from the field to give us perspectives. At the same time they were not forcing us to take a view, but instead forcing us to not take sides!
Looking back, anything you would have done differently? For example, would you have gone fresh after NUJS or do you think work experience is important?
In hindsight, I feel a bit of experience in human rights would have been better before taking up the LLM. Work experience, according to me, is definitely important before an LLM.
What was your cohort like (age, experience, regions)?
Essex is known for its diversity in terms of the students. My class had representation from almost all the continents, and was the perfect mix of diverse backgrounds and experience – extremely necessary for the study of human rights.
What got you to JGLS, and what are you working on at JGLS?
I am trying to find my space in academia as a field-based researcher bringing his experience to the classroom while teaching. My focus is on refugee rights, citizenship issues, etc. My style of researching is going to the field and collecting data before analyzing and bringing out the main themes.
JGLS gave me the space and freedom to do these and also encouraged me to take on ‘controversial’ and sensitive research – something I believe very few universities in India do. Right now I am the lead researcher with the Centre for Human Rights Studies at JGLS, I also teach Legal Methods to first-year students, and have other research projects with colleagues at Jindal Global University.
A PhD must be on the cards?
Yes, a PhD is the next step. I am in talks with UNSW Australia where I have found supervisors. The next step would to be finalise the scholarship.
Having studied in India and abroad, what do you think are some of the differences in law schools in the two regions? Also, how do you think Indian law schools can attract younger faculty and/or researchers like yourself?
The difference is faculty! Even at NUJS, we remember the good faculty very well because they were few! And most of them were young.
I feel in order to attract young faculty – you need to give them freedom to research. And also incentives. Younger faculties want to research, teaching comes secondary, and law schools in India should recognize this. I also think that if NLU’s did away with the UGC NET requirement, you would have a lot more younger faculty applying.
Last question – any advice for Indian law graduates or law students looking to pursue a post-graduate degree?
Be sure that you want to do this and also be mindful that a post-graduate is actually more relevant if you intend to get into academia.