Education that is Multicultural: Judiciary history and Educational policy

Blog #4

January 4, 2017

This blog is authored by Study Abroad in India student Michael Daiowraj who is currently an undergraduate student at the City College of New York. He is studying for a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering.

The fourth day of our Study Abroad class in New Delhi, India was spent exploring the history of the Indian Judiciary, and receiving an insight into the construction and enactment of education legislation. Our day started off at 9:50 AM and we made our way through the dense New Delhi traffic, our destination being the pinnacle of the Indian Judiciary system, the Supreme Court. After several minutes of searching for the correct gate, we finally arrived at our destination. One could immediately notice the rifle carrying guards sitting directly behind the gate. We were ushered into a security checkpoint, with separate lines for men and women. Surprisingly, this is the second time we have encountered separation of genders in India. Unfortunately, we were not able to go into the main complex of the Supreme Court because the new Chief Justice of India was being sworn in that same morning. We were led into the Museum - a small circular room which presented the history of the Indian Judicial system in a consecutive order.

The Judiciary system in India can be traced back to more than 3,500 years. The administration of justice was first communicated by word of mouth and passed from one generation to the other, called Sruti. Recorded texts on policy, law and governance can be traced back to the Arthashastra, written by Kautilya in about 300 BC. After gaining Independence in 1947, the constitution of free India was drafted by Dr. Bhimrao Ramoji Ambedkar and later enacted in 1950. With the formation of the three branches of government, the Supreme Court became the cornerstone of the Judiciary branch. At the head of the Supreme Court lies the Chief Justice. We later found out that each justice in the Supreme Court hears over eighty cases a day and cases can be dismissed with just one word. Upon leaving the Supreme Court, I was interested in hearing the motto of the court, “Yato Dharma Tato Jaya,” which says that “where there is justice, there is victory.” These words truly describe the Supreme Court’s purpose in maintaining order through the enactment and enforcement of laws.

After leaving the Supreme Court, we found ourselves at the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA). While there, we were treated to a magnificent lunch, followed by a lecture presented by several members of the administration. The lecturers emphasized that the beliefs and way of thinking of policy makers directly influences legislation construction. Such beliefs justify the low allocations to education, the provision of non - formal education to children, and the enactment of education policies that don’t interfere with child labor. Also discussed were the inequalities that plague the Indian Education system. While the differences in gender enrollment in schools are on a decline, social and regional inequalities continue to persist. This really made me think about how this affects autonomous schools. In the rush to preserve their reputation and social status, people make the rush to find the best private education for their child. As such, government schools would be considered as last resort, reducing the number of enrolled children in said schools. Among the topics discussed, I was surprised to learn that even though the Indian constitution and the RTE guarantees that the state shall provide free education, there are several children that appear to lack said education. The lecturers further explained the RTE act and the fact that it does not currently extend to children younger than 6 years, potentially causing those children to resort to begging on the streets. Leaving NUEPA, I can’t help but think about the current legislation in place for education, and what the future holds in order to improve said legislation.

11 responses
The visit to the Supreme Court made me realize how organized and sometimes simplified the India court system is. The judges hold a lot of power. I felt that there was a deep sense of commitment and a natural respect to hierarchy. This makes the court systems feel less political compared to what we are used to. I was amazed by the fact that judges retire the exact day they turn 65 whether they want to or not. Hearing about specific judges and their exact remaining days in office was truly a new thing to me.
The visit to the Supreme Court and it's museum has inspired the research for my final project. I found the information given to us to be very interesting, and mind blowing when you compare the work of India's Supreme Court to the work of the United States Supreme Court. I also found the lecture at NUEPA very insightful. They answered many of my lingering questions and opened my mind to new questions that I hope to soon find answers for. Overall it was a great day of taking in lots of valuable information.
" “Yato Dharma Tato Jaya,” which says that “where there is justice, there is victory.” " I didn't hear this and this is truly beautiful and does explain the purpose of the Supreme Court here in India.
Both sites I was able to visit were very insightful. After leaving these two sites I now have a deeper understanding about Indian supreme court history, as well as it is school regulations and it is policies. The people in charge of this discussions were helpful and knowledgeable. The way they Carried themselves, gave me more clarity. I love the fact that there have been 6 women judges in the supreme court. It tells a lot about women power and how far they have got. On the other site NUEPA something interesting that I notice, hearing about school regulations and policies is that India have been improving through the years. The school systems is much better than in the past. And step by step India schools will overcome it is obstables they are confronting now. These people are trying their best to make it happen.
The judicial system and rules are so simplified, like Aminata just stated. Our judges are able to stay in power for as long as they would like which limits different ideas and reforms that could occur as well as limiting the ability for minority groups to enter the Supreme Court because of the lack of spaces open. The U.S should also limit how long judges can be in power, it would give more space for different ideas and genders/races.
The Supreme Court of India is the final court of appeal under the Constitution of India. It had 30 judges, six of them being women which I found the most interesting! Justice Fathima Beevi was the first female judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court of India and was muslim! Amazing!! Women have power here and I find that so influential and inspiring.
I was very intrigued to learn about the history of the Indian judicial system and its various influences--specifically, that of Hindu and Islam. This is a stark contrast from that of the U.S. which boasts the separation of church and state in its constitution and all governmental systems. This knowledge reminded me of just how significant of a role spirituality plays in Indian society-the distinction is not as apparent, if there at all. I wonder how India manages to do so with a population of 1.2 billion people from all kinds of religious backgrounds and faiths. It is truly amazing. Also, I was surprised to know that the judicial system has no jury; judges in India have a lot of power. I suppose his power is checked by the ability for any case to be appealed and guaranteed to be heard in a higher court, even the supreme court!
Visiting the Supreme Court of India was an amazing once in a life time experience. It was incredible to see how India's court system changed during ancient India to medieval India and then to British India. The museum was filled with lots of recorded texts and items that were used in the courts. Something that stood out to me was the statue of the Lion Capital. It is the emblem of the Supreme Court of India with the words " Yato Dharma Stato Jaya" in the bottom and the wheel at the top. These lions and wheels represent justice and victory.
These 2 visits helped me to appreciate India in its own context (simultaneously young and old), its incredible the work both these institutions can do on such a sheer scale. i.e. 31 supreme court judges for a country with 3 times our population, in a smaller space.
I particularly enjoyed our visit to the supreme court because it was refreshing to see women, both past and present, who have served as justices. It also evoked a curiosity to look for areas of commonality and contrast between American and Indian institutions. I was fascinated to see how the court evolved because of the influence of British colonization and how aspects of that influence have been rejected and embraced.
The visit to the Supreme Court was interesting. Looking at the old supreme court case decisions from Nelson Mandela was particularly interesting because it was a case I am familiar with. The fact that a supreme court judge retires a 65 was not a surprise to me. I was however surprised that their last day in office is on the day he/she turns 65.