Saturday, the campus hosted one of many scheduled conferences. This one was convened by Dr. Anand Pawar who teaches “Business Laws” covered “Global Consumerism: Challenges and Possibilities.” When I arrived at RGNUL, Dr. Pawar and Vice Chancellor Jaswal asked me to give a presentation as Chief Guest, an honor that I did not have the background to fully understand until the event.
My Fulbright Host, Dr. Shveta Dhaliwal (pictured below) who has been a terrific host (more on that topic soon), escorted me from the Guest House to the Vice Chancellor’s spacious office. He and I chatted briefly until other faculty participants and esteemed guests arrived. We went to the conference together. Mr. Pritpal Singh, the RGNUL photographer took all the terrific pictures featured on this post.
The ceremonial commencement to the conference was truly lovely. Vice Chancellor Jaswal gave me a place of honor in the center of the dais, as Chief Guest.
Students presented speakers with bouquets of roses.
Then we left the dais to light the lamp of knowledge. Later, I spoke with two professors who gave presentations during break-out sessions and they informed me that this ceremonial commencement is quite common in India.
Professor Krishan Mahajan gave the keynote and cautioned us about mindless consumerism and the negative aspects of economics. He spoke at length about the evils of the consumer culture. The rise of fast food and restaurant dining may have contributed to the equality of women who no longer worked in kitchens but environmental degradation (a definite problem throughout India) and other evils seemingly counterbalance any perceived gains.
I had prepared a lecture on the neuroscience and psychosocial evidence of consumer behavior and how the law might more adequately protect consumers. I drew much of my material from my forthcoming article with the Indiana Health Law Review. (See Jennifer A. Drobac and Oliver R. Goodenough, Exposing the Myth of Consent, –Indiana Health Law Review– (forthcoming 2015) (draft paper available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2559341). I titled my presentation “The Myth of “Legal” Consent in a Consumer Culture.” After my talk, the Registrar, Dr. Sandhu, gave the Vote of Thanks—an official acknowledgement of all for which we are grateful. Another lovely tradition. I was presented with a gift and then we rose to sing the Indian national anthem. The gift turned out to be a beautiful embroidered Punjabi wall hanging. I will treasure it always.
Then we had a tea break in the VC’s meeting room. Samosas, nuts, cookies, cakes, and tea. I was aware of being the only woman in the room. Even the servers were all males. While my host and esteemed male colleagues were all quite welcoming, I was reminded of the gender separation that has been India’s past and still remains in the present, despite great efforts.
After tea, I found Dr. Shveta having tea in the courtyard with Ms. Gagan Preet (Law) and Ms. Brindpreet Kaur (Economics). We discussed the mornings lectures and the future of education in India. We agreed to meet again to explore other topics including women’s rights.
Saturday, my third full day in Patiala, was a long and productive day. I’ve only covered a small part of it here. Discussions with students were another highlight. After meeting with Shveta, Prof. Dr. Geetika Walia, and several others, including Dr. Manoj Sharma, we agreed that I would teach two [anti] sexual harassment law lectures on Monday and a class on alternative dispute resolution on Tuesday. Log in later for more news from India!