The International Multidisciplinary Congress on Human Rights: Afro-Asian Perspective

Saturday 28 February, Dr. Shveta realized months of planning and effort when she convened the third RGNUL international and multidisciplinary human rights conference. She led students and faculty in welcoming two justices of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (Arusha, Tanzania), President Justice Augustino Ramadhani

President Ramadhani and Dr. Shveta

President Ramadhani and Dr. Shveta

and Justice Fatsah Ouguergouz, and his daughter, Aïsha. (Again, I thank Mr. Pritpal Singh for sharing his wonderful photographs of the event.) RGNUL hosted speakers from across India and some who participated from Canada, Nigeria, and Australia (to name just a few) via Skype.

Not only did speakers present papers, students also showcased their efforts with a photography exhibit of human rights issues in India (more on this topic in a future post).

Pictures of human rights issues in India. Many of the children featured live in temporary dwellings on campus.

Pictures of human rights issues in India. Many of the children featured live in temporary dwellings on campus.

The students did a fabulous job with the pictures and with their roles in carrying out assigned tasks for the conference. They assisted with every detail from transport to IT.

Having attended the Global Consumerism Conference the prior weekend, I felt like a member of the RGNUL family now, visiting with the justices and Aïsha at the Guest House and in the Vice Chancellor’s office.

Dr. Jennifer and Vice Chancellor Jaswal

Dr. Jennifer and Vice Chancellor Jaswal

The conference began with the ceremonial rituals that I had found so charming at the last conference. The giving of flowers and the lighting of the lamp of knowledge.

Prof. Dr. Shveta and Prof. Dr. Sandhu lighting the lamp.

Prof. Dr. Shveta and Prof. Dr. Sandhu lighting the lamp.

We heard speeches from the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Shveta, and the justices.

Justice Fatsah

Justice Fatsah

The ceremonies were ably moderated by two students, Ms. Nehmat Bajwa and Ms. Shivani Bhatnagar.

Ms. Nehmat and Ms. Shivani

Ms. Nehmat and Ms. Shivani

I spoke on “Equality, Dignity, . . . and Privacy: African, American, and Indian ‘Pansexual’ Human Rights.” I decided on this topic because of two prompting events of the prior week. First, Sec. of State John Kerry appointed Randy Berry, Special Envoy for LGBT Human Rights. Second, the Indian University Grants Commission sent all faculty a letter encouraging the inclusion of transgendered students and calling for “research on the life and culture of [the] TG Community.” I felt emboldened by both to discuss LGBTI rights as protected (or not) in the Afro-Indian regions.Jsp

I was a little nervous but afterwards, handshakes from Dr. Shveta and President Ramadhani from the dais and thumbs up from my Indian colleagues (thanks to Prof. Dr. Manoj Sharma, Prof. Dr. Jasleen Kewlani, and Professors Geetika Walia, Gagan Preet, Brindpreet Kaur, and Gurmanpreet Kaur👍) left me reassured that my topic was well received. The presentation of special Indian gifts and the national anthem closed the opening ceremony.

Dr. Jennifer, Prof. Dr. Sandhu, and Vice Chancellor Jaswal.

Dr. Jennifer, Prof. Dr. Sandhu, and Vice Chancellor Jaswal.

At the end of the day and much enlightening discussion, the cool kids crashed at the Guest House. By then, Dr. Shveta’s daughters, Aarza and Seerat, were there to help with the post-conference celebration. President Ramadhani enjoyed their conversation greatly.

Aarza, Pres. Ramadhani, and Seerat.

Aarza, Pres. Ramadhani, and Seerat.

IMG_1013

Nehmat, Aïsha, Ritika, Dr. Shveta, Shivani, and Dr. Jennifer.

I also enjoyed the chance to relax with the “girls” after a stressful few days. Naturally, there are more stories than one can print. Cases of tummy turmoil, viruses on “pen drives” (aka flash drives), taxi snafus, difficult attendees. But at the end of the day, the conference was, by all reports, a huge success. I hope IU will be able to host the justices and Dr. Shveta on some future occasion. However, I will miss these fabulous Indian law students at that future event.

Thanks to Dr. Shveta and her students for a terrific introduction to Afro-Indian human rights!

Dr. Shveta speaking on Afro-Indian human rights.

Dr. Shveta speaking on Afro-Indian human rights.

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About Jennifer Drobac

R. Bruce Townsend Professor of Law Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law~ I began my journey in the San Francisco Bay area. A student at CPS in Oakland and then at Stanford University, I worked for several years before attending law school, again at Stanford. A trip around the world after taking the California Bar introduced me to more distant lands than I had seen during school days. I returned to clerk for Judge Barefoot Sanders in Dallas, Texas where I gave birth to Michal McDowell-- the best first born daughter and future doctor one can imagine. When she was two, we moved to Santa Cruz, California where I opened my own law practice. After I earned my doctoral degree (in law) at Stanford, I hit the road again and settled here in Indiana where I teach at IU McKinney. As I anticipate exploring the world again as a Fulbright Specialist (starting in India), I start this blog. A travel log of adventures in midlife!
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2 Responses to The International Multidisciplinary Congress on Human Rights: Afro-Asian Perspective

  1. rv167 says:

    Those are some great pictures! touched to be a part of the post! 🙂
    Ritika

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