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Nascent NLU Jabalpur VC moves to ‘haunted’ suicide room to provide emotional support to students

Balraj Chauhan moves to dispel fears of deceased student’s ghostBalraj Chauhan moves to dispel fears of deceased student’s ghost

NLU Jabalpur vice chancellor (VC) Prof Balraj Chauhan has been occupying the hostel room of a student of the law school who committed suicide on 9 September possibly under stress about his weak command over English, as first reported Times of India.

Chauhan’s move to the student’s hostel room had been made to allay the anxiety of other students of the hostel, who had begun vacating their own rooms on the same floor as the deceased student, following his death.

Eighteen-year-old Gagan Bhunderkar had been found hanging in his hostel room barely 15 days after the first ever academic session commenced at the nascent NLU and initial police investigations had revealed that he had “felt like an outcast”, was taking tuition to improve his English language skills and had failed an English test on the day he was found hanging his his room, according to the TOI report and News18.

Bhunderkar, said to have come from an area in Madhya Pradesh with a heavy Maoist presence, had gained admission to the NLU under the MP domicile quota.

Chauhan told us that he had asked a few times for permission to discontinue his stay at the hostel and go back home to his parents and each time the permission had been granted, but Bhunderkar eventually returned.

Chauhan also said that though he hadn’t personally interacted with Bhunderkar, his mentor had constantly been in touch with him and there had been no signs of depression.

“It had only been 15 days, we were just not prepared for this,” the VC added.

There are counselors present on the NLU Jabalpur campus who have done the psychological profiling of all students and this exercise too did not detect suicidal tendencies in Bhunderkar, according to Chauhan.

“I think the difference between older generations and now is that we used to live in joint families whereas children these days have nobody to talk to,” Chauhan commented. “They are lonely.”

Other students had begun vacating their own rooms on the same floor as Bhunderkar’s room after his death allegedly due to fears that his room was haunted, added the TOI and News18 reports.

Chauhan said that the students being a mere 17 or 18 years old, were not prepared for such an incident and were under stress, so he shifted residence to provide them emotional support and occupied Bhunderkar’s room for one week before he had to leave the city for other engagements.

He said on Friday that he would continue to occupy that room again after returning to campus later that evening.

If you or someone you know needs help, please consider contacting any of a number of Indian NGOs dealing with suicide prevention listed here.

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Like +17 Object -0 Darkseid 28 Oct 18, 17:54  interesting  top rated
What's happening in law schools, man! These poor kids, might even have been just the first or second generation learners, driven to this even before their education or life could have properly taken off! This is just too sad and depressing. Language barrier is obviously a problem that needs to be surmounted, but can't a person expect the most basic of civility and support from even batchmates, let alone seniors and admin, even if he can't speak English properly? I am not even talking about making him join Moot Court Committee or something, just be nice in general and talk to him and make him feel like a human being, that's all it often requires to prevent incidents like this. We are just not doing justice to these kids.
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Like +11 Object -0 Guest 28 Oct 18, 21:20  interesting
100 times as many suicides and cases of discrimination take place at IITs. Nothing to do with law but a larger Indian social mindset.
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Like +3 Object -7 Guest 29 Oct 18, 08:42
A "me too" campaign would have garnered more press and caused more debates! Indeed sad. May his soul rest in peace.
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Like +16 Object -7 Guest 28 Oct 18, 19:03  interesting  controversial
While the death of the student is very sad, some firm questions need to be asked about opening random NLUs and admitting so many students through all kinds of quotas, just to score political points. One needs to have a strong knowledge of English to pass law at at an NLU compared to traditional universities, as the syllabus followed includes uses books and cases from the US and UK, one is expected to write original research paper, and some courses have verbal assessments through presentations and moots. Students with weak English skills are bound to fare poorly. It is immoral to admit them and then dash their hopes.

As for the shocking and regressive mindset about the rooms being haunted, this too is a sad reflection in the poor quality and low intelligence of students in these mushrooming NLUs, whether through quotas and merit lists.
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Like +9 Object -5 May Be 28 Oct 18, 22:48  controversial
At the outset - I am not disagreeing with you. Following is just my view. Please read on.
Or make English not compulsory, may be? Isn't English a colonial hangover that we are still under and a 'status'/'class' symbol?**

Not to make the same old argument BUT there are countries which do not speak English, at all. Not even in their court(s). Not sure how are they surviving (in fact) developing economically, socially and politically and sure as hell justice is done better and faster than our system.

Article 348 provides for Hindi or any other local language (used in a State for any official purposes of that State) can be used, in proceedings in the High Court of such State. May be - if we do not push English from day one and make the learning spread over the 5 years I think we may be able to still give everyone a fair chance to attend law schools like people attend IITs/ Medicine, etc. Learning a language is not that difficult and I am sure that in 5 years spent at any law school people will learn. I have and have seen many.

** Below example may not be relevant but I observed something today and generally keep observing such things.

There is this culture (I am sorry but for the lack of a better word - culture) to speak in English even if the other person does not understand or may not understand in entirety. One such example from today - I was at a diagnostic centre and a lady kept giving instructions to the boy there in English. She could see that he is uncomfortable and is not able to comprehend and also made a comment on him for being 'illiterate'. While that boy was a graduate in Chemistry. Well yes the management should have placed someone who is a linguist but I think that would have not justified the job profile. Such and many others I have seen are the people who make a language a barrier for communication contrary to what language(s) is supposed to be. I would have understood if she did not know Hindi but she kept talking to her husband in Hindi and to this boy in English. And then you have the likes of 'beta hands pakad ke chalo'; 'beta spit kar ke baat karo'; 'beta slap maar dunga/ dungi'.

Anyway, it is an infinite debate and I think I have written what I had to.

Thank you.
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Like +2 Object -1 Lingual franca. 29 Oct 18, 07:28
English is our lingua franca.

Which language should the SC use for penning judgements and arguments ?

Same with counsel and attorneys with regards to documents and arguments. The same dilemma is occurs at the HCs. (In Bombay for example Marathi rules the roost up to the HC. Then it's all English).

Just throwing my 0.2 paise out there.

PS The woman you mention is a typical nouveau paisa aagya class nahi. There's no excuse in not conversing with servants and class Iv workers in the vernacular. Ignore her.
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Like +1 Object -2 Guest 29 Oct 18, 13:58
Most of us are at least bilingual. Why can't we adopt a bilingual pattern in courts? Translators can translate judgements for record.

Some universities do allow one to write papers in state languages/Hindi in addition to English. Mumbai University is an example. While Mumbai University's education leaves much to be desired, at least they allow students to write papers in Marathi or in English.

Also, with reference to the woman at the diagnostic centre, I would hardly consider a graduate chemist a class IV worker or a servant, and if that's the only occupation he can obtain (which seems untrue anyway, from the original poster's comment -- he seems more like a technician -- and he's likely overqualified for that as well), it's a tragedy. It is interesting that you associate fluency in a particular language with knowledge, education, occupation, skill or class.

Try wrapping your head around organic chemistry (it's tough but elegant), rather than making random presumptions.
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Like +5 Object -2 Guest 29 Oct 18, 14:29
Then you need to keep judges fluent in every language too, or else assign cases involving lawyers speaking in a certain language only to the judges knowing that language or else have the parties bear additional cost of hiring fluent language translators to translate legal arguments made by the lawyers. Sorry to say that none of the options seems practical at all. Maintaining linguistic diversity in a country does not mean that everybody cannot and should not be encouraged to learn at least one common language. That has to be English, because ascribing such importance to any of the regional languages will hurt the sentiments/pride of those who do not speak it and also because we need to exchange ideas and knowledge with the rest of the world and English happens to be one of the foremost common languages. I agree that speaking English is not any guarantee of being educated, but if you cannot speak it, then that should not be considered a point of pride either, simply a barrier that needs to be overcome as soon as one can in life. There should be absolutely no reason why there shouldn't be an education policy that every child needs to learn their mother tongue and English compulsorily from the very first days at school. Difficult to implement and will take time, but failing even to have the policy is akin to being regressive. English is not inherently superior, it is just a common language adopting which will involve the least controversy compared to any Indian language.
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Like +2 Object -2 Guest 29 Oct 18, 15:32
I respectfully disagree.

It is neither difficult nor unfeasible to be bilingual. Indeed, if one wishes to be a part of the higher civil services in India, it is essential to be fluent in English and Hindi, and in the case of selection in the IPS or IAS, fluent in the state language as well. Why can't judges be held to the same standard?

Translating judgements is not as difficult or expensive as you make it out to be, especially with the evolution of good AI tools.

The argument here is not about the superiority of any language, but the ability of the common man to communicate, and the humiliation that a person who may be very gifted may have to undergo because of the perceived correlation between his overall worth and fluency in English.
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Like +2 Object -1 Guest 29 Oct 18, 17:49
But the problem is that you aren't asking people to be bilingual, but multilingual! I don't know where you got the idea from that learning Hindi is essential for any form of civil services, I know many people who are in the services and manage fine knowing English and their mother tongue. You also confused my point about translating legal arguments in courtroom with translating only the judgments. Unless the judge and the lawyer speak the same language (not English), how will the lawyer make the submission to the former? Assume I am practicing in the Bombay HC. I know Hindi and (not good English), the judge knows Marathi and English. Despite being bilingual, the problem will still remain. So there will be multiple translations needed, including submission, judgment as arguments made in court. I see no reason why the onus would be on the judge to learn Hindi or on me to learn Marathi, when all that is needed to be done is to have one common language for all sorts of official purposes (and it cannot be Hindi either, since a lot of people in the country do not speak it, nor have any intention to give it such priority over their own regional language). That's where the common language comes into picture. I completely agree with the point made on humiliation, but the solution is to focus making every person bilingual in the way I said (English + mother tongue), and not by spending resources to make the system multilingual, which will not work and cause undue burden on the parties involved. As for that common language, if you can suggest any language other than English for that task, I have no problem. Just that no Indian language will ever have uniform acceptability all over the country. English is neutral from that perspective, not simply colonial.
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Like +1 Object -3 Guest 29 Oct 18, 20:50
I admit my mistake about English and Hindi being required for the CSE. All those who I know in thee services took Hindi, so my bad. The CSE does however require one to qualify in English and any other Indian language, and those selected for the IAS/IPS do need to learn a third language if they are posted in a state whose language is foreign to them.

I think your point about arguments requiring translation are irrelevant in the model that I had outlined above, which is why I spoke only of the need for translation for record:

If one is practicing in Maharashtra, for example, the three major languages in use are English, Hindi, and Marathi. It is, in my opinion essential for a judge to be fluent in at least two of these. Lawyers can be then be matched to judges who are fluent in the language(s) they are comfortable with. Yes, that would mean that we would require more judges, but we are ridiculously underserved anyway. If we get into the need for judicial reform, we could likely go on all year.

I think there is an onus on all public servants who interact with the public (and I include judges in that subset, even if they wish to differ), to be able to understand and communicate in the language predominant in the state, besides being fluent in English.

Making the education system bilingual will mean deploying resources (which we don't have) across all Indian villages. Where will you get decent teachers? How will you train them? Is learning another language that important for a (wo)man who doesn't intend to use it over a skill or profession where it is not required? If (for example) you wish to prioritise technology to bring people out of poverty etc. or to create tech-based industry, would you prefer to spend money on an English teacher or a maths teacher?

It makes more sense to just train judges or people who interact with persons from all walks of life to learn another language. It costs less, and the people who are expected to learn have the resources to do so. They are likely bilingual anyway.
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Like +1 Object -0 Primordial 31 Oct 18, 07:32
You should not mistake knowledge of language where a civil servant is posted and knowledge of lanugage expected of a judge. Judges are expected to know the nuances of the language too as they have to write judgments in that language, unlike basic lingual fluency expected of the former.
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Like +52 Object -0 Kudos 28 Oct 18, 19:18  interesting  top rated
This VC seems like a really decent human being.
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Like +0 Object -0 Guest 28 Oct 18, 21:18
Agree with you.
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Like +13 Object -0 Bhai 29 Oct 18, 10:59  interesting  top rated
He is a stud, people from NLIU will remember his role during the riot-like situation at a dhaba near the college.
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Like +0 Object -0 NLU Stud 29 Oct 18, 11:56
Unlike the rest.
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Like +12 Object -0 Ano 28 Oct 18, 19:52 LI subscriber  interesting  top rated
My heart goes out to the student and his family :(
May he rest in peace. We as a society have failed in so many ways.
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Like +4 Object -0 Our society 29 Oct 18, 09:21
Sad state of affairs in India: English equals education
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Like +1 Object -0 Well wisher 30 Oct 18, 13:54
May he rest in peace.

This news is quite saddening. was the kid under some pressure to compete with the other ones from bigger cities or prestigious schools, who had better command over English. Yes, English is important for all reasons that we discuss here. But is that a deal breaker?

Say if his mates were to talk of getting placed in Top Law Firms as the ultimate career option, where a lot of emphasis is given over command of language, he would have broken, so would have been his aspirations after going through a lot in life to secure a place in a law school.

Would that be the case?
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Like +2 Object -0 Well wisher 30 Oct 18, 13:57
and Cheers to Chauhan for initiating this. Its important to understand that the first years are kids and its important to reinstate their faith.

Do law schools have systems in place to check on stress levels/psychological aspects of students. I would vote for such a system to have in place even at work places.

Yes, I work for a tier 1, not from a top law school, but each one of us go through hell meeting our deadlines and what not ! ... Isnt this the reason why we see our colleagues/peers die young.
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Like +5 Object -3 Adv. Del. 30 Oct 18, 20:33
Why this NLU exists for God's sake? And why the hell students are going to study there?

When there is already one NLU in Bhopal which more or less remains mediocre and average in quality, what was the need to set up another sub-standard institute.

One State One NLU should be the rule. Maharashtra has set a bad example by setting up three. Why other states following?

Where are the jobs for these law graduates? Be ready for more protests and suicides if you are not going to have a uniform policy and control in setting up NLUs.
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Like +5 Object -0 Delhi lawyer 01 Nov 18, 22:49  interesting
Yes, setting up privileged law colleges in the name of University is a bad idea. A University is a multi disciplinary, large institution like DU or BHU. You have Faculty of Sciences, Humanities, Social Sciences, Medicine, Engineering and Law in a University. This law college in Jabalpur running with intake of 60-80 students and having 5-10 faculties, one of them a vice chancellor, is really a joke in the name of University. I fail to understand why so many NLU being set up applying any mind. When students are protesting against poor faculty and standards at all the places, from NUJS Kolkata to NLIU Bhopal and from HNLU Raipur to nusrl Ranchi. Be it NLU in Patna or Assam or Vizag, all facing serious crisis of being called a University. These small law colleges are given a University status and one individual who's VC and some of his coterie are given a campus to loot and enjoy. Close these new NLUs. Better give money to Law faculty I. DU or BHU
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