Welcome back to the blog where we invite our next guest for our weekly interview series. We have with us today Ms. Samiksha Gupta one of the founders of Leagle Samiksha, a website and platform dedicated to providing mentorship and to providing guidance and skills to young students. Passionate about child rights, human rights and humanitarian law, Ms. Samiksha brings forth a host of pertinent points and relevant factors to the discussion about various fields and topics. Throughout the interview we discuss various intricacies from the point of view of child rights and international law, as well as aspects of law school life, tips and guidance for students to say the least! An engaging and elaborate interview, do read on to learn more!
(You can find Part One here)
(You can find Part Two here)
(Kaushik) You are also quiet interested in the sphere of international law. International law itself carries tools for the harmonisation of national laws to international laws, in tune with the acceptance of the legislating mechanisms of the nation so subscribing to the international law. The Child Rights Convention is one of the international instruments present which deals with the topic of the rights of the child. The penal provisions in the International Criminal Law and International Humanitarian laws protection principles for non-combatants like women and children are some other areas of highlight. How do you see the protection of the rights of the child in international legal instruments? Where do you think are the changes needed in these international structures?
The adoption of international laws and best practices are heavily dependent on the national legislation system, which is also the case in India. Where do you think there are scope for further harmonisation and adoption of global best practices and international legal instruments when it comes to the legal framework in India for the protection of Child Rights in the country?
(Samiksha) International law is only as strong as the will of the sovereign nations that are supposed to implement the international law. So, no matter how many conventions or treaties or declarations that countries come up with at the international level, until and unless they are really determined to give due weightage to the issue of child rights, no amount of law making will be able to accomplish that purpose. Similarly, even in the case of India that is the exact same case. There is no use in bringing about new laws, or bringing about pen and paper amendments to the existing laws. Until and unless we are willing to adjust and willing to change the attitude toward how the concept of child rights are seen in the country. So, given the developments that is in India, the laws are not that bad. It is the attitudinal changes and the infrastructural and implementation requirements that will bring about a better impact than the changes in law per se.
(Kaushik) In terms of the juvenile system in the country, there is maybe a requirement of focusing on proper reform on the part of the societal understanding and outlook of the detained children. Crimes perpetuated by children however, have a majority of a background in callous up brining and problems in the vicinity of the child. There are many thus intersecting issues and debates. What do you think about the current structure for determent of children committing crimes and their detentions in the juvenile system? Is it important to maintain proper facilities to reform children, and how effectively do you think these activities are done, or are present in facilities in India?
(Samiksha) I believe that it is very important if a child is stuck in a difficult environment that it is required to take that child out of that environment and to place that child in a benevolent surrounding which is more nurturing. That being said, to recount an experience from my internship with the NHRC, I was working on a research project about shelter homes in the country and the results were absolutely bone chilling. So, what happens usually is that these reform facilities, or these shelter homes or detention facilities are approved by the state and run with the aid and assistance from private agencies. Most of the time nobody from the state office goes back to check upon what these private agencies are doing. Hence, consequently these shelter homes or reform facilities emerge as hotspots for criminal activities. The children, inmates in these facilities are more often than not, tortured, beaten up and brutally abused, and institutionalisation ends up doing more harm than good to a child’s future and a child’s mental health. So, I think we do require benevolent homes, which are under strict supervision and the authorities of these homes must be made answerable in a very strict fashion to responsible district officials.
(Kaushik) Often children are left abandoned, or are in households where they are mis treated, therefore the requirement comes into the picture where the children are placed in shelters, or other facilities maintained for their safe stay. Do you think these facilities are adequate in the country? How effective or purpose oriented are these homes/institutes?
(Samiksha) I think I have already answered this in the previous answer itself but just to repeat myself the number of shelter homes available are not enough and these homes are usually very overcrowded. When you place a child away from a violent atmosphere the child expects a certain level of care and support, however there are various reports by the National Commission for Women (NCW) and other investigators and researchers that go on to show how brutally the children in these shelter homes are abused and tortured by the authorities under whose care these children are placed. Therefore, I think the shelter homes fail these children and they do not achieve their purpose.
(Kaushik) Technology has now propelled the world into greater heights. The new working normal in the pandemic is also majorly driven by technological inputs which include online video conferences, and meetings, which are used for people working from home, as well as imparting education in colleges and schools. However, there are added challenges to adjudicate in matters. Issues like data protection and privacy, cyber threats like, hacking, bullying, are some of the many new problems associated with the growing use of technologies. Children, now more techno savvy than before, are extremely susceptible to fall prey to malicious software’s, and other nefarious individuals online. Do you think that the IT, Act, and the other laws, in the information technology domain are sufficient in dealing with these issues? Do you see the need to educate the children, and create changes in the systems?
(Samiksha) I agree with most of the points that you have mentioned here. These are indeed very relevant threats that our children are facing. I think educating the childis definitely necessary but it has its limits. When a child is online there are a lot of clickbait’s and temptations and all these carrots hanging around them for all the duration while he or she is online. I think it falls upon the internet service providers, these domain developers and the parents to ensure that they are checking the kind of content that the child is coming across and they are checking the kind of people that the child is interacting with on an online platform. It is indeed very challenging to track such things but, we do need technological developments in this domain. Furthermore, I think infrastructural developments need to take place with regard to tracking down cyber criminals as well. The entire world has moved online and the traffic on the internet is far higher than what it was a few months ago. In such a situation our cyber-crimes unit must be completely equipped to deal with emergency situations which emerge from crimes like hacking or bullying or privacy infringement, etc.
(Kaushik) On Leagle Samiksha, what are the future events, or the roadmap which you picture for the platform?
(Samiksha) I would say that right now I have a short-term vision to go on and continue to publish quality content, keep generating more awareness about child rights as well as keep on mentoring law students who are in need of some guidance, and to whom my experience can provide certain answers. Maybe in the future I would want to collaborate with certain law colleges in order to help them in providing guidance and mentorship to their students in a more regular fashion, but that is too far into the distance. So, as of now the plan is very simple to go on doing what we are doing.
(Kaushik) Any future plans in relation to continuing studies in any particular fields? Any advice for students who are also planning further studies?
(Samiksha) For the coming academic year, (2020-2021) I am a student of University for Peace, and United Nations Inter-Regional Crime and Justice Research institute for pursuing a master’s degree in transnational crime and justice. That would also give me an edge on understanding International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights law. That is currently the one-year plan. My advice for students who are planning to take up further studies, is this, that they should not do it unless they are really prepared to do it. If you want to go for litigation, or you want to make a career in corporate practice, and you do not think you require an LL.M. degree, do not do it just because you think your friends are doing it or you have nothing else to do. An LL.M. is a long-term commitment, and you must only undertake it when you are prepared to absorb more knowledge. For people who are interested in building a career in education and research and who have to undertake a master’s degree, I would tell them to have it very clear in their mind as to what subject they want to specialize in. Because, more often than not the subject of your LL.M. specialization is something you continue to work in for a substantially long period of your academic career or your professional career. I would say you should choose something close to you, something close to your heart that the passion or the thirst for absorbing the knowledge of that field won’t die up very soon.
(Samiksha) Last but not the least, thank you so much for having me here. It was an enjoyable conversation and I absolutely love the questions, very intelligent work, and I wish you all the best for your platform as well. Take care, bye!
(Kaushik) Thank you Samiksha for joining us for this edition it was definitely an engaging and pleasant discussion, from which I am sure a lot of people can take a lot of pointers and information from. We would love to see you come on the platform again and talk whenever you have the time to do so. Wishing you all the best for the next chapter in your academic career with your LL.M.!
(You can find Part One here)
(You can find Part Two here)
You can find details about Ms. Samiksha Gupta and her website Leagle Samiksha here:
You can visit Leagle Samiksha here.
You can find Ms. Samiksha on LinkedIn here.
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