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Prof.Shameek sen is Assistant Professor of West Bengal National Law University, Kolkatta.
Our editorial team got a chance to catch up with Prof. Shameek Sen . Here we are glad to present the interview on our website.
Law Mantra: Hello Sir, tell us about something about yourself, and specifically what brought you to want to be a teacher?
Prof. Shameek : When I joined law school some 14 years back, I was absolutely clueless as to what I wanted to do after I graduate. I was the quintessential starry-eyed small-town boy who was grappling to create a space of his own. By the time I reached my third year and was a few internships old, I realized that it would not be possible for me, physically and psychologically, to undertake the rigours of an excruciating law-firm life. At this juncture, academia started appealing to me. Probably what also catalysed my affinity towards teaching was the fact that I was doing reasonably fine in the presentations of my Seminar courses, and was also enjoying them.
Law Mantra: Describe your childhood in brief? Whom do you admire as your role model? And why?
Prof.Shameek : I had a very normal childhood, growing up at Berhampore, an idyllic small town around 200 kms from Kolkata. Like any other kid growing up in India when globalization was just around the corner, I had limited options of entertainment beyond my school and playground. I therefore tried to seek the comfort of books and music. Whenever I got chances, I started taking part in quizzes, debates, extempore etc. Looking back, I can comfortably say that the seeds of public speaking were sown through those activities.
As a child, I started developing my appreciation for creativity. Naturally, stalwarts like Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray were my role models. And they still are.
Law Mantra: What would you say about your strengths and weaknesses?
Prof.Shameek : My biggest strength is my confidence, because it takes me past the most difficult of circumstances. And as for weakness, I tend to be a bit too idealistic at times, (perhaps as a direct consequence of having imbibed all that literature when young!) in the process, often giving people and situations the benefit of doubt.
Law Mantra: Why did you choose law as the career line? Whom do you admire as your role model? And why?
Prof.Shameek :Like any other boy growing up in a middle-class Bengali household, the obvious career choice ‘made in the heavens’ for me was engineering or medicine, and a keenness towards Science and Technology was a natural prerequisite. But unfortunately, I started hating the stereotypical since my childhood. The first possible opportunity I got to branch out, I grabbed it with both hands, and landed up at NUJS.
The obvious role model in law for me, and I am sure for anyone who has ever been to a law school in India, is Professor N.R. Madhava Menon. In him, I saw the firmness of convictions, and from him, I got my penchant to think beyond the obvious. I have no doubts that had it not been for Prof. Menon, I would never have dared to venture into teaching.
Law Mantra: Are you satisfied with your profession? Did you ever regret your choice of career?
Prof.Shameek : I am most definitely satisfied. For me, every class is a performance, unique in itself. My students are my motivation. I can see the appreciation in their eyes when they like a class, and on occasion, boredom when a class is not particularly interesting. I keep challenging myself to improve my performance/ delivery and trying to reach out to the last benches. This gives me an amazing ‘kick’.
The only time I regret my career choice is when I sit down to evaluate answer-scripts (!). The obvious boredom in the exercise apart, I sometimes do get personally affected when I see the odd horrendous answer, and start questioning my existence in their lives
Law Mantra: How was your college life? What strategies did you use to be successful in college?
Prof.Shameek : My college life had its usual stresses – stringent attendance requirements, project submissions (with no extensions allowed), presentations and the rigours that make you emerge stronger. Yet, it was amazing fun! Spending hours chatting in the hostel, savouring almost all Bollywood releases without fail by the weekend, watching everything that ESPN and Star Sports had to offer in the evenings – it was a fantastic five years!
I had some fabulous friends in college. We shared notes and readings, used to have group study sessions for the exam weeks, and were essentially providing support to each other in more ways than one, throughout college, and even afterwards. If you have such friends, success is a cakewalk!
Law Mantra: Please tell us about the struggle you faced in your life (if any), as a student.
Prof.Shameek : In my initial days at NUJS, I had a struggle to find my feet. I had never been to such a cosmopolitan setting. Thinking in English, had, until then, never come naturally to me. I did not know how to use MS-Word. I am sure many of my friends didn’t, as well. I did not know how different those projects we wrote were, from the projects we wrote in school. But, despite all such “struggles”, life was fun.
Law Mantra: What according to you should be the focus of the law students at law school? How should they shape up their potential career graph?
Prof.Shameek : The focus of students in law school should be to develop keen interest in at least one of the disciplines, and then take the liking to a level of romance. One should realize that there is no time to revise or brush up your knowledge once you are in the big bad professional world, and therefore, you should have had utilized the chance that has come your way, and has not come the way of hundreds of perhaps more deserving others.
Law Mantra: You are a Constitutional Law teacher what is a best thing being it? And what’s the worst?
Prof.Shameek : Constitutional Law is not only one of the most basic and most important subjects, it is also a lot of fun. Drawing references to political anecdotes, looking at the conspiracy theories behind significant legal changes, trying to pitch the points of view of one judge against the other – Constitutional Law has it all.
I find extremely bright and interested students in their Second Year, really keen to learn the nuances of Constitutional Law. But, by the time they reach their fourth or fifth years, I see that they have lost all interest in everything else, except in joining the corporate bandwagon. I don’t know how (and whether at all) this flow can be stemmed.
Law Mantra: What do you like best about teaching at NUJS?
Prof.Shameek :The exceptionally high quality of the students.
Law Mantra: What is the best thing about being a Professor? And what’s the worst?
Prof.Shameek : The best thing about being a Professor is the respect that one gets, and the feeling of academic freedom that the profession brings.
The worst thing that often irks an academic is the unnecessary adherence to rules which the regulators like the UGC etc. mandate one to. More often than not, the blind adherence leads to choosing form over substance, but unfortunately, that’s how things are.
Law Mantra: Describe your teaching style.
Prof.Shameek :I try to make my classes interesting, and therefore resort to a lot of storytelling. I don’t mind making common pop-culture references, and my students tell me that they enjoy the ‘spice’ that I serve in liberal doses, while trying to explain the toughest of concepts. I know full well that as a teacher, my primary task is to make a student learn something, rather than exhibiting my prowess and repertoire of jargons.
Law Mantra: Do you think students should behave with the professors like friends, or is it necessary to maintain a disciplined environment to create a good classroom environment?
Prof.Shameek : I think that not only should students behave with professors like friends, it is also a reciprocal responsibility of the professor concerned. That said, however, there is of course a line of respect and propriety that both should carefully adhere to.
Law Mantra: Sir, Any message to younger Generation?
Prof.Shameek : My only message to the younger generation is – enjoy your law school years, and make the fullest use of these days. Always remember that you have been amongst the privileged ones who have managed to get to a shot at your dreams, so better utilize it carefully and judiciously.