Interview with Prof. (Dr.) Rose Varghese, Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kalamassery

An eminent academician, Prof. (Dr.) Rose Varghese completed her schooling from Mt. Carmel Convent, Tangasseri, Quilon. She then did B.A. English Literature & Language from St. Teresa's College, Ernakulam and then graduated in Law from the Kerala Law Academy, Trivandrum and did her Post Graduation in Law from the School of Legal Studies, Cochin University of Science and Technology. She did her M. Phil in Law from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore and subsequently her Ph.D. from the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.

Prof. (Dr.) Rose Varghese began her professional career in 1976, practicing in the High Court of Kerala under the late Senior Advocate S. Easwaralyer and started her academic career as Lecturer in Law at the A.C. College of Law, Nagarjuna University in 1985. She was then a member of the Faculty at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore from its inception in 1988. She joined the Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia Central University, New Delhi as an Associate Professor in 1994 and then became a Professor and subsequently completed her tenure as the Dean of the Faculty. She participated in, and organized various National Seminars/Workshops in India and abroad and has several publications to her credit. She is currently the Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kalamassery.

Q: Your life has always been intertwined with law and legal studies. Tell us how you started your profession as a lawyer and how you managed to excel at it.

When I joined LL.B., I wanted to practice as a lawyer. I always believed in going one step further. During the start of my career the famous criminal lawyer, Eashwara lyer, it was a routine for the junior lawyers to go to Court just to adjourn the case to another day. From day one, I went a step ahead and read the case file thoroughly and as expected the judge would ask "What is it about? Can you present the case?" I would be waiting for that chance and I managed to get admissions for many writ petitions at the first instance. During those days there were very few lady lawyers and seeing my enthusiasm many lawyers and Judges used to compliment my presentation of the case probably to encourage me.

Q: The qualifications you acquired after your graduation are quite impressive. What motivated you to keep studying?

After marriage, my husband was doing his Ph.D. and he urged me to take LLM. I was fascinated by Criminal Laws and had decided to specialize in Criminal Law and Maritime Law for my Post-Graduation.


Q: From an Advocate practicing in Kerala High Court, how did you turn into the academics?

After my LLM, my husband, who had then submitted his Ph.D. Thesis and I were offered a teaching position at A.C. College of Law, Nagarjuna University. My son was young and I believed that whatever a woman achieves she cannot run away from her duties as a mother in bringing up her children. So I decided to take a short break from practice and teach for a while. Moreover, I then had a second son.

Criminal Law, Criminology and Criminal Justice Administration being my specialisation coupled with my passion for teaching made it extremely interesting for the students. I, no doubt, enjoyed practising in the prestigious High Court of Kerala, but with a great zeal and passion for teaching, I continued teaching until the National Law University in Bangalore started and I was invited to join this Institution from its inception in 1988. By then, my husband, Dr. Rajan Varghese, was awarded, Ph.D. in 1986 and has was also invited to join NLSIU. Teaching a group of vibrant students, motivating them, interacting with them and developing my research skills compelled me to remain in academics.

Q: How was your journey to becoming the Vice-Chancellor in NUALS? How was your experience and how have you achieved high standards in your Institution?

While I was teaching in Bangalore, I did my M.Phil in Law and in January 1994 1 got selected as an Associate Professor in Jamia Millia Islamia Central University. Besides teaching, I did my Ph.D. from Delhi University. Subsequently, I became a Professor and later the Dean of the Faculty. After I completed my tenure as the Dean, it was God's plan and I was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kalamassery in October, 2014. According to the Statute, it is a four year term and this year October, 2018 1 will complete my term as Vice-Chancellor. My experience as Vice-Chancellor was marvellous. It was a challenge for me to take the University to great heights.

My students have been placed very well with the majority into practice/litigation. Further, our students represented India at Jessup, Washington DC, Jakarta, Singapore and Netherlands for various prestigious Moot Court Competitions. They went to Boston where they got the Best Respondent Memorial Prize and they have recently been selected to go to Australia for the Space Law Moot. Students representing India and competing at these prestigious Moots is a matter of pride to us. For any Vice-Chancellor it is a challenge to bring up a University to make it emerge as a much sought for Institution for legal studies and Research. Moreover, we have a one year LL.M. and a Ph.D. Programme. This year itself seven Research Scholars were awarded Ph.D. Again, by the Grace of the Almighty, I have had no major issues with students.


Q: If you compare the previous generation women with that of women today in India, have you noticed any change when it comes to women's rights and gender equality?

It is not that today's women are more efficient so they become doctors, engineers, lawyers, pilots and chartered accountants. It is just that the women of the past did not get as many opportunities as the women of this generation. To me, being a woman is not a challenge and I see it more as an opportunity. That is how I encourage all my students to look at it. For instance, it is a challenge for any Vice-Chancellor to run a University maintaining high academic standards and upholding values besides inculcating values in students. This is a challenge before any Vice-Chancellor and this challenge does not increase if it is a woman Vice-Chancellor. When we are committed, straight forward and upright we do not have to face any hurdles or challenges in taking the University forward to reach global heights. Here at NUALS, this is possible because, I have a committed Faculty, a dedicated Registrar and Administrative Staff.

Q: To come this far one needs to have incredible determination and support. Who do you think supported you the most in coming this far?

I have ensured that my professional life never clashes with family life. I have been fortunate to have a husband who took his Doctorate in Law, as early as in 1986 and who knew what it is to be in this noble profession and the challenges of the profession. Hence, he has been a source of moral support while I did my LL.M., my M.Phil. and my Ph.D. As a Vice-Chancellor or when I was the Dean, whenever I needed support he was there. The mutual love and respect we have for each other is something that has helped me reach this far. Not forgetting that my parents and siblings wanted me to study as far as possible and were always a constant support for me.

Q: What message would you like to leave for us students on the occasion of International Women's day?

I believe that the Chartered Accountancy Course is rather tough. In my experience, I have found that Accountancy and Tax Laws are tough subjects, but very much in demand. So young boys and girls who are studying for C.A. should not give up, thinking it is too strenuous. With hard work, perseverance and dedication you can all come up in life as competent Chartered Accountants maintaining strong values, including a high level of honesty, integrity and professionalism. Wish you all the best. God bless each one of you in your career pursuits.


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