No big leader has emerged from student community in last few years: CJI

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana on Thursday said that in the past few decades, no big leader has emerged from the student community as he emphasised students cannot remain self-centred, and more upright students should enter public life.

In his address at the eighth convocation at the National Law University, Delhi, he said: “Any keen observer of Indian society would notice that in the past few decades, no big leader has emerged from the student community. This appears to be correlated with diminished participation of students in social causes after liberalisation. The importance of students’ participation in modern democracy cannot be played down.”

He emphasised that students cannot remain self-centered and it is essential that more and more well-meaning, forward-looking, and upright students enter public life.

“You must emerge as leaders. After all, political consciousness and well-informed debates can steer the nation into a glorious future as envisioned by our Constitution. A responsive youth is vital for strengthening democracy,” the CJI told law students.

He said students are an integral part of the society and cannot live in isolation, and they are also guardians of freedom, justice, equality, ethics, and social equilibrium.

“The youth of today is driven by idealism and ambition. Idealism without ambition may not achieve any positive results. Ambition without idealism can be dangerous. Combine the two in the right proportion and enable our country to emerge as one of the most powerful and harmonious nations,” he said.

He added that unfortunately, the focus nowadays is on professional courses to the total neglect of equally important subjects such as humanities and natural sciences. He said in an anxiety to secure highly remunerative and profitable job opportunities, children are sent to exile in privately-run residential schools and coaching centres.

“The formative years of budding talents are spent in a suffocating atmosphere which unfortunately resembles prisons,” the CJI said.

He said holistic development of a child cannot be achieved in such a restrictive environment and the harsh reality is that even after the students enter professional universities, the focus is on classroom learning, and not on the world beyond the classroom.

Chief Justice Ramana said the primary objective behind the establishment of national law universities in the country was to improve the quality of legal education in the country to produce better trained legal professionals.

“However, no authoritative study has been conducted to determine whether this has taken place. Additionally, due to various considerations most students from these universities end up in corporate law firms,” he added.

“Even though such law firms are an integral part of the legal landscape of the country, it is unfortunate that a comparable addition is not being made to the ranks of lawyers practicing in courts from the National Law Universities. This is perhaps one of the reasons why National Law Universities are perceived as elitist and detached from social realities.”

He added that an enrichment of courtroom advocacy is the need of the hour and is something that the profession must think about collectively and lawyers cannot be strangers to socio-economic and political realities.

He emphasised that while it is not wrong to choose a life of convenience, “I hope that you choose a life of service as well, for the future of this nation”.