Leaders are made, not born overnight! They are made by years of hard work, passion, grit and determination to not just succeed in their own lives but to etch an impact in others’ lives too. One such passionate and inspirational leader is Dr Jyotsna Yagnik, Pro Vice-Chancellor & Director School of Law and Justice, Adamas University, who has been teaching law and imparting training to senior officers for 33+ years. These senior officers include trial court judges, Trainee IAS, IPS, Police Officers, Senior Executives, and many others. Dr Jyotsna wears other hats as an Arbitrator, Mediator, former Adjunct Professor at Law School, Nirma University, and Teacher at other universities like Gujarat Forensic Sciences University. She is also the Former Principal Judge, City Civil and Sessions Courts, Ahmedabad; Former Principal of Law College; and Director of Yagnik Law Academy imparting education for examination of Judiciary.
The Driving Forces
Behind such a vast and rich track record of Dr Jyotsna lies not just her hard work and dedication, but the continuous force of her mother to shape her, train her and make her the reader of books that can sharpen one’s inner qualities like bravery, clarity, leadership, and ability to analyze. Her mother was a great discipliner, and her quest for knowledge and constant learning instilled Dr Jyotsna with habits of hard work and disciple in life. She was greatly influenced by her philosophically and ethically sound father. He taught her to be the most sensitive for the poor and oppressed while also being a highly professional leader when it comes to work.
Despite studying in an average school that imparted education in regional language, Dr Jyotsna was truly influenced by her school and college teachers along with certain well-known lawyers and judges who have shaped her to become what she is today. In fact, her biggest lessons learnt during childhood and college days are: “Learning has no end. You need to bring the change which you expect from others. Your commitment must be second to none, and your dedication for your work must be illustrative”, which was quoted by Gandhiji. She believes that the aforementioned qualities were developed stage by stage, slowly and gradually, but consistently and has made her what she is today.
Stint at Adamas
Today, Dr Jyotsna outclasses as an ardent leader at Adamas University who ceaselessly motivates her students and all women working around her. She emphasizes organizing numerous extra-curricular activities and many other competitions that can develop her students’ overall personality and facilitate them in brightening their career. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Adamas University teachers faced a fleet of challenges like many other professionals in the education industry. Some of them entail holding the concentration of students, creating interest for virtual learning among them, creating a new kind of question paper that can recognize their cut, copied, and pasted answers, sending them notes (via WhatsApp & email), and ensuring learning for the students from rural areas with a poor network.
The other challenges that teachers at Adamas University faced include staying updated and educated to teach properly on the virtual platforms, creating and using share points where materials can be stored, ensuring to have a proper network in place when residing in rural areas, addressing grievances of parents, and conducting parent-teacher meetings. Yet, the university soared high among the crowd by successfully conducting teaching sessions without many hassles by contacting students on a one-to-one basis, persuading parents to provide laptop or smartphone to their children, continuously imparting training to its teachers, and building rapport with its IT officials to make virtual teaching more meaningful. Lastly, the students with knowledge in IT also helped the teachers, which is the new idea of reverse mentoring at educational institutions.
Presently, Dr Jyotsna is working on rendering more strength to clinical legal education and making students practice-ready for the legal profession. She is also focused on giving her best at the International Virtual Conference on International Human Rights to be held on the 10th and 11th of April, 2021, wherein many foreign dignitaries along with the national dignitaries, will address. Yet, her primordial goal is to give back to society by delivering honest, committed, and dedicated future members of the judiciary and legal profession.
Challenges & Milestones
Growth in anyone’s career is usually an amalgamation of challenges and milestones. Dr Jyotsna also faced a fair number of stumbles in her Professional life, including accepting a judgeship offer later instead of at a young age where she could have retired as the High Court Judge. She always reminded herself of the fact that she does not belong to the family of lawyers or judges but whatever Almighty has showered on her is most satisfactory. While working for pro bono cases for poor people, she learnt many hard realities of life and true meaning of access to justice for all. After retirement, she joined the School of Law as its Director, which was the first year of that school. During the maiden year itself, the school was rewarded with India’s most emerging law school under her leadership. Even while working at Adamas University, she was responsible for procuring many laurels and award in law & justice. Above all, Dr Jyotsna considers her journey’s significant milestones as her students, who have grown into eminent judges, lawyers, law teachers in India and abroad.
To all the working professionals, perfecting the work-life balance is most difficult task. But, Dr Jyotsna ensures to work round the clock by applying different techniques to handle pressures. She believes that to stay calm; she ought to have ‘Sakshi-bhava’ as mentioned in The Bhagawat Geeta by Lord Krishna. On the professional front, she assures to stay tuned with the latest trends in education by becoming a member of software where judgments of Supreme Court & High Court are uploaded and soft magazines where debates, discussion, and webinars on legal education are ongoing. She also makes sure to subscribe to YouTube channels to witness debates wherein the latest education trends are being discussed and participate in multiple TV debates as panellists and speakers in different national & international conferences.
As a successful leader, Dr Jyotsna firmly believes in connecting with people she works with, generating team spirit among them, and giving them frequent & timely appreciation and elevations so that they own the institution and constantly implement innovative ideas of teaching and working. She also envisages developing a curriculum that is connectable with employment in law education and current higher education where teaching should be application-based. She asserts, “Complete clinical legal education is the way forward for gifting the best judges and brilliant advocates to our country”.
Women in Leadership Roles
Recounting the women in leadership roles in India and South Asia, Dr Jyotsna believes that the numbers are quite less. On the bright side, the situation in the education field is quite happy when compared with other fields since a cultured and women-friendly work atmosphere is found in most educational institutions barring few exceptions. At least in urban areas, women and men are in equal proportions among the teaching faculty. She believes that the number of women in leadership roles in India can be increased by trusting them, creating laws with enhanced priorities, encouraging them to pursue their UG & PG studies in the fields where their management, administrative ability and virtues of leadership are nurtured.
Moreover, advising the women professionals, Dr Jyotsna says, “I humbly opine that there is always space on top, and continuously & committedly marching ahead with a torch of knowledge, courage, clarity & attitude to continuously learn can definitely pave the way for women in any sector”. She adds, “However struggles and efforts to establish one’s ability and proving one’s merits are all too common for women to reach top management. Yet, all the above should not be taken as a discouragement but as our path makers. I wish all the best to all the women on this globe!”