Kofi Annan once addressed in his speech that “Education is the premise of Progress.” Education indeed lends a transforming power and a sturdy foundation for overall social development in any country.
For a long period in Indian history, women were deprived of their fundamental rights, including education. The women also faced cruel practices such as child- marriages, dowry, domestic violence, sati, and female foeticide. It is convenient for one to think that the country has wholly risen over these practices, but the truth is that the women in India are still fighting against discrimination every day.
India had constituted a whopping 3582 cases of registered domestic abuse from April to June in 2021. This alarming indication commands a severe need for awareness and empowerment regarding safeguarding women’s rights.
Dr. Richa Ranjan is an educator (Director – Principal, Swami Devi Dyal Law College, Barwala, Panchkula)and a women’s rights advocate who solemnly thrives on improving society. In an interview with The Knowledge Review, Dr. Richa Ranjan sheds light on her journey and the challenges faced through her expedition. Below are some highlights of the interview.
Please tell us about your journey throughout the education sector right from the beginning of your career.
I, Dr. Richa Ranjan, working as Director- Principal, Swami Devi Dyal Law College, Panchkula, was destined to be in the Education field. I did LLB as my father wanted me to be in Judicial services. Mumma and my brother Mohit Mehta were supportive after my father passed. But after marriage, with time, I focussed on the education field. I was only LLB, and my husband Mr. Anil Ranjan helped in my further studies, my LLM, Diplomas in Medical Negligence and Law, Labour Law, Human Rights, and Ph.D. My father-in-law and mother-in-law entrusted their belief in me, and I calibrated myself. My daughter Aanshalika came as a star lighting up the ways of my life and has always been a support to my soul. After graduating in Law back in 1994, my concerns started aggravating the increasing violence and crime in the society, especially towards women inside their own homes. I started hearing of multiple instances of domestic violence and other emotional exploitation that women had to go through post marriage. Being deeply affected by such instances, I started analysing this issue to the core while pursuing my masters and then Ph.D. in the subject matter and consecutively began spreading awareness among the women about their rights and any related legalities.
I initially started this initiative in my capacity. Further, I expanded the cause by educating the men and women around me, including friends and family, and ultimately extrapolating the awareness by starting, joining, and leading some renowned women and human rights centric organisations. Rather than being sad on such sensitive topics as domestic violence, women’s hygiene, and much more, I tried to impact and change the lives of women by educating them about their rights.
Post this, I received my Diploma in Labour Laws and Human Rights and chose the path of education to catalyse and strengthen the spirit of social service. I have written several articles on problems faced by women and the laws made for them. I also get the opportunity to share my views at various national and international conferences from time to time.
For over 25 years, teachers and students have always been encouraged by me to contribute to social service and stand for a greater cause. Being a part of the Swami Devi Dyal Group of Institutes for the last 15 years, I have tried to provide an uplifting and encouraging environment to students from all walks of society. This has been my routine since 2007 to organise regular visits on Holi, Diwali, Lohri, all festivals at orphanages and old age homes, and my students to embibe the instinct so that they learn to be humble grounded. Education is the most powerful tool to bring out the social changes, and thus imparting education and encouraging more and more people to develop their skills and increase their qualifications has been my way to live. I have also done tree plantation drives in schools, temples, and villages. The Menstrual Hygiene awareness project I started is going on to villages by sanitary napkin distribution and creating awareness about the truth of hygiene.
What inspired you to step into the education industry? Who were your role models growing up?
The only reason to be attracted towards the education industry was the consciousness for society. To find out the real cause of the evils going on in society and to find a solution to them, I decided to be a law graduate. I was acknowledging education to be the most powerful weapon to eradicate the evils of society, especially for the women who have been deprived of this fundamental right for so long.
My parents have always been my role models. I have always observed them teaching patiently the value of education and the morals that are the real value of society and this human life. Education not only makes a person aware of their rights but also gives us courage and values to stand for the rights of others. Society is not only a group of human beings living together but it is made with the values enshrined in the hearts and minds of these humans. This is what makes us human, and education beautifully empowers this differentiating factor of ours.
Tell us about your esteemed institute’s mission, vision, and core values.
Since its establishment, I have been a part of Swami Devi Dyal Law College. The college had started functioning in 2007- 08. The ambience and serenity of this esteemed college provide a healthy environment for the studies and endorses a vision to be recognised for excellence in legal studies.
Our mission is to provide world-class professional grooming to our students and provide the students with different scopes in the legal profession.
Our vision is to give direction to every student’s career and make them able to have a vision of their own. We always work on the principle that every opinion matters, facilitating interaction with national and international personalities and providing a platform to enhance their communication skills and confidence.
What are the priorities of your institute in terms of course objectives and learning outcomes?
Swami Devi Dyal Law College has a highly qualified, experienced, and vibrant teaching faculty, which provides an excellent blend of rigor and relevance in teaching. Students touch the lives of a wide cross-section of society by participating in outreach programs to contribute their knowledge and provide legal aid to the community by visiting schools and colleges.
Regular visits are organized to the High Court and District Courts for practical experience for students. Qualified teachers and advocates conduct moot courts and debates to enhance the legal aptitude of law students. Through the determined strategic and committed efforts endeavors, we are building the career of law students by providing a plethora of co-curricular activities joined with practical aspects.
The college of Law has established a well-equipped library, and it also owns a Legal Aid Clinic. The Legal Aid Clinic is conducted by students and faculty members in collaboration with District Legal service Authority Panchkula. Judges and Advocates from DLSA provide training to our Law students to facilitate their services for legal aid in fieldwork.
Education is considered a tool of empowerment. What efforts do you and the institution take to ensure that education is provided to those who need it?
Education is truly a tool for empowerment. Instead, it is the most powerful tool because educated people empower themselves and the whole strata of society where they belong. From the very beginning, my institution and I have ensured the availability of education for those who need it.
The most important thing is to make people aware of the power of education. I have always tried to educate the underprivileged by helping them in whatsoever way I can. We organize visits to slum areas to survey how many students have been going to schools. Our constitution provides the right to education, free and compulsory education for all, but it is our responsibility to check the implementation and availability of these rights as we are the civil society.
We have also announced scholarships for children from these special homes.
Kindly mention any of your awards, accolades, and accreditations.
I am honoured to have my efforts recognised and be the recipient of some prestigious awards, to name a few –
- International Golden Padma Award by Women Power Society.
- Womania Award by NA cultural society.
- 51 Influential Women Haryana Award by Sarv Jagruk Sangathan.
What advice can you give to those who want to step into the field of education?
Firstly, before stepping into this field, every person must have a clear vision of why they want to become an educator. Is the academic world their true love or not. It cannot be for the money. The person has to be very clear because providing quality education to the next generation is the vision needed. We have the glory of belonging to Takshshila and Nalanda Universities, and education has been the root of our glorious history. If the person wishes to give young people a brighter future and help shape their lives, then teaching is the actual profession they can opt for.
To be a teacher, you require a big heart, extreme patience, and a personality that is not easily dented.
Please share what lies ahead for you and your institution in the near future.
Our institution has attracted students from the Indian Subcontinent to study here because it is a law college and the laws of commonwealth nations share many things in common. In the near future, we are thinking of expanding the horizon by adding Masters in Law to our curriculum. It will definitely be a feather added to the cap as in this way we can open more possibilities for higher studies. Being the only Law College in Panchkula, we are trying to connect with more law firms to provide better opportunities to our students.
We keep on setting up multiple legal aid camps for the less privileged groups to find the needed legal assistance with the problems they’ve faced over the pandemic. In the future, we also look forward to extending our efforts to touch the lives of more and more people.