Updated: Aug 16
Nehal Gaikwad [Associate, Dispute Resolution, DSK Legal/Blog Contributor & Digital Artist, Team Her Forum]
"It’s not like sitting in your drawing room and talking about what is wrong. You can go to court and actually do something about what’s wrong. It is a huge gift to be able to have that kind of job.” - Dr. Menaka Guruswamy
When I was in my first year of law school, I came across a video of a woman who was delivering a lecture on the Indian Constitution. She was feisty, articulate, and passionate. She spoke about the highest law of the land and told us that the Constitution of India was a legacy to be carried forward by us and that we must carry its spirit in our hearts in order to fully achieve what it promises us. I ended up getting my hands on every interview, talk, and every piece of information that I could gather about her. The name of this woman was Dr. Menaka Guruswamy who left a mark on me without even knowing. Though I hardly think she needs an introduction, it would not be fair to not sum up what this extraordinary woman has done and achieved.
Born to Mohan and Meera Guruswamy on November 27, (A Day after the Constitution Day or the Samvidhan Diwas), Dr. Menaka Guruswamy is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India and practices constitutional law, criminal law, and commercial law to name a few. She is an NSLIU, Harvard, and Oxford alumna. In her litigation practice, she focuses on large constitutional rights, and has successfully brought reforms in the bureaucracy in the country, defended federal legislation that mandates that all private schools admit disadvantaged children, challenged colonial-era laws that criminalized consensual same-sex relations and the list goes on. Dr. Guruswamy is a Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Research Scholar and read law as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University where she was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Law (D. Phil.) and as a Gammon fellow for a Masters in Law at Harvard Law School. She has also been a Visiting Faculty at Yale Law School, Columbia Law School, and New York University School of Law. She was also a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin/Institute of Advanced Studies, Berlin for 2016-2017.
Having made it to Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People, the second woman to have her portrait hung at the Milner Hall in Rhodes House at the University of Oxford, Forbes India's List of Women-Power Trailblazers, she strode her way to leave her mark by her actions and work. The energy transforms every time she enters the room. Her strong and feisty demeanour yet compassionate approach towards the law, the people, and life never failed to inspire and empower those around her. Her voice makes heads turn, barriers burn, and paved a way for more people to be empowered. She teaches us to break glass ceilings, to soar high and yet to be grounded and to be determined.
Keep reaching for the stars Ms. Guruswamy, and don’t look back. Explore galaxies instead! You are a true and perfect example of A WOMAN IN LAW.