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Symbhav’21 Opening Ceremony & 4th Edition of Symbiosis Law School, Pune- Conclave 2021

Symbiosis Law School, Pune (SLS-P), a constituent of Symbiosis International (Deemed University) (SIU) hosted the Opening Ceremony for Symbhav’21, on 25th April, 2021, from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. The Ceremony was held on Samaaro, an immersive virtual events platform. The event was attended by both national and international participants with over 570 attendees.

The Welcome Address was delivered by Mr. Shervil Adappa, President, Student Advisory Board, SLS-P and Convenor, Symbhav 2021. Mr. Adappa began by welcoming the dignitaries and introducing the theme of Symbhav 2021, ‘Paradigms of Progress’. Highlighting the virtual nature of Symbhav 2021 and commending the efforts of the student volunteers in making this the largest Symbhav in its 13 year history, Mr. Adappa declared Symbhav 2021 open. 

Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, Fulbright Scholar, Director, SLS-P, Dean, Faculty of Law, SI(DU) delivered the Director’s Address. Dr. Gurpur began her address mentioning about the Indian belief system where any initiative takes place in a “mandala” cycle of 48 years. Symbhav 2021 marks the beginning of the second quarter of its 48-year journey, with the serendipity of going virtual. She spoke about the ethical dilemma in celebration and festival at a time when the world faces immense social challenges. 

Dr. Gurpur viewed, “It is a time to empathize and reverberate with the sadness and keep the lamp of hope burning for the youthful generation.” Pragmatically, this empathy is seen through SLS, Pune’s donations towards feeding migrant workers and underprivileged neighbourhoods as well as Shri Kailash Satyarthi's movement in the midst of the Pandemic. In the context of the theme of ‘Paradigms of Progress’, she established the role of Symbhav in adding a new paradigm of hope during these testing times. On an optimistic note, she commended the globalized nature of Symbhav 2021, with participants from across the globe, and thanked the dignitaries for being a part of this journey. 

Dr. Rajani Gupte, Vice-Chancellor, SI(DU), in her address, spoke about how continuing traditions such as Symbhav speak about student life. She commended the effort of students in organising Symbhav 2021 with 48 events and engaging in serious discussions, meaningful discourse that promotes thinking beyond one's self and the ability to deal with difficult times. Dr. Gupte concluded by stating that she will miss the vibrant environment of a physical Symbhav but knows that a virtual fest will be met with no less enthusiasm. 

Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar, Pro-Chancellor, SI(DU), in her address, mentioned how crises pave way to think differently and that the benefit of virtual Symbhav is that it brings increased participation. In her opinion, teaching happens beyond classrooms and Symbhav exemplifies that role. Dr. Yeravdekar made an appeal to the audience to exercise caution in the midst of the second wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic and concluded by saying, “Symbiosis cares about your well-being.” 

Dr. Bindu Ronald, Deputy Director, SLS-P, introduced and welcomed the Chief Guest for the Opening Ceremony of Symbhav 2021, Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha and India’s Sherpa to the G7 and G20, describing him as “a man of action and reform”

Mr. Suresh Prabhu commended the efforts put in organising Symbhav 2021 despite the challenging pandemic situations in the country. He emphasized the importance of empathy and feeling the pain of people who are close to you. The ability to sympathize with others plays a social role in ameliorating other’s problems. He established that the means to achieve this is to achieve a consonance between the laws of nature and the laws of the country. He viewed, “the law plays an important role in raising the moral bar in society”, and stressed the importance of conforming to societal moralities by feeling the collective pain of the society in the COVID-19 Pandemic. In this context, Mr. Prabhu commended the healthcare and frontline workers’ tireless efforts in the past year. 

Mr. Suresh Prabhu concluded by making an appeal to the legal community that one must follow the laws of nature by being a good human being and a good citizen before a successful lawyer. This can be best described in words of M.K.Gandhi who said, “How can I sleep in peace when I know my neighbour is hungry?” He thanked the dignitaries for inviting him to this august forum and hoped for an improved society in the near future, one that brings plentiful success and happiness. 

Following the Chief Guest’s Address, the Opening Dance was presented by the students of SLS-P. The dance was an interactive fusion medley of numerous genres of music and different dance forms including bharatnatyam, hip-hop and bollywood. The Vote of Thanks was delivered by Prof. Kshitij Naikade, Deputy Director.

The inaugural ceremony was followed by Symbhav Conclave 2021 on the theme ‘Global Trade Practices in the Era of Digitalisation’ through the interactive virtual platform, “Samaaro”.

The panellists included Shri Justice Perody Vishwanatha Shetty, Lokayukta of State of Karnataka and Former Judge, High Court of Karnataka, Justice Anil Kumar Menon, Bombay High Court, Justice Annabelle Bennett, Chancellor of Bond University and Former Judge, Federal Court of Australia, Mukul Rohatgi, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, Parag Tripathi, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, Gowree Gokhale, Head of Practice and Partner, Nishith Desai Associates, Dr. Przemyslaw Tacik, Asst. Professor, Jagiellonian University, Poland, Pavan Duggal, Chairman, International Commission on Cyber Security Law, Arun Prabhu, Partner, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Supratim Chakraborty, Partner, Khaitan & Co.

Mr. Sayantan Bhattacharya, the student compere, SLS Pune delivered the Opening Address. The event began with a minute of silence observed for Late Honourable Justice Mohan Mallikarjunagouda Shantanagoudar, Former Supreme Court Judge. 

Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, in her Opening Address stated that we were “caught between the devil of the repercussions of the pandemic and deep sea of keeping hopes high in times of despair”. She reiterated that the event is an attempt to keep our hopes high and provide us with an opportunity to debate upon the current issues and gaping wounds of inequality which had come to light during the pandemic. She opined that global trade is a boon for effective growth of various economies but it results into negative repercussions such, Migration and Deprivation during the pandemic. She concluded by stating that Law School is a repertoire of producing multifaceted legal talents and guiding the future of humankind. 

The Chief Guest, Shri Justice Perody Vishwanatha Shetty, 8th Lokayukta of State of Karnataka, viewed that the needs of the consumers are growing day by day and trade across nations is facilitated by a healthy legal system. Digitalization has posed challenges to trade in the form of increasing breach of contract relating to goods/services. There is a huge scope for development and improvement in business and trade, International law and international trade practices. He stressed on the importance of abolishing corruption in the system to facilitate global trade by building trust between the nations. 

The Guest of Honour, Justice Anil Kumar Menon, Bombay High Court encouraged speakers to put forth their views and engaged in the deliberations that followed stating that he had much to learn from the esteemed panel.

Dr. Annabelle Bennett, Chancellor of Bond University and Former Judge, Federal Court of Australia was the keynote speaker for the day. Her address opened up to pressing issues such as digital presence, digital assets, concerns of privacy, breaches of copyright, trademark and jurisdiction and access to digital records. She discussed the idea of a “digital life” that we all have online and how the access to intellectual property can be likened to physical property. 

The afternoon Session of Conclave 2021 commenced with a panel discussion with Dr. Shashikala Gurpur as the moderator, with questions on the themes of Transactional Data Leaks, Regulation of The Big Tech, The Impact of Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions on Technology Innovation, Call for Uniform Laws for Global Data Privacy, Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) as a Mechanism to Resolve International Trade Disputes and The New Future of International Banking and Global Trade Finance.

Dr. Gurpur invited Advocate Mukul Rohatgi to present his views on the themes. He noted that there was a shift in physical courts to virtual courts and arbitrations in the recent past. He opined, “the real issue today is the protection of data - we are undertaking cases on a regular basis against digital giants such as Google or Facebook. There is a violation of privacy and data storing - big data companies personalize data according to individual customer preferences such as Google and Amazon

Moving on, she also invited Advocate Parag Tripathi to address the issues with the question- “in terms of efficacy, unless it is translated on a national level, how can we go ahead?”. The exponential digital growth and revolution required for all. He stated, “This benevolent digital tsunami is disruptive - it shakes up the know it all in us” while discussing the role of digitalisation. He suggested that the blockchain technology must be utilised to move litigation forward. 

Dr. Gurpur then requested Advocate Pavan Duggal to express his views. Taking note of the Artificial Intelligence Act by the European Union, the US Communications Decency Act and the subsequent Christ Church Declarations that brought about a drastic change in this field. He stated that tech companies are governing our lives and viewed that, “Data depositories have information about us which is far more than that by our parents and our spouse. It is time to rein in the big companies and make them accountable as New Zealand has recently”

Dr. Gurpur then called upon Ms. Gowree Gokhale to present her ideas on “The Impact of Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions on Technology Innovation”. Ms. Gokhale contended that we must not look at problems in isolation and opined that there should be collaborations to provide solutions to humanity. She pointed out, “Before the machines take over our humanity - we need to take a step back and realize that we need to look at law and ethics in AI”. 

Dr. Przemyslaw Tacik took the discussion further on the “Legal framework to protect privacy and personal data”. He spoke of data protection legislations for human rights in the European context such as Article 8 of the European Convention. He also stated that a proper paradigm must be chosen to work upon- private law and human rights law. Humans need to be safeguarded regardless of their ability to defend themselves or their actions in the global marketplace. He opined, “consent is one of the crucial institutions in data protection law”. 

Mr. Arun Prabhu gave his address asking students to look at the trends in China, Russia and Singapore to gauge the flow of tide in this domain while speaking of the tendency to regulate resources such as software, copyrights and intellectual property. He stated that participation in major economies of the world and harnessing the benefits of technological innovations will come with a price, but that should be countered with a workable balance between power concentration between the Centre and States and the state of the economy.

Mr. Supratim Chakraborty pointed towards the issue of surrendering of data and soverignity by consumers and the need for a legal infrastructure harmonising data privacy law. He further elaborated on the absence of regulation across many jurisdictions on data protection and privacy, different constitutional framework, divergence in practices, surveillance by nations states which creates disparity and political will. He pointed out that while learning from our mistakes, we require a robust system well-oiled and efficient enough to deal with the issues of the present. 

The Panel Discussion was followed by a brief interactive session with the audience through the Question-and-Answer session- moderated by Dr. Bindu Ronald, Deputy Director, Symbiosis Law School, Pune and Mr. Sayantan Bhattacharya. The third edition of Symbiosis Law School, Pune- Conclave 2021 ended on a successful note with a vote of thanks delivered by Dr. Bindu Ronald.


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