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Hard work has no substitute

Failure is a stepping-stone to something better and bigger report Vandana Ramnani

education Updated: Sep 22, 2010 09:19 IST
Vandana Ramnani

Additional solicitor general Indira Jaising did her schooling in Mumbai and earned her graduate degree from Bangalore before going in for a degree in law in 1962. Jaising was only the second woman to be designated a Senior Advocate by the High Court of Bombay in 1986. She has all along focused on issues such as human rights, rights of women and those of the poor working class. She’s also the founder of Lawyers Collective, an organisation that provides legal funding to the underprivileged. In a free-wheeling interview with HT Horizons, she speaks about her love for Indian classical music and the importance of hard work to achieve success.

Can you tell us about your early life? What did you learn in childhood that has helped you shape your career?
I was very clear about what I wanted to do after graduation. I did English and philosophy from Bangalore University. I also knew what I did not want to do. I was sure that I had to be a productive member and earn a living. I knew that at a certain point of time I was going to work on issues related to labour, working class, women and children. I have focused on these issues all along and enjoyed doing my work.

Which personalities have had a major impact on you as a professional?
There is no single person who has had an impact on me as a person or a professional. In the 1980s, there were several judges who encouraged the use of law as an instrument of social change, which opened many possibilities for people like me. These were the people who’ve had a major impact on me as a professional.

Besides, it’s always been ideas rather than people who have influenced me, especially (the idea) that the law can be used for the benefit of people. I think that is a very liberating idea and I went for it.

How much time you dedicate to your work?
Almost all the hours that are in a day. I’m also fond of music, especially Indian classical music, but I have no ambition of turning into a professional singer. It brings me peace and rootedness. I also do yoga regularly.

How do you deal with failure?
I have no answer to success and no answer to failure. That’s not to say that I have never encountered failure. I see failure as a stepping-stone to something better and bigger. I have never perceived it as failure. For me failure is an outcome that I was not hoping for. So, I can’t really think of it as a failure.

What would you advise young people today?
Law is an exciting profession. I wish to see more women joining the field, see more of them arguing cases. At the end of day, there is no substitute for hard work. It should not be seen as work if you’re enjoying it. Having said that, there is no doubt that if one has to make it to the top, one needs to work hard.

It is my work that has moulded and shaped my chances, made me independent and not ask for favours. Dedication and commitment to certain values is also important.

Interviewed by Vandana Ramnani