Diversity and inclusion can be a challenge to get right but the benefits can be felt across organizations. International Trademark Association (INTA) & World IP Review (WIPR) spoke to members of IP fraternity including those at the start of their diversity journey, as well as those who have paved a path for others to follow. The Indian perspective was given by Hon’ble Justice Prathiba M. Singh of Delhi High Court and Abhilasha Niroola of Mehta & Mehta Associates (MehtaIP). You may continue to read what they and other Diversity Champions had to say:
In 1937, Justice Anna Chandy (India) became the countryʼs first female judge. Twenty-two years later, she set another historical precedent when she was appointed to the Kerala High Court—the first woman judge in an Indian High Court. “I must admit that I was not free from trepidation when I first stepped up to the Bench. However, what was foremost in my mind was a fierce determination to make a success of this experiment. I knew I was a test case.
“If I faltered or failed, I would not just be damaging my own career, but would be doing a great disservice to the cause of women,” said Justice Chandy, recounting her experience in a later speech.
Justice Chandy remained on the bench until 1967. In her retirement, she served on the Law Commission of India before her death in 1996.
While her initial judiciary appointment was a moment to be celebrated, albeit a long time ago, Indiaʼs legal profession has been slow to accept and retain women.
“The opening of doors to the judiciary did not automatically put an end to the struggles to include women in the legal field,” said Abhilasha Niroola, Principal Attorney at Mehta & Mehta Associates (MehtaIP) (India).
In 1989, Justice M. Fatima Beevi was appointed as the first female judge of the Supreme Court of India. But now more than three decades later, at the Supreme Court level, only two out of 30 judges are women. The High Courts paint a similar picture: there are 78 women judges in various High Courts, comprising less than 8 percent of the total number of judges.
It is not just women who are underrepresented at a high level. Despite the Supreme Court of India officially recognizing transgender people as a third gender in a landmark ruling in 2014, the transgender and LGBTQ communities are among the most marginalized groups in the country.
A survey conducted by Indian employment website TimesJobs in 2018 highlighted that 57 percent of participants responded negatively to a statement that their companies (across industries) openly recruited LGBTQ+ and candidates with disabilities. More than 55 percent said they still experienced bias in the workplace, including over characteristics such as ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.
The legal profession, however, has made some advances (albeit seemingly small ones) in this regard.
“Efforts towards the inclusion of transgender people in the legal field are showing results. As of 2018, there are three reported transgender judges in India. In the same year, the first reported transgender lawyer was enrolled as an advocate under the ʻthird genderʼ category,” Ms. Niroola noted.
“As these issues are so deep-rooted in our society, it may take a lot more effort and time to change the perception of the public at large,” suggested Ms. Niroola, but the current diversity and inclusion (D&I) situation is far better than it was a few years ago, she added.
You may continue to read over here – https://newtonmedia.foleon.com/inta-daily-news/day-4/diversity-champions/:
Contributor to present post is Abhilasha.
“This article / interview was written first published by International Trademark Association (INTA) & World IP Review (WIPR) for INTA Newsletter.”
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