BA LLB, 2012
Dear Dhanda Ma'am,
I have been meaning to write for several years but haven't for one reason or another, so I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to formally say thank you for everything I have learnt from you.
First things first, I hope you are staying safe and well and that teaching your last semester remotely hasn't put too much of a dampener on things. What an incredible innings you have had though! And secondly, wish you a very happy birthday!
Although my current job is at times a million miles away from the modules I studied in your courses, I wanted to say a huge thank you for teaching me how to think. People always say the this is their biggest learning from university and in my case, no one taught me more about how to think than you did. The critical faculties I developed in your classes and the 'voice' and confidence I developed through participating in the class discussions or in the presentations are still with me, and I apply them daily whether I am in the office or having an argument in the pub. I, like so many others, remain eternally grateful (although, at the time, some of the demands of your courses struck more fear in my heart than they did gratitude) for the tools that you have given me. So thank you again, and I hope we can see each other soon one day!
I look forward to seeing or hearing about what you do after your retirement from full-time teaching. All the very best!
BA LLB, 2019
Thank you, ma'am!
BA LLB, 2019
Many many congratulations on completing this journey. I am glad that I had the fortune of being your student. I still vividly remember how awestruck my family was after listening to you during the orientation programme in 2014. And then your first class and the striking elegance. I used to be quite excited and scared for those LM sessions. It was a true introduction to what the next five years (and even beyond) were going to be like and how should I perceive so many things around me. Also, it was a treat to be a part of the thought provoking 'Gendering Legal Education' GIAN course that Dr. Archana Parashar had offered with you.
I am thankful to you for building this institution for what it is today, wherein I spent few of the best years of my life.
You have always been very kind and considerate towards me, from struggling with LM project, to requesting you for opening more courses for third years, to attending the guest talks, to granting extra attendence for volunteers during the mediation tournament.
You have touched so many lives during your time here and have been an inspiration for so many of us. You will always be a person I look up to. NALSAR and I will always be indebted to you.
Here are some beautiful memories from farewell time. Thank you Ma'am.
May the joy be with you
A grateful chap
BA LLB, 2005
To Ma’am with Gratitude!
As a dazed and confused eighteen-year-old who opted for law only because one could read history, political science, economics and sociology together in this course, I had drifted aimlessly through my first year at NALSAR, more interested in reading fiction in the Library and exploring the delights of Shameerpet than in law.
All that changed with the Law and Poverty Course in my second year. Your course not only gave me a direction and a sense of purpose, but also opened the doors to a world and ideas that I instinctively always felt and knew of, but had never really voiced studied or understood. Most critically, we learned the importance of rigour in legal analysis and reasoning from your courses. And yet, you also taught us the importance of infusing empathy into doctrinal analysis and viewing the indeterminancy of law as a resource rather than as an impediment. Words can scarcely express the true depth of our gratitude for these lessons.
You had also been a pillar of understanding, support and guidance in the maelstrom that life in NALSAR often was in its formative years. I know I speak for many people when I say our perception of law school and even law in general would have been fundamentally different without your consistent guidance. While I may not have always been able to live up to them, your example of humanity and intellectual rigour have remained a source of inspiration in my own foray into academia.
Thank you for being the teacher and the mentor that you have been; thank you for showing us what learning the law truly means; Thank you for all your kind words along the way.
Thank you for everything, Ma’am.
BA LLB, 2015
Dear Professor Dhanda.
You have shaped my sense of self more than you would ever know. I often think back about law school and realize that my best learning moments were with you and in your classes. You have inspired generations after generations of law students to understand law in creative ways and gain the confidence to embody it in our own unique ways. My 1st semester Legal Methods class with you was so scary! I was so nervous, felt like I didn't belong and felt so lost. Your classes made me feel like my nervous-ness is a part of becoming myself. Thank you for giving me the space to express my ideas, to work on my failures, and to embrace them. Thank you for your labor, your insights, your drama, your sense of humor, your confidence, your generosity, your leadership, your care.
Okay let me begin this from the beginning (not that you don't know). This goes back to January 2009 when I'd joined the university and was being taken around for a short introduction to colleagues. Yours was the office that was conveniently avoided. Subtle hints were dropped somewhat similar to how capital market investors are warned 'mutual funds investments are subject to market risks. Please read the offer document carefully before investing.'
So being a pakka Gujju, risk I did take and investment I did make both as your colleague and your doctoral student. And it's been the best decision of my life. You brought me returns that were much more than my expectations (and also more work than what I thought I'd signed up for!). Competence, imaginative manner of working, fairness and objectivity in decision making, professional pride and steely nerves, compassion and kindness are just a few to name. Like your students my Nalsar experience would not have been the same without you Ma'am.
But more than all of these, it is the simple and profound spirituality, your wisdom of seeing the good side of everyone, closely listening even when it is not said, and your formula 'ki agar vish ghatana hai toh amrit ki maatra badha do'; that makes me feel truly blessed to be in your company all these years.
Now coming to this picture. This picture just as this day is leading to two interpretations. One, that you are walking away, leaving this big shoe for all of us in the university to fill. Two, that you are leading a new journey and we have a call to hop along. As your colleague and your baccha I seek your insights on the matter! Thoda doubt hai. This will need your intervention. Ek meeting kar lete hain aapki office mein whenever you are free :P
BA LLB, 2013
Dear Dhanda Ma'am,
I am sending you my warmest wishes for a happy and hopefully a very relaxed retirement. I cannot thank you enough for the many brilliant scholars, and ideas you have introduced to me through your lectures. I still carry around your curated readings for the law and poverty module, which led me to critical legal scholarship. Your seminar on justice education and pedagogy equally shaped the initial ideas for my thesis, which I have been working on for almost last four years- thinking, refining, writing and remembering you as I have progressed with my ideas. And I am so glad that I had the opportunity to sit in many of your seminars. They were all daunting for varied reasons, but it gave me the lens to see the dynamics of law and being a lawyer in altogether a different perspective! I can only hope that I carry forward the wisdom you shared with us, in my own small, little ways. Thank you for being a phenomenon in many of our lives!
With fond memories, and lots of love
BA LLB, 2005
Told my kids that Prof. Dhanda is the original McGonagall. Thank you for being so cool, Dhanda ma’am.
BA LLB, 2020
Dear Prof. Dhanda,
I had hoped to have the time to stop by your office at some point in my last semester to articulate this, or atleast, some version of this message. I think outside of Ethics and Legal Methods classes, I had the good fortune of seeing you in your office atleast every other semester, making the case that my attendance shortfall had been caused by reasons far outside my control. I am quite proud that, more often than not, I would manage to persuade you—but I had hoped that I could walk into that office one final time and speak of the many things we have agreed and disagreed on over the years.
To my great joy, I taught Law and Poverty with Prof. Jagteshwar in my final semester; and law and language the semester before. Teaching those courses is what I am most proud of in my life—and as I sat to think of how I wanted to teach both of those, I found myself starting and departing with my agreements or disagreements with you. Legal methods changed my life, because for the first time in my life, the ability (or more importantly, the desire) to think through, or to be curious about many of the things the course asked us to be curious about was not an annoyance. I was grateful to have found some meaning, so early on in law school. All I tried to do in any of the classes I taught was to try and get people interested in conversations that their privilege sometimes makes them incredibly disinterested in. NALSAR taught me, repeatedly, and continues to, I guess that so many things were invisible to me because of how I was positioned in society, the advantages it gave me, the most. I still remember the first critical legal theory reading—my life was fundamentally altered. Not because of that just one reading, but because of an analytical framework that I did not then possess, and that has since shaped how I look at both the outside world, and myself. I thank you for your patience and your time—but also for your regard for the importance of positions informed by principles. I hope to keep that for as long as I can.
I am not being, right now, the kind of law person I wish to be; and the kind of law person, you taught me to be. But my gratitude for you, is best represented by a conversation we were having right after ethics class. We were wondering if the need for money to even pay off educational loans is a reasonable justification to be in a law firm that represents the Vedantas and their like. You said a very interesting thing—which was that there has to be some merit to the fact that one is having this conversation; and at the same time, this self-awareness is worth nothing if it causes no changes to your actions.
I thank you for your patience in that ethics course again. Effectively used it to console myself that it was ok to do what I was going to do; for a while atleast—and again, I was humbled by your empathy, more than your analysis. I no longer agree with you on most things, like I did when I was 18 and had first seen you teach me Fuller. But so much of the framework I use to articulate my disagreements with you; or even articulate who I am—comes from some of your classes that I did wander into. For that, and for everything else, I will be perpetually grateful.
BA LLB, 2014
Dear Professor Dhanda, many congratulations to these amazing years you have spent transforming the lives of your students. I would personally like to thank you for the impact you have made in mine by creating an academic atmosphere where we were allowed to think out of the boxes prescribed to us. For making changes in the academic schedule that would open up numerous learning opportunities, and for changing our outlook on certain aspects of our lives. I believe as a batch when we took the stance to stand up for what was right in that ill-fated Law and Poverty class in 2011 - it was the best decision we made. Thank you for bringing that sea-change. I wish you a healthy and happy life ahead. With my warmest regards, Shreya
BA LLB, 2017
Dear Dhanda Ma'am,
It's so hard to imagine Nalsar without you. Your presence was so integral to my idea of Nalsar that I can't help but feel a sense of loss that the future generations of students won't have the privilege of being guided by you.
I can't find the right words to adequately explain how much of an impact your teachings had on many like me. It went beyond just explaining a chapter in a book. Sometimes it felt like someone had switched on the light in a room I didn't even realize was dark.
Even now, though it's been many years since I was in the first semester in college, when I am reading a document at work or thinking about a problem and I feel stuck at a point I find myself wondering how you would have told me to approach it.
I can't think of any other teacher who provided the kind of guidance and mentorship that you did. What I find most inspiring about you as an individual is that even those who disagreed with you would not be able to have disagreements about your integrity, fairness and empathy.
You may be retiring from active teaching at Nalsar but the minds of young lawyers you moulded back in their first semesters will continue to apply things they learnt from you all over the world.
BA LLB, 2011
Many happy returns of the day mam. Hope you receive this message in good health and spirit. It was an honor to have been taught by you as many as 7 courses during our time at NALSAR. I cannot think of enjoying reading law the way I do, had it not been for your courses. The rather long and technical pieces read during your courses has put us in good stead in our legal careers. I, as a practicing lawyer have gained a lot in terms of my love for the subject and stamina for legal reading from the way you taught your courses during law school. I wish and hope that you will continue to change the lives of budding law students.
BA LLB, 2017
Dear Professor Dhanda,
A very happy birthday to you!
Though I was by no means an exceptional student of yours, you continued to be an exceptional academic and professor to learn from in the five seemingly long years at NALSAR. My first class of Legal Methods with you was instrumental in making me choose NALSAR as the place where I sought to receive a 'University Education', where I am forced to rethink the way I look at my world and the systems that constitute it.
NALSAR has managed to instil a critical view of the law - ensuring that we think about the law and what it means in practice - as opposed to simply learning the creative language manoeuvres that we as lawyers are likely to engage in with interpreting it. A large part of this, if not all, is credited to you and the manner in which you guided academic thinking here.
It makes me uncomfortable to think of a NALSAR where you aren't actively guiding it.
Thank you so much for being the incredible teacher and academic that you are! I am truly grateful I had an opportunity to learn from you.
I wish you the greatest and the best in whatever you hope to take on this year onwards :)
BA LLB, 2013
BA LLB, 2011
The idea of education is to learn to think for yourself and there isn’t anyone who understands that more than you, Dhanda ma’am. From telling us to brainstorm to nuance each argument, I credit all that I have learnt in law school to you. You set the highest standards for yourself and you made sure all your students excelled and met their best standards. I wish that your tribe grows. I wish you good health, happiness and love for the coming years.