"The Singhvi Endowment represents the best of Dr Abhishek M. Singhvi's views and his contribution to society. This generous and visionary act of philanthropy is motivated by a spirit of equality. It will be extremely heartening for a young student to receive such an affirmation from a leading legal luminary of India. It will foster a spirit of rational enquiry into our public spaces. It will prove to be an invaluable forum for learning." Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Judge, Supreme Court of India said as part of the Presidential Address at the Distinguished Public Lecture on "Climate Change and Global Justice: The Future of Our Planet" and the Unveiling of the Singhvi Endowment established at O.P. Jindal Global University recently.
"Law courses are places where social hierarchies are interrogated. Do we need to increase access to legal education in the first place? Is a surfeit of lawyers a good thing? If we are to succeed in opening more pathways to the study of law, what would effective access actually entail? Can we harness the skills of such young lawyers into a broader national project? We are an extremely large, diverse country and an unequal country. There have been groups that have been subjugated for centuries and continue to be marginalised today. The study of law is deeply intertwined with our social context. To limit access to this hugely important space is to deny rights to a large section of the population. If our aim is to enhancing access to legal education, simply ensuring greater entry into the hallowed halls of elite institutions cannot be the end of the goal," he said.
Also speaking on the occasion was Dr. Abhishek M. Singhvi, Member of Parliament & Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India who has signed an agreement with O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) for the establishment of the "Singhvi Endowment" at Jindal Global Law School to the tune of Rs. 2 crores. The students of JGLS will be the primary beneficiaries of this extraordinarily generous philanthropic initiative. It will include youth scholarships, gold medals for outstanding academic performance, an annual global conference on law, and the Dr. L.M. Singhvi Memorial Annual Lecture Series.
Outlining his vision, Dr Singhvi said, "Today as we unveil the Singhvi endowment, it is an affirmation and a reiteration of the solemn duty that we owe to society. The vision of the endowment is to provide access to world-class education for young people who cannot afford it and to empower India's leading universities to promote excellence. This initiative, inter alia, pays homage to the memory of Dr. L.M. Singhvi, the eminent diplomat, parliamentarian, jurist and author. The endowment also recognises the contribution of leaders in the legal profession and other professions with a view to celebrate their achievements for perpetuity through annual conferences and memorial lecture series. This will also serve as a legacy for the future by inspiring generations of students to follow the path laid down by eminent persons."
Delivering the lecture on "Climate Change & Global Justice – The Future of Our Planet", The Guest of Honour, Justice Michael D. Wilson, Judge, Supreme Court of Hawaii, USA, said "The reaction of the legal community to the climate crisis is quite extraordinary, something that has never been seen! We are in a state of climate emergency. There is a limit to the time we have to deal with this before a collapse. We are now at the final stand. We barely have 30-40 years left before an existential crisis driven by climate change takes place." He further detailed the impact of climate change that would take place in Hawaii in the coming decades and how much of the flora and fauna treasured by the community will be endangered. "But what can the judicial community do? Strict judicial enforcement, resource deployment, regional awareness is important. The most important tool for civilization currently, I submit, is the rule of the law! People follow decisions made by a court. It helps in maintaining peace. Imagine the declaration of a climate emergency by a court! We have come together as a community to deal with the Covid 19 pandemic but the climate crisis is even more severe!"
The Founding Vice Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University Prof. (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar said, "It is a momentous occasion today as we recognise the contribution of Dr Abhishek M. Singhvi for his generous endowment to JGU. His munificence will support higher education ambitions of our deserving students and it will also enhance the study, research and discourse of law and legal studies in our country through the annual lecture and conference series. It is important to note that growth and progression of higher education institutions are supported by such acts of philanthropy which enable us to reach our goals, aims and vision as the leading educational institution in India."
Speaking about Philanthropy, Universities and Institution Building: The American Experience, Professor (Dr.) Jayanth K. Krishnan, Milt & Judi Stewart Professor of Law, Indiana University, USA spoke about philanthropy in India and the US and said, "JGU began as a commemoration of his father, renowned industrialist Shri O.P. Jindal by Mr Naveen Jindal. In the US there have been comparable commemorations. For example, Leland Stanford in the late 19th Century, after tragically losing his child Leland Jr., dedicated his life to building Stanford University and creating a legacy. Bill Gates gave a multi-million-dollar donation to Washington University as a means of honouring his father whom he credits for his own success. Today is an important milestone in the history of JGU at the unveiling of the Singhvi endowment which will greatly benefit students in developing a global perspective."
The vote of thanks was given by the Registrar of O.P. Jindal Global University, Prof. Dabiru Sridhar Patnaik.