Shamnad Basheer's work in IP, academia, holds survival lessons for the liberal edifice -Pritam Baruah
-The Indian Express
Basheer’s energy shines through in his multi-dimensional academic career, which was marked by controversies and pathbreaking achievements.
Inhabiting dualities defined Shamnad Basheer. Nicola Lacey, biographer of the eminent legal philosopher H L A Hart, wrote that Hart was surely an insider to Oxford philosophy, but always saw himself on the margins. Memories of Basheer kindle something similar: Inspiring students, intervening socially, recognised publicly and yet, secluded and distant. His energy and innovative impulses stemmed from a fertile yet tumultuous intellectual and personal space.
We were colleagues, flatmates and friends. I admired how despite his dilemmas, Basheer inspired students. Whether in the successful Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA) programme, the Spicy IP blog, or research initiatives; students remained central to his work: They worked incessantly on his projects, voluntarily. IDIA volunteers would undertake arduous journeys to train underprivileged children. This did take a toll on competitive law students, but with Basheer’s leadership, they excelled academically and in voluntary work: He instilled an ethic for voluntary work that will inspire generations.
Basheer’s energy shines through in his multi-dimensional academic career, which was marked by controversies and pathbreaking achievements. Basheer studied at NLSIU and Oxford, and taught in India and the US. He lectured globally and was the most recognised Indian in the world of intellectual property.
Fame, however, invites scrutiny. His work was plagiarised by the Mashelkar Committee Report on patent reforms for drugs, and Basheer had generously dismissed it saying it was for a public cause. However, it was his own friends and peers from NLSIU who argued that Basheer should have revealed his research funders, some being stakeholders.
Basheer, however, was always irrepressible. He increased public interest in IP law through the Spicy IP blog, which he founded in 2005. Simultaneously, he intervened in public issues on IP. Some of his notable interventions were those in favour of the rights of disabled persons to access copyrighted material, and the right of fair use by students in the famous Delhi University photocopy case.
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