Personality of the Month

Prof. M. K. Balachandran

For his distinguished services in Indian legal education, Prof. Balachandran was awarded the Prof. N.R. Madhava Menon Academic Excellence Award in 2009, instituted by the Society of Indian Law Firms and the Menon Institute of Legal Advocacy and Training.

A man of few words, Prof. M.K. Balachandran has been the Founder-Director of Amity Law School since 1999. His family vows that he doesn’t lose his cool, and from his soft smile, you can’t make out that he is now the Professor of eminence & Chair Professor of the Amity Law School. The 75-year-old academician is a post graduate in Economics and Law with specialization in administrative law, constitutional law, and laws relating to urban development, consumer protection and right to information. For his distinguished services in Indian legal education, Prof. Balachandran was awarded the Prof. N.R. Mdhava Menon Academic Excellence Award in 2009, instituted by the Society of Indian Law Firms and the Menon Institute of Legal Advocacy and Training.

The journey of this law teacher has been an interesting one. “Even today he takes classes and when he is preparing for a class, he makes notes,” smiles his daughter-in-law Tina who works as a Creative Director with Big Synergy.

Prof. Balachandran began his career with a quasi-government organization after completing his post-graduation in economics and would often see courtroom proceedings. His interest in law developed, even though in those days law was probably the last career option. “I got two years leave, so I enrolled in Government Law College, Kerala. Most students would not attend classes, but I was one of the few who was quite serious about this. I was a gold-medalist with first class in graduation. My photograph was published in the local newspaper and I got many congratulatory notes. One was from Dr. R. Parasannan, my constitutional law teacher, who said that he was forced to give me 82 per cent,” smiles Balachandran nostalgically.

He did not have any plans for continuing with LL.M. due to personal reasons but Dr. Parasannan introduced him to Dr. Markose who was Deputy Judge, International Court of Justice. The good judge helped Prof. Balachandran with a scholarship and his ship started sailing through legal education waters. He went to Kerala University to do his LL.M. and learned a lot about court proceedings from Dr. Markose.

This was the time he decided to stick to education. He saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a lecturer in Delhi at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA). He was given the train fare for attending the interview, so he came to Delhi. “Though Dr. Markose wasn’t happy at my leaving the University,” he recalls. He taught at IIPA for eight years.
From there he went on deputation to the Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Nigeria, for two years, but two turned to eight. As the situation in Nigeria was not conducive for foreigners at that time, he returned to India.

On his return, his wife Meera who was the founder principal of Ramjas School, saw an advertisement for faculty for a new law college and sent in his application. And so he became one of the founding faculty of the National Law School in Bangalore in 1988, working with Dr. Madhava Menon.

“It was quite a rigorous task,” recalls Prof. Balachandran. India had only seven to 10 good law colleges and there were no fixed finances from UGC, so sometimes salary constraints were also there.

Besides Dr. Menon, Prof. Balachandran says Dr. Mitra, another colleague at National Law School, was also an inspiration. After an eight-year stint, he had to move back to Delhi and again joined the Indian Institute of Public Administration. He spent another two years there and then another short stint as legal Consultant at the International Committee for the Red Cross. Finally, when the project at the Red Cross got over he went to Singapore for two months.

“The day I landed in Delhi, I got a call from Dr. Ashok Chuahan. We met one day around 7:30 pm and by 9 pm he was getting my appointment letter typed out. I was hesitant but my mentors Dr. Mitra and Dr. Menon said I should take this up as a challenge. We thought that being a new school we would have few applications, but we got 300 applications for 80 seats. Now there are around 240 students in each batch,” he smiles.

A teacher in college and a relaxed grandfather at home, Prof. Balachandran is at ease with both the roles. His granddaughters Ananya and Ishani tell that they enjoy watching India’s got Talent with him. Holidays to Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, USA and Jim Corbett National Park have been another time to bond and relax. Weekends and holidays are normally spent watching Malayalam movies and catching up on reading journals and newspapers. A cosmopolitan Indian, he likes listening to old Hindi movie songs by Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi. A movie the entire family has enjoyed is 3 idiots.

Eggs are his favourite dish. And he eats rice idli with as much ease as khichdi, say the women in the family. “Home-cooked food is his preference,” tells his wife Meera.

Creating a calming influence, and focused on a work-life balance, Prof. Balachandran has published more than 45 articles and a few books on the legal aspects of administration, including issues in local government, administrative law, urban planning, land acquisition, environmental pollution, consumer protection, right to information, women’s rights, humanitarian law and legal aid to the poor.

We acknowledge “100 Legal Luminaries of India” by Lalit Bhasin; LexisNexis. The multicolour coffee table book printed on art paper in hardbound is priced at `5995/- and is available at Universal Book Traders, C 27 Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001.

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