Dr N. R. Madhava Menon on Inclusion and Equity for Rural and Tribal India

AuthorJane Ellen Schukoske
Date01 January 2020
Publication Date01 January 2020
Dr N. R. Madhava Menon on
Inclusion and Equity for Rural
and Tribal India
Jane Ellen Schukoske1
This article examines some of Dr N. R. Madhava Menon’s key messages to the legal education
community about the need to thoughtfully prepare lawyers to serve the rural and tribal communities
of India. Dr Menon raised the issue on multiple platforms, including newspaper opinion editorials for
the general public, lectures to fellow legal educators, in his expert recommendations for legal education
in the National Education Policy 2019, and in a book on inclusion, opportunity and equity published by
the World Bank and co-edited by Menon and other development experts.
Dr Menon envisioned the characteristics of lawyers effectively prepared to serve rural and tribal
people. They need to be familiar with the legal issues relevant to rural and tribal community members,
including laws about land, natural resources, forests, and agriculture. They need to be fluent in local
languages spoken by rural and tribal communities, sensitive to tribal and rural cultures, and expert
in representation in the forums and departments where problems of the communities would be
resolved. Dr Menon broadly designed the support that would be required of the legal profession
in terms of corporate social responsibility funding and formation of legal cooperatives. Dr Menon’s
road map for preparing the legal profession to better serve the majority of India’s population will
continue to inspire legal educators, law students, legal services authorities, and other advocates for rural
and tribal communities.
[W]hat are the objects of legal education in the context of poverty and marginalization? Our answer focused on
three propositions:
(1) People should be the focus of legal education—not merely State and Markets.
(2) Justice should be the abiding concern; which takes us not just study of Rules but actual delivery of public
(3) Legal education should compel legal services providers to explore constantly issues of professional
identity and interrogate meaning of what they do. Lawyers should be made to reect on their work as
lawyers and this should begin from the law school. Then only they will appreciate the philosophy behind
the practice of law in developing countries.2
1 Independent Researcher.
2 N. R. M. Menon, Keynote Address at the 7th Global Alliance for Justice Education Worldwide Conference, ConferenCe report
7th GAJe WorldWide ConferenCe pArt 1Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Delhi, India, 10–14 December. 2013, at p. 8,
https://www.gaje.org/conferences/past-conferences/ (accessed on 29 September 2019)
Asian Journal of Legal Education
7(1) 17–24, 2020
© 2019 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2322005819892454
Corresponding author:
Jane Ellen Schukoske, 3111 20th Street North, Apt C622, Arlington, VA. 22201-5139, USA.
E-mail: jschukoske@gmail.com

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