Mediation in India has taken giant strides over the last few years – mandatory pre-institutional mediation in commercial matters; recognition in the Consumer Protection Act; The Supreme Court of India forming a committee to draft mediation law – and Justice SA Bobde, the Chief Justice of India, has been proactively batting for a legislation that comprehensively spells out pre-litigation mediation in India. Now, the city of Bombay is all set to host India’s first ever post-graduate degree in Mediation and Conflict Resolution.
Maharashtra National Law University (MNLU), Mumbai, has announced a two-year MA program beginning this autumn. The course module provides participants a wholesome experience of mediation with focus on psychology, sociology, law, diplomacy, philosophy, international relations, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, religion and criminal justice – subjects that will be led by their respective domain experts. The course might be forced to open online due to social distancing measures in place for COVID-19, but will eventually return to a physical classroom atmosphere characterized by discussions, activities, conferences and specially designed role-plays and practical simulations.
The inclusive nature of the course is also reflected in its admission policy – which invites interests from professionals from all fields to master their conflict resolution skills. Though the Indian mediation community constitutes non-lawyer professionals, this post-graduate course is an acknowledgement of their expertise and insight, which can only lead to the growth of mediation in the country.
The post-graduate course aims to create a rich classroom environment for discussions between accountants, engineers, architects, lawyers, judges, bankers, doctors, business leaders, trade union leaders, HR managers social workers, teachers, media personnel, police officers, artists / artistes, hospitality executives…and anybody else who is passionate to be leaders in the field of conflict resolution.
It was about time India had an intricately designed course dedicated exclusively to mediation and conflict resolution skills and techniques, without the adulterated tag of “dispute resolution” – where the focus would often be arbitration. The course will pursue its mission to nurture a spirit of dialogue in diversity among its participants, and inculcate the necessary skills to address and resolve conflicting situations.
One of the fundamental needs for a democracy (such as India) to succeed is the acceptance and recognition that people, no matter how different to each other, have the equal right to be respected and accommodated. As of now, most parties feel that these rights are only recognized in the courtroom, but we have to develop mechanisms in society to respect rights at all levels. Training in Mediation can build the social framework in which consensus can be sought as a matter of normal behaviour. The participants of the course will be expected to lead a renewed approach towards conflict, moving beyond tolerance towards mutual acceptance of differences and disagreements in their workspaces and industries.
Engaging mediators to solve community issues is a crying need in India. There's a need for “neutral” professionals in civic conflicts for zoning, growth or policy shifts. The constant litigation between public and government in terms of land use, road building, industrial development, agricultural conservation etc. are all issues that can be benefited greatly by developing a team of mediators at every local level governance unit. Participants will experience, observe and assist in hands-on mediations, associated with the Centre for Mediation and Research, affiliated to the University. Successful candidates will continue to serve as mediators at the mediation centre, upon graduation. The course is designed by the Centre for Mediation and Research, upon consultations with various stakeholders.