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India Legal Studies

Michigan Law is one of the foremost centers of learning and study in the U.S. on law and legal issues in India. Studying legal issues related to India is both fascinating and important for a variety of reasons, particularly because it helps to develop a deeper understanding of our own legal system and the importance of the law to development and overall well-being.


 Prof. Vic Khanna, Director of the India Legal Studies Program

India's legal system is based on the Anglo-American common law model, which means that among the most important emerging markets, India is the one that bears the closest resemblance to our own system. Moreover, the legal language in India is English. Further, India is the most populous and most sprawling democracy in the world, with virtually unparalleled heterogeneity in its peoples, cultures, climates and resources. This leads to many important issues that a democracy must handle through law and regulation. Learning from the successes and problems India has faced in managing these issues is valuable in thinking more broadly about legal issues in an increasingly heterogeneous society in the U.S. as well as the world.

India also provides an enviable environment in which to examine the importance and influence of the law in aiding development. Over the last 20 years India has undergone a process of significant legal change from a system with heavy government control to one that is more market-oriented. The changes can be seen in many areas. For example, the law plays a critical role when thinking about loosening restrictions on the Indian business environment, providing guaranteed access to education for certain groups, ensuring clean air and environmental responsibility, and addressing claims of social and distributive justice. Understanding how these changes arise in such a large emerging market and how legal training and research can help in the formulation of policy and laws, is critical to appreciating the role of the law in development.

In addition to law school faculty with interests in law and legal issues in India, the University has a number of world-renowned centers that study issues in India, including the Center for South Asian Studies and the Center for Global Resource Leverage: India Ross School of Business). Michigan Law is also in the process of starting a Center on Global Corporate and Financial Law and Policy (a joint initiative with Jindal Global Law School in India), which will be a first-of-its-kind global center for research and scholarship focused on these issues. Moreover, the law school's course offerings related to India are rich and deep and continue to increase. Recent offerings include:

Law and Economic Development in India
Corporate Governance and Stock Market Development in Large Emerging Markets
• Innovation and Intellectual Property in India and China
• Hollywood, Bollywood and the Law
International Corporate Governance

Although these course offerings cover an array of subjects, there are yet further avenues of learning for those interested in legal issues in India. There are conferences and meetings that involve issues related to India, including the highly acclaimed Asia Law Society annual symposia, as well as other events in the near future.

Michigan Law students are also participating in externships at institutions in India such as the Human Rights Law Network—and more such initiatives and student exchanges are forthcoming. Further, Michigan Law's well placed alumni in India and the U.S. contribute in important ways to the development of law and legal issues in India.

Michigan Law's expertise in Indian Law complements, and is complemented by, its expertise in Japanese Legal Studies and Chinese Legal Studies amongst others. The broad global focus of Michigan Law allows for greater comparative analyses and a greater understanding of the historical, political and economic forces at play in these legal systems and the role of law in development.

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