Published: 20th July 2020
How this Chennai law graduate got her School to include her mother’s name in her degree certificate
The Chennai-based graduate found out that this was an actual serious issue for graduates who had been brought up by single women
When Samrita Shankar received her much awaited law degree certificate, she was not as happy as she thought she’d be. Just after her name, the certificate said ‘ward of Shankar Narasimhan’ and this greatly upset the graduate. Two people had raised her and now when she was being recognised for her most prestigious accomplishment yet, her mother’s name didn’t figure anywhere in the certificate. She decided she was going to correct this wrong.
Samrita, who hails from Chennai, just graduated from a prominent law school in Delhi. The young woman decided that she wanted to pursue law from when she was in high school. With a deep interest in environment issues, Samrita decided that the best way to pursue her passion was to get a law degree. “I remember reading about whaling in Norway and became very invested in the issue and the environment. I wanted to get into research and policy making. So that’s why I decided to get into law. Now I’m considering two options, either environment law or human rights law,” the young woman said.
So for a young law graduate with interest in human rights, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she decided to fight her first case, albeit outside court, against patriarchy. “I had never seen any other provisional certificate before so I wasn’t sure if this was how all certificates were. I asked my friends and they also said their certificates only mentioned their fathers. When I approached the administration office, they said that this was the norm. So I just decided to Google it and that’s when I found out this was a long existing problem,” she said. The graduate found out that this was an actual serious issue for graduates who had been brought up by single women, “Many people in the past had raised the issue. And I read a few articles where the UGC had also been considering changing the rules, many had even written to Maneka Gandhi about it.”
So Samrita decided to approach the exam office and ask them if they can include her mother’s name in the certificate but they said they would not be able to, “So I decided to do more research and that’s when I found out that the UGC’s rules stated that the mother’s name should also be included in the certificate.” So the law graduate wrote to the Vice Chancellor of the School stating the same - exactly eight minutes later, she received a reply. He accepted her request but that didn’t end there, thereafter the University announced that anyone who wanted to include their mother’s name would be allowed to and also, the students could now pick which parent’s name they wanted on their certificates, “Our VC is easily approachable, which is why I directly reached out to him so I wasn’t surprised that he replied but that he instantly go back to me - that made me very happy.”
The young woman says she felt it was important for her to do this especially after she read about the struggles that single mothers went through when it came to these certificates. “It just reflects how patriarchal society is and I felt mothers do deserve to have their names mentioned in these certificates as well. In my own life, my mother played such a huge role so it didn’t feel right that her name was not there,” she said. And of course, when her request got approved, Samrita’s mother was very happy but it wasn’t just because her name would be on her daughter’s certificate, “She was happier because other mothers would also be able to get their names on the students' certificates.”
Samrita, however, hopes that the change doesn’t stop with her university, “I hope all universities adopt this practice and change the way the certificates are framed. This can especially make life so much easier for single women.” Well, Samrita won her first case even before she enrolled with the Bar. Now, who can ask for a better start in the world of arguments, amendments and justice.