Deans Scholar thriving at the University of Sydney
Rooted in the values of tlawmngaihna, the Mizo principle of putting the community above oneself, Vered's pursuit of legal education is a reflection of her desire to make a positive impact on society.
We spoke with Vered about her journey to the Law School and what's next for her.
I come from a hidden part of India, the hill state of Mizoram (“land of the Mizos”) in Northeast India. Mizoram is known for its harmonious approach to life—a closely-knit communitarian society guided by a unique social and moral ethos known as tlawmngaihna.
A central tenet of the Mizo identity and the Mizo way of life, tlawmngaihna at a day-to-day level means to be kind, hospitable, courageous, and selfless to others, and on a broader scale, it means “putting the community over self” and harmony over economic wealth. While there is no direct translation in English, the principle of tlawmngaihna embodies the spirit of helping others and the collective responsibility of a community to care for its most vulnerable members.
For example, when someone falls sick and is unable to tend to their farm, all the villagers attend to it and help with the necessary manual labor on their behalf.
I joined National Law University Delhi, one of India’s top-tier law schools, guided by a desire to understand the law and how it could be used for social good. I graduated with a degree in B.A.LL.B (Honors) and LL.M (Master of Laws).
While studying at National Law University, Delhi, I met an exceptional Australian law student named Zoe Brereton who painted a distinct picture of the educational experience in Australia, including the enthralling and academically vibrant St. Paul’s College Graduate House, which I fell in love with.
After I completed my Master of Laws degree (LLM), I wanted to pursue a Masters in Criminology as I’ve always had a strong interest in the field and an even bigger dream of studying overseas.
I discovered the Sydney Institute of Criminology, one of the oldest institutions of its kind, and the exciting work of Professor Carolyn McKay, which aligned with my interest and made the University of Sydney stand out.
During my research, I was thrilled to learn that the Master of Laws program had excellent scholarships and offered units of study that were also available to the Master of Criminology students.
This meant that I could delve into specific areas of interest within Criminology, while simultaneously enhancing my legal knowledge and honing my research skills.
This led me to apply for the LLM program at the University of Sydney.
I had the good fortune of meeting Professor Simon Bronitt during his visit to India. After becoming aware of the underrepresentation and limited opportunities faced by the minority community of Mizoram, Professor Bronitt made it his mission to open educational doors for marginalized communities in learning.
Despite Mizoram boasting the third highest literacy among the Indian states, the socio-economic challenges it faces have resulted in limited opportunities to pursue higher education abroad.
In 2022, with the conviction that the University of Sydney would provide me with lifelong mentors which I felt was lacking in my life and having the utmost gratitude for academics like Professor Bronitt who believed in me when I was struggling on my path, after a lot of prayer I took a step of faith by applying for the University of Sydney Law School Deans Scholarship.
I am currently applying for the PhD program at the University of Sydney Law School. My proposed area of research is to undertake a study on ‘Decolonizing Policing in India and Australia: A Comparative Study of Scheduled Tribes and First Nations Peoples’.
I had the incredible opportunity to serve as an engagement officer for the India-Immersion Program, a collaborative initiative between the Sydney Law School and Jindal Global Law School.
The focus of the course was a comparative study of anti-corruption law and policy, taught by the Dean of Sydney Law School along with other distinguished Indian academics and lawyers. As part of the programme, I had the privilege of visiting several law schools including my alma mater with Professor Bronitt and Peter Finneran.
At a personal level, it was wonderful to discover and introduce the numerous things that Australians and Indians share in common beyond cricket, curry and the Commonwealth.
The LLM program has been incredible so far. The classroom discussions and the engagements that I’ve had with my professors have been invaluable, the quality of mentorship that I have received affirms my desire to continue studying at USYD.
Over this Master’s, I have rediscovered my love for being a student, particularly within the academic culture at the University of Sydney.
I have been impressed by professors who really invest their time in you and give thorough feedback on your research papers, it has been a motivating factor in my decision to apply for a PhD.
Given the formidable challenges that my homeland faces, I want to give back as an academic.
My aspiration is to advance my research endeavors and ultimately establish a center for Northeast India studies within the University of Sydney.
I draw immense inspiration from two remarkable female scholars from the Northeast of India, who have emerged as pioneers and have made significant strides in empowering their communities: Dr Yankee Modi, Co-Director of the Centre for Cultural-Linguistic Diversity (Eastern Himalaya) at the University of Sydney and Dr Dolly Kilkon, Anthropologist at the University of Melbourne.
By joining their esteemed company with my background and focus, I would like to put Mizoram on the map—not just in India, but also in the University of Sydney and in academia.