I am an assistant professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Victoria, Canada. I also have an appointment as CAPI associate at the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives (CAPI) of the University of Victoria. I have a Ph.D. in Law and Society from the University of Victoria; LLM from Vanderbilt University Law School; and BA LLB from North Bengal University. Apart from the University of Victoria, I have held academic positions at the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (WBNUJS) in India, the Faculty of Law of Humboldt University in Germany, the Nantes Institute for Advanced Study in France, and the Université Laval in Canada. I have authored research essays in areas such as conceptualization of (newer forms of) work and their regulation, social reproduction, informal economy and law, trade unionism and workers’ collective action, human rights and human development, corporate social responsibility, corruption in judiciary, legal education, and human activity and non-human nature relationship (livelihoods & climate change). The jurisdictions I am most familiar with are Canada and India.
My research broadly examines the role of law in economic and social justice. My multidisciplinary research agenda is located at the intersection of law, sociology, and political economy, often employing the theoretical frameworks of the capability approach, human rights, and law and development. My empirical focus is on impoverished and marginalized non-industrial workers in the global South including women informal workers (such as domestic workers, street vendors, home-based workers, and waste-pickers).
In one stream of my current research, I engage the human rights vocabulary in order to ascertain the usefulness of human rights (as labor rights) based strategies for improving conditions of informal workers in the global South. Drawing on human development-based approaches to human rights and its use in entitlement-focused movements and by the judiciary, I examine whether or not the human rights vocabulary can solve myriad real-life concerns of informal workers. Relatedly, I analyze whether a pluralistic entitlement framework for human development with the involvement of specific communities offers a better approach to improve workers’ conditions. My research also looks at alternative forms of workers’ organizations, pioneered particularly by women informal workers in the global South as well as in some parts of the global North. Workers’ collective power, now dispersed throughout the globe, could increasingly be located in these newer forms of organizations.
I am also exploring a new research area around the theme of “law in the Anthropocene epoch”. The scientific idea of Anthropocene suggests the inseparability of human activity and the non-human nature. In this backdrop, a regimented legal policy-making “on work” and “on the environment”, separated by their narrow respective focus would be much deprived of the advantages offered by the idea Anthropocene in facilitating an overall balance of the Earth System. In an Anthropocene world, what might be useful is an integrated conceptualization of “human work-environment” from a legal regulatory perspective.
My co-edited book titled: Workers and the Global Informal Economy: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Abingdon, Oxon & New York: Routledge, 2016) looks at how workers’ rights, social protection, poverty-alleviating schemes, and economic prejudices under neo-liberal economic logic, instead of promoting informal workers’ real interests, might contribute to their increasing marginalization. In furtherance of securing economic and social justice, what is required is decentralized engagement with these workers and other entities involved in their lives, thereby offering “choice” to such workers to lead the life they aspire.
In my book titled: Enhancing Capabilities through Labour Law: Informal Workers in India (London & New York: Routledge, 2014), I engage the capability approach to human development pioneered by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, and the social dialogue pillar of the Decent Work Agenda envisaged by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in order to offer a theoretical approach to labour law that is attuned to the necessities of informal workers.
I have advised and delivered invited talks to trade union leaders, government officials, and international organizations in France, Morocco, India, and Switzerland as an expert on the regulation of informal work. I have participated in several of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) initiatives during their centenary stocktaking and future direction brainstorming sessions. I have given speeches and interviews in the context of ILO centenary in Berlin, Paris, and Geneva. In addition to Canada and India, my association to the French academia continues primarily through my talks and lectures at Collége de France, Université de Nantes, Université de Bordeaux, and Centre Culturel International de Cerisy. Some of my articles are published in French.
I have actively worked with a Legal Aid Society, including being faculty advisor of the Society in WBNUJS. I participated in legal awareness camps (on issues such as police power and anti-dowry laws) and offered practical legal aid to impoverished communities. I take pride in leading the formation of a trade union of about informal workers, namely Barjya Punarbyawaharikaran Shilpa Shramik Sangathan (BPSSS) [Association of Workers in the Waste Recycling Industry], in Kolkata, India. As a founding member and office bearer of the trade union, I worked closely with the Calcutta Samaritans, an NGO working with the homeless population in the city of Kolkata.
I teach and have taught the following law courses:
Employment Law (individual employment law)
Labour Law (collective bargaining law)
Legal Process (introductory law course)
Entertainment and Media Law
Science, Technology and Law.
In addition to my classroom teaching, I have contributed to preparing a prominent course-book. I am a co-author of the Labour and Employment Law: Cases, Materials, and Commentary (Toronto: Irwin Law, forthcoming in 2018), with several other colleagues teaching Canadian labor and employment Law known as the Labour Law Casebook Group.