Class of 2023: SJD Grad Will Continue to Promote Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights Online

April 12, 2023

“As a law student passionate about technology, I look forward to addressing the issue of merging law into internet technologies.”

Name: Vishal Gaikwad 
Hometown: Mumbai, India 
Degree: Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) 
Undergraduate Institution: University of Mumbai 
Awards, Student Groups, Clinics, Journals, etc.: Williams Achievement Award, Member of the Native American Law Students’ Association 

What initially inspired you to attend law school, and has that changed over the course of your studies? 

I am a member of the Schedule Castes/Scheduled Tribes (“SC/ST”) community (formerly treated as the “Untouchables” or “Outcastes”) in India. The perspective of advancing my community’s human rights to an international level inspired me to attend law school. Over the course of my studies at University of Arizona Law, I assessed my community’s domestic rights in comparison to indigenous peoples’ international human rights law. 

Why did you choose University of Arizona Law? 

As an international student, I think the University of Arizona Law stands out in the United States for its expertise in the area of Indigenous People’s human rights. From hosting the faculty who contributed to the significant advancement of indigenous peoples’ rights, to hosting the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples mandate, University of Arizona Law has all the global prospects a student needs to enhance their career. 

Can you tell us about your dissertation? 

My dissertation, “Indigenous Websites: Embedding Indigenous Peoples' Human Rights on the Internet,” is an instructional guide designed for grassroots indigenous communities worldwide to empower their international human rights using websites. The dissertation discusses indigenous peoples’ intellectual property rights in website domain names at local, national, and international levels, shares strategies for building global networks using Search Engine Optimization, and observes the emergence of indigenous peoples’ right to media in the context of freedom of expression. The major highlight of my dissertation is the legal analysis of the U.S. Federal government's DOTGov Program and Tribal Sovereignty issue in the United States. 

What will you miss most about your time at University of Arizona Law? 

I will miss sitting in a classroom with my other indigenous classmates from Canada, New Zealand, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania. I will miss having lunch with them in the courtyard. 

What was your favorite law school experience or extracurricular activity? 

Through IPLP, I got the opportunity to assist the three UArizona tribal leadership offices in developing the Native American Advancement, Initiatives, and Research (NAAIR) web portal, an accessible go-to hub for information about the University of Arizona's rich array of Native and Indigenous research, education programs, outreach, community resources, and engagement opportunities. I also developed a searchable database of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Mandate (UNSRRIP) for indigenous people worldwide, which is now an addition to the Arizona Law Library’s Tribal Law: International Indigenous Resources

The experience of developing university-wide websites for the Native American/indigenous Community and the courses I took at IPLP helped me look at indigenous websites with legal perspectives. The experience of working as a UArizona web administrator with a law education background has been my favorite law school experience. 

What are you most proud of about your time at University of Arizona Law? 

 I am honored to be the first SC/ST community member to join the international indigenous community at IPLP. The Constitution of India does not recognize SC/ST as indigenous. I consider my enrollment at Arizona Law’s IPLP program a major step towards the SC/ST community’s global recognition of being “indigenous.” 

Are there any particular issues or causes within the legal system that you are passionate about or want to address in your career? 

The world is moving online, and the law needs help to regulate the activities of the online world. As a law student passionate about technology, I look forward to addressing the issue of merging law into internet technologies. 

What are your future career plans? 

I plan to continue working with the UArizona tribal leadership offices and the UNSRRIP to promote indigenous peoples’ human rights on the internet. 

Looking back on your law school experience, what would you have done differently or what advice would you give to your younger self? 

Explore TechLaw! Enroll in courses on emerging law topics, especially law, and technology. Arizona Law has plenty of such unique courses. 

Message for your fellow Class of 2023:  

Keep in touch!