A "miracle" is how Australian engineer Arnold Dix likes to describe the recent rescue of trapped miners in Uttarkashi..Dix, along with a host of others, was a part of a team whose bravery saved the lives of 41 men who had been trapped in Uttarkashi’s under-construction Silkyara tunnel for 17 days..What many don't know about Dix, who has been heralded by the Indian media as a hero for his efforts, is that he also practices law back home..In an exclusive interview with Bar & Bench's Aamir Khan, Dix feels that the law is a "servant of the people" which should enable things like infrastructure and not just be used for suing each other or putting everyone in prison..Edited excerpts follow..AK: Tell us a little about your work at the intersection of engineering and law..AD: I am a real lawyer. I’ve always practiced in technical, scientific and engineering law - where there's an overlap between legal and technical. In the area of underground construction, for example, I initiated and was part of a new form of contract that was created by an organisation called FIDIC (a federation of consulting engineers) - the FIDIC ITA (International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association) contracts for underground works.I'm part of the formulating new contractual arrangements for fairer apportionment of risk, particularly in the underground. This is a good example of what's happened here. Should we force a contractor to charge a particular amount based on a design that's provided by a client? Or should we use different mechanisms within a contract to allow for adjustments depending on ground conditions encountered and how those ground conditions might be different to what we expected?.I offer a lot of advice on what standards should be applied. For example, here in India, is it really appropriate that within a contractual framework you call upon an international technical standard if the manufacturing sector and the regulatory environment is different?There should be a domestic set of standards because of India's unique circumstances, both in terms of its technical excellence and its economic position as an emerging superpower..AK: Could you take us through your legal career?.AD: I am a barrister of the High Court of Australia. I'm a member of the Victorian Bar and a former partner at law firm DLA Piper. Up until recently, I was special counsel to the law firm White & Case out of Paris. I am actually a real lawyer, but I do real engineering you see. So there's a bit of who am I?I see law as a servant of the people. For me, the law should enable things like infrastructure. It shouldn't be everybody suing everybody and putting everyone in prison.It should be a tool to maintain standards and ensure that the economic machinery of a country works efficiently through its contractual mechanisms and dispute minimisation mechanisms. I gave legal advice to the Ministry of Power probably 15 years ago on the contractual arrangements for disputes in hydro projects here.I don't look like a lawyer. I don't behave like a lawyer, but I actually am one. I'm really into human rights law as well. We're all born equal and that we should have access to justice..Aamir Khan (AK): So many lives were saved after an intense rescue operation. It must feel rewarding..Arnold Dix (AD): I’m feeling very happy and full and content. I'm at peace with the world today. I'm very happy. .AK: At what point did you get involved in the rescue? When did you arrive here?.AD: When the collapse first occurred, I heard from my colleagues here in India. Something that people don’t fully understand or appreciate us underground people is that we all know each other around the world. We all watch out for each other. We share ideas.And so I had a call from the federal government and from a guy who I know and trust enormously - a very good engineer - and they explained the problem and we discussed some strategies about how the rescue could proceed. So that was day one, and then a few days after that, things weren't going so well.I spoke to him and someone else in the federal government and they said, please come to India. And then I just came. There was not even anything in writing, there's no complex memorandum. This is just how we in the underground work. We look after each other. .AK: Was there an inkling about the number of lives that were at stake?.AD: Initially it was 40 and then it was 41. I don't know how that happened. I was like did someone have a baby in there! They're like, no, we just didn't count correctly in the beginning.It was by that stage we knew we were in trouble and that's why I was coming. The authorities were then keen to get some people sitting around the table, maybe with different perspectives, to join the team that was already assembled.That’s when I was brought on board. .AK: Take us through the rescue mission. .AD: We developed multiple strategies to extract the men and each strategy had different strengths and weaknesses and risks associated with it. We were carefully balancing what sequence of events we should do. Because our objective was no one should get injured. As time was progressing, our understanding of the mountain was also changing and we could see that it was moving and that there was the possibility of further collapse. We were constantly balancing everything, and in the end, rat-miners were needed because we needed a soft approach to get through.We were in such a fragile environment with a risk of collapse, and the rat-miners… they offered us a very gentle way of doing the excavation, which is a very long-standing and well-known technique. I only know now that it's illegal for mining, but we weren’t using them on a daily basis for mining.This was an emergency exercise and we needed them. They saved the day, because they provided us with the ability to go millimeter by millimeter, really gently underneath the avalanche, to get to the people. .AK: Was there a breakthrough point?.AD: I knew that we were getting 41 men out. No one was going to get hurt. I was saying that from the moment I had assessed it and I had got a feeling for everything.We had a mission — we’re going to get these men home safe. And we're going to get them all. .AK Have you ever been a part of a similar rescue operation?.AD: Normally, my missions are to get out bodies. That's because normally when something like this happens, everyone's dead.What this has really taught me is that when good people work together to achieve a noble outcome - to get these children home - anything is possible.As a species, we do really, really good work when we're working together.And when people don't worry about, for example, whether I'm a vegetarian or not. One of the questions when I arrived was, if I needed any special food. Why would I need special food? Everyone seems alive here. Whatever they're eating will make me alive. I don't care. All I need is somewhere to sleep. Everybody here obviously has somewhere to sleep. Just give me whatever they've got. .I was very focused on the outcome. And we all were focused on the outcome. It doesn't matter what God I prayed to or what colour my skin is or whether I can speak Hindi or not or whatever. I was just here to help.It's much better than what's happening in other parts of the world, where they're all busy comparing who's committed the biggest atrocity. Like, that's terrible stuff. That's so wrong. Whereas here, we're showing the world what good people can do and how we can actually perform miracles here. .AK: What areas you would want the Indian authorities to work on so as to prevent another disaster like this?.AD: There's already been an inquiry started and the government has asked me whether I'd like to be a part of it. I'm going to go to Delhi and have a chat about that. Every time there's a disaster, no matter where it is in the world, you always learn things.I think there'll be lots of learnings from here. The challenge is not to be too harsh on the people. People like to blame everybody when something bad happens. It's a bit like 'passing the parcel'. Everyone's been doing tunnel construction in a particular way. We have this disaster and then someone's left holding the parcel.The question is how do we want to do this in the future, and what could we do better? Because the engineers here are really good, and the construction industry is fantastic. I've got no doubt at all that we're going to learn some fantastic things, and moving forward, it'll be even better here..AK: How would you sum up the entire operation?.AD: A miracle. It's a modern miracle. I don't know what else to say. The whole world, all the experts, all the agencies, the federal government, state government, the armed forces, everyone came together and we got it done.In some risk management circles, we call this a near myth. We came within a whisker of killing 41 men who'd done nothing wrong but go to work. And they've all walked free. So this is a gift. So let's learn from it and from my discussions with all levels of government here in India, they also see it as a gift.