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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sensitization at St.Thomas sister schools

We, Neha .M.Kurian and Sachin Sathyarajan, conducted presentations on law as a career option and also about the immense opportunities in store for them at the National Law Schools. Every year a good number of students from the St. Thomas family make it to the National Law Schools. However the level of awareness about the career option is considerably low among the student community especially among science students.  
We were very excited to be back at our alma mater and speak in front of our teachers and juniors. The Principals, Career Counsellor and Faculty of both schools were very appreciative of our initiative and gave unconditional support for our endeavour. 

During the interaction it was evident that almost 90 % of the students still believed that they wouldn’t be on their own feet with a good paying job after earning the degree. The students were unanimous in the opinion that the profession was a very stagnant and corrupt one. Only few knew that compulsory apprenticeship under a senior lawyer and evening classes were a thing of past.

We highlighted that students from science background can fare equally well and are at no disadvantage in contrast to public perception. We further told them that students with aptitude in this field should definitely give it a shot as  Many students were inspired by the example of Shamnad Basheer himself who shared the same schooling and now has made such an impact at a young age. We specifically mentioned all the national law schools in India and also that the rankings published by certain magazines were flawed and not to be trusted. As expected, the varied exposure in form of internships, moot courts , debates and seminars which they would not find in other disciplines got them very excited.

The attractive salary packages did not easily sink in and many doubted whether we were bluffing. Several civil services aspirants came forward and asked about specific benefits to them. The sheer diversity of opportunities after the law course made many engineering aspirants give it a second thought as they wanted a more socially conscious field.

Several students expressed concern over the time aspect of preparing for CLAT as many were already attending other entrance coaching. Many expressed concern over the level of General Knowledge and Math questions for CLAT. We interacted with more than 350 kids and even though only a handful of them had started out with a decision to appear for CLAT, a huge number of them from all groups expressed genuine interest in CLAT and in Law at the end of the seminar. All in all it was a very positive interaction for both the students and for us and we saw a lot of hope for the field in the St. Thomas Schools. Viva St. Thomas!!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winds of Change

Hey,
The IDIA blog team has been brainstorming to make this blog more helpful and entertaining for all its present and future (hopefully) readers. Watch this space for more
Much love,
The IDIA blog team

Saturday, November 13, 2010

IDIA Jharkhand Sensitization Programme

IDIA Jharkhand Chapter kick started its first sensitisation programme on 25th of October, 2010 in Ranchi. Our team comprising of Nikhil Kaman and Srishti Aishwarya, firstly went to Oxford Public School. The school authorities appreciated our “IDIA” and were more than welcoming. We were allowed to give presentations in 11th standard which consisted of Science and Commerce sections.

We first gave presentation in Commerce sections. We started on with asking students about what idea do they possess about law as a career option and what do they expect from their career. Their idea about law seemed to be limited to the traditional notion of three year course and most of them showed a preference towards the field of Management, BBA, BCA, C.S., etc.

We began with telling them that what law as a career offers them. The thought of getting empowered and financial stability and security that the profession can offer, started catching their attention and interest. We went on to explain them about 5 year law course and about the National Law Schools and other law colleges that has five years integrated law course and the job prospects after that and the alluring packages offered by law firms. Special emphasis was laid on the fact that law offers them with myriad career opportunities ranging from jobs in law firms, International Organisations, NGOs, PRS, or getting into Judiciary Services and last but not the least, going for Litigation. We further explained them about CLAT and how to prepare for it, few students even noted down the question pattern as we discussed about it.

Our purpose of going there was elucidated to them and the whole concept of Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access project and the fact that we select students from under privileged background via an aptitude test and provide them with free of cost training for CLAT in IMS. We provided them with our contact details and requested them to go to CLAT website and IDIA blog and also to Clathacker.ning for getting a detailed idea about everything.

After our presentation was over, we asked them if they had any query or question. It was wonderful to see students posing their question and showing interest, questions were raised about how to prepare for CLAT and when does the CLAT exam takes place. We gave replies to these questions to the satisfaction of students and took their leave then, thanking them for their patience and interest.

Thereafter, we waited during the recess break after which we had to give presentation in Science Sections. What was most encouraging was that during the break, two Science students of Standard 12th came to us, asking us about CLAT and IDIA after hearing about our presentation from their peers. The interest showed by them was amusing and confirmed that our effort to sensitize is not going in vein. They went contended after getting answers to their questions about IDIA, CLAT and how to prepare for it.

After recess break we went to Science sections where all the students were either interested in Medicines or Engineering. When we talked about law as a career option, the first response was that they don’t want to get into the field in which people fight in Courtrooms!! We tried to break their stereotype views and gave them a broad idea about what law as a career is and the job prospects and opportunities. We then told them about CLAT and IDIA. The presentation went well and students were responsive, though it was hard to make them think out of the box.

After giving our presentation we thanked the school administration and Mr. Hazra who is a teacher out there and who arranged everything, for their co-operation and whole hearted support.

After Oxford Public School, our next destination was St. John High School where we went on 26th of October, 2010. The principal was cordial enough to allow us to give presentation. We addressed the mass of around 120 students of 11th standard, Science stream. We began with posing some question about what idea do they have about law as a career. All they knew about was the local law college out in Ranchi and seemed disinterested. Nevertheless when we began our presentation, telling them about the job prospects and other opportunities, followed by details about National Law School and other colleges like Government Law College, Symbiosis, they started evincing interest. In fact before we could move on to tell them about CLAT, question started pouring in about how to get into National Law Schools. We then told them about CLAT exam and the fields from which questions are asked in it. The major concern of the students was how to prepare for it. We suggested them to read Wren and Martin for Grammar and magazines like Competition Success Review, Pratiyogita Darpan for General Knowledge. We went on to tell them about Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access project and that we select students from economically weak background via an aptitude test and provide them with free training for CLAT in IMS.

After our presentation was over, we asked students if they had any query. Apart from question about how to prepare for CLAT, an interesting question was raised by a student who asked that how can we help people and work for their rights after becoming a lawyer. We then elaborated on the fact that they can work with NGO’S, International Organisations like UN, Amnesty International and other Human Rights Organisation. We further gave our contact details and address of CLAT website, IDIA blog so that they can make an informed choice about their career.

With this, our presentation for the day witnessed an end. We tried going to some other schools as well, while principals of few schools exuded hostility and did not allow us at all. Some other schools like Kendriya Vidyalayas were having their Mid- Term exams and so we were asked to come in the month of December. We plan to select students in the month of December and start training them.

Apart from going to the schools to carry out sensitization programme, we used the medium of Radio to reach out to the masses. A programme on “Vidhi Shiksha ka Mahatva aur Disha Nirdesh”, talking about law as a career option and IDIA was given by me on Aakashvani, Hazaribagh, Jharkhand that was broadcasted on 28th of October, 2010. A very good response was evoked by the programme as told by the Programme- Coordinator at Aakashvani, Hazaribagh.

In the ending note, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of all the IDIA Jharkhand chapter members and would like to extend special thanks to Kumar Rahul for his sincere support and Nikhil Kaman for his help in carrying out the sensitization programme.

Friday, November 12, 2010

IDIA Internship in Hyderabad

What is the IDIA?

The IDIA (Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access) Movement started off under the leadership of Professor Shamnad Basheer of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) as a movement to eliminate the inequities of education. Some very disturbing statistics reflected a complete lack of diversity, with a majority of the students clearing the entrance tests for these Universities hailing from the upper middle socio economic class bracket. The IDIA team set itself up, first in NUJS, and then in other National Law Schools throughout the country, as an attempt to question and change these statistics. The aim is to provide access to the resources required to crack the entrance exam to students who would not be able to get access to them otherwise.

What does the IDIA do?

Local IDIA Chapters have been set up in Kolkata, Jodhpur, Bangalore, Lucknow, Kochi, Hyderabad and many other places. These local chapters have conducted aptitude tests in various schools for the underprivileged, and have started an intensive training programme for those who did well, and those who are interested in pursuing law as a career. A lot of students were found to be initially very apprehensive about their career prospects, but enough information was disseminated in this regard to convince most of them about the advantages of this career choice.
In addition, the IDIA has been pushing relentlessly for reforming the CLAT. These concerted efforts have resulted in the CLAT Committee agreeing to various affirmative measures—for instance, removing the section on static general knowledge, and legal knowledge completely from the paper. The rationale is to test the aptitude of the students, rather than the knowledge.

The Hyderabad Chapter

The Hyderabad Chapter is particularly interesting, since it is the only centre in the country where an effort is being made to increase access to legal education to the disabled. For this purpose, a school for the visually impaired, Sai Junior College, has been adopted in Raniganj. This school is run by the Devnar Foundation which is headed by Padma Sri Saibaba Goud who is also the President for the National Society for the Prevention of Blindness (NSPB). Ten students have been selected as IDIA Scholars, who are to receive free training for the CLAT. Laptops have been bought for these students, so that digitized study material can be converted to audio format to facilitate learning for them. Classes have recently commenced in all five subjects for these students as part of their training.

What Will Interning With the IDIA Mean?

Interning with the IDIA will mean being part of the teaching process for the IDIA scholars. The subjects to be taught include English, Logical Reasoning, Legal Reasoning, General Knowledge and Maths (grade ten levels). This is an immense opportunity, more so for law students, because the IDIA Scholars are not only exceptionally bright, but also extremely keen to learn about the Law, and understand its various facets. While most students would cherish the process of teaching in itself, the IDIA experience is that much more of a process of self-discovery in that it deals with children who have managed to devise incredibly ingenuous ways of learning for themselves. This internship presents the opportunity of being part of something extraordinary, something that might change the face of legal education in the country, but will definitely change your paradigm of life.

Requirements

All interns will be expected to help with a wide variety of work. For instance, they may be expected to conduct weekly classes, act as scribes for practice tests, help in analysis of test results etc. The internship programme will extend to at least four weeks. All students who have graduated from school, and are currently enrolled in a course in Law or are graduates from the same, are qualified to apply. Selections are subject to the discretion of the Internship Cell. No specialized experience or training is required and you can feel free to come up with new, innovative modes of teaching and working. The interns are required to work in Hyderabad  under the Hyderabad Chapter during the months of November and December.

All interns found to have worked in a committed manner by the end of the stipulated time period will be granted certificates for their efforts signed by Professor Shamnad Basheer, on behalf of the IDIA Initiative.
For further details, feel free to email  anushareddy92@gmail.com or call at 09163787994 or 09163787987

We hope to hear from you soon.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Results of the IDIA Question Making Competition

After having received entries from law colleges across the country, the IDIA family is delighted to announce the results for the IDIA Legal Reasoning Question Making Competition. The first place is bagged by Mohit Maheshwari of NLU, Jodhpur. The second place is shared by Nihal Joseph and Shrishti Goyal of NUJS. And in the third place is Sanjay Gupta from GLC, Mumbai. The winning entries carry with them cash prizes worth Rs. 6000. We’d like to thank all the participants for their enthusiastic response.

Hyderabad October Update

The Hyderabad IDIA Scholar Programme made its formal beginning on 12th October, 2010
Sai Junior College for the Blind founded by the Devnar Foundation for the Blind

The team has selected ten visually impaired students from Sai Junior College founded by the Devnar Foundation based on an aptitude test conducted earlier this year. For the first time, the core group of IDIA-Hyderabad met each other and the students.  Dr Saibaba Goud who heads the Foundation was kind enough to come down to interact with us and the students. Representatives from IMS were also there for most of the day, assessing the workability of the initiative.
The purpose of the meeting was primarily to conduct another test to check strengths and weaknesses of the students; however, upon learning that the students had just completed a civics exam, we decided to postpone it. Both the team and the students were inquisitive, leading to a vibrant interaction. The students showed the team how they calculate maths questions, including algebraic equations, with the use of a Taylor Board. They engaged Shamnad Sir about the Ayodhya Judgment with information they had learned from the television. He encouraged the students to give reasons for their opinions, and asked them to distinguish between political and legal reasoning. The overall impression we got was that the students were keen to learn and very well aware of current affairs. Some of them expressed an interest in the Satyam scandal and were enthusiastic to find out about what was happening to Ramalinga Raju in court.
Following Professor Shamnad, Rahul Sir, a distinguished corporate lawyer, explained the various career options available after a complete legal education. Amit Sir followed by sharing his experience as a visually impaired student in IIM-A.  He empathized with the difficulties of studying as a visually impaired student, but emphasized the importance of continued higher education to motivate similarly impaired persons to aim for the skies. On his coat-tails, the students from NUJS and NALSAR talked about college life and various opportunities that arise from attending National Law Schools.
It was heartening to see how inspired the students were and how they constantly tried to voice their own opinions, and with some encouragement, take an active part in all discussions.After the test was conducted and results were declared, the students went through a session in which every question of the paper that they had solved was discussed in detail. The students of NUJS and NALSAR along with Shamnad Sir explained the answers, and the correct reasoning to get to those answers. The question that arose most often during this process was related to how one is to go about training visually challenged students. As Sir always says “We do not have all the answers right now but will overcome every obstacle that comes along our way.”
 Although it took some re-assessment, the students are smart and extremely hardworking, with amazing powers of retention. Questions which tested reading comprehension - that is, generally lengthy questions - were answered correctly. What we realized is these students are very eager to learn and every question can be explained to them with a little patience.
The students were also provided with net-books (Samsung N150) with necessary software such as AMIS installed to make their learning simpler. The software installed converts the digitized study material to audio format to facilitate learning for them.
While most students would cherish the process of teaching in itself, the IDIA experience is that much more of a process of self-discovery in that it deals with children who have managed to devise incredibly ingenuous ways of learning for them-selves. This workshop presented us the opportunity of being part of something extraordinary, something that might change the face of legal education in the country, but will definitely change our paradigm of learning.
Students of NALSAR and NUJS along with Padma Shree awardee Dr. Sai Baba Goud (chairman of Devnar Foundation for the blind), Prof Shamnad Basheer , Mr. Rahul (a leading lawyer) and Mr. Amit Jain of IMS along with students who have been selected as IDIA Scholars


By
Anusha Reddy,
Hyderabad Chapter, IDIA

Thursday, October 21, 2010

IDIA Rajasthan Sensitisation Conducted in Central Academy, Jodhpur



In furtherance of IDIA’s objective to reach out to students of all social strata and sensitise them about law as a career option, an orientation session was held at Central Academy, Chopasani branch, Jodhpur on 13.10.2010. An assembly of around 270 students studying in 11th Standard (All streams) were briefed by a team of 4 IDIA members comprised of Niket Anand, Abhinav Prakash, M Abhijnan Jha and Nilesh Chaudhary. What was important to note that all the members were from 2nd  yr and they were just awesome with the students. They enthralled the session magnificently well and had a very receptive audience.
The team reached the school by 07:45 hours and immediately were called by the principal, Rashmi Bishnoi for a personal meeting and in the meanwhile issued instructions to students of class 11th to come to the assembly hall for the interactive session with the team. the principal in the meanwhile presented some queries that she herself had about CLAT and about national law colleges. The team was then asked to move to the assembly hall where the students were present in numbers which were more than what was expected. One of the teachers introduced the team to the gathering and described to them the purpose for the visit of the team. The team was welcomed on to the dais with applause.
The gathering of the students was first addressed by Abhinav Prakash (IDIA Volunteer) who started off with giving them a briefing about the IDIA project and describing the objectives of this initiative. He then went on to discuss Law as a career and presented to the students the advantages of pursuing Law as a career. Abhinav also dwelled upon the National Law Universities that offer the 5 year law course. The students were given an idea about the returns of following Law as a Career and the lures that it had in store. Abhinav also mentioned the future prospects of a career in Law.
After having made the students feel motivated to pursue legal studies, Niket Anand (IDIA Core Committee IDIA Member) went on to the dais to describe the right ways to get into the best Law universities in India. He described the process of admission through CLAT (Common Law Admission Test). The students were told about the subjects related to which questions are asked in the CLAT examination and also about how they need to prepare themselves for it. Niket lay special emphasis on the topic of legal aptitude and mentioned to the students that it was the area that gives the edge to one student over others.
M Abhijnan Jha (IDIA Volunteer) later took over to discuss in detail the lures in the career of a lawyer. He described the pay packages that a new recruit at law firms receive and about the aspect of getting into the judicial services. He even described to them the extent of job security and told them the statistics for the campus placement that happened last year.
After discussing all aspects at length, Abhinav asked for any queries that might have arisen among the students. Hands were raised and some really interesting questions were put up before the team. The team was even asked to present a comparison between Law and Engineering as a career and to discuss the low number of seats that the Law universities provide in total. All these questions were answered to the satisfaction of the students.
The students who were aspiring for a career in law were asked to stay back for a personally interactive session with the team. Quite a large number of students, girls and boys alike, stayed back to get some more doubts cleared about CLAT. The session at Central Academy came to an end with this interactive session getting over and the students adding something more to their knowledge of CLAT and its pursuance.
with this IDIA Rajasthan has successfully completed the first phase of sensitisation programme which we chalked out for this semester. The sensitisation programme conducted by 2nd year student was awesomely recieved by the audience. I sincerely acknowledge and laud the effort of Niket Anand, Abhinav Prakash, Abhijnan Jha, Nilesh Chaudhary who were part of the orientation programme.

Abhishek Kumar,
Coordinator, IDIA Rajasthan

Friday, October 1, 2010

IDIA Rajasthan Sensitisation Reports


IDIA RAJASTHAN CHAPTER In furtherance of IDIA’s objective to reach out to students of all social strata and sensitise them about law as a career option, an orientation session was held at St. Maheshwari School, Jodhpur on 
01.09.2010. An assembly of around 80 students studying in 12th Standard (Science stream) were briefed by 7 volunteers. The students divided themselves in various groups: Geetanjali, Jai and Sharddha interacted with a mixed group of students from Science and Humanities backround. Sujoy and Piyush interacted with a bunch comprising mainly the Science Students. The third group was handled by student volunteers Aritra and Saumya.

The general perception among this group was that law is restricted to court-room advocacy and drawing up of wills and deeds. They were initially not responsive to the discussion, which may be attributed to their lack of awareness about the wide reach of law as a profession. However once they were informed about the scope of work available to advocates in law firms or as inhouse counsels in corporate bodies, it managed to catch their imagination and made the briefing more interactive. 
The students were comparatively more familiar with other fields of study such as engineering and medical, and could identify with the concept of entrance examinations for law schools only after parallels were drawn with IITJEE and AIEEE. This volunteer found that most students were not clear about the eligibility criteria for giving CLAT, and some had not even heard of such an entrance examination for law schools before. A concise overview of CLAT was given and doubts were cleared about the manner in which application forms for this examination are distributed. The students expressed their reservation about taking additional coaching classes for law school entrance examinations. They were encouraged not to view such coaching classes as an unconditional pre-requisite for cracking such entrance examinations, and to resort to coaching only if they felt the need for it.
Apprehensions were expressed by some students about the high fees charged by such law
schools, which were sought to be allayed by giving practical examples of educational loans and scholarship schemes of certain institutions. Queries were also raised about when NLU Jodhpur would start a scholarship scheme for funding the studies of meritorious students from economically weak backgrounds. While wrapping up the discussion, it was heartening to find quite a few students whose interest in law had been kindled by the briefing. Contact details of the coordinators heading the Rajasthan chapter of IDIA along with the official website of CLAT was provided to the students to ensure that any further doubts that they might have can be addressed. Report by team 2 Our experience has been highly enriching and we assess the session as highly fruitful.
We began
by asking the students as per their future plans. 80% of the crowd showed interest in pursuing engineering while some 5-6 showed interest in business management. Interestingly there was only one boy who showed interest in doing law and writing CLAT. The session then moved forward with their notions of law, justice and advocates and as per their assessment of law as a career option and existence of legal education imparting institutions, it proved to be too narrow. We started discussing about the varying options that would be available to graduating law students in terms of monetary gains, job experience and exposure. Thereafter the life in a law school was described to attract their interest and making them visualize of a life which provides ample individual space and capacity to progress living in an extremely different environment which teaches one immensely. In the end, the students were described about the modality of CLAT and how the role of IDIA will shape up if they show interest in pursuing law after 12th Standard.
The session was interactive and the students were inquisitive to know about the prospects of 3
year Law degree and how one can pursue it after B Tech. Further the interested student in law raised an honest query as to how difficult is it to crack CLAT considering English can be a trouble. However the team assured him by proving mathematically that command over all other sections is adequate to get a decent rank in CLAT which assures entry in a good university.
There were other queries raised and it was indicative that their knowledge about law and its
prospects did get widen. The best part of the session was that the teacher present during the lecture was also thoroughly impressed and he reiterated and seconded our opinion on planning law as a career option instead of just following a ‘crowd mentality’. We requested the students to further advertise and spread awareness about the multifold options as reflected by us which will help us in a long way in targeting the parents, teachers and other influencers of students.
I had the opportunity of addressing a group of around 40 students from the 12th grade. Initially,
was under the impression that I would be talking to a quiet audience but to my pleasant surprise, the students turned out to be quiet enthusiastic about whatever I had to tell them. They were all Commerce students and on conducting a straw poll, I found that mostly wanted to be Chartered Accountants, with little or no inclination towards law. It was my endeavor then, to tell them the merits of interdisciplinary studies to draw their attention towards law. Hence, I started with the merits of a dual degree and how their interests could be streamlined even if they take up law as a career. The discussion was then focused on telling the audience about the various Law schools in India and the requirements in CLAT. A lot of questions were posted on the feasibility as well as possible incentives. The students were interested to know about the difficulty level of the CLAT question paper as well as the syllabus for the same. Also, many were interested in knowing about the fee structure as well as the scope for scholarships. I was also asked about my interest in Law as well scope of further studies. I ended with a few snippets from life in Law school, although, the interest had been shifted to the prospectus of NLU, Jodhpur that had been passed around for the students’ reference. In furtherance of IDIA’s objective to reach out to students of all social strata and sensitise them about law as a career option, the second orientation program was conducted at St. Patricks school, Jodhpur on 17.10.2010. An assembly of around 70 students studying in 12thStandard (Science stream, Humanities and Commerce) were briefed by 5 IDIA volunteers including Geetanjali Sharma (B.A LL.B), Azal Khan, Vijaya Sharma, Geetanjali Sharma (B.Sc LL.B) and Mukul Agarwal.(Coordinator).The session started by volunteers asking questions on law and assessing the general perception of students about law. It was surprising that in a group of 70 (all girls students) around 15 of them seemed interested in pursuing law as a career option. This was indeed a greater number in comparison to the first orientation program. However their knowledge and perception about legal profession were very faulty or juvenile. So although we found a crowd that was relatively more open to pursue different carrier options [maybe because students from humanities were also there] but they were very less aware about the practical realities of any profession. It is vital to note some of the perceptions that the students had which was reflected through the nature of questions they posed.A student pointed out that a student in IIT even if cannot prove himself to be at the top would get a decent salary of 1 lakhs per month. However in a law school one had to work like very hard and then also they would get not more than 15 thousand. [the same was answered by providing them statistics about pay packages of Microsoft, Google, Infosys, HCL etc and the top tier law firms]. It was also pointed out by another student that law as a career option might not be conducive for a woman as it is to a man. Another girl was surprised to know how lawyers can perform social work and how the nature of contribution they make in the society, can actually affect the society positively. One of the girls also raised a doubt that the discussion would be fruitless unless their parents are convinced as they still perceive law to be a third grade career option. [we extended all our willingness to discuss with the concerned parents by medium of providing our contact details and also requesting the school administration to follow on any such request made by students] Most importantly students pointed out that law is associated with corruption and parents would not want them to get into such a field. [we went into explaining different facets of law like corporate law, IPR, income tax etc so as to show that a lawyer is not just what they have seen in Hindi movies] Hence the session was highly interactive and there were instances of mindboggling exercises to convince them on certain aspects. The teachers however seemed to be convinced and promised us to involve students in similar discussions whereby they can make an informed choice to chose a particular career as they option.
I sincerely acknowledge the IDIA Members and all those involved who conducted the senistisation Programee. I have a special word of appreciation for my Joint Coordinator Mukul Aggarwal. I laud the effort of Piyush Singh, Geetanjali Sharma ,Jai Sahai who worked relentlessly in order to conduct the orientation programme and gave final touch in the report.Finally,
I sincerely thank Ankita Singh, for her effort in preparing the report.


Abhishek Kumar,
IDIA Coordinator,Rajasthan Chapter

NUJS Students Take IDIA to CNLU; CNLU Embraces it Wholeheartedly


The IDIA team comprising of NUJS students Ramanuj, Kumar Kislay and Kumar Rahul and Vishrut Jain (we) visited Chanakya National Law University (CNLU), Patna (them) on 16th of September 2010. The introductory talk about IDIA was delivered by Ramanuj and Kumar Kislay. 
 
On the first day itself we were able to convince and motivate around 55-60 volunteers from all the batches. The IDIA CNLU local chapter will be co-ordinated by Rachit Ranjan, an NUJS alumnus, who is a guest faculty there. The students in CNLU were having their mid-semester test hence a comprehensive plan of action could not be drawn. However, we made them aware of the broad area of work to be done by the students. It was proposed by them, that some of the students would like to visit NUJS sometime in November to observe as to how we function. 
 
On the following day, we called a special meet of some of the members of senior batches with the help of whom we had managed to organize IDIA camp in CNLU. Since all of them had already been working with us in IDIA project for some time, we decided that they would constitute CORE GROUP for IDIA CNLU and would lead various teams as formed there. They were also advised to involve as many juniors as possible, so that IDIA could be continued even when they would have left after 1-2 years.

We also talked to the VC as well as some other people of the university. Prof Dr. M.P.Singh had been kind enough to refer us to the Vice Chancellor of CNLU Prof Dr. A. Laxminath. The team met the Registrar and the VC of the university and had been apprised of the IDIA project. He accepted the project for the university and agreed to give all possible support to the project and the students involved. He was even open to the suggestion of instituting the project as a research program. For this he has asked us to send a detailed proposal. The report is being prepared and would be forwarded to him very soon. 
 
Prof Laxminath has also kindly consented to allocate funds for the project if it seems feasible in the University and depending on the students’ participation. Further, with the help of Rachit Ranajn we have been able to create a fund for CNLU chapter. There are 10 of his friends working in Law Firms, who have agreed to contribute a sum if Rs 2000 every month for the IDIA Patna Chapter. We are also trying to bring in more people as funders.
The team further met the principal secretary HRD ministry, Bihar. Since, HRD ministry of the state is deeply involved in the functioning of CNLU it was important to bring them in the loop. The Principal Secretary for the HRD ministry has assured all possible help from their side. They will also help us in creating a fund. Further, they have agreed to provide a list of schools and co-ordinate with them for the sensitization program and further.
The team also met some sitting judges of Patna High Court. Justice Navniti Singh and Justice Jyoti sharan were kind enough to extend all their support and have promised to endorse the project. This would be helpful for spreading the project properly in the state and also for creating a substantial fund.
The IDIA CNLU team will start sensitization work in the first week of November.

 

Monday, September 13, 2010

SENSITISATION AT OSSANAM ENGLISH MEDIUM HIGHER SECONDARY SCHOOL, KATTAPPANA, IDUKKI


The sensitisation session for the XI and XII students of Ossanam English Medium Higher Secondary School, Kattappana, Idukki was conducted on 2 September 2010. The Management and staff of the school were welcoming. The novel idea of sensitising pre- varsity students to take up law as a career option was appreciated by the headmaster of the school, Fr Dominic.

It was sad that some of the schools in the district were reluctant to permit the IDIA volunteers to proceed with the sensitisation programme. The prejudiced approach of the school authorities and their unwillingness to change the conventional conception that they have about the legal profession was disappointing. It is an irony that people who are supposed to widen and modernise the outlook of the students narrow down their options to medicine and engineering. The experience that we had was both educating and disheartening. It would not be possible to resurrect the lost glory of the profession unless the older generation is ready to change their mindset. The realisation of the hurdles on the path ahead helped create a great sense of responsibility in us.
The welcoming attitude of the authorities of Ossanam EMHSS shows the genuine interest that the authorities have about the future of the students. The school believes in educating students than making them mere literates. Thinking beyond the prescribed syllabus was taking the path less travelled by!
The session started around 10 am. Each class had to be separately addressed owing to the constraint of time and space. The students were receptive and at the same time doubtful about the prospects of the profession.  They heard about CLAT for the first time ever in those sessions. The idea of national law schools was also new to them. We made them realise the various options available to a law graduate besides litigation. 
At the first instance they found it hard to digest. As the session advanced, they were successfully convinced of the different opportunities available to a law graduate like working with law firms, NGOs, other corporate firms, social organisations and other entrepreneurial possibilities. They were also informed of the advanced academic training and exposure available at the law schools. But as we proceeded with the fees structure many of the students   openly expressed their disappointment at the unaffordable rates. It was to their relief that IDIA is providing financial aid to financially weak students.
The interactive session followed. It was to our surprise that the students instantly came up with their queries without any hesitation. A good number of the questions were on CLAT and its preparation. They also wanted to know the syllabus followed in the law schools. Those students who took CLAT seriously came to us to know more of the life at law schools which included internships, moots etc.
At the beginning of the session of the 203 higher secondary students who attended, only 3 students were interested in the profession and around 10 students had some idea of the subject. However, after the interactive session 150 students showed real interest in law and attempted the aptitude test. We hope to see at least some of those faces in the national law schools.
Report prepared by Nimmy Tom and Telma Raju

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

IDIA Gets Its Logo [UPDATED]!





A big thank you is also due to all the law students, lawyers, law firmites, legal academicians and others who sent in their entries. The entries were diverse in content and style and the democratic short-listing of entries, done by the IDIA core team was a very difficult task indeed. Entries were received from as far as the US with some participants sending more than two entries. Thank you again for your commitment.

We will also be showcasing the other brilliant logo entries which narrowly missed out from winning this competition. Stay tuned.


PS- We have also announced our first Legal Reasoning Question Making Competition. The three best set of questions will win 3000/-, 2000/- and 1000/- respectively. This is what Prof. Shamnad Basheer's FB status had to say about this competition: "Are you good at legal reasoning? (or do you think the term itself is an oxymoron, since there is no reason in the law). Can you frame complicated questions that many would take years to answer? If so, this competition is just for you. Pit your legal brains and your creative juices against the very best"!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

IDIA Question Making Competition (Legal Reasoning)

- By Sahana Manjesh

What is IDIA?


Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA), is a nationwide program that aims to draw in talented students from marginalized and under-represented parts of India to the best national law schools in the country. Thus, students are identified and trained to crack CLAT, the joint entrance exam organized by 11 law schools. The program is in its first year and we have already selected around 50 students for training.

  
               What is the question making competition?
As part of the training given to IDIA students, we are looking for a bundle of outstanding questions in legal reasoning to prepare the students. Thus, this is a competition to select the best set of questions. You must submit 10 questions at the very minimum. The more creative and tougher the questions, the better!

What’s in this for you?

Lots of prize money to be won! The best set of questions get a prize of Rs. 3000, the second best Rs. 2000 and Rs. 1000 for the third place.

What kind of questions are we looking for?

We are looking to get from every participant (teams allowed) a set of ten questions (at the very minimum) in legal reasoning in any area of law that you like (a mixture of different laws is preferable). Remember that these are students who do not know anything about the law. We are testing for only aptitude for legal reasoning…and not for the knowledge of the law. So please do not assume any knowledge of the law…if you are using any legal concept or term, please explain its meaning in the problem itself. The student should be able to solve the problem by simply reading the legal principle or principles and then applying them to the fact situation.

Legal aptitude is also the ability to sift through a morass of facts and to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant. Therefore, ensure also that your problems have a bunch of relevant and irrelevant facts thrown in, the more the merrier; we’d like the students to be able to sift out necessary information. We’d also like to get some really tough questions, so turn up the difficulty level! You will find at the end of this document two sample questions for guidance as to language and level of toughness. Please feel free however to come with a format that suits you best; we’d like you to work around with the options so that we can have a truly tough set of questions. The questions should be in the form of MCQs. Please note that the all questions submitted are free for use by the IDIA team and/or their partners in any manner they deem fir for the purpose of furthering the goals of the IDIA project.


Where and how do we submit?

Please mail in your questions to sahanamanjesh@gmail.com. The questions must be sent in a word document along with details about the team. The entries must reach us before midnight of 20 September 2010. Questions must be accompanied with answers.

Sample Questions

Find below two sample questions for your guidance. You will notice that terms like “patent” have been explained in the question itself. The right option is the one in bold.

Sample Question 1

Question:

The law of country A stipulates that a patent shall not be granted for a method of medical treatment.

Explanations: (i) Treatment includes any act of diagnosis, therapy or surgery on the human body.

(ii) A patent is a legal monopoly granted to any inventor who discovers a new and useful technological invention. By virtue of this monopoly, the inventor has certain legal rights and can prevent others from manufacturing a product or using a process or method corresponding to that patent for a period of 20 years.


A is admitted to hospital after meeting with a car accident. As A is being operated, some of A’s blood is taken away for routine testing purposes. It is then discovered that A’s blood contains a rare protein that could be useful in fighting cancer. However, the blood cannot be stored for a long time. One of the doctors comes up with a new method of storing the blood without any risk of the blood disintegrating. Can this method be patented?


1. It cannot be patented, as it is not really new. Ways of storing things have been known to mankind for a long time.

2. It cannot be patented, as the method is not useful

3. It cannot be patented, since the method was discovered in the course of treating a human body.

4. It can be patented, since it is new and useful.

5. It cannot be patented, since doctors are in social service and should not be awarded monopolies.

6. It cannot be patented, since the method exploits the condition of an “accident” victim.


Explanation of the answer: since the method of keeping the blood stable has nothing to with “treatment” on the human body, it is not a method of medical treatment. Therefore, if new and useful, it is patentable.


Sample Question 2

(Please note that the reasoning given at the end of the answers is only for your guidance. You will only be required to send in questions with multiple choices.)

Given below are some principles that govern wills.

Principle 1. When there are two inconsistent clauses in a will, the last one will prevail.

Principle 2. If the same quantity or amount of something has been bequeathed (willed) twice to the same person in the will, then it is deemed to have been bequeathed just once. If however there are unequal bequests made, then the legatee (person benefitting from the will) is entitled to both.

Principle 3. If anything that has been bequeathed to a person is not in existence at the time of the death of the testator (person making the will), then the bequest will not take effect.

Sada Khush Raho lived a long and fruitful life. He had a wife, Patni, and two children- a daughter Putri and son Putra. While Putri was a responsible child always having pleased her family, Putra was a bit of an eccentric. In his lifetime, Sada Khush Raho had been a successful book store keeper, having built himself and his family a small fortune through sheer hard work. One day however, as he was arranging the newly arrived books in the shelves, he fell and broke his back, only to be bed ridden for the rest of his few remaining years. He then decided it was time to retire and so at the age of 78, having worked for the better part of his life, Sada Khush Raho put up his boots. When he turned 80, he had a premonition that he would not survive for long and hence decided to draw up a will to determine how his assets would devolve pursuant to his death. He passed away on 14.1.2010, a day shy of his 82nd birthday. The will that he had drafted is now to be executed. This is what his will looks like:

I, Sada Khush Rao, do hereby will that my assets be devolved in the following manner:

• I leave to my daughter Putri Rs. 10, 00, 000.

• I leave to my wife Patni Rs. 5, 00, 000.

• To my son Putra, I leave behind my blue ambassador car.

• Putri, my daughter, is to get Rs. 10, 00, 000.

• The site in Mysore is to be bequeathed to my grandson Yuvaraja.

• I leave to my wife Stridhani Rs. 10, 00, 000.

• The site in Mysore is to be bequeathed to my granddaughter Yuvrani.

Now apply the principles governing wills to answer the following questions:


1. How much will Putri receive under the will?

a. Rs. 5, 00, 000

b. Rs. 10, 00, 000

c. Rs. 20, 00, 000

d. None of the above

Reason: Since there are equal bequests made to Putri, she is entitled to only one.


2. How much does Patni get?

a. Rs. 10, 00, 000

b. Rs. 5, 00, 000

c. Rs.15, 00, 000

d. None of the above

Reason: Since there are unequal bequests made to Patni, she is entitled to both.


3. On 14.1.2009, the family blue ambassador was sold for Rs. 1, 50, 000. What does Putra get on his father’s death under the will?

a. Nothing, the car has been sold and hence this part of the will not take effect.

b. He will get Rs. 1, 50, 000 for that was what was recovered upon its sale.

c. He should get the equivalent of the market price of the car from his father’s estate.

d. None of the above.

Reason: The car has been sold meaning it is not in existence any more.


4. Who gets the site in Mysore?

a. Yuvaraja

b. Yuvarani

c. Both

d. Neither

Reason: When inconsistent bequests are made, the last one will prevail.

This note has been prepared by Sahana Manjesh, a 3rd year student at NLSIU, Bangalore.

Images from here and here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

IDIA Sensitisation Session and Aptitude Test at Loreto Day School, Sealdah (West Bengal)

The sensitization process at Loreto Day School, Sealdah stretched over a week. On the first day, 5 students of NUJS, Diptoshree, Radhika, Jhalak, Shruti and Suman visited the school to speak to the students about law as a career option and the benefits of studying at a national law school. Diptoshree began by posing some common quiz questions involving famous personalities. Then she asked them about the common link between all the answers: which was that they were all lawyers, who contributed to society in various ways.

She then went ahead to explain the purpose of our visit and the evolution of law as a career in India. She elaborated on the setting up of national law schools and the purpose they serve. Further, all information about a 5 year law course at different national law schools and CLAT was given, with a brief mentioning of the broad areas that are tested.

Radhika took example of Barack Obama to elucidate what lawyers can do for society and how some of them become very famous. Students seemed very enthusiastic about law after the session and the teacher later informed us that all those who attended the sensitization process also wanted to appear for the aptitude test which was to be conducted during the following week. They were especially astounded after hearing about the salaries that law school graduates receive.

46 students appeared for aptitude test conducted at Loreto day school. They asked many questions pertaining to the test and about law as a career prospect. Some of their questions (pertaining to the student profile section of the question paper) were:

• What external sources of parental income needs to be mentioned as monthly income on the test paper? Was it compulsory to mention it?

• Why was parents’ fluency in English required?

• What did ‘Legal profession’ mean?

The students were given one hour to complete the test. However, since they struggled to finish by an hour, they were given another 10 minutes extra time.

After that was the feedback session about the test. Majority said that the test was very confusing, though not particularly difficult. They found the test to be quite lengthy. Logical reasoning was confusing for most however, it was also the most interesting section according to them. Relations and directions were the easiest for many.

Parajumbles were difficult for almost all students. Legal reasoning also confused many of the students. The students had difficulty in applying the principles to the facts. All found the english comprehensions very easy to solve. Saurabh and Avisha solved two of the questions on ‘coding-decoding’ to demonstrate how to solve it.

When asked if the information given to them regarding law as a prospective career convinced their parents, most said yes. Some said their parents were already quite supportive and encouraging about pursuing law as a career. Some however, had not spoken to their parents about pursuing law as yet.

After the results were declared, most of the highest scorers turned out to be from the higher and middle income group and therefore, did not need any scholarship for studying law. The IDIA team decided to simply refer them to IMS, where they can receive training for CLAT after payment of requisite charges. 4 students from lower income group were selected for scholarship. Two of them belonged to SC category and one was from a minority community.

The IDIA team will be visiting the school again, for verification of the income level of selected students from salary statement of parents. They will engage in a counseling session with the parents to confirm their permission for their wards to study law.

Report prepared by Diptoshree.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

IDIA Sensitisation Program in Calicut

In an initiative to expand its operations to northern Kerala, the IDIA began its sensitisation program in Calicut. Sensitization sessions and aptitude tests were conducted at Government Higher Secondary School, Mavoor, Calicut and Rahmaniya Higher Secondary School, Medical College on 7.8.2010. Calicut Co-coordinator of IDIA, Adithya Raj along with an IDIA team consisting of Anna, Sarath and Nithin conducted the programme.


The sensitization session at Government Higher Secondary School, Mavoor commenced at about 11 A.M. 51 students from humanities and commerce stream of the 12 standard attended the programme. Firstly, an interactive session was conducted. As usual, students had a very bleak idea about law as a career option. Law was still perceived as a course for those interested in pursuing a career of a practicing advocate. Law as a career option found favour only with a handful of students and none had even heard of National Law Schools and the varied prospects available to a graduate from such premier law schools. The team therefore had to elucidate about the National Law Schools and the advantages of graduating from the National Law Schools and other prestigious law colleges in the country. The session was boosted with a power point presentation which exposed the need of National Law Schools and the main objective behind the IDIA program.

This was followed by a question and answer session during which the team could clear many doubts about law as a career and correct the umpteen pre conceived notions prevailing among students with respect to law as a career option. This also helped the team gauge the ignorance in this regard prevailing in a literate state like Kerala.The interactive session was followed by Aptitude test. 21 students took the test. The test lasted for 45 minutes. The session was wound up by 1 PM.

The next session was held at Rahmaniya Higher Secondary School, Medical College, Calicut. The programme started at 2.00pm. More than 50 students from the 12th standard batch of Humanities, Commerce and Science stream attended the session. The popularity of law as a career option and the initial response of the students was the same as elsewhere. As usual, it took the volunteers some time to convince the students about the advantages allied with a law graduate passing out from a premier law college.The interactive session lasted for about 1 hour. Subsequently, the aptitude test was conducted. All the students took the test. The test lasted for 45 minutes and the programme was concluded by 4.00.

The ignorance of advantages of law as a career option in supposedly most literate state of the country, underlines the need for more initiatives like IDIA. IDIA Kerala sincerely hopes to bring about a change in the current situation when it moves to the next phase.