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Friday, July 30, 2010

Report on the IDIA Kollam Sensitization Program

The Kollam chapter of IDIA commenced on 29-7-2010 at Kollam Government Model Boys HSS. A team consisting of Rahul, Vineetha, Deepa, ,Tintu, Jiju and Mahesh conducted the  sensitization program  and the aptitude test with the students of the humanities stream.  Many of the students belonged to economically weak background and were unaware about the career prospects of Law. Only one student initially evinced interest in pursuing law as a career.

However, as the session commenced, students displayed eagerness to know about law and the diverse opportunities in store for law graduates.  Soon doubts began to pour in and we were overwhelmed by the response.  Queries were mostly with respect to the differences between an ordinary law degree and B.A,LL.B.(Hons.), the prospects of a National Law School graduate etc.  The team members were soon involved in clearing umpteen doubts raised by students.        

After this fruitful interactive session, the aptitude test was conducted. Subsequently, we invited the principal of the school Mrs. Mathuri to wind up the session. By then the number of students interested in pursuing law had gone up to 7. Buoyed by the overwhelming response, the principal requested us to conduct sessions for students of science and commerce stream also. Faustin, the class leader proposed the vote of thanks and the program came to an end at around 12.15.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Inauguration of IDIA Kerala Chapter by Hon’ble Justice D. Sreedevi

The Kerala chapter of IDIA kicked off at St .Mary’s H.S.S, Pattom, Trivandrum on July 17, 2010. The function was inaugurated by Hon’ble Justice D. Sreedevi, the former High Court Judge and the present Chairperson of Kerala Womens Commission. The function was attended by the 11th and 12th std. students of the Humanities stream of St. Mary’s school besides IDIA volunteers from Trivandrum and Kochi. Father George Mathew Karoor, Principal, St. Mary’s school also graced the occasion with his presence. Aswathy Kusumam, volunteer, IDIA welcomed the gathering. Mr. Raghul Sudheesh, State Co-ordinator, IDIA delivered the presidential address.
This was followed by an inspiring speech by Hon’ble Justice D. Sreedevi. Beginning with the maxim “Ignorance of law is not an excuse”, Justice D. Sreedevi went on to give a very informative speech on the importance of law in our society. She proceeded to trace her own career as an example and how her dislike for law gradually disappeared and ultimately evolved into her passion with her stay in the profession. She elucidated upon the need for awareness and knowledge of law not only among the legal fraternity but also among the laymen so as to ensure that the objects set out in the Constitution and other mighty documents like UN Declaration on Human Rights are accomplished. 

She also dwelt upon the prospects of law as a career and the bright future which a rapidly developing economy like India held for law graduates. Her enlightening speech ensured that the students present got a clear picture about scope of law as a profession. It was an eye opener for many students who were unaware about law as a career and helped remove common misconceptions.  

Father George Mathew Karoor praised the initiative and wished IDIA all success. Ms. Vineetha Vinayan, Thiruvananthapuram Regional Co-ordinator, IDIA, proposed the vote of thanks. The inaugural ceremony was followed by an interactive session with the students. It was headed by Mr. Raghul Sudheesh, the State Co-ordinator of IDIA. The students were initially hesitant to open up and needed a bit of persuasion. Soon doubts began to pour in. The enthusiasm of the students was seconded by each and every person in the hall and every query was accompanied with encouraging applause. From the concept of National Law Schools to the varied avenues which a law graduate could pursue, students were keen on getting all their doubts clarified. However, the deeply ingrained notion that law as a career meant the career of a practicing lawyer with struggle during initial years still persisted among many. The ignorance about law was evident when a student hailing from Chennai stated that “I was in Chennai for many years and have never heard about a law college in Chennai.” He was at dark about the existence of colleges like School of Excellence in Law.

The fact that majority of the students were unaware about the prospects of a noble profession like law testified the need for a mass movement like IDIA to ensure that the benefits of law as a profession percolates down to the lower strata of the society so that they in turn can contribute to the growth of the masses they represent. 
Report prepared by Murali Krishnan and Saira George. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

IDIA Sensitisation Session at St. Thomas HSS, Thiruvanthapuram

A sensitisation session was conducted by members of the IDIA Thiruvanthapuram chapter headed by their regional coordinator Ms.Vineetha Vinayan at St. Thomas Higher Secondary School for the students Std.11 & 12 of the commerce batch. The session started at 1.00 PM, a welcome to the IDIA team was given by Mrs. Geetha.K, School Administrator. An insight about IDIA project was given by Pinkey Sara Georgey.

The interactive session was handled by Maneka Nair and Manoranjan. Most of the students were eager to know if they could take the course with any other degree and also to how to crack CLAT. The students had a view that the only option that you have after taking law was litigation. The questions mostly asked were about the 5 year and 3 year course. They wanted to know if they could opt law with any other degree and about the number of law colleges in Kerala.

Some students queried if the entrance was common for all law institutions in India, how many entrance exams were there, the minimum qualification required to attend the entrance, etc. After the session some students who did not raise questions during this group session approached our volunteers individually and enquired about the courses.

We thank the school authorities who were immensely supportive towards our intiative. The session ended by 2.00pm.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

IDIA Logo Designing Competition (Deadline extended to August 10)

It is a huge idea
And we need someone to capture it all in a neat logo.

The IDIA (Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access to Legal Education) is a project which has taken off. We are receiving immense help and support from various National Law Schools, lawyers, law firms, media and other stakeholders.

Now we are looking for a logo for IDIA; something which tells the 10,000 words of our concept note in a few strokes of pen.

IDIA’s Logo Designing Competition invites entries from all the creative individuals out there. Entries by law students and lawyers are especially welcome.

There are no eligibility conditions and anyone can send his/her entry. The winner whose logo gets selected will be given Rupees 5000/- as a prize. The copyrights of the logo will be transferred to IDIA.

The last date for submission is August 10, 2010. We’ll accept logos in any kind of format provided the logo is clear and legible.

You can email your entries to Prof. Shamnad Basheer at

Or post it to this address:

Shamnad Basheer, Ministry of HRD Professor in IP Law
West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (WB NUJS)
NUJS Bhavan, 12 LB BLOCK, Salt Lake City, Sector III
Kolkata ‐ 700098, India.

Please do send in the following details along with your entry:

Email ID:
Name of the school /college/ place of work:

(Picture from here).

Monday, July 5, 2010

How to start an IDIA chapter at your law college

IDIA teams are free from bureaucratic controls and institutional requirements. It is a volunteer based movement which any socially motivated law student can initiate at his/her law college.

Here is a brief primer:

1. Read the concept note on IDIA (Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access to Legal Education) to get to know about IDIA in complete detail.

2. In your college inform as many people as you can. Tell your friends about it and get in touch with the Legal Aid Society and other related groups. Send the concept note to the group/batch email accounts. Get the support of the faculty too.

Please note that IDIA has no hierarchical organisation though team leaders are responsible for the allotted tasks.

After gathering considerable support of the students and faculty, talk to your Vice Chancellor/Director about IDIA and brainstorm how your law college can start similar initiatives in and around the area.

You can put a letter by the Vice Chancellor/Director on notice boards asking students to join the IDIA team.

3. Identify senior secondary schools (schools till class 12) situated in rural/economically backward areas in and around your college. See if you know some student/teacher from that school so that convincing the authorities becomes easier. You can also talk to the Principal of the school directly.

4. After discussing it with the school principal decide on some specific day when the IDIA team will visit the school for the talk/seminar and the aptitude test. Prepare well in advance. Talking about local legal personalities, stars go well with the students and so does the mention of placement figures etc.

5. Talk and test- Ideally you will need to reserve two classes (of 45 minutes each, approximately) for the two tasks. During the pre-decided day the first class is utilised for a small talk on CLAT, National Law Schools and Law as a career option. In the second class the aptitude test (which is available to the IDIA teams) is administered to the students.

6. Select- The students who score the highest in the aptitude test are selected after consultation with their teachers. The students selected should have a good chance of cracking CLAT on being provided with coaching.

The aptitude test’s marks are to be tabulated in an excel file.

Those students who are economically well off are not given free CLAT coaching but can surely keep in touch for guidance/mentoring etc. Economically poor students qualify for free CLAT coaching. Their full details should be kept for record.

7. Share- Students are encouraged to share their experiences on the school visits etc. Our blog should provide you a ready reference on that.

8. Reach out- Visit as many schools as possible. Join the Facebook page, the blog, the group mails etc. For any clarification you can contact Prof. Shamnad Basheer of NUJS at shamnad[at]gmail[dot]com or Deepak Raju, a 5th year student at NUJS who is coordinating with the IDIA regional teams at deepakelanthoor[at]gmail[dot]com,

9. Funding and support- Try to get as many funds as possible. Travel, accommodation, printing costs etc. require money and socially committed lawyers, law firms, NGOs, philanthropists etc. should be willing to help you.

You can send the IDIA funding note to prospective donors.

IDIA has a tie-up with IMS for free CLAT coaching. If your area does not have an IMS center you will also need to involve a CLAT coaching institution to train the selected students.

There is a lot more that IDIA teams are doing. You will get to know about that with time when you become the part of the Google groups which have such great levels of activity that it has been difficult to keep with the inflow of emails!

Picture from here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

IDIA Hyderabad Reaches Out to Visually Handicapped Students in Ranigunj

IDIA Hyderabad conducted an aptitude test in an intermediate college run by Devnar Foundation in Ranigunj, Hyderabad. This college is especially for the visually challenged students. A few of us went and spoke to the students of the school on 24th of June. We spoke to them about law as a career option and how it is a great tool for the empowerment of the society.

In the past, the students of this college have excelled in various fields. One of their students is studying at the prestigious Masssachussetts Institute of Technology on merit. When we spoke to one of the teachers, we were told that some students scored as high as 95% in languages and 92% in commerce. We believed that this was a good college to work with as these students are bright and getting into a National Law University would be a viable option for them.

A total of 40 students registered for the test. Vidyu, Aishwarya, Vaishnavi, Vimal and I (Anusha Reddy) brought along 40 scribes to read out the questions to them individually. Cheers to the volunteers, as we arranged for the volunteers on a day’s notice! We decided to give them 1 hour and 45 minutes (instead of the stipulated 1 hour and 30 minutes) as the government regulations give extra time of thirty minutes to people with disabilities.

Most of the students who took the test were fluent in English. A few of them faced hindrances but nevertheless managed. We conducted the test for the eleventh class students as well.

The feedback that we got from the scribes was that most of the visually challenged students faced difficulty in the long passage questions and also in the sequencing questions as it was difficult for them to remember the correct order as the students could not draw out the series of options on paper.

A very good thing is that most of the students were very good with the General Awareness questions. Some of them did not even need options for the question on the Chief Justice of India!

Everything went off smoothly. We are still in the process of correcting the papers, the results of which we will share with the IDIA Google groups soon.

IDIA Pilot Project at Basanti, Sunderbans (West Bengal)

IDIA teams have been visiting schools in rural and poor regions of India to inform the students about law as a career option, National Law Schools and CLAT. An aptitude test to assess a student’s logic reasoning skills and aptitude for law too is adminstered to the students.

IDIA at Sundarbans (Basanti):
On 17th May, 2010 the IDIA team consisting of NUJS students Uddyam (LLM), Sounak (LLM), Suman (1st year LLB), Arpan (5th year LLB) and Arnab (5th year LLB) conducted one of the first sensitization programs of West Bengal at Basanti High School in Sunderbans.

In course of the interaction with the students of Basanti High School, the IDIA team realized that the school students had little idea about law as a career. Though they had heard of the 3 year course but they did not have any idea about the 5 year integrated course a National Law University offers.

In order to assess the student’s aptitude for law we took an aptitude test (35 marks) which was largely based on Logical Reasoning (16 marks). Other sections included GK (1 mark), English (10 marks), Legal Reasoning (4 marks) and Mathematics (4 marks).

The objective of the aptitude test was to identify students with an aptitude for law who possess the ability to crack CLAT and subsequently providing them free and intensive training for CLAT which would enable them to compete with other students from all over India who appear for the CLAT exam every year. On the basis of the aptitude test three candidates were selected who would be given caching to crack the CLAT examinations subject to the consent of their parents.

It was heartening to note that our talk on law as a career, CLAT, NLUs etc. had encouraged even those students who did not do well in the aptitude test to consider law as a career option. The NUJS team promised them full support in form of informal mentoring by students themselves etc.

IDIA' pilot projects require huge investments of time, effort and money and we would appreciate if lawyers, law firms, NGOs and philanthropists help us in this endeavour. Here is how you can help us.

Friday, July 2, 2010

IDIA- How it began: A retrospective look at the Sikkim pilot project

Prof. Shamnad Basheer (Ministry of HRD Chaired Professor in IP Law) led a team of four NUJS students Diptoshree Basu, Radhika Sarkar, Javedur Rahman and Tanuj Kalia to conduct the first IDIA pilot project at Pelling, Sikkim. The plan was to interact with the students of the only government school at Pelling about career options in law, about CLAT and about National Law Schools.

The stand taken by the concept note to IDIA that there is a lamentable lack of awareness about law as a career amongst low income students in small towns, rural areas and other non-affluent backgrounds stood vindicated. We realized that none of the students had heard of the National Law Schools or thought about a career in law. Even the teachers seemed unaware about law as a career option.

In order to select intelligent students with an aptitude for law we gave them a 30 minute aptitude test. The test was heavy on logic reasoning. The exclusion of questions of English and General Knowledge had been a conscious and deliberate decision.

We then prepared a list of top scorers from each stream and discussed their general academic performance and economic backgrounds with the school principal and teachers. This was followed by an exclusive session with the students, explaining to them what the National Law Schools and the legal profession had to offer. We also spoke to them about life as a law student at NUJS.

At the end of the day, eight students were selected based on the aptitude test’s results, the student’s interest towards law, their financial background and academic records (based on their teachers’ inputs).

During our discussions with them, monetary issues came up as well. Some students asked whether IDIA would charge them any money for the CLAT coaching we would provide. Others worried over the expense of legal education at National Law Schools*.

The Pelling students have, since then, constantly been in touch with our team. We have visited Pelling again in June 2010. The students have also been provided training materials for CLAT 2011. The selected 8 students will make a fully funded trip to Kolkata during early July 2010, to undertake a week long intensive coaching at the IMS Training centre in Kolkata.

If all goes well, we can all hope that a legal Phunsukh Wangdu will come out of a National Law University soon. Afterall, the 400 patents of the original Phunsukh Wangdu will need a good patent attorney!

* It is good to see that lawyers are contributing towards this cause. Mr. Krishnamurthy of Krishnamurthy and Co. has contributed about Rs. 1 lakh. Karan Singh and Sridhar Gorti (both Partners at Trilegal) have contributed Rs. 5 lakhs between themselves. Ameet and Monica Dutta of Luthra have also contributed to the funding. Ashish Ahuja a senior partner at Wadia Gandhy was amongst the first contributors. However, we hope that other law firms and lawyers too will do their bit towards the IDIA project. Here is how you can help.