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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winds of Change

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.


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 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

Anusha Reddy,
Hyderabad Chapter, IDIA