IDIA Law Blog: Increasing Access by Increasing Diversity

Empowering underprivileged students through legal education.

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As with previous years, IDIA continues its modest success this year as well. Five of our scholars make it to the leading law schools in India!

The fourth allotment list of CLAT was just out last week. Although mired in controversy and potentially revisable after a Bombay High Court order, it seems like this will be the final list after all (given that the admissions processes have concluded at most of the law schools).

Controversy notwithstanding, this is one of the high points in the year for us, as we seek to celebrate the triumph of the human will against adversity. For our scholars have overcome the most difficult of odds to reach where they are today. The attached document highlights their profiles, but let me capture this quickly for your convenience:

1. Yamuna Menon hails from the small coastal town of Tripunithura, on the outskirts of Kochi, Kerala. Yamuna secured an All India Rank of 28 (the best ever by an IDIA scholar in our five-year history) and gained admission into the National Law School of India University (NLS), Bangalore.

2. Anil Bhadu’s father is a truck-driver in Rajasthan who struggles to make ends meet. Despite these adverse circumstances, Anil really burnt the midnight oil and scored well in CLAT, securing admission to the National Law School (NLS), Bangalore. He had an All India CLAT rank of 42!

3. Arvind Kumarhails from the small village of Maitriwara in the Jalore district of Rajasthan. His parents are small subsistence farmers; in the non-cropping season, his father works as a manual laborer and manages a paltry Rs. 100-150 per day to sustain the family. Due to his family’s financial predicament, Arvind too helps out with household work and holds tuition classes for his neighbours’ children after school. Arvind went to secure an All India Rank of 112 (in a reserved category) in CLAT 2015, enabling his admission into National Law University Jodhpur.

4. Lakesh Meena’s is perhaps one of the most inspiring stories in the annals of IDIA. A visually challenged student, Lakesh belongs to a family with very modest means in Rajasthan, as his mother is a home maker and his father is a farmer. He is a student of the Netraheen Vikas Sansthan in Jodhpur, which is a Hindi medium institute for the blind. In spite of all these obstacles, Lakesh went on to secure the All India Persons With Disabilities Rank of 5 in CLAT 2015, and has gained admission into the WB National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata.

5. Manash Mondal hails from Dibrugarh, Assam. He, unfortunately, lost his father at a very early age, and his mother, a home maker, struggles to make ends meet with a monthly income of just Rs. 4,000. Manash has made not only his mother, but the entire IDIA family proud by securing an All India Rank of 184 (in a reserved category) in CLAT 2015, paving way for his admission into the Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur.

Congratulations to these successful scholars! Congratulations also to the various student teams and team leaders who trained these IDIA scholars and contributed to their success!

This document (IDIA Harvest-final List) only showcases IDIA scholars who made it to the top law schools. We will post another document of those scholars who made the other law schools (as we’ve been expanding our list of law schools to which we send our scholars each year).

Fortunately for us, the NLS administration has been kind enough to waive the tuition fees for two of our scholars who made it to NLS this year (Yamuna Menon and Anil Bhadu). All thanks to the enormous magnanimity and support of Professor Venkat Rao, the NLS vice chancellor, who, much like Professor Ranbir Singh of NLU Delhi, has felt for the cause like no other and been at the forefront of the battle against educational inequity and lack of access.

Both these Vice Chancellors (Prof Rao of NLS and Prof Singh of NLU Dehli) are true leaders in the legal education firmament, in terms of their commitment to social justice, an ideal routinely taught at law schools. Unfortunately, many of the other Vice Chancellors have not been as responsive to these ideals, but hopefully, we will convert them in the years to come.

We also have to take a moment to thank Prof Ishwar Bhat (VC of NUJS) immensely for continuing the NUJS tradition of supporting IDIA scholars through fee waivers. This year as well, he’s willingly agreed to provide a fee waiver for Lakesh Meena, our differently abled scholar from a village in Rajasthan who made it to NUJS.

Many thanks to the staff at IDIA (our directors, assistant directors and accounts staff and various others in our Bangalore office) for working around the clock and helping our teams and scholars and putting together the attached profile so well. And importantly, we are very grateful to IMS (headed by the wonderful Kamlesh Sanjnani) and LST for continuing their training support for our scholars. And last but not the least, all of our advisors, donors, well-wishers and partners who supported and continue to support our scholars and our work.

Needless to say, although we’ve procured fee waivers for the two scholars who made it to NLS Bangalore, we still need to work up a decent sum to cover their stipendiary expenses: books, clothes, travels, food, internships etc etc. This works out to around Rs 1 lakh a year. If any of you can support or point us to those who can support these scholars, we would greatly appreciate it.

As for the remaining three scholars, we need approximately Rs 3 lakhs a year to put them through their respective law schools. We’re writing to the respective vice chancellors of the law schools (HNLU Raipur and NLU Jodhpur) where they’ve been admitted to offer them a fee waiver, but we’re not sure if this will come through in this year. If you know these vice chancellors, please help us by writing to them. After all, IDIA is helping them by fostering more diversity within their classrooms, and the least they can do is to waive fees for students at the bottom of the financial pyramid.

We want to thank once again each and everyone of you for your unflinching support to IDIA over the years. Your enthusiasm and support have kept us afloat despite the financial hazards of running this charity, that barely breaks even each year., Given our recent FCRA approval, we’re hoping that we will soon migrate to a more stable financial future. Do pray for us and the future of our scholars!
Shamnad Basheer
Founder and Managing Trustee
(on behalf of the entire IDIA Family)

P.S.: All details for how interested folks can contribute to the education of these underprivileged scholars is available on our website at: http://idialaw.com/support-idia/. Please do circulate this message to your friends and colleagues who are likely to help.

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Original author: Shamnad Basheer, Founder and Managing Trustee


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