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IDIA raises Rs 72 lakhs as Mohan Gopal says diversity initiative should become redundant

The Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA) initiative, which aims to help students from non-traditional lawyer backgrounds to apply to national law schools, has fund-raised Rs 72 lakhs at an event in Delhi on Saturday attended by 150.

IDIA founder Shamnad Basheer said that donors had pledged Rs 12 lakh in donations, which would be used to support the ongoing activites of IDIA.

On top of that, three lawyers had committed to fund the tuition fees for four IDIA scholars' five-year degrees, each running to Rs 3 lakhs per year, at an aggregate five-year cost of Rs 60 lakh.

Supporters will be able to choose scholars to sponsor from a pool selected by IDIA.

Basheer said that IDIA's first annual conference, held at NLU Delhi during the day and at the Constitutional Club in the evening for an awards ceremony, hosted some very interesting discussion and participation.

Dr G Mohan Gopal, director of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies, held a "pretty provocative address", explained Basheer. "He said, you [IDIA] should aim to be redundant, which is actually fabulous."

"It is an interesting sentiment that your larger vision should be to be redundant and, more importantly, the model as it stands now is about one-sided help to the scholars, but it should also be about what scholars can teach you because they come from communities [with things to share]."

Basheer said that IDIA had already tried to incorporate "learning from the entire group" into its programme but would do more of this.

Around 150 lawyers, academics and supporters attended the event, said Basheer, including managing partners from India's largest law firms, in-house counsel, and academics.

At a function in the evening, IDIA also awarded prizes to IDIA supporters and singled out scholars for recognition as CHAMPS - an acronym for fostering lawyers who are "creative", "holistic", altruistic", "mavericks" and "problem solvers".

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