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IDIA diversity initiative wins 11 students national law university places but faces funding gap

Eager legal eagles all ears in Sikkim
Eager legal eagles all ears in Sikkim

11 out of 40 students coached for the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2012 by the Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access to Legal Education (IDIA) free coaching program, made it to six NLUs in the first admission lists this year, including NLSIU Bangalore, NUJS Kolkata and NLU Jodhpur.

The undergraduate educational expenses of four out of the 11 successful IDIA scholars are completely covered by the programme.

Thangminlal Haokip secured a special list rank within NLSIU Bangalore’s cut off and Karthika Annamalai gained a place at NUJS Kolkata, also on the special list.

IDIA founder and NUJS professor Shamnad Basheer confirmed that NLSIU and NUJS had offered a full fee waiver to economically underprivileged students.

The fees of Lucy Hmingthanzuali and Sanjana Roy, who won places to NLU Cuttack Orissa, would be funded by industrial conglomerate Aditya Birla Group’s Birla Sanskriti Trust and Prakash Educational Society, Basheer told Legally India.

Out of the remaining seven scholars, two each made it to NLU Jodhpur, GNLU Gandhinagar and NLU Cuttack, while one secured a seat in CNLU Patna.

“Last year NLUO gave us 50 per cent concession and GNLU also gave some concession, but Nalsar did not, it had a different VC [vice chancellor]. This year NLUO’s VC has moved to Nalsar. These things depend a lot on the VC and if he is committed to this sort of a project,” remarked Basheer.

The on-going effort to raise funds to meet tuition costs at the other colleges have so far secured support from Trilegal partners Karan Singh, Sridhar Gorti and Rahul Mathan, J Sagar Associates (JSA) partner Somasekhar Sundaresan and Wadia Ghandy partners Ashish Ahuja, Hamid Moochhala and Shabnum Kajiji on the individual level.

At an institutional level, Khaitan & Co and Luthra & Luthra contributed to the project.Singh, Gorti, Sundaresan, Khaitan & Co and Wadia Ghandy have previously been benefactors of the IDAI project.

“They always come back and have said that if there is any shortfall we’ll top it up,” said Basheer.

Previous and current benefactor firms also offered internships to IDIA scholars. A scholar from the previous batch is presently interning with Poovayya Associates, for example.

As the last date for payment of admission fee at the NLUs - 9 June - draws near, IDIA is experiencing a severe fund shortage, noted Basheer.

IDIA currently faces a funding gap of more than Rs. 10 lakhs in terms of admission fee, and at Rs 10 lakh per scholar a total deficit of Rs 110 lakh in terms of course fee, although Basheer noted that as last resort some IDIA trustees might personally foot the bill,and that no successful scholar would be turned away due to a lack of funding.

“We really need divine intervention here in order to meet these requirements,” he said.

However, some of the seven scholars currently awaiting funding include Donnie Ashok, who secured a seat for admission in GNLU Gandhinagar with a rank of 427. With an annual family income of less than Rs two lakh, his chances of enrolling in GNLU are bleak.

He told Legally India that various voluntary efforts in the project include that of retired army-general General Naidu, who is experienced in the education sector and took charge of the executive operations of IDIA this February.

“He has been very large-hearted in continuing to work with us,” remarked Basheer explaining that they have not been able to pay him anything so far.

Other volunteers of the IDIA trust include law firms Tatva Legal, AZB & Partners, and Fox Mandal Kolkata, which offer pro bono legal assistance to the trust.

GE India's in-house legal team entered into a collaboration with IDIA to assist with programs sensitizing school students in remote areas to a legal career, and with mentoring IDIA scholars who are currently enroled in various law schools.

CLAT coaching institutes IMS and LST provided year-round free coaching and study materials to the IDIA class of 40.

Last year, 11 out of the class of 50 IDIA picked students for CLAT coaching had made it to different NLUs in the first list, while 19 others made it by the time the third list was released.

Download full list of the 11 IDIA scholars and the admission fee required to fund each of them

Download complete profiles of the 11 IDIA scholars

Further details about the programme, and contact details for making contributions are available on the official website of the programme http://www.idialaw.com/support-idia.php

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