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Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA)

05 July 2010

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 give 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 www.idially.blogspot.com 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! J

This is a reproduction of the post here. To keep in touch with what IDIA teams are doing please do follow our blog http://idially.blogspot.com/

02 July 2010

Legally India newsletterFor a firm that first made its name as a capital markets boutique, the fact that that S&R Associates did not have an office in India's financial capital was always glaring.

02 July 2010


The IDIA (Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access to Legal Education) project, conceptualised and spearheaded by Prof. Shamnad Basheer (IPR Chair Professor, NUJS) aims to address the concern of NLUs becoming elitist. IDIA endeavours to help students from rural areas, poor backgrounds, vernancular medium schools etc. make it to the top NLUs.


That NLUs are becoming elitist was previously an anecdotal speculation. However, results coming from a survey conducted with 87 first year students (batch of 2014) at NUJS prove it to be a fact:


ü  97.7% of the students studied in English medium schools.

ü  Schools of 88.51% students were in an urban area.

ü  82.76% of the students took coaching for CLAT.

ü  Only 4.6% of the students have family incomes less than 1 lac rupees pa.


The rural-urban/rich-poor divide becomes clearer still: there are no students (0 %) from Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J & K or even Punjab while 2% of the students are from Chandigarh alone. Nine students (10.34%) are from Delhi (NCT).


Now LST, a leading coaching institution has atleast 4 centers in Delhi and 2 centers in Chandigarh. It is not difficult to see what makes students in cities tick. There is no LST center in Himachal or J & K.  


That CLAT is in itself is a pro elititist/english-educated entrance exam is shown in this superlative piece by Prof. Basheer. He argues that a logic reasoning based CLAT with less emphasis on English language, static GK etc. will not only result in better law students but will also ensure a level playing field for all students.


Here is the proverbial last straw: 10.34% of the students are from Maharashtra (a very rich/urban state) while none of the students are from Chattisgarh or Orrisa (poor states) [1]. The reasons are not hard to find: the CLAT form at 2500 bucks is expensive, CLAT coaching at 25000 bucks is expensive and the fees at NLUs is very pricey too.


Another useful insight: A large number of students are from places where the top NLUs are situated. Their presence seems to have contributed towards increased level of awareness. The division is: Karnatka (NLSIU) 9.2%, Andhra Pradesh (NALSAR) 5.75%, West Bengal (NUJS) 16.09% and Rajasthan (NLUJ) 4.6%.


Finally in rural/poor regions of our country, there is a deplorable lack of awareness about law as a career option; NLUs or CLAT are an unheard commodity. Pilot projects in Pelling (Sikkim), Tumkur (Karnatka) and Shanti Bhavan (Tamil Nadu) prove this empirically.


The IDIA project wants to change this around.


Awareness programs about Law-CLAT-NLUs; identification of students with an aptitude for law and finally establishing tie-ups with coaching institutions to train students free of cost are some of the steps IDIA takes. To those who make it to the top NLUs scholarships, stipends and mentoring too will be provided.


We believe that the top-notch education and career opportunities the students will get in NLUs shall ensure grass-root human resource development. It is hoped that once successful the students will invest back in the communities they represent. Also our law schools will nurture more diverse ideas and research.


[1] However, 5.75% of the students are from Bihar, 3.45% from Jharkhand. Students from this part of the country have done well in other competitive exams too (IIT-JEE, Civil Services). An interesting case study?




Part II- IDIA: Helping Potted Frogs (Kup Manduka) Thrive in Seas



KupManduka is the story of ‘the frog in a well/pot’. The frog jumps from wall to wall of the well/pot and feels proud. However, when he finds itself in the sea, he comes to know that frogs in the sea jump much further. He is crestfallen.


I take out the element of pride. My frog can jump from one wall to another because of the constrained environment he is in. His vision is limited by the walls and so are his jumps. The body achieves what the mind can conceive. You cannot hit a target which you cannot see.


When my frog is thrown into a sea, he finds himself lost. With no one to guide him, he is unable to find his way. The harsh environment and the cut lung competition stifles him. However, when a mentor guides him, the frog thrives.




Once upon a time a frog

Croaked aloud in an earthy pot.

The croak was of victory for

The dear frog had jumped from one

Corner to another corner

And in the pot there was

A loud, a resounding murmur.


A farmer, swarthy dark and strong

Impressed and obviously happy

Took the frog, his pet, his chappy

To a big, blue pond.


There the frog jumped;

Jumped forward and ahead

And his confidence took that many steps


And then the fission of dreams

In the tough, mad competition.


But hail Muse! The farmer came,

Touched a vein and knocked his brain

And said aloud “Jump Again”!


Though alone, he clapped- resounding claps!

The frog remembered the house and its chaps,

The farmer and his swarthy skin,

The earthy pot under the tin.


And hail him! The dreams did fuse.

And fusion does ten times produce-

Energy. Energy to jump far and wide

Which in time proves true and right

So that the frog of the pot

Can be a winner in the pond

And croak aloud, croaks that resound!


And those resounding croaks

Shall one day break

The earthy walls; the boundaries laid

And create a space, a boundless space

Where frogs can jump; jumps that astound

And croak aloud, croaks that resound.


The IDIA family is growing well with law firms, lawyers, NGOs and law schools coming out in support. Here is the Facebook page to keep you updated. Here is how you can help.


PS- Wow! I didn’t even speak of the unaffordable fees at NLUs.

PS 2- Please do follow the blog and join the Facebook page. Also, cartloads of thanks to LegallyIndia for fantastic support to IDIA.

01 July 2010

Diversity-Sikkim-classThe law ministry, law firms Krishnamurthy and Co, Trilegal and Wadia Ghandy, CLAT coaching institute IMS and law schools NLSIU Bangalore and NUALS Cochin have pledged financial or other support for NUJS Kolkata professor Shamnad Basheer's project to increase diversity in the legal profession, which visits poorer rural secondary school students to train and encourage them to apply to top law schools.