Empowering underprivileged students through legal education.
The IDIA project was initiated to reach out to these marginalized and under-represented groups, sensitize them to law as a viable career option and help interested students acquire admission to these law schools. It is hoped that such access to legal education would go some way towards empowering the marginalized and underprivileged students and the communities that they represent.
Legal education is just not about memorizing hundreds of legal maxims and cases. Rather, a good legal education enables the cultivation of personal autonomy, intellectual independence and the development of critical life skills beyond the traditional goals of teaching/training/learning of specific skills.
The IDIA Project seeks to empower marginalised communities by fostering access to the leading law schools. Along with sensitisation and intensive training programs, IDIA will also attempt to drive policy in the area of “inclusive” legal education and “diversity” within law schools and the legal profession.
We’re very happy to announce that Yamuna Menon, a 2nd year IDIA scholar at NLSIU, Bangalore, won the first National Constitutional Law Olympiad amongst great odds! She takes us through her exciting journey through this blog post, focusing on the types of challenges she faced and the arduous Constitutional Law exercises she went through to win this. Read on below!
We began this interview series with the principal objective of curating insights from lawyers with disabilities who can serve as ‘waypavers’ and ‘pathmarkers’ for law students and young lawyers with disabilities, in India and beyond. It would be no exaggeration to state that few people fit that description better than our next interviewee, Senior Advocate Santosh Kumar Rungta. Blind since birth, SK Rungta has surmounted challenges most would consider insurmountable and has successfully defied, and continues to defy, what most would consider incredibly difficult odds. Senior Advocate Rungta’s accomplishments would be noteworthy even if he was merely a practicing lawyer – he was conferred with the prestigious senior advocate title by the Delhi High Court in 2011 – but what sets him apart is the fact that he has generously devoted his skills and energy to breaking down many barriers that have prevented the disabled from realizing their full potential.
Lepofsky, a highly distinguished Canadian lawyer who happens to be blind. Born in 1957, David graduated from the Osgoode Hall Law School with honours in 1979 and obtained a Masters of Law from the highly prestigious Harvard Law School in 1982. Thereafter, up to 2015, David practiced law with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General in such diverse areas of law as constitutional, administrative and criminal law.
Richard is a highly accomplished counsel in the corporate and securities practice group at Arnold & Porter LLP. He received his B.A. with honors from Harvard College and he then went on to graduate from Harvard Law School in 1998. In this interview, Richard speaks to us, at length, about his corporate career spanning over 18 years and the challenges that he faced and overcame in college and at his workplace.
The 16th December 2016 turned out to be a memorable day in the annals of IDIA history. For on this day, we sowed the seeds for our newest IDIA chapter: “IDIA Goa” in the Salgaocar College of Law. So how did IDIA Goa come to pass? Therein lies a story of sheer persistence; and perhaps even a love for the sun, sea and sand.
From scholars making waves to the important year-round IDIA events. From sensitisations in Naxalite prone areas of Chattisgarh to a story of philantrophic ventures by members of the legal community. IDIA has been in the news for all the right reasons. Find out what they are.
IDIA Chapter conducted 5 sensitisations for diverse audience ranging from housekeeping staff to school students. They traveled 30 kms for a sensitisation, and their activities caught the attention of Odisha Diary, Telegraph India, and Sambad (the largest circulated Odia daily in Odisha). NLUO, Cuttack students have many interesting things planned for this year.
2016 was our biggest year yet. We want to thank everyone who made it possible. Here’s a look back at the year!
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Arodhum awards scholarships to deserving rural students who demonstrate laudable strength or skill in a field, and show great potential to be agents of change. It has selected IDIA scholar, Dharu Ram as Arodhum Scholar 2016. Dharu, hails from a village in Rajasthan, and wants to fight for justice. Read his story and about Arodhum scholarship that provides opportunity and resources to bridge inequality.
IDIA members visited villages in interior of one of the most disturbed regions in India in Chattisgarh for conducting sensitisations. With the support of Indo-Tibetan Border Police that was conducting many civil action activities in the area, IDIA reached out to many children from tribal communities who demonstrated great potential. Abhay, IDIA team member, talks about his experiences during the trip, and the hope that children from tribal communities hold for transforming the area.
In spite of equal employment opportunities being promoted internationally, status of employment of persons with disabilities is dismal. Workplaces continue to be non-inclusive. There is a need to recognise and promote efforts fostering equal opportunities and inclusion in employment. One such effort is Equal Opportunities Awards by Nipman Foundation.
Our next interview in the IDAP interview series features Jack Chen, a highly accomplished patent attorney who works at Google in New York City.
Despite being completely blind for the last 25 years, Jack has scaled many peaks in his academic and professional life, having obtained degrees in computer science and law from Harvard University, UC Berkeley and Fordham University School of Law.
In addition to being an exceptional patent attorney, Jack has also competed in marathons and ironman triathlons. You can read more about his stellar achievements here.
We are particularly thrilled to be getting an opportunity to bring you this interview on the 3rd of December, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. For it is our earnest belief that stories such as Jack’s are a testament to the fact that one’s dreams should not be handicapped by one’s disability; that having sight is not a prerequisite to having vision; and that, if provided appropriate support systems, there is no impediment too difficult to surmount for the disabled.
On the 29th of October, 2016, 15 members of the IDIA Kerala Chapter conducted a street play at Marine Drive, Kochi. The first street play by the IDIA Kerala Chapter proved to be a fun and rewarding experience. The day began with an hour long journey by the team in a bus from NUALS, Kochi to Marine Drive, starting at 2 p.m. from NUALS. On reaching the venue, we started scouting the area to find the best place for maximum impact – a task of no small importance for a successful street play. We shared the joy felt by colonial explorers when we discovered moving crowds at the pathway adjacent to the backwaters. Having found our audience, we started setting the stage with our modest prop – a flex with the chapter’s logo and information. With the preparations over, we began the street play.
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Welcome to the Third Edition of IDIA Football League (IFL 2016) and the IDIA Awards Ceremony and Fundraising Dinner 2016 About the IDIA Football League Conceptualised in 2014 for football’s popularity amongst legal professionals as also sport’s ability to nurture diversity by being open to all classes of society, the IDIA Football League (IFL) is IDIA’s annual fundraising tournament. The funds raised from the IFL go towards the education of the brilliant and deserving scholars that IDIA supports across premier law schools in India. The 3rd edition of the IFL...
The fourth interview in the IDAP interview series features Haben Girma, the first deafblind student to graduate from the prestigious Harvard Law School. Haben has been recognized as a White House “Champion of Change” by the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. She has also been recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30 leader, and a BBC Women of Africa Hero. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Skadden Fellowship instituted by the Skadden Foundation. Haben had the singular honour of introducing President Obama and Vice President Biden at the White House on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2015 and has also received recognition from former American President Bill Clinton.
The third interview in the IDAP interview series features Shweta Bansal, an accomplished lawyer at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, whose appointment to the Indian Foreign Service was recently cleared by the Delhi High Court.
Shweta, who sustained a spinal injury in a car accident when she was 6 which left her orthopedically disabled, pursued her schooling at the prestigious La Martiniere school in Lucknow. She graduated from the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences in 2007 and secured a job at the erstwhile firm of Amarchand Mangaldas and Suresh A. Shroff & Co.
Keeping up with its efforts to sensitise students about law as a career, the IDIA Mumbai chapter started its sensitisations for the present academic year with two back-to-back sensitisations. The first sensitisation was conducted at the Hume High School, Mumbai on 24th August 2016, and the second at the Chandrabhan Sharma College, Powai on 27th August 2016.
Starting a new culture, the IDIA team was accompanied by professionals from the legal field, who could share their experiences of law school, and law as a career with the school students. Ms. Khushnaaz, Mr. Sanjeev and Ms. Asmita Roy from the legal team of Mahindra & Mahindra, and Ms. Aditi Rani from Advaya Legal joined the student volunteers from IDIA Mumbai chapter for the sensitisations.
IDIA family extends heartiest congratulations to the following five team leaders, who have been selected for the prestigious Sagar-IDIA Fellowship 2016 for their outstanding leadership in 2015. The Sagar-IDIA Fellowship has been instituted by Mr. Jyoti Sagar, a leading lawyer and educationist who founded J. Sagar Associates. It is awarded to Team Leaders and Deputy Team Leaders who lead the various state chapters and national verticals at IDIA and demonstrate outstanding leadership and passion.
The second interview for the IDIA Disability Access Programme (IDAP) Interview Series is with the distinguished Judge David S Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, often referred to as the second most important court in the United States of America. Judge Tatel was nominated to the bench in 1994 by President Clinton, to a seat vacated by Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The IDIA Disability Access Programme (IDAP) was launched in January this year. As part of the programme, we’ve initiated a series of interviews with leading legal luminaries who are disabled (including lawyers, law professors and judges). The first interview in this series is with Justice Zak Mohammed Yacoob, a legendary judge, social activist and educator who served as a judge on the South African Constitutional Court for 15 years. He was appointed to the bench in 1998 by Nelson Mandela. Justice Yacoob became blind at 16 months because of meningitis.
Diversity scored a big victory when the US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the University of Texas’ race-based affirmative action plan for its undergraduate admission! The landmark decision in Fisher v. University of Texas case came as a welcome surprise to the champions of diversity.
Susmit Isfaq hails from a modest background in Guwahati, Assam. The only child to his parents, Isfaq lost his mother around eight years ago. Despite growing up under precarious circumstances, Isfaq’s resolve to succeed has never been dampened. He performed well in CLAT 2016, gaining admission into National Law University, Assam.
Yash Mittal, from Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, recently finished his schooling from Kiddy’s Corner Higher Secondary School and has been trained by the IDIA Madhya Pradesh Chapter since December 2015. With limited means to support his educational needs, Yash has worked hard to achieve academic success and has been admitted at Institute of Law, Nirma University.
Trilok Chand is from Barmer, Rajasthan, and moved to Jodhpur for his schooling, where he completed schooling from Holy Spirit Senior Secondary School, Jodhpur in 2015. His father is a cobbler by profession, and there have been various social and economic pressures that he is under. His diligence led to him performing admirably well in CLAT 2016, securing an All India category rank of 259, and gaining admission into Tamil Nadu National Law School, Tiruchirapalli.
Raju Ram completed his schooling from Dr. Ambedkar Residential School in 2015, and devoted the better part of the last year preparing for CLAT under the training of the IDIA Rajasthan chapter. Raju’s diligent efforts paid off as he secured an All India category rank of 248 in CLAT 2016, and gained admission into Tamil Nadu National Law School, Tiruchirapalli.
Dikhita Borah hails from a small village called Hathi Gaon in North Guwahati, Assam. Dikhita and her two sisters have seen some strife in the family- their father is a construction worker with the Public Works Department and, unfortunately, suffers from alcoholism. Both bright and hard working, Dikhita performed extremely well in school and the CLAT 2016, where she scored 109.75 marks, gaining admission into National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam in Guwahati.
Musharaf Nazir is a resident of the Baramulla district in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2016, Musharaf came across IDIA on the internet, and contacted Dr. Shamnad Basheer for IDIA’s support in his CLAT preparation. He was invited to shift to Delhi and train with the IDIA Delhi chapter for the month of April. Musharaf’s hard work finally paid off, as he secured 116.25 marks in CLAT.
After training with the IDIA Rajasthan Chapter for two years, Dharu cracked CLAT and secured admission to the Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar, one of the top ten law schools in the country.
Sarath hails from the village of Panangad, in the Ernakulam district of Kerala. He completed his schooling from Kaloor Model Technical Higher Secondary School, Ernakulam. His hard work as an IDIA Trainee with the IDIA Kerala Chapter has paid off, with Sarath’s CLAT 2016 score securing him admission into the National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi.
Ragvendra has been passionate about studying law since he was in Class XI, and scored an impressive 144.25 in CLAT 2016, the highest CLAT score ever achieved by an IDIA Trainee in the general category! This performance gained him admission into National Law University Odisha, Cuttack.
Despite his visual impairment, Eshwar burnt the midnight oil and secured his admission into Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar. Eshwar was meticulously trained by the IDIA Hyderabad Chapter over the last two years after having been selected from the Sai Junior School for the Visually Challenged in Hyderabad.
A bright scholar who had been trained by the IDIA Delhi Chapter, Rishabh finished school from a Government Senior Secondary School in Delhi. His hard work as an IDIA Trainee has paid off, with him gaining admission into Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar.
Rahul excelled in CLAT 2016, scoring 127 and ranking among the top-performing IDIA trainees across the country this year.
Despite his visual impairment and poverty, Pavan’s inspirational efforts have secured him admission to NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad
Nazrul Islam Molla is a 3rd-year student of Sikkim Government Law College, Gangtok. Nazrul’s excellent academic performance and friendly demeanour quickly earned him admiration from amongst his teachers and peers. He has consistently been amongst the top two ranks in his batch. A reward for his commitment and brilliance in his academic pursuits came in his 2nd year when the Chief Minister of Sikkim awarded Nazrul a laptop as a token of appreciation. In addition to his academic achievements, Nazrul is also active in sports on campus especially in...
Christina Charles hails from a family of 4 where her mother is the sole earner. Her father has been unemployed over the last few years due to a gangrene infection resulting in the amputation of the leg which doesn’t allow him to work. While her sister is currently in the 10th grade and is a keen student. Christina is currently in her 3rd year(2016-2017) BA LL.B from KLE Society’s Law College, Bangalore. She feels that Law is not a restrictive course and it has introduced her to so many various other...
One of our IDIA volunteers provides an interesting perspective on IDIA sensitizations, while chancing upon a new avenue for conducting sensitizations – while travelling in trains!
Our student team leader from National Law University, Assam, details an innovative and fun fundraising initiative pioneered by the IDIA team at their university – a ‘Cook for a Cause’ food fest in which students and professors prepare and sell an assortment of delicacies to the inhabitants of the university campus, with the proceeds going towards IDIA for the legal educations of students from low-income and marginalized groups.
IDIA acts as charity partner at IDEX Legal Awards 2016 hosted at Mumbai. The opportunity was used to showcase fantastic work done by lawyers in the region and raised funds for IDIA.
IDIA goes international! The Zero Project which, conducts research and monitors statistics related to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD) awarded IDIA for being one of the most ‘Innovative Practices in 2016.’
IDIA volunteers embark on a rare adventure to sensitize students in Sukma, a part of the Red Corridor, which is severely affected by the Naxalite insurgency
We, at IDIA, are organizing a Gala Dinner in Bangalore this Saturday, 19th March 2016. The Gala Dinner marks our first formal attempt at unleashing a focused CHAMPS training programme for our scholars
Allen &Overy joins hands with IDIA to level the playing field for its Scholars as they enter the job market. The program included soft skills training, presentation tips and persuasive writing.
Former Hyderabad team leader, Prajwal Gyawali meets a former trainee, now pursuing B.com, after five long years. They take a nostalgic walk down memory lane over delicious Hyderabadi biryani and a visit to Sai Junior College