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. Indeed, our objective is to ensure that these communities can directly deploy this instrument of power called “law” to improve their lot and contribute towards the creation of a more just and fair society. Secondly, a diverse student population would make for a more optimal mix of views and perspectives at such law schools, thereby enriching the process of education itself.
IDIA was conceptualised as a pan-India student movement by Shamnad Basheer, who is currently the Ministry of HRD Professor for IP Law at the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata. It has minimal faculty and administration involvement from the NLU’s. Law students are the backbone of the movement, with students forming and leading teams in the major states and UT’s of India. The IDIA movement has now spread to at least 17 different states and union territories. Local teams have visited a large number of schools across India, from the Sunderbans in West Bengal and Pelling in the North East to Jitholi in Uttar Pradesh and Sopore in the North to Tumkur in the South. The modus operandi for selection and training is thus: A simple aptitude test (involving mostly logical reasoning questions) is administered to check the students' aptitude for the study of the law. Based on this test and on the students' economic status, they are selected. In the first year of operation, around 50 students (called IDIA Scholars) from various schools were selected for CLAT training by the IDIA volunteers. Thereafter, they underwent rigorous training by law students and other IDIA volunteers to write the CLAT in May, 2011.
We were very fortunate in that 13 of our IDIA Scholars managed to crack the CLAT exam and made it to the various NLU’s in the very first attempt. Profiles of these scholars who made it to various national law schools may be found on the IDIA Scholars page.