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IDAP Interview Series: Interview X with Nirmita Narasimhan

Written by by on Sep 26, 2017

IDAP Interview Series: Interview X with Nirmita Narasimhan

Our next interview in this series features Nirmita Narasimhan, a Policy Director with the Centre for Internet and Society. Nirmita did her LL.B. from Campus Law Centre, Delhi University in 2002. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in German and a Ph.D. in Music. As a part of CIS she has done extensive work on web accessibility and was involved in drafting the Indian National Policy on Universal Electronic Accessibility. She has worked closely with different departments of the Government of India to bring accessibility into their policies and programmes. In recognition of her path-breaking work in the field of digital accessibility, she has received numerous awards such as the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (2010), the NIVH (National Institute for the Visually Handicapped) Excellence Award (2011) and the NCPEDP-Emphasis Universal Design award in 2016. She played a key role in amending the Indian Copyright Act to incorporate exceptions for people with print disabilities and launched the widely acclaimed nationwide Right to Read campaigns. Nirmita’s experience is not just limited to policy work – she is a widely published author and has assisted national and international bodies in the creation of several reports on promoting accessibility rights of people with disabilities. This interview was conducted by Madhavi Singh and Anusha Reddy. The interview was transcribed by Veda Singh, IDIA intern and student at Jindal Global Law School. The interview has been lightly edited for clarity.  Could you please describe to us the exact nature of your disability? I have something called Stargardt disease. For me it came when I was 9 or so. When I started, I could read with the help of a magnifying glass and I would enlarge things to read and now I completely rely on screen reading software. Could you please describe to us the reasonable accommodation provided by your school and college, if any? In school nothing! I used to read and write using a magnifying glass –reading was a bit of a struggle. My handwriting was really bad and people didn’t understand it. I never asked for anything. Only for my Board exams I had asked for a writer because that’s something you really can’t risk. Most schools use boards to teach. How did you manage? No, it just depended on the individual teacher and maybe I was also very inhibited at that time in my life. I wouldn’t go up to the teacher and simply say “please read it out.” Consequently, I always regretted that I was not good at math, because it was always on the board. I managed back then with the help of my parents and sister. You have a large number of educational qualifications to your name. You initially studied German and Carnatic music and only pursued law later. What factors influenced you in deciding to study law? It may not be anything glamourous as really being passionate about it. But going back to German – I really liked the language, and more so due to the teaching methods because this was the first time I was out of a classroom setting into a setting where there were 10-12 students and the teachers were really good and used unconventional methods. They were accommodative about exams. The teacher could write exams for me or tell me...

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Walk the Talk

Written by by on Sep 14, 2017

Walk the Talk

We’ve been shocked and saddened by the heinous assault on our IDIA student volunteers from WB NUJS. None of us expected that a court order (to prevent the eviction of slum dwellers in the Subhas Sarobar area) would be breached with this level of impunity. And that our students would be ravaged and mauled in this beastly a fashion. Their trauma will take a long time to heal. But we will pursue all avenues of justice, with due regard to the safety and security of our students. Read more.

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IDIA Football League 2017 | IFL Night and Gala Dinner

Written by by on Sep 5, 2017

IDIA Football League 2017 | IFL Night and Gala Dinner

IDIA announces IDIA Football League 2017, the fourth edition of its annual fundraising football tournament for law firms and corporate legal teams, scheduled to take place in Mumbai over 9th and 10th September 2017 at the Turf Park, Jio Garden, Bandra Kurla Complex. IFL is 6-a-side tournament, in which around 20 teams of 11 players will battle it out for winning the IFL Trophy and IFL Plate. This year, the IDIA Football League features a celebratory IFL Night and Gala Dinner on closing day of the tournament. To add to the excitement, we have a new addition this year –a fun unique quiz that will foray into the football and legal domains. Each quizzing team can have up to 3 members, and will play for boasting rights and some surprise goodies! The IFL Night and Gala Dinner will be held on 10 September 2017 at Otters Club, Bandra West, where in addition to the awards ceremony and the exciting quizzing event, you could expect impromptu speeches and performances over dinner and drinks. We at IDIA believe there is no better way to celebrate diversity and inclusion than through sports! Hence, IFL was conceptualized by IDIA in 2014 as a charity football league to bring together legal professionals for the love of sports and to support a good cause – helping students from underprivileged backgrounds access quality legal education. The funds raised from the IFL go towards sponsoring the legal education of very deserving IDIA Scholars studying at various National Law Universities and other leading law colleges. After the action on the field, the players along with IDIA team, scholars and well-wishers will head over for dinner and drinks at a fun-packed evening – IFL Night and Gala Dinner at Otters Club where they will have the opportunity to rub shoulders with luminaries from the legal field, and also to interact with the scholars of IDIA- always an eye-opening experience for all! Senior counsel and sports commentator, Fredun E De Vitre will be the Chief Guest for the evening. From its humble beginnings in 2014, IFL has grown to see participation from around 200 players in 20 teams fighting it out for the IFL Championship and IFL Plate. As with the past three editions of the IDIA Football League, Vahura is supporting IDIA for IFL 2017. Vahura believes the law needs and strives to build and support platforms to bring out the champion in every lawyer/professional. The past three editions of the IFL have seen participation from leading law firms in in-house corporate teams including Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, Wadia Ghandy& Co., Bharucha & Partners, Trilegal, Khaitan & Co., J Sagar Associates, Star India, Mahindra & Mahindra etc. IDIA is inviting registration for IFL 2017. It is 6 a side tournament, and each squad can comprise up to 11 players. It is mandatory that: a)   Each squad should have at least one female player and a player above 40 years, unless the team comes from an office with no woman or no above 40 years employee. b)   Each squad should have at least three qualified lawyers within playing six. Each team is assured of playing a minimum of 4 matches (3 matches in league stage and at least 1 match in the knock-out stage). Matches are expected to last a little over 15 minutes each (with each half...

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More Glad Tidings on IDIA Strikes | Message from Prof. Shamnad Basheer

Written by by on Jun 30, 2017

More Glad Tidings on IDIA Strikes | Message from Prof. Shamnad Basheer

We had recently announced wonderful news about IDIA trainees making it to top national law schools. Prof. Shamnad Basheer, Managing Trustee, IDIA Charitable Trust has an important message to share as more glad tidings keep pouring in!

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IDAP Interview Series: Interview IX with Rajesh Asudani

Written by by on Jun 12, 2017

IDAP Interview Series: Interview IX with Rajesh Asudani

In this IDAP interview, we interview Rajesh Asudani. Born into a family with four blind siblings and limited means, Asudani has displayed immense grit and determination throughout his life to beat the odds against him. Despite having an academic record par excellence in his law college and many awards and honors to his name, Asudani began his career as a railway announcer. Not one to lament, Asudani quickly turned the tide in his favour and secured a job of an Assistant General Manager at the RBI. Asudani speaks to us in great detail about how financial constraints deterred him from studying in a national law school and from practicing law in the courts. Unlike our other interviews, Asudani’s frank and insightful answers show us that despite having fire in one’s belly, limited resources can significantly deter one from fulfilling his/her potential. As readers may know, 9 IDIA Scholars from marginalized communities have secured admission to top law schools this year. These students have fought against all odds to reach this position and we at IDIA do not want our scholars’ potential to be limited due to financial constraints. You can play a significant role in ensuring the same by supporting our students. This interview was conducted by Rahul Bajaj and transcribed by Anusha Reddy and Veda Singh (IDIA intern and second year student studying at Jindal Global Law School). The interview has been edited for clarity. Firstly, can you provide our readers with a brief background of your schooling and educational qualifications? In addition, given that accessible technology was not readily available during your days in school and college, was braille your principal means of acquiring information? I belong to a family where 5 out of 8 siblings were blind from birth. I’m the youngest of all and I have two brothers and two sisters who are blind as well. When I started studying, there was precedent as my brothers and sisters were already studying in the local blind boys institute in Nagpur. Naturally, I was also sent there in the year 1982 and I completed my 7th standard from that institute in 1989. Thereafter, I went to a mainstream sighted school. The year 1988 was a watershed year for me. My two elder brothers Ganshyam and Vinod, figured in the general merit list of SSC matriculation. For the first time in India a blind person made it to the general merit list of the state examination. People took notice of the fact that blind people can also perform. As you know, media was restricted to newspapers and government channels of radio and TV back then. We were featured in the national news and the films division of the government also made a documentary on the Asudani brothers. When it comes to me, however, I was not a very bright student initially. I remember in my fourth standard I scored a big zero in my unit test examination. But gradually, my interest picked up, particularly in my fifth standard when English was introduced as a subject. I only I learnt the ‘ABCs’ in my fifth standard (laughs). Moreover, when Ghanshyam and Vinod figured in the merit list, it provided me an impetus to excel. I studied hard and in my 10th standard examination in 1992, I was ranked second in the order...

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IDIA Scholars Strike Again!

Written by by on Jun 6, 2017

IDIA Scholars Strike Again!

As the sweltering sun summers on, straining the sturdiest of us, here is a piece of news that is sure to rejuvenate. As with earlier years, our IDIA trainees whip up an impressive CLAT strike rate! Out of the 50 students that we trained this year, 8 of them made the cut in the very first CLAT list. And one more made it to the NLU Delhi, which runs its own entrance exam (AILET). These scholars represent a wonderful diversity of talent, hailing from Pattan in Kashmir to Surpura Khurd, a village in Rajasthan to Kusalapuram, a small village down south in Andhra Pradesh. The sons and daughters of farmers and auto-rickshaw drivers!  Those that braved the oddest of odds to get to where they are today. Their stories will inspire like no other! Let me briefly profile some of them for you below (elaborate profiles of all our scholars are in the attached document, along with their ranks, categories and the law school that they gained admission to). 1. Anoop Kumar has never let his visual impairment get in the way of his dreams. Rather he made the best of his adverse circumstances, exemplifying grit and resilience of the highest order. Hailing from Gardih, a small town in Jharkhand, where his father works as a farmer, he burnt themidnight oil to train for CLAT. Little wonder then that his hard work paid off and he’s made it to NUJS Kolkata, one of the top 5 law schools in the country today. 2. Hailing from Pattan, one of Kashmir’s worst hit militant zones, Aarif Nabi never let the violence and destruction around him get to him! His hard work paid off and he made it to the prestigious NLU Delhi, one of the top 5 law schools in the country today. 3. A farmer father who earns barely Rs 5000 a month! And yet Mukesh Seju (from Surpura Khurd, a small village in Rajasthan) toiled night and day to make his dreams come true. He was our top performing trainee on CLAT and made it to the National Law School (NLS), Bangalore, the top law school in the country today. 4. A member of the oft neglected Lambadi tribe, Swarna Latha, who hails from Peddathanda village, in the Nalgonda District of Telangana had this to say about herself and her journey. “This will seem silly I know, but my greatest inspiration is a lotus flower. A lotus starts out in really murky dirty water in terrible conditions but despite that, it grows into a beautiful flower that everyone loves and it even became the national flower of India! If a lotus can do that, so can I.” (Translated from Telugu) Sheer poetry….tells us why this girl is an absolute gem and a different cut! Meraka Mani had to bear the brunt of belonging to a not so good caste in a not so inclusive India. But despite this and her family’s trying circumstances (her father Vasudev Rao is an auto driver, earning hardly 3500 a month), this girl from Kusalapuram village, in Srikakulam District of Andhra Pradesh went on to score one educational victory after another. The latest being her cracking of CLAT to make it to the National Law School in Vishakapatnam in the first list. We’re certain that some more of...

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Nikita Shukla – A Story of True Grit and Determination!

Written by by on Jun 5, 2017

Nikita Shukla – A Story of True Grit and Determination!

“Nothing can dim the light which shines within” – Anonymous On this note, we are pleased to introduce to you the latest addition to the IDIA Family – a young, bright and highly inspiring girl! A visually impaired aspiring lawyer, her spirit and attitude towards life and the challenges it throws are worth emulating! It is in the rarest of rare circumstances that IDIA takes on a scholar mid-way through his/her journey through law school. However, a student as exceptional as her deserves all exceptions to be made for her! Nikita Shukla is a third-year law student at Government Law College, Mumbai and has seen her fair share of hurdles in life. Her parents wanted to marry her off right after she finished school. However, Nikita was adamant on pursuing further studies so as to become financially independent and fight her own battles! Sadly, her parents refused to support her decision and she was asked to leave the house. Its been three years since – in this period, she made her way to law school and has been performing exceedingly well! Unfortunately, her family continues to sever ties with her and and she has not had any contact with her parents and her siblings. Read on to know more …

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In the Backdrop of a Heritage Site, IDIA Reaches Out to a Minority Institution | Sensitisation Stories

Written by by on May 16, 2017

In the Backdrop of a Heritage Site, IDIA Reaches Out to a Minority Institution | Sensitisation Stories

IDIA visits New Horizon School, an unaided minority institution in the backdrop of the Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi. The team had an exciting Sensitisation workshop, and conducted the aptitude test which garnered the interest of many students in law when none of them had considered law as a career option before. IDIA’s mission is to reach more and more communities to ensure greater availability of legal resources, and for a more diverse legal profession.

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My Tryst with the First National Constitutional Law Olympiad | Scholars Achievements

Written by by on Apr 20, 2017

My Tryst with the First National Constitutional Law Olympiad | Scholars Achievements

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!

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IDAP Interview Series: Interview VIII with Senior Advocate SK Rungta

Written by by on Mar 22, 2017

IDAP Interview Series: Interview VIII with Senior Advocate SK Rungta

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.

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