Heading out to New Horizon School
Mathura Road in Delhi is a living testament to the city’s famed architectural history. Sprawling Humayun’s Tomb – a World Heritage site, and several tombs including that of noblemen, an iconic poet and a compassionate Sufi saint are lined along its stretch. As a result, the road itself is an easily recognisable landmark in Central Delhi. Ironically though, reaching any address on Mathura Road other than these colossal marks is quite a task; be assured that your average GPS will fail you. For neither man nor machine will readily fathom that a modern utility building, say a school, can be situated in such proximity to one of these giant monuments!
New Horizon School, an unaided co-ed minority institution, boasts of such a location. IDIA’s core belief in making law schools accessible to marginalised and inadequately represented groups took IDIA directors – Swati Agrawal, Vidushi Kothari and Svetlana Correya to these by-lanes. They were excited at the prospects of talking to girls and boys of this minority school about the possibility of considering law as an empowered career option.
An exciting Sensitisation Workshop
The Sensitisation was organised through the help of Mr. Kamal Faruqui, former Chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission and Founder Member of the said school. On 6th April, we spent more than two hours sensitising 80 students of classes 9th and 12th. In his introductory address, Mr. Faruqui noted the need for using law as a tool for constructive social change. His address was important for setting the tone for us to address a community that is generally underrepresented in the vital legal profession, even while it faces many challenges that it can address using legal resources. A better education, the knowledge of one’s rights and the capacity to set right the wrongs of discrimination, social and religious prejudices and illiteracy are important steps towards equality and dignity in life.
Following Mr. Faruqui’s introductory note, Swati introduced the IDIA team to the students and gave a brief overview of the purpose of ourvisit. A couple of questions were thrown open to the students in order to break the ice and encourage their participation. After the initial hesitation, the students opened up about their aspirations after finishing their school education, and their understanding and perception of law. They unanimously agreed that they had never thought of picking up a legal career. While many of them were sure of studying engineering, one particular girl student was keen at pursuing psychology. Clearly legal studies was nowhere on their mind!
During the session, we spoke to them about what law is, what lawyers do and the impact that the use of law can have on a society. As the session proceeded, interesting insights came from the students on their understanding of the Constitution, possible areas of interaction between law and society, and changes that they would like to bring about in the society – right from infrastructure to general safety of the citizens. Girls were particularly concerned about rising crimes against the women in the city. It was heartening to see students correlating between law and social change.
The introductory session was followed by screening of the short video – “IDIA CHAMPS”, which shows the journeys of the IDIA scholars – Karthika and Yogendra, who are currently pursuing law from two prestigious law universities. The video put the vision of IDIA into perspective, and ignited a passion among students to give back to the community through studying law.
Vidushi spoke about the assistance given by IDIA to its Scholars and Trainees, including mentorship, financial support and training, right from when they start preparing for law entrance examinations till after their admission in law colleges. We also informed them about the particulars of law entrance examinations, and about the thrilling educational environment at law colleges.
Svetlana also pitched in to talk on the usefulness of law in the area of human rights, corporate matters, environmental concerns, innovation and designs among others. This was done with the intention of letting students know that law is very much an interdisciplinary subject and could (and perhaps, should?) be pursued by students with varied background interest. In the end, after screening another short video by IDIA on its role and purpose, questions were taken from the students.
After the workshop, we met the principal of New Horizon School, Mrs Sulekha Mehra, who was keen to know about the organisation, and took feedback from the students. Wrapping up their successful workshop, IDIA team walked out of the school into the blistering afternoon April sun, scrambling for shade under giant sandstone bricks of the past, looking out into a future of hope and change.
Students get interested in law after taking the IDIA National Aptitude Test
IDIA team returned on 29th April to conduct the IDIA National Aptitude Test (INAT), a specialised test for selecting IDIA trainees from diverse backgrounds, who are trained by IDIA for various law entrance examinations. Swati, Svetlana and Vidushi travelled from different parts of the city to arrive at the New Horizon School at 9 a.m. Around 40 students studying in 12th class from different streams appeared for the exam. NLS alumni Rajbhushan Shinde also joined towards the end.
The teams started by giving a brief introduction about the purpose of the test. A practice test was conducted to familiarise the students to the pattern and type of questions in the aptitude test. The directors asked the students who were able to solve the questions to demonstrate the solutions to others. We supplemented their answers to explain the rationale behind the solutions to the questions in the practice paper. This is an important exercise that helps the students learn to solve the analytical questions in the aptitude paper. After a brief recess, INAT was conducted for the students. The students responded well to the tests. The legal reasoning questions especially sparked their interest in legal studies and legal education.
IDIA’s mission is to reach more and more communities to ensure greater availability of legal resources, and for a more diverse legal profession. We are thrilled to have this opportunity, and are always looking for more.
If you know any other institutions, schools and communities that you think IDIA should reach out to for conducting Sensitisations, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Svetlana Correya, Director, IDIA