Empowering Underprivileged Communities Through Legal Education
Mahatma Gandhi, B.R. Ambedkar and Nelson Mandela. What did they all have in common? They were all trained lawyers who leveraged the law to revolutionalise society and make it more equitable.
Many such Gandhis and Ambedkars are waiting to be discovered..in various nooks and corners of India, particularly in the marginalised communities. Our mission is to find them and then groom them to become exceptional lawyers and community leaders.
In this way, we hope to break the growing elitism in top law schools and in the legal profession, and build a more inclusive India, where we truly empower the underprivileged… by creating capacity from within.
Who we are
IDIA started out as a student run movement in 2010. Today, IDIA Charitable Trust is a registered trust, comprising the following trustees: Justice Ruma Pal (a former Supreme Court judge); Prof. (Dr.) M.P. Singh (a leading legal scholar); and Mr. Shishira Rudrappa (Director, Spire Capital).
It was started by late Prof. (Dr.) Shamnad Basheer, the founder and the brain behind IDIA. Our operations team comprises an Executive Vice President and a team of Directors; and a strong network of more than 600 student volunteers across 23 different states of India. We are also guided by a strong body of advisors and partners, comprising leading names from the legal profession, academia, industry, civil society and government.
What we do
IDIA runs on the backbone of its 500+ student volunteers, drawn from leading law universities across India. These student volunteers travel across the length and breadth of India (from the Sunderbans in West Bengal to Baramulla in Jammu & Kashmir) to identify and sensitise underprivileged students to the power of the law, and the diverse range of career options that await them.
Interested students are screened through a basic aptitude test (carefully designed to test logical reasoning and critical thinking abilities). They are then put through a rigorous training schedule for 2 years, including classroom coaching from India’s leading law entrance (Common Law Admission Test or CLAT) coaching centres and trainers.
Once an IDIA trainee is admitted into a law school, IDIA arranges for scholarships to support their education.
IDIA’s job does not end with merely facilitating law school admissions for underprivileged children. Rather, the ultimate goal is to produce leading lawyers and community advocates who are “creative, holistic, altruistic and maverick problem solvers” (CHAMPS). To this end, IDIA has conceptualised a rigorous training and mentorship programme to help each IDIA Scholar to blossom to their fullest potential.
We’ve had some modest success over the years. While it is impossible to reduce our transformative work into mere numbers, here are some of the “data driven” highlights: