Friday, September 27, 2013

Law School Untimely Deaths - Life is So Silly Short

मौत तू एक कविता है,
मुझसे एक कविता का वादा है मिलेगी मुझको

डूबती नब्ज़ों में जब दर्द को नींद आने लगे
ज़र्द सा चेहरा लिये जब चांद उफक तक पहुचे
दिन अभी पानी में हो, रात किनारे के करीब
ना अंधेरा ना उजाला हो, ना अभी रात ना दिन
जिस्म जब ख़त्म हो और रूह को जब साँस आऐ 

मुझसे एक कविता का वादा है मिलेगी मुझको

Death you are a poem.. 
A poem has made pact with me that I shall meet her .

When drowning pulse will bring on painful sleep 
When Moon carrying her yellow face will reach horizon 
When days still in water and night close to shore 
There is not yet darkness, neither light, not night not day 
When body is gone and soul still breaths. 

A poem has made pact with me that I shall meet her .. 
These epic words of Gulzar from the movie Anand, come to my mind, as I sit 'comfortably numb' at this time in the college library, ya that's right comfortable but numb. Thoughts and ideas, tasks and accomplishments in life are something which are unending in nature. But on somedays, they also take a backseat and allow you to ponder upon your own self and your life. They give you a break to just allow you and ensure that you don't get unluckily exhausted, way before the finish line. Today is one such day. I call it unluckily exhausted and extinct as I mourn the death of two fellow law schoolites like me. The post is just an attempt to drive the grief away and pay a silent tribute. 

They were not at all related to me. I have hardly had any interaction with them. Before things could take a right turn and relationships could deepen further, both of them shockingly said us goodbye as they left for their heavenly abode. One of them was my junior in college in the first semester. He newly enrolled in the same college committee of which I was also a member. I had received an informal word that all first years including him were the most enthusiastic to work for it. The message indeed was inspiring and exciting to have such a nice fresh lot. But I could never see his face even once. While performing the annual rituals and ceremonies of his deceased father like every year at a river bank, one would have never wanted death be the medium to cut short the delay between the meeting of the father and the son. Narmada swallowed him. The other was the one of the coordinators of the moot which I went for in the last semester. We used to call her quite often to enquire about all those petty things, registration, submissions, deadlines extensions etc. The moot happened. She was busy organizing. We mooted hastily and came back without meeting even once. Ten days ago, I got the news that she died of dengue. Both of them left me with short memories, so short and faded that even though I write this post, all I can do is to contemplate, how meeting them and working with them, sharing commonalities with them would have been like and so on. The purpose here is not to reveal further the reason for the mysterious happenings. 

All it is, that we learn and realize that life is too short to make regrets or all you would be left with are death bed confessions. Often, it happens that we spend days, months and sometimes years together in thinking about 'what could have been' instead of what is happening. But as Robert Frost had put it very rightly more than a hundred years back, 

"In three words, I can sum up everything I have learned about life: It goes on." 

And indeed it does. Even John Lenon says, "Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans". As far as the narrower context of our law school lives is concerned, life will indeed go on. Even if it does not, amidst endless breakups and lost friendships, we and no one else shall have the individual responsibility to carry it forward. That is what the rule of nature says, something which is far more pious and stringent than the rule of law. Sometimes, these friendship-losses occur due to unavoidable or avoidable communication gaps, sometimes due to our hesitation to interact with strangers, even though all of them are our batchmates, and sometimes we just put too much trust into ourselves that we are as good as a one man army and stop caring about the world at large. Such a approach is good once in a while, but when such untimely losses of permanent nature happen, they make us realize how temporary everything is around us, including the very existence of our ownselves. The person of whom we always talk ill-will about is equally temporary. The person of whose success we are jealous off is temporary too. The recurring memories of the one sided love which just could not become mutual as the other person found someone better than us, is temporary too. And then accordingly, so should be our jealousy and hatred related to all these things, just temporary and not something which keeps our mind occupied ever and forever. Love will happen at the right time. Success and fame will come. Popularity will follow. But it is only when we are doing our job in the utmost best possible manner. That is when things and life will start making altogether great sense. 

All we have in our hand is this day, that is today. We cannot predict the future and we cannot change the past, all we have is this moment and we must treat it as our last.  

This post is not to make someone cry or suffer from emotional dogmas or create a sentimental aura but comes out of a result of mixed, vague and uncontrolled emotions. It comes out of the helplessness one feels when somethings which are just not in our control happen to leave us shell shocked, not just superficially but very properly deep down the heart. I'll end it with these words from the same movie,

Zindagi aur maut upar wale ke haath hain jahapanah,
use naa aap badal sakte hain na main,
Hum sab toh rang-manch kee katputliya hain,
jinki dor uparwale ki ungliyon mein bandhi hain
Kab kaun kaise uthega, koi nahi bata sakta

P.S.: The author can be reached here, here and here.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Law School Regionalism - A Broader Perspective

India is all set to turn sixty six in just a few days from now. As we brace ourselves to touch upon the mid-way of the decade, its time to rewind a bit and ask ourselves as to whether will we be certainly a developed nation by 2020, a dream once shown to us by the Missile Man of India.

But not by looking at its growth in GDP, or proper implementation of its five years plans etc. Just as charity begins at home, so does unity. I study in a National Law University and so do many of you in some or the other national institute of the country. During the first year, the lobbying and first-instance inclination of people coming from the same linguistic, communal or regional background was obvious and legitimate. Things tend to go hazy when a small chunk of such people in every batch are not able to get over this fact even after considerable number of days in college. Frankly speaking, I never knew the deep detailed specifications of my caste, sub-caste, origin etc. until I reached college. I came across people with awesome versatility levels. I was happy that people coming from some of the remotest areas of different Indian states interacted and intermingled like old pals. But things get bad when cities, languages, style statement, flamboyance levels, sometimes former schools etc. become the basis for group formation and classification. Subsequent consequences involve cheap acts of favouritism, hoarding of information of things like a new seminar/conference call opportunities, class notes circulation etc. Things get further annoying when dinning discussions become a limited party affair due to language and related constraints. Often this happens unavoidingly, but then very often deliberately as well. Even the unnecessary idea of advocating and debating as to how one state/city of India is better than the other, would make us fall into the category of mundane species rather than so-in-demand glocal citizen of today. Every state and its citizens are prosperous and rich in their own sense altogether.

The purpose here is not to name any states, regions, cities or communities. Rather, it is to highlight these problems which  tend to rip batch unity apart, rather never allow its birth only to take place. The batch gets scattered into herds of sheep rather than a pride of lions. All of these college going lads of today shall be our future of tomorrow.

Sixty six years back, linguistic division of states was done to facilitate administration, law and order etc. National Institutes were set up with the idea to bring in together the most creative and diversified minds of the country who shall live day and night together, become easy solutions to the problems of each others' personal and professional lives, to ultimate become the leaders of tomorrow.

But what is happening in reality is sometimes very perturbing. It does not come to limelight simply because it happens in form of small pockets and closed rooms. These are just small steps which ultimately lead to young minds of today becoming narrow minded politicians of tomorrow. It is only these unwanted persisting mentalities which divide people on the basis of region, then caste, and ultimately the titanic of all, religion. College is the right time curb and cure all such mentalities. One can be an equally efficient seller of his ideas if he thinks in the broader perspective as an Indian, rather than a Punjabi, Bihari, Tamilian, Marwari, Bengali, Kannadiga, Mallu, Oriya etc.

"The focus should be on the first names and not on the surnames. The objective should not be to trace the quota-based history but to shape a togetherness based future. "

Birds of the same feather do flock together, but the real flocking lies in removing one from your cap and adding it to someone else's. Gone are those days when we were 562 princely states. We are on the verge of becoming a global superpower. The problem of Kashmir has always been an uphill task for India to handle. It is already there since birth as a reflection of the persisting religious divide inspite of our tall claims of Unity in Diversity. We as lawyers need to come along together and work as social engineers and ensure that we do not allow another Telangana to happen. Otherwise the day is not far away, when we all shall unknowingly and convincingly prove what Winston Churchill had one said about India, "If we ever left india it will be run by the goons". Just as charity begins at home, so does unity and we need such unified twenty-some Indians more than any moment in history now.

The inspiration for the post comes from mixed emotions generated by today being Eid, the Independence Day celebrations lined up next week, the recent Telengana development and the movies Black Friday and Bombay watched last night.

P.S.: The author can be reached here, here. Any resemblance of this post to any real persons, institutions, instances etc. is purely coincidental.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Law School Procrastination

I sit down on this Sunday evening to once again update my blog after almost a gap of more than a month. Its good to write as it gives one a medium to empty out the endless uncontrollable thoughts going in the mind. Although, its been a more than a forty eight hours break since I attended the last class on Friday as Saturdays and Sundays are off for us. But frankly speaking, it feels as if its just been forty minutes and not more than that. The reason being simple and precise. With the arrival of the weekend, I tend to get so overwhelmed and ambitious of completing all those tasks which I could not take up during the weekdays, which were supposed to be completed during the weekdays or which I deliberately postponed to thinking that I have those uncensored 48 hours in my hand at the end of the week. 

Unfortunately, I realize that I have ended up just exactly from where I started. The weekend journey which was supposed to be the length of a mile, just turned out to be another London Eye ride. The various small and big pending things lined up for the weekend included, reading a chapter or two for an upcoming class test on Thursday, hunting the sweeper to get my hostel room cleaned, buying the long pending stationery items and toiletries from the departmental store upstairs, completion of pending class notes and working on a high-priority research paper with an ensuing deadline. But for all these forty eight hours, I was only busy figuring out what all I needed to do instead of actually kicking the ass of my laziness and sluggish attitude by working out and completing every task on a step by step basis. Well yes, exactly, it was that simple. I just had to jot down on a piece of paper in the order of priority all the things mentioned above amongst others as well. 

The entire problem was just a result of self created vicious cycle. I ignored the Saturday morning 6 o' clock alarm thinking that this is perhaps the best time to love my bed all the more as the cool breeze was coming from the side window and there was no 8.30 class unlike the weekdays. I missed the special weekend breakfast due to the extra affection towards my bed. Finally, waking up at 2.30 in the afternoon made me realize that I was not feeling that fresh and energetic even though I had a exclusive sleep of more than 10 hours. Reality pinched and hit me really hard. The body had become used to the daily morning walk and workout, and the most deliciously rich meal of the day. Both the things could not happen today just because I procrastinated. Just as breakfasts are amazing on the weekends, lunches are equally bad and this meant I just needed to wait for the evening snacks time. I got back on my study table just to open back the book which I was scrolling (and not reading) till late night, Facebook. Both the adjacent neighbours, the Law of Taxation and Company Law sat as meek, silent and sad observers as they could do nothing but stare in shock. The staring looks did not make any difference to me and time passed away like anything, evening snacks time was finally there. On the other hand, the major part of the day had passed away without making any substantial progress whatsoever, this being penultimate year of law school. The heavy rain had prevented the washerman to come and collect clothes in the evening which were desperately required to be ready by Monday morning. Waking up early then would have made it possible to finish this task as he comes for a morning shift as well. All I had in hand as the progress for the day, was a lot of despair and degarded motivational levels. There was not any progress, be it professional or personal. These are just few of the many examples of what all happened on Saturday. 

The Sunday story was almost the same as well. After all, it is from all these petty experiences of the spoiled weekend that this post derives its inspirations. No offences, but this is not just my but many others' story for all the weekends in law school for last three years. Working and going about things by forming a to-do-list in a structured manner would certainly have been better. That would have led to at least some extent of self satisfaction and work satisfaction if not cent percent satisfaction. The situation right now is worse and nowhere matches to the ideals, goals and ambitions decided forty eight hours earlier. Last but not the least, I feel that the only fruitful thing which I have done over this weekend is writing this blog post. Let this be an inspiration to each one of us and most importantly to myself, to make the most out of the time and opportunities we get in college. Some very renowned had once said,  "If someone gave me the choice to go back in time, I will surely choose college."

To conclude, let not the fear and anxiety of doing and managing too many things at the same time, be the trigger to make our lives haphazard in nature. Rather, it should be the inspiration to trigger our lives daily. After all, the pain of discipline is far less than the pain of disappointment.

"The more you sweat in peace, the less you sweat in war"

"Life us very small and to live it fully there is just one word and that is love
Love in every aspect

Love as in loving the path you have taken

Loving each second of ur life..
Loving each dream so dearly that fulfilling it is the only choice
And the most important part is loving yourself.. "

"Don't think too much. Just act."

"Blessed is the man who is too busy to worry by day, and too sleepy to worry at night"

"Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere."

"Once you decide on your occupation... you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success... and is the key to being regarded honorably."

Wish you all a Happy Sunday night, a Sound Sunday Sleep and a Fresh Monday Morning. The author can be reached here, here. Certain more inspiration stuff is available here, here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Advocate Kumar Chokshanada Sangakkara

I don't remember clearly but I guess it was around 12 years back, when I first started watching cricket. I did not even know its official name and would ask around my friends in the evening, "Hey, lets play Bat-Ball!". The turning point was India's win in the Natwest 2002 final against England. This was followed by the 2002 Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka.

Pronouncing and deciphering the names of Sri Lankan cricketers had always been a uphill task for me. That day was no different as Jayasuria, instead of his regular partner Attapattu, came out to open with someone called Kumara Sangakkara. Yea, the first name was fine, apart from me wondering as a curious 11 years old North Indian child that it should have been at the end rather than the beginning. I was eagerly waiting for Dean Jones to start with the usual, "At the non-striker's end, we have the 22 years old ........" and so on. I was all ears but for obvious reasons, I really didn't get how to go about that last name.

But, the one thing in the introduction which amazed me like anything was that the new comer was a student of law. Cricketers for me untill then, were outstanding sportsmen who never stood anywhere near the Kalams, the Einsteins, and the Palkhivaalas. One obvious reason was the Master Blaster who led this child to believe that one had to mess up with studies if he had to be of his level.

The so called non-striker who was facing the pacy Zaheer Khan hit his very first ball away for four. Although, just three in number, they hit this Team India fan in the face like anything, but stunned my "want-to-become-a-lawyer-aspirations" like anything. It was all because of the little knowledge and understandings I had as a kid then. For me, Sanga (or Sanga Sir as we say in law schools) was turning out to be an epitome of a big shot lawyer who was an excellent cricketer as well. Before that, I had hardly come across practical examples of people both good at sports and academics simultaneously. Neither they existed in school, nor at home. I always figured in the top five of the class for the highest marks and in the bottom five in sports. 

But that day was turning out to be phenomenal. Of course, because of my limited awareness I did not foresee the possibilities that Sanga must have been college dropout, or would have just joined law to easily sneak in for a graduation degree etc etc. Well, his attitude in batting was not at all a fluke. He derived confidence from his so called academic profession. This was reflected in the new decade of the new millenium which followed and which turned out to be an era of revival and upliftment in Sri Lankan Cricket history. Sri Lanka made it to as many as four world cup finals of the ICC, Sanga being the captain in two of them.

The cameo at the Champions Trophy was followed by Sri Lanka's dream run at the 2003 World Cup next year. They could not reach beyond the semi final but Sanga again had a significant role to play, and how he shattered away and bundled the confidence of Shaun Pollock in a cheeky cum. sarcastic manner is still very much fresh in the minds of ardent cricket fans.

The first decade of the new millennium came to an end. In the meantime, the volumes and plethora of records, achievements etc. which became synonymous with his name were simply uncountable. Sangakkara won the top prize at 2012's ICC awards, in addition to the award for Test Cricketer of the Year and the People's Choice award for the second year running. Later that year he confirmed himself among batting's modern greats, by becoming the equal fastest man to 10,000 Test runs alongside Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, with the biggest Test crowd Sri Lanka had ever played for in audience, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. His blade over the years had been equally mighty as his words. 

But all this did not change the man. He was still the same. With the onset of the new decade, he became a role model for youngsters, brought with him a unique blend of experience, aggression and maturity. Inspite of all the fame and glory, he kept touching the stars with his feet always on the ground. 

He became the first Sri Lankan cricketer ever to deliver the prestigious 2011MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture. He delivered an exceptional speech touching on the history, culture and opportunties for Sri Lankan cricket along with recounting of the terrorist attack on their team bus in Pakistan.

A day later The Guardian, UK, quoted

"Sangakkara's address in the MCC's annual Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey lecture has been dubbed the most courageous speech in cricket history, and courageous speeches tend to have consequences."

""Incredible," muttered the old MCC member sitting behind me, his voice cracking in disbelief as the applause died down. Listening to him, it struck me how well Kumar Sangakkara's speech had gone down. Especially as just an hour earlier the same man had confessed that he had no idea who Sangakkara was. "Incredible, incredible," he continued. "It's incredible how long he has been talking. How long did he go on for?""

The humble and modest manner in which he related cricket to the various small and big aspects of a common man's life left an indelible mark on my memory. The success of professional life, the celebrity status etc. has not in any manner detached him from his roots. He greets and hugs victories with a broad smile, accepts defeats in whole heartedly in a very sporting manner, not to forget his speech in the presentation ceremony after his team lost to India in the 2011 World cup final. The person indeed has evolved as rare combination of both a sportsman and a spokesperson. We as law students have so much to learn from his charisma and his continuing success stories.

"It is hugely disappointing but satisfying as well in a strange sense because we understand the magnitude of what we've done to get here, we can be proud of the way we played our cricket. We tried exceptionally hard to win games, but today unfortunately we couldn't convert."

"India were a step ahead of us. Their batting is unbelievable. They probably have the best top seven in ODI cricket."
Law as a career gives you more than enough confidence and bundle of opportunities to build up and command self respect and live with dignity, gain wholesome perspective of the things which are not even related to you and your day to day activities in any sense. You become capable of managing multiple things at a time (Sanga's case is no different, it included all high priority jobs like batting at the top, wicketkeeping, captaincy and at last to be the goodwill ambassador of Sri Lankan Cricket)

The purpose of this post is not the marketing of Sanga or Sri Lankan Cricket. Its just about drawing an analogy from the life of someone who started almost like us, is still going almost like us and uses his academic skills of speaking to make the best out of his passion. The conclusion is manifold in nature. It is not at all difficult to manage your studies with your passions. Winning and losing either in courts, or be it anywhere else shall continue to happen for the rest of our lives. Its upon us how well we greet them, treat them, learn from them and then bounce back again. Times of success, glory as well as those of despair and defeat are always   momentary in nature. The amount hard work required to stay at the top is multiple times more than that required to reach there. The essence of any such journey, be it law or cricket, which is always going to so full of ups and downs lies in always remaining grounded while striving your best to touch the stars.

Above all, what always matters, whenever and wherever you speak is your content, quality and confidence, not your flamboyance, showoff, your ability to faff and your over-confidence. 

Moreover, being a helping hand, guide and leader like support to others to touch those stars will always be far more mentally satisfying rather than getting carried away by pleasures of momentary success. To be very honest, as keen follower and worshiper of Indian Cricket it was really difficult, to go so much off the track and write this post. I tried my best to look beyond and realized very well that Sanga's actions do speak louder than his words. All I can say is that, we need such kind of sportspersons and lawyers more than any moment in history now.

P.S.: The author can be reached herehere.

More about Sanga herehere. The Cowdrey lecture is herehere. A must watch World Cup 2011 post match speech by Sanga is here and its coverage is here.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Fairy Tale of my First Year- A visit to the University of Oxford

Arthur H. Sulzberger, had once said, “For eleven months and maybe about twenty days each year, we concentrate upon the shortcomings of others, but for a few days at the turn of New Year we look at our own. It is a good habit.”

The same even applied to the beginning of my second semester in law school. Law school was the place I always I wanted to be in. But unlike my other friends, the result of the first semester had not been altogether great. Although, it was just the first semester only, and there lied nine more semesters to go but unfortunately, the result brought me into a state of anxiousness and worries. I was finding myself far too distant from the control I wanted to have over my life, both personal and academic.

In this mayhem, the chilly windy mornings and the cold silent nights of the month of January were adding to my state of gloominess and despair. 

The time was to enjoy my first winter away from home but life seemed to come to a standstill. There seemed nothing to look forward to and my daily schedule just included eating, sleeping, going to college, coming back and facebooking. 

Things started changing and up came from the Almighty the most prolific gift of my life on the night just before the 62nd Republic Day of the nation. A mail dated Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 10:28 PM with the subject Oxford IP Moot 2011 lied in my inbox, of which the most breathtaking part read as follows: 

“I am delighted to inform you that you have been selected for participation in the Oral Weekend of this year’s Oxford International IP Moot Competition on 18-19 March 2011. There was a record number of entries this year, and the standard was very high indeed, so many congratulations.” 

For some nineteen years and a few more months till then, Oxford had been one such place which only lied in my dreams. A visit there was always a hidden aspiration and long due and pending. But life would change in a flash like this, was so out of my imagination. The above quoted text instilled new desires and energies inside the sad soul. The idea of the dream attaining reality was just two months away. For the next few moments, I went totally numb with shock and was just so speechless. I was reading the mail again and again to make myself realize that bed on which I was sitting was real, my laptop as well, not to forget the Chrome window which I opened to check my mail a few minutes back. 

The small, sincere, honest and consistent efforts made in the first semester in the field of mooting by me and one of my batchmates finally bore fruits. It was perhaps one of the biggest gambles of my life, the gamble here being to choose a memo elimination moot court competition over so many other national moots available. 

The choice turned out to be successful and took every single soul by shock and surprise, including the two of us. Visiting the University of Oxford, that too for representing your college in a moot court competition had always been a distant dream not only for us but for everyone, right from the first to the fifth year. 

Prior to this, the only other time when our college was represented over there was some four years back and that too by a team comprising full of seniors from the fourth and fifth year. The uniqueness of the achievement was giving us bundles of joy like anything. It was a feeling unmatchable. 

The next two months were solely spent in arranging things like the Visa for UK, which Airline to choose and which one to leave, the accommodation over there and so on. 

On the morning of 16th March 2011, we finally set our foot on the most sought after city of the world, London. It was my first ever trip abroad. The fact that it was not for a leisure purpose but for representing your alma mater in a world-wide competition made the visit even more important. 

To be very frank and coming straight to the point, achieving something over there or winning an accolade was almost next to possible. Immediately after reaching, we saw the participants’ list only to realize that we fell in the category of the youngest and the least experienced. There was only one consolation from which we derived confidence. The moot only had slots for 20 best teams around the world. We were one of those 20 to have cleared the world memo elimination round whereby our written submissions, i.e. arguments in written from both the sides were selected. 

Teams from places like the LSE, Boston University, Queensland University of Technology were all big stalwarts who were champion mooters with champion coaches. We were, as one them jokingly remarked in an informal conversation, merely debutant babies in front of them. 

We accepted all this with open arms and took our first round ouster from the moot very positively. It was indeed a new beginning as we realized that mooting was just not all about ones brilliant research and crisp writing. 

The judge expected you to know the case inside out. He expected the mooter to discuss things and not just rush with them, as is the tendency with most of the mooters in India. It was more about asserting and less of arguing. It was not about fighting with the judge to make him realize that what he thought was incorrect. Rather, it was all about sweetly convincing him that why and how exactly what the mooter conveyed was correct. 

The two finalists team, i.e. the LSE and the NUS, out of which the former emerged winners had almost the same things and arguments just like ours. There lied immense amount of patience, skill and maturity in their way of presentation and arguing. They did not make the whole atmosphere too serious or sentimental. They respectfully smiled at important junctures and were extremely courteous in court room mannerism. Small things like not showing your nervousness on your faces also made huge amount of difference. All this helped them in connecting with the judges. The mooters did not appear to the judges as aliens or enemies of justice in the courtroom. All in all, watching them moot was a learning and pleasing experience altogether. 

The three days stay at Oxford ended with the end of the moot. We visited a few historical places like the Oxford Castle, bought some souvenirs and bid adieu to the County after having our brunch with a senior from college who was pursuing her Master’s over there. 

The excitement starting doubling up as we headed our way back to London. With the intellectual exercise over, it was time to have some fun. The next three days just took our breath away. For most of the time we were busy clicking snapshots of the every small and big beautiful places and things over there. The highlights of our excursion chronologically included the London Eye, the Madam Tussads Museum, the Piccadily Circus, a ship cruise on the Thames, the Buckingham Palace including the change of guards ceremony, the Big Ben, the Westminster Abby, the Trafalgar Square and not to forget the McDonald’s on the Bank of Thames, these being just the highlights. 

All these six days, three at Oxford and three at London were perhaps the most beautiful six days of my life ever. They acted as a tool of transformation. I regained my lost self confidence. It gave me an insight as to how far the world had reached, be it in terms of technology, educational advancement and the bountiful opportunities available at large. We had both personal and professional interactions with everyone. They were experts in their respective fields from around the world. We got to know of their opinion and perception about the standard of life in a third world country, the ample opportunities available across the globe after doing your graduation in law and so on. 

The conclusions which emerged out of the experience were pluralistic in nature. One should look forward to things which make him/her happy and satisfied. It’s about giving your hundred percent to all such activities which you inherently enjoy working on and simultaneously working on the areas where you lack proficiency. In my personal case, I guess it was the activity of mooting. Since then, I have been associated with few more intra moots and national moot court competitions. Everytime I work for a moot, the amount of work satisfaction and pleasure it gives cannot be compared to anything else in the world. 

From 25th January 2011 to 17th March 2013, two years, one month and exactly twenty days have passed. I am no more that fearful and apprehensive kid which I was when I entered law school. 

The essence of your five years stay here lies in the fact that every opportunity, howsoever big or small it may appear should be welcomed with open arms and high positive spirits. It might appear to you as the most dauntless task of your life, but it’s all about starting with it as it all becomes easy after that. This is the lesson which I learnt out this small but important learning experience. 

You never know, where it might lead you. Just like in our case, with the blessings of the Almighty and good wishes of our parents, our seniors, our friends and our faculty it led us to Oxford, I hope this post inspires every single soul on earth including myself that similarly some day we’ll make it to bigger places like Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and so on. 

Life is not just all about the GPA you score at the end of every semester. A very low one would not bring it to an end and an extremely exceptional one would not give you all the happiness in life. Winning and losing are just two sides of the game. Or to end it with the words of the legendary Boris Becker, 

“I like the winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I love to play”. 

The author can be reached here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Third Year of Law School - My first Law Firm Internship - New Delhi - November 2012

The Technicalities - The Formalities - The Work - The Small & Big Things - The Lesson Learnt - The Butterflies

It was a neither that chilled, nor that breezy as Delhi was supposed to be during winters. Temperatures were not just ready to soar down, not even when the first ray of the Sun had not completely shone. Just to add to my anxiousness, it was a new day and new beginning altogether as I was swiftly completing the long walk from Rajiv Chowk Metro Station to my office. Yes, my office but only as an intern, for the first time in a Law Firm. The butterflies in my stomach were just not taking a break, the closeness to my target for the next one month was becoming inversely proportional to their activities. I do not why but I think it was a bit obvious to be nervous as in fact it was my very first law firm internship. Before this day, Law Firms for me was just all about the good and bad stories I had heard from my Seniors, Super Seniors, and Supertime Seniors. Boston Legal and Suits had of course added a lot to my imagination. 

Frankly speaking, on one hand, I was slightly early to make my debut with these work places and work culture and on the other hand, lied my forever persisting ambitions of life, to make it big, to carve a niche for myself. Considering the "Balance of Probabilities", and my inclination towards the latter I entered the office exactly on time, with the firm faith and belief that I shall joyfully sail the one month long voyage of this Intern 'Ship'.

The office size was neither extremely huge nor very compact. It was decent enough. I had heard a lot about them and going by the name and fame of the firm, I never expected it to be furnished with wooden floor or wooden walls. Rather, they believed in the idea of Simple Living & High Thinking, making their deeds count more than their words. We were provided sufficient space to work and all worked together in a separate L-shaped library cum. study area. It was equipped with a few desktops and of course, we had the option to work on our laptop as well, wi-fi/wired LAN connectivity being provided by them. The interns area was not really adjacent to where the associates sat, so we could avail our own opportunity and privacy to crack some jokes, talk about each other colleges’ and chit chat to relax and take small short breaks.
There were like some twenty people working, out of which two were partners, one Principal Associate, 3-4 Senior Associates and some 8-10 Associates.
The majority of them interning were 4th year students. But they did prefer taking 2nd and 3rd year and even LL.M. students as well even through normal application process.

There was no seniority based discrimination as such but a lot often did/didn't depend on which college you belonged to at the time of applying. Interning in the 1st year over here would have never made sense altogether. The office where I worked had major focus on the practice related to Corporate law including Mergers, Acquisitions and Takeovers and IPR and not Taxation, something for which the firm is very well known.

The main tasks in this office were basically working on such propositions/research questions allotted to us by the Associates on which either the question of law was either disputed or undefined or was utterly confusing and unclear. We then had to look into all such statutes/cases/articles (Indian and sometimes foreign) where the thing in question found mention. Most of these research areas/questions were related to the Companies Act, the FERA & the FEMA, SEBI Takeover Guidelines, the RBI Master Circulars, the Copyright Act, Patents Act, Competition Act, and sometimes the Civil Laws like CPC etc, Delhi Stamp Act etc.

I interned for an exact period of 4 weeks. They even took interns for 3 weeks but again it depended, as there was no assurance on that part. Moreover, there was very little to gain if one interned for just three weeks. Rather, one would have neither made substantial contribution to the organization nor would have gained anything.

The working days were from Monday to Saturday except that 2nd and 4th Saturdays alongwith all Sundays were off. We were never required to work on those two Saturdays and the Sundays unless there was an extremely grave emergency and we ourselves were so willing to forego this one day off. Sometimes, it depended on the concerned Associate as well.

The official timings were from 9:45 to 19:00 Hours. The interns were expected to be there latest by 10:15 which otherwise created a bad impression, as they did keep a note of our punctuality. Normally, the working hours would extend by an hour or so but in one out of twenty times, I  stayed beyond 20:30 Hours as well.

The first day was basically spent in completing introduction forms, confidentiality contracts, getting laptop settings synchronized with the available wi-fi connection, talking to co-interns and making myself accustomed to the place, environment. Above all, on the first or the second day as per availability, I just like all other interns, had a compulsory interaction with the Principal Associate who alloted me a project/presentation/research paper to be made/submitted at the end of my internship on a current burning issue, something on which even the associates were working day in and day out.

This indeed served a dual purpose. The more was the amount of effort the interns put in their respective projects, the more the firm gained from us and lastly, it helped honing our own personal skills as well. Each of us separately worked and made submission on different critical issues on which we had never worked on because we thought we were not qualified/confident/able enough for that, which indeed led to a superb feeling of self accomplishment and achievement once we were through with it.
Coming back to the daily chores, often, we did a simple case law based research as well which is a very basic part of every small and big internship, whereby the Associate asked us to find an apex Court authority either in favour/against of a very small/easy proposition. But then he still required a case law on it to suffice his purpose. That is where the real researcher out of you should come out.

Many people did well in making a research note on the former as they supported it with very well written scholarly articles but suddenly stumbled when they were asked to do a case law based research. Every person over there had his/her own style of working and requirements to be fulfilled and we adapted ourselves accordingly for that, which indeed was not a daunting task at all.

Our response to all those queries/questions were in the form of small write ups of 3-5 pages including everything like the current position of law, what the commentaries said about it, what the courts had ruled , what the judges opined and and lastly our own viewpoint, suggestions and conclusion.

Perhaps, the work environment and the people was the biggest USP of the internship. The friendly way in which the interns were dealt with was just so commendable. The atmosphere was extremely healthy, congenial and conducive which created zeal to work in every intern. There was no categorization of ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ associates. Everyone was equally approachable and one was free to revert through mail/intercom/personally in case of any query/confusion. There were no hierarchical formalities. There was not any kind of fooling around or people remaining absent for days and days together.

The timings were really suitable as well. There was no physical drainout of energy due to work. In fact, the Metro journey was more exhausting than the office work.

Lastly, the good work done was duly applauded and appreciated on spot. The work done in a wrong/inefficient manner was constructively (sometimes heavily) criticized with the expected changes/outcomes being notified immediately. We were always treated as a PARTNER IN EQUALITY and not someone who was small/big or above or below few people.

The project/presentation allotted on the very first day formed an integral part of the internship experience. We worked on it on a side lined manner basis either on the weekends at home or whatever time we were left with after reaching home. Any opportunity of doing work for associates in lieu of completing the project was not supposed to be missed because those were just short term assignments and the really learning came from there only. On the other hand, the project/presentation/paper had to be impressive enough, speaking for itself.

The work culture did not tolerate any act of smartness or flamboyance and demanded utmost amount of decency and sincerity, etiquettes, and specially clean language. One's personality and body language was important so as to give out positive vibes that we were extremely willing to work instead of remaining laidback and lazy.

The 10 minutes journey from Rajeev Chowk to the office was so full of places like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Dominos, CCD etc etc. But come what may, one should not miss an opportunity to treat himself/herself at Sarvana Bhawan which serves amazingly delicious South Indian Food. Out of all the names mentioned, it is the closest to office. You would at least have to wait for minimum of 20 minutes or so before you get a vacant table, but then the food and service makes you forget all the tiredness finally. The area in and around CP reminds you of the ancient and awesome British architecture, and vaguely the streets of Piccadily Circus in London as well.

The internship was my first law firm internship and was a very good opportunity to get an insight as to what the culture of Corporate Law Firms is all about. It was indeed no rocket science. The only difference was that, in college we work for the sake of gaining marks. But here it was an entirely different professional world, there was pressure both of work and of deadlines, as well as competition from other same tier law firms as well. To be very true, I never really felt it as I was just an intern but got words of genuine appreciation and a feel of accomplishment while substantially helping in reducing it to contribute to the growth of the firm as a whole.

On the last day of the internship, I received the much awaited certificate which had a special mention of my effort regarding my month long project presentation. But, to my utter surprise, it even had a mention of my attendance record at the end of it including the three leaves which I took without any reason whatsoever. I was a bit disappointed but then was simultaneously joyful to see the first ever paycheque in my name.

The last few hours were all about exchanging hugs, best wishes, greetings, contact ids etc. It was in fact the same day, on which Ricky Ponting had hung his boots forever. Somehow, within myself also, I felt as if something had come to an end very untimely, an end of an era, an end to the daily eight-to-eight schedule which I don't know why I had surprisingly started enjoying over all these four weeks, which I never wanted to end, be it because of the friends I made over there or because of things like, that it made me a changed and open minded man altogether. But just as all good things must come to an end, so did my internship. I walked out for the one last time with pride, had a last minute-long look at the office building, wondering that someday I would come back here again to work with the same zeal. Thanking the Almighty, I traced back my path to the escalator of the Rajeev Chowk Metro Station, from where it had all started, but without a single butterfly this time.