The Confederation of Alumni for National Law Universities (CAN Foundation) realizing the devastating impact especially the financial insecurity that the novel COVID-19 pandemic had on households, has announced the Eklavya Scholars under Eklavya Scholarship 2020 on 14.10.2020. The Scholarship Award shall be remitted to the personal accounts of the Eklavya Scholars by 18.10.2020.
The Foundation under Project Eklavya, seeks to uplift deserving, but underprivileged, students by providing them with an annual scholarship support that facilitates them in attaining a well-rounded education at premier NLUs of the nation who are marred by exorbitant fees thus limiting access.
The Foundation opened its Call for Applications on August 22, 2020 and received overwhelming expression of interest from students across NLUs. Keeping in mind the exigencies that presented themselves due to the limited functioning of institutes of higher education throughout the nation, the Foundation was careful to allow for considerations in its procedure.
The Foundation had in place, a robust Two-Tier Selection Procedure, aimed at maintaining the highest levels of scrutiny and transparency along with adherence to strict eligibility criteria. Primarily, the Minimum Eligibility criterion for attaining the scholarship benefit under Project Eklavya required that the student must be enrolled in the undergraduate programme at any NLU with a minimum of 65% aggregate/average marks in the last three semesters. The criteria also required that the Annual Cumulative Family Income (of Father, Mother, unmarried brother or sister) should not exceed Rs. 8,00,000 per annum including the current financial year.
While the High-Powered Selection Committee recommended that all the 32 candidates shortlisted by the Tier 1 Scrutiny Committee be awarded financial aid, the Foundation due to the paucity of funds is unable to provide the same. However, valuing persistence above all, the Foundation is in the process of overcoming the fund crunch by raising an additional sum of Rupees 2 Lakhs to make sure that the two candidates left out also receive benefits under the ‘Excellence despite Extreme Hardships’ category.
Mr. Mrigank Prabhakar, Executive Committee Member & Head, Project Eklavya 2020 said, “No deserving student should have to face missed opportunities for inability to pay their fees. That is the vision of Eklavya.” An alumnus of NALSAR, himself, Mr. Mrigank Prabhakar actively led the whole Eklavya 2020 team to a successful conclusion.
The Foundation received 51 Applications from the Undergraduate Student Community in NLUs and thus officially began its scrutiny process in the first week of September 2020. The Tier-1 Scrutiny Committee comprising eminent young legal professionals with at least a decade of experience in the Bar was tasked with the preliminary task of analysing each application on a Merit-cum-Means basis. The Committee met virtually on several occasions and deliberated to finalize a list of candidates, keeping in consideration the Applicants’ innumerable struggles and insurmountable obstacles.
The Committee was methodical in its approach and thus shortlisted 32 candidates and went a step further by categorising them under 3 categories to ascertain the quantum of financial assistance to be given to them.
The first being the ‘Excellence despite Extreme Hardships’ category which involves scholars who have suffered gravely as a consequence of precarious financial positions. Such scholars are categorized by the loss of a parent(s) or in the event that parent(s) are undergoing some serious medical treatments or financial hardships. These Candidates have managed their education till now by taking out loans or have tapped in to limited family savings. Such circumstances have thus put them at high risk of a financial crisis but the Scholars have performed exceptionally well for themselves despite such impediments.
The next category is cases of ‘Excellence despite Hardships’ which consists of scholars who have insufficient family income to sustain their education or are facing some other impediment in the seamless pursuit of their education. These are also characterised by the existence of other dependents such as siblings, who also require support for their education.
The final category is aimed at ‘Rewarding Excellence despite Difficulties’. The candidates shortlisted under this category are recipients of the “Late Prof. (Dr.) Shamnad Basheer Memorial Award For Excellence” which includes a combination of an academic award as well as financial support and has been constituted to honour his legacy and vision. The Candidates under this category are shortlisted to encourage and reward their stellar academic record and performance despite financial difficulties in their families. The assistance is to be extended to them as a Token of Encouragement for their resilience in the face of adversity.
The Recommendations and Observations of the Tier-1 Scrutiny Committee were further deliberated upon by the 3-Membered High-Powered Selection Committee headed by Mr. Justice (Retd.) Kurian Joseph.
The High-Powered Selection Committee recommended that the Foundation undertake a ‘mentorship scheme’ to all Eklavya scholars to make the transition from a student to a profession one of ease and knowledge.
The CAN Foundation also received immense support from the SCC-EBC Group in a number of their endeavours. In their legal awareness exercises, the Group has lent their support as ‘Knowledge Partner’. Further, the SCC – EBC Group, known for their pristine publishing standards and stellar legal research tools have pledged their support to the Eklavya Scholars selected under the “Rewarding Excellence” category. The Group will provide access to books worth 90, 000 /- approximately to the concerned 3 students.
More details about Project Eklavya can be on their official website –www.canfoundation.in.