In conversation with Eklavya Scholars from MNLU Nagpur

In this interview, Ayushi Pandit, Bharat Saini, Medha Dwivedi, Ravi Sharma, Vaibhav Vidhayansh and Manav Sharma talk about their journey to Eklavya Scholarship. They have been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Aniket Pandey who is currently pursuing law from MNLU Nagpur. 

  1. As a student, how do you bring a balance to your academics as well as non-academics?

Ayushi Pandit: One’s journey at the law school must be a period of immense growth, both in professional and personal quarters. Hence, it is very crucial to develop a holistic profile. Something that I was very clear on from my first day here in law school was that academics comes first. Publication of research in prestigious journals is the icing on the cake where a good aggregate CGPA is the bread of the cake itself. Being organised is the most important ingredient for holistic development. A proper (reasonable) schedule with what needs to be done and when it needs to be finished is something I recommend very strongly. I would like to emphasise on being picky while choosing your non-academic activities. You are not compelled to join every club or organisation associated with law, it will end up in a big drain on your time and, likely, you would not be interested in most of them. So, pick them wisely according to their relevance to your interests and plans. I also recommend taking a break – really. Overworking yourself for long periods is as bad as being too lazy.

Also, at the end of the day – If you really want to do something, you will make time for it.

Bharat Saini: Since I joined law school with the sole intention to join Indian Judiciary after my graduation, I hardly participated in non-academic activities. I am more focused towards my academics, therefore I gave my time during my law school to books, reading landmarks judicial pronouncements and interning with Hon’ble Judges of Supreme Court and High Court to understand how judiciary in our legal system work. When it comes to balance between academics and non-academics, it depends on individual’s caliber to manage both simultaneously during law school. I participated in 1st RGNUL Sports and Entertainment Law National Mediation Competition, 2019.

Medha Dwivedi: I am a firm believer of the fact that “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. It is quite obvious that as a law student, life is quite “academically” busy, but over the last four years, I have learnt how to manage my time. While a greater portion of my time goes to my studies, I always make it a point to spend some time with my friends and in some activities which lighten my mind.

Secondly, being in a law school is a lot of fun as we have lot of competitions to take part in, I personally have taken part in a few moot court competitions and to be frank, while traditionalists may term it as an academic activity, almost every law student knows that it is more than just academic. Thus, in my opinion, it is really difficult to demarcate between academic and non-academic activities, so my answer on how I balance between academic and non-academic activities is that I focus on both consistently and with no stress.

Ravi Sharma: I have participated in various competitions during my time at law school but I think academics is very important. I have always tried to do well in my exam and the main thing that helped me a lot was my friends who taught me and cleared my doubts. I also try to read about the subjects of the upcoming semester during the break.

Vaibhav Vidhyansh: I rely on a well-demarcated schedule to ensure that I do not overdo non-academic activities, at the cost of academics. Avoiding pessimism and procrastination and having a conscious understanding of the priorities in the life helps me find the right balance.

Manav Sharma: As we all know, once we enter law school, along with academics, moots, publication and other activities, there was very limited time to devote to any other non-academic activities. But, among other things, the most important skill one should cultivate is time management. Although academics are important, I would not be myself if I was not involved in the co-curricular discipline. We all must learn to give significance to how we spend the time we have to grow physically and mentally. Law school can be all-consuming, so balance is critical to stay healthy and avoiding burnout. To balance academics and non-academics, I make sure to plan for the forthcoming week, which I prepared during the weekend. I also utilised the weekend to revise and compete all the academics workload, which clears the stress and the workload that heaps up during weekdays and gives me time to do other things. I also use the calendar to set reminders for avoiding or missing any important deadlines. However, sometimes it becomes quite difficult to follow and remain stick to such plans.

  1. How did you choose this field as your career?

Ayushi Pandit: The world of law had caught my interest from a very early age; I grew up listening to fascinating yet intellectual arguments that happen inside the four walls of courtrooms. It was not a well-chalked plan at the time. However, somewhere along the years, this childhood fascination planted itself firmly in my mind in part, because I love reading and being a good reader is so essential to make a good lawyer. Also, I believe I have good oratory skills, as reflected by my achievements in debate competitions during school days. After substantial research and consultations, I realised that a career in Law is intellectually challenging, financially rewarding and personally fulfilling and I still stand strong by my words. It also provides me with courage and support on which I can speak up for the rights of others and my own.

Bharat Saini: My elder brothers Mr Krishna Saini and Mr Manoj Saini are lawyers. They encouraged me to join the legal profession and motivated me to prepare for Common Law Admission Test (CLAT). It was their encouragement which inspired me to join the legal profession.

Medha Dwivedi: I have always known what I wanted to do with my life. For as long as I could remember, I have always had my career vision in mind which is to one day being able to become a judicial magistrate. To reach my goals, I realised that I must pursue my education in the field of law. Hence, I chose the law field.

Ravi Sharma: During my school days, I was very interested in social sciences and had a desire to do something which has a relation with the society at large. I was fortunate to have good mentors who guided me to take up law as my career. After studying jurisprudence at the university, I can now say that I belong to the sociological school of law and truly believe what Prof Roscoe Pound said: “Law is social engineering”. I am happy that I made the right choice.

Vaibhav Vidhyansh: Law was never the first choice. I chose law as a career only because I could not get admission in any of the IITs. Nonetheless, I have enjoyed every bit of the curriculum in the last four years to an extent that it has led me to believe that choosing law was one of the wisest decisions I have ever made. Hopefully, I will enjoy practicing too.

Manav Sharma: Choosing law as a career was never an option as there was no member in my family with any legal background. I did not know exactly what I wanted to do. However, I was sure that I would not choose the engineering and medical profession because I always tried to avoid mathematics. From the very beginning and by my nature, I was quite argumentative and I also like to indulge in debates, but the law was not my first choice. After completing my higher secondary education, I started exploring other alternate career options. As a first-generation law student, I lacked guidance on the law school entrance test and other related aspects. One of my friends suggested me to take Common Law Admission Test (CLAT). Initially, I was not keen on pursuing law since I do not have good command over the English language. After that, I began doing some research about this exam and finally decided to prepare and sit for CLAT.

While preparing for the CLAT, I came across a lot of questions that made me understand that a career in law is something that fits into the broader area where I wanted to work.

  1. What drives and motivates you? Do you have specific aspirations after graduation or is there anyone you look upto?  

Ayushi Pandit: I believe that lasting motivation is driven, in large part, by your purpose. When you find what it is that makes you come alive inside, motivation becomes a walk in the park. My purpose in life is self-mastery, if I may say so — not an end goal but a process of becoming. In simpler words, my life’s path is motivated by the opportunity to be the best version of myself. Growth always requires some level of risk because it asks that you step outside of your comfort zone. I know how scary this can be, but I promise that you will never fail when you commit to self-mastery. When you master your mind, you master every area of your life. If you are yet to find your purpose, do not stop looking because it is looking for you, too.

To talk about my future aspirations, I am currently in the penultimate year of the course, a juncture where we have a lot of things in mind and a lot of options to explore. Based on my internship experiences and proper assessment of future perspectives of each branch in law, I intend to commence my professional journey with an organisation specialising in corporate law. I am confident that it will turn out to be an intellectually uplifting experience. Post agglomeration of substantial experience, I intend to experience and pursue the knowledge of leading universities across the world.

Bharat Saini: I believe that as a lawyer/Judge, one can bring change in the society. Hon’ble Mr Justice Shri V.R. Krishna Iyer and Hon’ble Mr Justice Shri P.N. Bhagwati are two personalities who motivated me to pursue my career in judiciary.

Medha Dwivedi: As I have already mentioned above, I want to become a judicial magistrate and so naturally, what drives and motivates is, my will to accomplish my goal.

I have never formally looked up to someone, however, during one of my internships with a District Court Judge my motivation towards my goal increased as I wanted to emulate the same personality.

Ravi Sharma: Law is one of the most dynamic professions and it is the only one which impacts human life at various point of time. The ever-changing society has a deep impact upon the law-making and it requires the law students to be upon on our toes to learn new things and this motivates me a lot. After graduation, I want to pursue my Masters in Law.

Vaibhav Vidhyansh: I have had the privilege of reading about and working with some of the very successful people in our field who unconditionally love the work they do; their job-satisfaction and respect that they command acts as the greatest motivation for me. It acts as a constant reminder of the result of hard work.

Charity begins at home and so does inspiration! Prof Shirish Deshpande will remain a life-long inspiration. Sudha Bhardwaj and Harrsh S Poddar are some of the people who have immensely inspired me.

Manav Sharma: I believe that law is present in every aspect of life. It is not just about rules and regulations. It is also about rights, justice and the understanding of human behaviour and society. I firmly believe that law is an effective instrument of bringing social change and can be used both as a shield or a sword and this is one of the most crucial aspects of the law that drives and motivates me. As soon as I entered law school, I came to read about the judgments and writings of Hon’ble Mr Justice DY Chandrachud and he is the one personality to whom I look up to and which motivates me to pursue a career in the judiciary. Until the initial stages of my law school, I was unsure about my area of interest, but now I am fully convinced that I want to pursue my career in the judiciary.

  1. Tell us what about you, do you think, makes you stand out from other students?

Ayushi Pandit: The segregation of my candidature from other competitors can be attributed to three traits: individuality, love for learning and passion. Being a person who possesses the strong will and courage to make decisions, being the original version at all instances of life, and a person who celebrates her strengths and acknowledges her weaknesses is how I define individuality. When passion is applied to intellectual pursuits, it is best described as a love of learning. I have never been a grade grubber rather a person who has been excited about the boundless opportunities to learn. I like waking up to new challenges every day.

Medha Dwivedi: I am from a small city in Madhya Pradesh but unlike the general opinion about small city dwellers, I am a rather outgoing person. While people may always have a plan B, I do not mull over the question of “what if I’m not successful”. I just give my best in the present and let the future worry for itself.

Bharat Saini: I do not think anything makes me stand out from other students. I believe every student has his own strength and weakness and in that sense, every student stands out from other students.

Ravi Sharma: This is a tough question to answer. I do not think one can claim to be extremely good in this profession. I constantly try to learn new things from my professors and peer group which helps me a lot. I have a tendency to plan everything in advance – all the things that I am going to do in a semester including my co-curricular, internships and that changes everything.

Vaibhav Vidhyansh: To be frank, I do not know what makes me stand apart from others. What makes me similar to thousands of other students is the commitment to academic integrity and perseverance, perseverance above all.

Manav Sharma: Well I believe that every person is different in some way or the other, but we do not need to find ways to stand out in the crowd or be unique. However, in my opinion, you stand out from the crowd when you do not care about being labelled as different, when you are comfortable in your skin and character, when you embrace your differences. I believe that often the ones who do not care about impressing others and conforming to the standards of others stand out the most strongly.

  1. How do you overcome failures and get back on your feet after a bad day?  

Ayushi Pandit: The devotion and tenacity towards my career have taught me some most important lessons of life. When faced with disappointment, I understood that with hard work, you are certain to improve, enabling you to further reach your goals in life.  I have realised that an achievement is backed by a lot of failures. During the process, the most important aspect for us to realise is that no one is going to lend a hand to help you get up but a possibility is there that you might get a punch in lieu of a helping hand, so it is important to be careful of such hands. My way of tackling failures starts with accepting that I failed but counterattack with it by telling myself that “Anyone who wants to do things of value in life will fail”. Trust me it works like wonder. The next thing I do is sit down and work out a strategy on how can I adjust my course to avoid this trap/making the same mistake and likely do better next time? But is it enough? No. The real deal comes in the execution. Therefore, I always take an action on that plan right away after I have drawn it up rather than procrastinating it with the excuse of “new day new goals”.

Medha Dwivedi: Whenever I face failures, though, at first it upsets me a lot, I always take note of what went wrong and try to improve upon those areas. Also, my parents and friends are very supportive, who are always there for me, for both my good and bad days.

Ravi Sharma: I usually try to take some time off from my daily chores and spend some quality time with friends and family. I then analyse the mistakes which I have made while performing the task and focus my energy on doing my upcoming activities.

Vaibhav Vidhyansh: Ups and downs are part and parcel of the life and I think at this stage of our lives, so-called failures are not actually failures, I treat them as good and bad experiences.

Manav Sharma: In my view, failure is an important part of everyone’s life, and sometimes, failure and loss can be life-altering. Many people have the default position to downplay his/her weakness, but I believe that those who find growth in failure begin by simply admitting its existence in their lives. In my view, I always learn and analyse from my experiences. Most importantly, in all the failures, I consistently remember all the things that went right. According to me, once a person accepts its failure then it is important to decide what you will do next as you cannot change it, so you may as well stop worrying about it. During my CLAT preparations, my marks, particularly in English in the Mock Tests, were very low and I was very upset as English is one of the core subjects in the examination pattern of CLAT. After that, I started devoting time to clear my basics in English and developed a habit of reading newspapers daily, which consequently enhance both my English and General Knowledge. I always believe in hard work, and ultimately my hard work pays off, and I end up scoring very good marks in English. Lastly, I would like to tell everybody that have faith in yourself and make sincere efforts towards your goal as there is no viable alternative to hard work.

Bharat Saini: I believe failures are part of everyone’s life. I did not crack CLAT in the first attempt and it was my second attempt, when I got a seat in NLU, Nagpur. When I did not get a seat after my first attempt in CLAT, it was but natural to be disappointed. I again started preparation for CLAT and ultimately my hard work paid me. My mother used to tell me that she wants that I become a “Bada Babu” (Good Officer). Since my mother is no long with me and it is her teachings and dream that inspire me to do hard work and achieve a reputed position such as Judicial Magistrate and serve the society as much as I can.

  1. What was the procedure of obtaining such a scholarship like?  

Ayushi Pandit: Eklavya Project is one of the flagship projects of CAN Foundation. The applications for the year 2020 were floated on various platforms. After reading about the eligibility criteria and other details about the scholarship, I thought of it as an excellent opportunity. Subsequently, I filled the application form which was really comprehensive. The part of the application form which I filled with utmost diligence was the Statement of Purpose. It took me a good amount of patience and introspection to come up with it. An honest draft that was going to present my interests, thoughts, all that I have done during the law-school days and the upcoming plans before the scrutiny committee. The call for applications closed with the submission of 51 applications followed by a scrutiny process. To ascertain the quantum of financial assistance to be given, the selected applicants were categorised into three categories. I was awarded this scholarship under the third category, “Late Prof. (Dr.) Shamnad Basheer Memorial Awards for Excellence”. Under the same, I received financial assistance and academic support from the Foundation. I am eternally grateful to SCC Online to deliver the books to my table which most of the time ends up only in the wish list of a law student. I will give in my best to justify the scholarship as well as the name of Prof (Dr) Shamnad Basheer.

Medha Dwivedi: First of all, I am very grateful to the CAN Foundation’s initiative to ensure financially smooth education for all, because I received this Eklavya scholarship at such a point in my life when my family’s financial situation had been affected by the ongoing pandemic.

Unlike my preconceived notions of a very difficult procedure, the CAN Foundation offered a very systematic procedure, where the volunteers and organisers were always there to guide me about the procedure.

Ravi Sharma: I came to know about the scholarship from a friend and the procedure involved filling a long form with various supporting documents and to submit to the official email of the foundation. I had to write two write-ups explaining the necessity and importance of this scholarship for me. The main task was to collect all the necessary documents on time but with the help of student volunteers and their valuable advice made things easy.

Vaibhav Vidhyansh: Strenuous! And justifiably so.  The applicants had been asked to furnish enough financial and allied details, so as to amply reflect their hardships, if any. We were also supposed to submit over 2000 words write-up describing, inter alia, the necessity, relevance and importance of the CAN Foundation Eklavya Scholarship. The applicants were also expected to put forth their case for financial assistance by furnishing information relating to financial hardships in the family and other details, including but not limited to, the family income, education loan and other liabilities. The collection of voluminous information was aimed at ensuring transparency and objectivity.

Before parting, I would like to extend my deferential gratitude towards the CAN Foundation and all the sponsors.

Manav Sharma: The procedure of obtaining the “Eklavya” Scholarship offered by the CAN Foundation is flexible and smooth. The entire process of applying for the scholarship is online and one can simply download the application form, which is available on the official website of CAN Foundation (HERE) .

After filling the application form, one has to scan the detailed application form and email the same at contact@canfoundation.in. If there is any query, one can directly contact the CAN Foundation’s student coordinators and they are very helpful and cooperative and were always willing to help all the students.

Bharat Saini: The procedure to apply for Eklavya Scholarship is very simple and smooth. One has to download application form from the official website of Can Foundation, i.e. https://canfoundation.in and one has to email a detailed application form to contact@canfoundation.in. The students’ co-coordinator of Eklavya Scholarship are very helpful and co-operating and if you have any doubts regarding application form, you can directly contact them.

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