Mr. Nikhil Naren SLS Noida alumnus talks about winning Chevening Scholarship for 2021-22.
He has been interviewed by Aurin Chakraborty, EBC/ SCC Online Student Ambassador who is currently pursuing law from SLS, Noida.
- Please tell our readers a little about yourself.
My name is Nikhil. I have completed my graduation in Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA in the year 2020. I have been recently awarded with the prestigious and highly coveted Chevening Scholarship and in furtherance of the same, I have chosen to pursue my Master of Laws (LLM) in Technology, Media and Telecommunications Law from Queen Mary University of London, this autumn. The pre-placement offer that I accepted from a law firm in the year 2018 made me comfortably meet Chevening’s mandatory work experience of two years in my graduating year (2020) itself. I also look founded Metacept <www.metacept.com>, wherein we train interns and work on policy frameworks and carry out discussions on various aspects of technology and intellectual property laws.
- What all co-curricular and extra-curricular activities did you take up during law school and how did you manage those with academics?
I take up opportunities as they come after due diligence and assessment. I have been a mooter, wherein I represented my law school in various moot court competitions. I also wrote and presented a number of research papers. On the extra-curricular front, during the five-year tenure at my law school I was part of “One Click”, which is the photography society of my college and was eventually elected as the convenor of the society in my final year. Coming to the management of academics, the only thing that mattered is maintaining a routine. One needs to make sure that nothing we have taken responsibility for gets compromised. For instance, if one has signed up for a task, they should make sure of not going overboard with other distractions and prioritise one’s tasks. We must remember that if we have too much on our plate without the necessary planning it will ultimately backfire on us, thus, we must be extremely cautious in this regard. So I personally maintain a strict routine and take up assignments only after my personal analysis and make sure that the assignments I take up, are closely aligned to my areas of interest. Of course, I did hit and trials during the initial years of my law school however, as I progressed, I made sure I do things that cater to my interests and work in those areas.
- When and why did you decide to pursue postgraduate studies?
I decided to pursue my masters, when I came to know about the Chevening Scholarship. I wanted to specialise in technology law and at present there is no such postgraduation course that offers a robust and comprehensive curriculum in technology law.
Now why UK or why Queen Mary University, London is because of the very simple reason that UK being a common law country has a lot in common with respectable laws in India. With respect to the law in India, jurisprudentially speaking the law in India is pretty similar with the law as in the United Kingdom. With respect to technology law or telecommunication law, India is at a very nascent stage where the laws in this aspect are at a developing stage, whereas in UK, the laws have already been implemented and tested by the necessary rigours in that regard. Thus, in my opinion whatever I will learn there and after I come back to India, I will be able to contribute substantially with respect to the policymaking in the field of technology or telecommunication law which I am deeply passionate about. Furthermore, if we go a little while ago when the first industrial revolution came that emphasised on minimum wages, booking hours, etc., India followed the path of policymaking as in the United Kingdom. Now in the 21st century and with the latest industrial revolution, it is all tech-driven – while the UK has seen a lot of changes already, India in that respect is at a very nascent stage, so I hope to make some positive contributions in helping to develop the jurisprudence of technology law in the years to come, once I come back.
- How does it feel to be conferred with the Chevening Scholarship for the academic year 2021-2022? Could you please briefly tell us the procedure for applying for this prestigious scholarship and what all aspects must be kept in mind before applying and during the application procedure?
To answer the first part of your question I feel absolutely honoured to have been awarded the British Chevening Scholarship for the year 2021-22 It is like a dream come true to join the league of leaders and become a part of Chevening’s network consisting of prominent and influential individuals. It seems all the unconventional choices made throughout my law school have fallen into place.
Coming to the aspect of applying for the Chevening Scholarship, candidates must have one aspect very clear in their mind, that is, this scholarship is not restricted to a particular domain or an age group which makes it very competitive in itself. The second very important thing is that during the entire duration from the date you apply or the date you start working on your application to up until the date you know the results is around 8 months, which is a very long period of time. So, one has to be mentally very resilient, strong and patient throughout the process of the application of this scholarship.
The application mainly revolves around the four essays- Leadership and Influence, Networking, Studying in the UK, and Career Plan. All of these four essays are capped at five hundred words each and after the application is made, it is majorly based on these essays that applicants are shortlisted to attend an interview. The interview is like an interaction and it is only after being selected in the interview rounds that you are asked to provide reference letters and your transcripts. After the interview it is around late June or early July that the results are declared. There are more than 160 countries that participate in this scholarship and this scholarship has a success rate of around 1.5 to 2%, so it is an extremely competitive scholarship and another underlying factor that makes this scholarship very competitive is the fact that this requires the applicant to have a minimum of two years of work experience. The criteria of work experience is quite flexible and can include full-time employment, part-time employment, internships, voluntary work and freelancing as well. The only aspect that must be kept in mind is what does not count as work experience is that if you have done an internship which is being assessed by your educational institution then that is not going to be counted in the said period of minimum work experience required to be eligible for this scholarship. Lastly, while aiming for such kinds of scholarships what I have felt is it is not only about your academic grades but more about showcasing to them your leadership and potential that you have displayed in this regard. In my experience they normally select candidates who have the potential to lead in their respective area once they return to their home countries. So, in short, it is a slightly different scholarship because it is not like the other scholarships where you can make your application while pursuing under graduation. Chevening requires a considerable time for planning and it must be shown that one has walked towards their goal(s) and have shown leadership qualities in that regard.
- Can you please tell us how you prepared for this journey and what in your opinion helped you the most in going past the various impediments and completion you have faced in this process?
There were no such difficulties to be honest but of course in every competition where there are such fierce numbers of applicants who are all stalwarts in their respective fields, it is a bit tricky. The fact that this scholarship keeps testing the candidates right up till the moment before the results are declared itself creates a lot of pressure automatically. So, one have to have some people who will keep backing oneself, for example I had Mr Rodney Ryder my mentor and some of my close friends were there, especially Mr Rishabh Dheer, who is presently studying in Cambridge and is a Chevening scholar himself, had helped me a lot with the application process with especially my essays as a guide in this journey. So, if you have peoples support or even little support coming your way from whichever place that may be that goes on a long way in helping you through this extremely competitive and complicated process by helping you calming down and release pressure off your shoulders.Of course, it is you who must face it, that is the fact but support is particularly important.
- The perception has always been that these prestigious scholarships, in the field of law, are only awarded to students from National Law Universities, coming from Symbiosis, NOIDA – how does it feel to burst this myth and send a message?
The study of law is a professional course and a lot depends on the student. It is particularly based on how an individual student moulds himself and how much water he or she draws out from the well irrespective of his or her association with a particular law school. Why I say this is because of the reason, that I have seen a lot of people who believe that there has to be a golden rule or a mantra to achieve something great, I am more inclined to believe that every extraordinary achievement has an ordinary route to it. When I personally look back at my journey it all started within internship and a mentor in the person of Mr Rodney Ryder to guide me which inspired me to explore the field of technology law. This in my case a pre-placement offer, which later led to co-authoring in a book on technological law with Mr Ryder who is the known authority in the domain of technological law in India. This further led to starting my own organisation which caters with the development of technological law in India and it is called “Metacept”. In my opinion your candidature is mainly affected or shaped by what you do and how you make use of your five years at your law school. So, it is what in a very large way that whichever institution you may be part of will ultimately define you. One should not hesitate to admit the fact that I do not know something but you should also be aware and develop yourself to accept the fact that yes, I know something, so it has to be both ways. So now that I look back, I can pretty much connect the dots from an internship to getting this scholarship. This consistency and effort explains and showcases my love for what I want to do and how I want to contribute to it and ultimately help in the growth of my country. If you have this thought in mind, no doubt your institution has a very important role in shaping you but it actually has very minimal role in defining you and making you who you are. So even though people keep saying, you go to so and so institution and it will guarantee your success, I do not quite agree with this as in my opinion no one except you can guarantee your own success. So, if a student has focus, knows what to do and how to do and when to grab opportunities – no one can stop him anywhere. So, every extraordinary achievement has an ordinary route to it.
7. What are your future plans like, how do you plan to utilise your one year at QMUL and what thereafter?
I have been apprehensive about disclosing my plans. Secondly, one thing which I will surely be looking forward to is networking because not only will I gain access to the student base and alumni at Queen Mary University, London (QMUL) but also my peers from Chevening from not only law but all types of backgrounds, different countries and cultures, so I have a lot to learn [and unlearn] during my one-year stay in the UK.
8. Lastly, if you have any advice for the students who are either looking to pursue law as a career or to those who are already pursuing but just like you want to pursue masters in law from reputed universities.
Firstly, to the students or aspirants who want to take up law as a career I would like to advise them, to be clear and confident in. Pursuing the study of law shouldn’t be a result of failure at something else. If you have the true passion, only then you will be able to do justice to the subject.
With respect to the LLM, I will restrict myself to the UK. One has to be very diligent and have perfection with respect to the application. The Personal statements, Statement of Purpose – it has to be drafted very well.
One should make sure to talk about ideas. The application should be crisp in conveying about the relevant experience, achievements, and the learning’s one is looking forward to. An honest study of course modules and the faculties should also help and portray sincerity. Secondly, with respect to pursuing an LLM, I am pursuing one with full scholarship, one which is a very reputed one.