In a proud moment for the university, for the second year in a row, four students from the Class of 2023- Shivani Choudhary, Pratyay Panigrahi, Sevanshi and Agniva Chakrabarti( from left to right in the photo), were awarded the prestigious Aditya Birla Scholarship for the year 2018 by the Aditya Birla Group. The awardees will be joining the list of eight other Aditya Birla Scholars currently studying in the university and taking the total count of the beneficiaries from the scholarship to twelve and carrying the legacy forward. The scholarship winners were being interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Rohit Sharma.

Question 1: Hey, tell us something about yourself. What are your hobbies and interests?

Sevanshi : I am Sevanshi Kunal Kamdar. I am from Mumbai.

Academics is my passion. I believe that you do not necessarily have to be good at everything but you certainly have to be the best at something. I am hoping to do something remarkable in academics and thereby, leave footprints on the sands of time.

I am also a tennis player. Apart from helping me shed a few kilos, tennis has helped me to increase my concentration power. ‘You either manage to get to the ball or take 5 rounds of the court.’ This constant pressure from my coach to hit a ball far, far away from me has taught me to push myself and go that extra mile.

Pratyay: Hi! I’m Pratyay Panigrahi from the WBNUJS Batch of 2023. I hail from the state of Odisha. I was a student of commerce and passed the boards this year. I like writing and I am an avid listener of music. I am interested in travelling and learning new languages.

Shivani:  I am Shivani Choudhary and I hail from Ghaziabad. My father is in UP Police and my mother is a homemaker. They have always motivated me and have every time guided me to go in the right direction.  I had completed my plus two from Sun Valley International School and secured 96.2% in CBSE Boards. I love quizzing and was part of the school quizzing team. I also have special interest in gardening.

Agniva: I am regular 18-year-old who is an avid reader and loves to watch Football. I prefer Non Fiction over Fiction and owe everything I am today to my parents.

Question 2: Why did you choose to pursue Law as a career?

Sevanshi : Many people that I know of, associate a person having a high level of intellect with either engineering or medicine. Well, I was thought to be a perfect fit for one of the two. However, I had a hunch that I had an aptitude for the study of law.Manageable literary skills, good memory, reasonable analytical skills and decent speaking skills were skills that would help me in the field of law.

I also found the study of law interesting as well as challenging. The study of rules that govern a country. India, being a common law country, has judge made law as well. Therefore, the study of cases and seeing the word play in action were things that I believed were quite engrossing.

I had the penchant and aptitude for the study of law. Therefore, I chose to pursue Law as a career.

Pratyay: Initially, I was interested in pursuing law as my elder sister has also studied law. But as I went through my years in school, I realised that I was genuinely interested in the field and whatever limited knowledge I had due to this interest was empowering. That’s when it became something I wanted to pursue seriously.

Shivani:   I had commerce with maths in my twelfth standard, but I always wanted to study law. From my 6th standard, I have grown up aspiring to become an officer in Indian Administrative Services. Therefore, I chose to do Law, because I believe that study of law would help me immensely in the preparation for the CSE exam.  Also, I feel that the one of the biggest problem that our country faces today is laxity in the implementation of law. I believe the study of law would help me to better implement the law. It would help me to delve deep and get a better understanding of legal system of India and would facilitate better administration

Agniva: I was born into a family of Technocrats. But soon I realised that science wasn’t my forte so I began searching for alternate career options and came across a book “Law as a Career” by Tanuj Kalia. After reading this it was a done deal that I would opt for a career in Law. Also, the fact that being a lawyer I could in some way or the other aide the development of my state and also work for the people attracted me to pursue a career in Law.

Question 3: What was the experience-like while writing your essays and completing your application form for the preliminary stage of the Aditya Birla Scholarship?

Sevanshi : It was a little intimidating. I suppose only 30 – 35% of the applicants were going to get selected. The topic, literally, was about myself. My background and my present and my future. All in 250 words! I had to do a lot of soul searching to be able to put forth who I was and what my future plan of action was. I wanted to write everything but I realised (not very soon) that only relevant portions could be mentioned. It took me couple of drafts before I could finalize one and I wasn’t even confident about that! At a point, I had given up (I am glad I didn’t).

Preparing my Curriculum Vitae was just like walking down memory lane. All in all, it was memorable and worth it!

Pratyay: It was a very enriching experience. Contrary to what one may think, writing about yourself can be very tough. Since this is the first time I had to do it, it was also a time of introspection. Given that the essay had to be short and crisp, it definitely took me a few tries to finally come up with an essay that was an adequate representation of my thoughts and ideas. Apart from that, writing my CV in the designated heads provided in the form was a fun experience because it involved going through everything that I had done in school. Overall it was a very good learning experience.

Shivani:   I still remember the day when we were informed of Aditya Birla Scholarship application. It was 20th July and we had 5 days to write two essays. I think that was the period which helped me know myself in a better way because both the questions made me to introspect myself. We were supposed to write about our background, interest, and reason for studying law. The main challenge was the word limit of 250 words in which I had to write about what makes me different from the rest of the students who all were very brilliant. I wrote the essays and got it reviewed by my seniors and friends. Preparing the curriculum vitae was not really difficult for me because for that I had a lot of things to write. I had always been very interested in extra-curricular activities which include mainly quizzing and debating.  The whole application process was full of mixed feelings which was tiring some time and very interesting the next day. But I was determined from the first day and hopeful till the last day.

Agniva: The essay writing process was very hectic and tiresome. Also getting it reviewed by the seniors and working for hours on each word of the essay so that I could ace the process was worth the effort and time.

Question 4:  Whether your seniors helped you in writing the essay? If yes, do you think it helped you?

Sevanshi : A big YES!!! My seniors were of immense help. They were the ones who helped me realise what was relevant. They patiently went through my drafts and helped me improve them through constructive criticism. If it wasn’t for them, my essays would not have turned out the way they had.

Pratyay: I could not have written my essay without the help of my seniors. They sat with me patiently for hours on the end, helping me decide what aspects of myself I should write about and how best to convey it. They also proof-read my essays several times and made sure that it was as refined as it could be. Through this entire period, they also encouraged me to stay true to my thoughts and ideas. Their help in the entire process was invaluable.

Agniva: The seniors who got the scholarship were the main driving force behind each one of us throughout the stages. They used to spend hours at a stretch with us grooming us for the interview, rechecking our essays and framing potential questions for us. I can assure that if it weren’t for them we couldn’t have had cracked the process. Their first-hand experience and the titbits helped us big time.

Question 5Tell us how did you go about preparing for the interview stage, considering you were going to be questioned by 3 eminent jurists from the field of law?

Sevanshi : My seniors took mock interviews and thereby, acquainted me with the prospective questions. Since, I had mentioned pursuing Competition Law, I went through cases, basic readings and recent developments falling under the ambit of Competition Law. I also consulted with the members of the faculty. Given that the panellists were going to know the inside out of the field of law, I had to be aware and accurate. This formed a major part of my prep time.

I also knew that I had to keep an open mind and be receptive because there was no fixed set of questions. The panellists varied and so did the questions.

Pratyay: I have to admit that after my essays got selected, I was considerably nervous for the interview round. But a lot of my concerns were allayed in the mock interviews that were conducted by my seniors. There were several mock interviews in which they questioned me incessantly in an attempt to cover all lines of questioning. By the time I had taken my final interview, I was substantially more confident. Apart from the mock interviews, I made sure that I knew my essay inside out and also kept track of recent events related to the topics that I had talked about in my essay.

Shivani:  I think it was one of the happiest day in my life when I got to know that I have been shortlisted for the interview. I was resolved to win this from the first day but due to the ongoing moot internals in our university, I didn’t get much time to prepare for the interview. I did most of my preparation in last five days during which I really had sleepless night. Since, my essay was based on implementation of law, I made myself acquainted to current event happening in our country, specially all the policies and schemes launched by the government and how they have failed to achieve the result. In all this process, our seniors were of great help. During preparation, we went through mock interview by the panel consisting of our seniors who were also Aditya Birla scholars. These mock interviews helped me to gauge my preparation and know my performance. They helped in pinpointing preparation and provided a direction to work upon. I also had similar discussion with my friends which really helped a lot because it gave my chance to discover my weak points and focus on it. My mool mantra for the interview was to be honest and to be what I am.

Agniva: Actually I was quite relaxed about the interview stage and decided to sleep for at least a good 8 hours so that I would wake up rejuvenated. The jurists were unknown to us before the interview process and me being the first candidate had no inkling about who the jurists were. So I decided to be calm and answer every question they would ask me.

Also knowing what you have written in you essay inside out helps greatly in arguing your side of the deal even when they keep on pushing to project how the opposite is a better option.

Question 6: Let’s talk about the moment, what was the feeling when you actually became Aditya Birla Scholar?

Sevanshi : I was not expecting it at all. There was a rush of positive emotions. I was glad that the hard work had paid off. It was a moment of validation. Validation that perhaps, not everything about me was wrong. The first thing I did was I messaged my mother, “I got it!”

Pratyay: Honestly, I did not know how to react. It took a while for the news to set in but when it did,  needless to say I was ecstatic. I had put in considerable effort for this scholarship and finally getting it could not have made me happier. At the same time, I also felt immensely thankful to my parents, my sister and everyone in college who helped me get the scholarship.

Shivani:   The 5-10 minutes of the prize distribution ceremony was the period in which I experienced both the happiest and one of the sad phase of my life. So, my interview went really well, and I was pretty confident in my heart about winning this scholarship. During the ceremony, the names of the scholars were being announced alphabetically. And when the names of people starting with letter S were being announced, I was almost ready to go on the stage because I was expecting my name to be there. But then I got the shock of my life, my name was not there in that list and they started with next letter! And when I was still in the shock, they suddenly announced my name, which I couldn’t believe. I can’t express that feeling. That was just amazing.

Agniva: It was a dream come true. Growing up I would see the photograph of the earlier scholars on the national daily every year and realising at that moment that the next photograph would involve me too filled me with joy.

Question 7: How does it feel like to win this scholarship? Did you think about winning it?

Sevanshi : It feels great! That experience is going to stay with me for ever. Being selected from this large pool of applicants and clearing the interview taken by eminent personalities from the field of law, explains everything. I am speechless.I did think about winning it but I did not expect it.

Pratyay: Winning this scholarship definitely gives you a sense of pride. It has made me more confident. Simultaneously, it has also been a very humbling experience As far as winning it was concerned, I tried not to think about it during the preparation stage. However, once I was shortlisted, it seemed like a possibility so I tried my best to prepare for the interview.

Shivani:   After winning, I am in all the way more confident. I feel winning this scholarship will make my race to my dream easier and now I have committed myself to make the best use of opportunity that this scholarship has provided me.

Yes, I always had faith in what I can do, and I always knew that I have the capabilities to win this scholarship. I had the idea, passion and urge to win it. So, I worked hard and got the positive results. And I feel this is just starting, because this scholarship comes with its own needs that demands commitment from you to always be consistent. So, I feel that now I have to work all the way more to fare upon these commitments.

Agniva: Now that I have won the scholarship it is upon me to maintain it throughout my law school. The pressure is more than ever to live up to the tag and considering the fact that the mark the previous scholars have left on the college’s illustrious list of achievements it will be a daunting task ahead of me to live up to the expectation of the tag.

Question 8: Now coming to the reactions of those who matter the most, how did your parents and friends respond to such a big achievement?

Sevanshi : My grandparents and parents were extremely proud of me. Even as I give this interview, they are probably still spreading the word. They have also told me to stay humble or else this will, in all probability, be my last accolade.

“This is crazy”. That was the reaction of one of my friends. My friends were also proud of me. They recognised the fact that hard work does pay off. Everyone was speechless.

Pratyay: Once I got through to my parents on the phone and told them about it, they were overjoyed. My parents and my sister had been active participants in the preparation process and deserve substantial credit for helping me get this scholarship. As far as my friends go, all of them were very thrilled and after congratulating me, they now plan to make me pay for all their food!

Shivani:   The first thing I did after getting the certificate was the message that I sent to my mother that I have won the scholarship. She was online at that time but didn’t say anything and that was evident of her happiness. I called her immediately after the ceremony got over and it seemed as if my parents were happiest persons and proudest among all. All my father said to me was “It’s not difficult to come on the top, but to remain at the top while facing all the adversities ofthe life is what the challenge comprises of.” This is what he has taught me since childhood and is the reason behind my success.  Coming to my friends, they all were very happy. I still remember how I narrated the whole event to them over phone and that too so many times! I feel my family and friends were the ones who were with me during my high and low phases during this whole process and they motivated me in every way possible. The only thing I can do is to express my gratitude towards them and I can confidently say that they are reason behind my success.

Agniva: My parents were very happy about the feat. My father being a Fulbright scholar has always emphasised how a prestigious scholarship changes the perception people have towards you. So seeing my father I was always inspired and now when the time has come I would like to dedicate the scholarship to them without whom I would’ve been nowhere.

And coming to friends the warm reception I received at the NUJS Boys hostel was a great feeling but they keep pressing me for party which I casually try to avoid. They also played a great role in the process of me securing the scholarship.

Question 9: Do you suggest any do’s and do not’s while applying for this scholarship?

Sevanshi : I would suggest be honest to yourself and the judges. I realised that they were not looking for all correct answers. They were looking for honest and sincere answers.The essays don’t mean you have to write flowery prose. They should be well written, relevant and personal.

Give it your best shot. Don’t leave the essays for the last minute. You probably will not realise it when you are applying, but when you get selected, it just feels awesome. This is important for now as well as your future opportunities.

Pratyay:  While it differs from person to person, as a general rule, the only thing you should focus on doing is being yourself. There is a natural tendency to present yourself as someone you are not but in both the rounds of the selection process, there is a very high level of scrutiny and what gets across is being genuine. Present yourself as you are, to the best of your abilities and ensure that you can support every stance you take. At the end of the day, it is about your views and your qualities. So the best thing you can do is be honest and be confident in what you write in your essays and answer in your interviews.

Agniva: I would suggest any potential aspirant for this scholarship that the essay is very important throughout the process so be careful what you write and restrict rhetoric to the minimum and be truthful. Be prepared to defend whatever you write and know everything about whatever you write.

Also in the application stage restrict scribbling to the minimum in the essay because it reflects negatively on the examiner.

Question 10: Finally, what is your final advice for the aspirants of the prestigious scholarship?

Sevanshi : It may sound cliché but enjoy the process. Writing the essay helps you to know yourself better. It helps you to accept and work while the daunting thought of ‘Is my essay good enough’ is fresh at the back of your mind 24/7 (at least for me, it was). The weekend during which the interviews take place is an experience you have not had before.

Hope for the best. If you work hard, you have a fair chance of winning. Stay True. Best of Luck!

Pratyay: It is a fun and enriching experience. So learn as much as you can!

Shivani:  My advice for the aspirants of the Aditya Birla Scholarship is to remain devoted, dedicated and determined, because these 3 D’s have the capability of making you the scholar. Always have faith in your abilities and believe that if you can make this far, you also have the capabilities of winning it. Also, present yourself exactly as you are and be honest through the whole process because the panel consisting of esteemed judges can easily make out whether you are speaking true or not. So, it’s always better to not fake out what you don’t have.

Agniva: My final advice for the aspirants would be to remain honest throughout the process and have trust on yourself. Also keeping in mind the interview process be calm and composed and always be courteous to them. All the Best.