Duration of Internship
15 December 2015 to 14 January 2016
My internship experience
I interned at a not-for-profit organisation called Centre for Legislative Research and Advocacy (CLRA) which is located in a residential area in B.K. Dutt Colony (House No. K-68), Jor Bagh, New Delhi where the main works include helping strengthening the legislatures and the working of the Parliament, and is involved in preparing Policy Briefs to Handbooks which will be of assistance to Parliamentarians in a Parliamentary session, under a programme which was mentioned as the Parliamentary Internship Programme.
The main goal in a Parliamentary Internship Programme is to get associated with a Member of Parliament, and provide them assistance in terms of doing research for them, writing press notes and so on.
The team at CLRA at this time consisted of Mr. Vinod Bhanu, who is the executive director, and other interns, who work on various policy and research related tasks, and some of them even handle the Human Resource work, that is replying to emails and other students who have applied for internships.
During my tenure, there were interns from various law colleges including NLU, Delhi, NLSIU Bangalore, O.P. Jindal Global University, and other interns persuing various courses like Masters in Development from Azim Premji University Bangalore.
There were a few interns from Delhi University and a few from other countries like France as well. Hence, even though apart from the Executive Director, it was just interns, it is a healthy mix of interns from various fields.
The application process is very simple, and one can just write a mail with a cover letter in the body of the mail and attach their resumes to their email id, firstname.lastname@example.org and if Mr. Bhanu shortlists you, an intern will get back to you regarding the same.
Brownie points are given to anyone in or above their 3rd year of the five year law programme, or pursuing their Masters, or studying in an international university.
The duration of the internship is for four months and can be extended. The timings are very flexible, but mainly from around 11 to 4. When working under a Parliamentarian, the timings have to be fixed according to the MP. There were days when we would leave the M.P.’s residence at 8 pm.
If the intern wishes so, they can also do research work from home, and come to the office only once or twice a week.
The Apprehensions before joining
I was very hesitant at first because just a day before my internship started, I read a pretty bad review of the Internship on Lawoctopus, which almost acted as a deal breaker.
On my first day, a co-intern briefed me on forming questions for Parliamentarians for the Question Hour in the Parliament, after which I had a brief meeting with Mr. Bhanu, who after asking me my interests told me that the main work was going to be preparing policy briefs.
However, I really wanted to work under a Parliamentarian, so I told him so, and since he was in a hurry, he told me to go back home since, there was no work for me that day. My apprehensions after reading the review were resurfacing and I was almost considering not showing up the next day.
First Impression is not the Last Impression
However, I am glad I went the next day, because Mr. Bhanu actually arranged for me to work under a Parliamentarian, even though the winter session was almost ending, and thus, along with three co-interns, we got associated with a Lok Sabha M.P. from Kerala.
Though, because the Parliament was in session, the M.P. was pretty busy, and we had two options to meet him, which were, either to meet him at 8 at night, or at 6 the next morning, and we decided to stick with meeting him at 8 the same day, so we waited for him at his residence, which is a huge, barely lived in house.
After meeting the MP, who briefed us on the kind of work he wanted us to was do a little bit of research for him, and he invited us to a conference the next day at Kerala House. (Where I had a huge helping of the yummiest Chettinad Biryani ever).
The internship experience can be divided into two sections, namely, The Parliamentary Internship Experience and The Research Internship Experience
The Parliamentary Internship Experience
The MP was already sorted for the ongoing parliamentary session, so we had to do a little bit of work for the next session, which included making reports and Questions which he could ask in the Question Hour of the Parliament, and making policy briefs.
This internship allows for Celebrity Spotting
If the MP you are assigned to is even slightly interested in your reaping the maximum benefit from your internship, he will help you do so.
The MP assigned to me arranged for us passes to visit the Parliament library, which is huge, and largely unused, and only accessible to Bona-fide Post Graduate research scholars and MPs and also arranged for us to see the Lok Sabha in session, where, after exiting the parliament, we even ended up meeting Javed Akhtar. Another intern ran into Sachin Tendulkar.
One also sees the lifestyle of an M.P. which is very lavish so to say, and I for one, was considering joining a Political Party to get there.
The Gypsy life: No fixed location or timings during this part of your internship
If the MP would tell you to work from his office located in his residence, you had to do so. Since our MP did not have any such specific demands, we could work from home or our PGs or anywhere we had access to wifi,
So, if you do want to explore, Kunzum Travel Cafe in Haus Khas Village is a great place to work from.
We would report to him on some days to give him an update or to get the work done approved.
The MP was very friendly, and treated us as his own kids, and wasn’t very stingy about deadlines, not that we gave him a reason to be so.
After the Parliamentary session got over, the MP headed back to his constituency, thus we had to report back to the CLRA office for the remaining period of internship.
The Research Internship Experience
The main tasks in the research internship also included making questions for the question hour in the Parliamentary sessions, along with working on handbooks and policy briefs. I had to assist in the preparation of a handbook on WASH- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.
The Members of Parliaments get to read about your interests
The best thing about the Research Internship is that your interest are given preferences.
Hence, if an area like, ‘Lack of Safe Sex Practices in Rural India’ interests you, you are free to make a policy brief under the given topic.
The main aim of these policy briefs are to forward them to MP’s in the hope that they will bring the issue up in a Parliamentary session.
Mr. Bhanu directs and guides on every step, and despite having some twenty interns working under him at a given time, registers their names in almost one go.
The office is small, and has a homely feel to it. There are no fixed timings and deadlines here as well.
In fact, if an intern is not interested in doing any work at all, the intern in all probability will not get any work. So, one has to keep asking for work.
The backgrounds of the interns are diverse, so one gets to make a lot of friends and learn a lot from them.
Apart from that, there is dhaba nearby, ‘Veer Jee Restaurant‘ where one can go for lunch. The food is really good and cheap as well. There is also a ‘bhaiya’ in the office, who will give you tea and hot water in the cold weather, whenever you ask for it.
There was no stipend.
Ask and you shall get
The biggest lesson I learnt apart from some legislative functioning was, that in organisations like these where the work environment is so relaxed and flexible, in order to make the most of your internship you need to constantly ask for work and show your interest, or you may go unnoticed.
Advice for anyone considering this Internship
If considering the Parliamentary Internship, make sure that the dates of your internship somewhat co-ordinate with a parliamentary session, to reap the most benefits out of the same.
Also, if working under an MP when a session is ongoing, do request him to arrange passes for you to be able to witness the Parliament in session.
This entry has been submitted for the LexisNexis-Lawctopus Internship Experience Writing Competition 2015-2016. iPleaders is the learning partner for this competition.