Internship Experience @ Praja Foundation NGO, Mumbai: Empower citizens and the government with facts

Name

Oorja Surjit Chari, Pravin Gandhi College of Law, 1st year BLS/LLB

Duration of Internship

December 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015

Website

Click HERE.

First Internship

As a first year student, though I was excited about the prospects of interning, I was also painfully aware that I knew nothing much about ‘law’.

Just like everyone else, I followed the age-old norm of talking to my seniors and chasing them for tips to get through the 5 years of law college, understanding the do’s and don’ts and of course ‘googling’ the experiences of law students and thanking them, mentally for just being there.

My seniors in college were very helpful and encouraged me to intern during the vacations instead of whiling away ‘precious time’. Luckily, for me, my college has an amazing placement cell that helps students like me who come from a totally non-legal background to start off a career experience.

However, we first year students, are sent on internships to NGOs, as the first year syllabus does not cover the legal portion.

Initially, I was extremely disheartened at the prospect of working for any organisation that was less than a law firm and that too without a stipend and at the cost of forgoing my ‘well deserved’ vacation! However after some hard thinking, I decided to give it a shot!

The Organisation

I was assigned to intern at Praja Foundation, a Mumbai based non-partisan, voluntary organisation that works on urban and civic issues.

The organisation aims to empower citizens and the Government with knowledge and facts, to establish accountability and transparency in public governance through people’s participation.

Founded in 1998, by socially active Mumbaikars, it believes that collective action can improve the standard of living in Mumbai.

The Office

The office is located in the impressive Botawala building near Horniman Circle at Fort, Mumbai.

Main Tasks 

After the orientation on the first day, all the interns were assigned their duties. I was asked to read affidavits of government officials and Councillors of different wards in Mumbai and prepare their report cards evaluating their performance over the past one year. The duties assigned kept changing every week.

We interns were also involved in calling media houses and newspaper publications in Mumbai and Delhi and inviting them to attend the press conference on the ‘White Paper Launch’ dealing with Civic, Educational and Crime Reports of their respective cities.

Interns were allowed to actively participate and attend the press conference which was an amazing experience and gave us all an opportunity to witness a live press conference and listen to the thought provoking questions asked by senior journalists.

We interns were also assigned tasks of collecting data from Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) ward offices, collecting crime related data from police stations and data from municipal schools regarding school drop-outs. On the basis of data collected, we helped prepare reports for the ‘While Paper Launch’.

Learning Curve

Visiting police stations was an exciting experience as I got to see, first hand, how FIR’s were registered. I was enthused by Councillor ( K-West ward), Mr Sanjay Pawar’s visit when he came down to the office to meet us interns and share with us his knowledge and keenness to improve the living conditions in the city.

He shared a lot of interesting information with us including the functions of Councillors, MLAs and MPs.

The highlight of my internship was my visit to the Mantralaya, the Chief Minister’s office where I went with my mentor to hand over the findings of the White Paper Launch.

This exercise of visiting government offices has taught me patience more than anything as the government officials would make us go round in circles, sending us from one department to another.

What I liked

Praja Foundation is a good place to work at if you are willing to learn as you get plenty of opportunities to see the working of government departments, police stations, municipal schools and hospitals which one cannot see otherwise.

The plus point of working there was my mentor Ms. Monisika Bordoloi, who was very friendly and helpful and was always there to guide and support me.

The other mentors were equally friendly and supportive. Since many interns are taken in at a time, the working hours though long, are enjoyable

What I did not like

The office space was a bit small and the washroom facilities were not up to the mark.

For the amount of hard work and hours put in, a stipend would have been appreciated.

On days when the work got over early, we were made to just hang around without being allowed to go home.

Working days and timings

They work Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm. They do not work on the second and the fourth Saturday.

Food

Other than the best option of carrying home made delicious wholesome food, there is a Starbucks nearby and lots of roadside stalls you can turn to during lunch time.

The washrooms at Starbucks came in very useful as washroom became a major issue for most of us.

Commuting

Commuting to the Praja Foundation isn’t very difficult as it is located within walking distance of both CST and Churchgate station.

On the whole

Working at Praja Foundation not only gave me the well needed exposure but also made me an independent and confident person.

Despite some minor issues, working at Praja Foundation turned out to be an extremely positive experience for me.

This entry has been submitted for the LexisNexis-Lawctopus Internship Experience Writing Competition 2015-2016. iPleaders is the learning partner for this competition.

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Comments Till Now

  1. Aniket Bharadwaj says:

    Thanks for this information. Will be helpful!

  2. This article is indeed very helpful..thank you oorja for sharing your experience with us:)

  3. Ashmita says:

    I am a first year law student. I was looking for NGOs to intern at. This review has been very helpful in giving me insights on what I will learn at Praja foundation if I join it. I really like the way you have clearly stated the pros and cons of joining Praja. Thank you so much.

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