Internship @ Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK), Dehradun: Drafting Ministry Proposals, Village Visits, No Stipend

Name of the organization. City

Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (NGO), 68/1 Suryalok Colony, Rajpur Road, Dehradun-248001, Uttarakhand. (website-rlek.org)

How big was the office? Team strength?

The RLEK Dehradun office is a decent two-storeyed building in a peaceful residential area.

There are multiple departments like the Legal Cell, State Resource Centre, Adult Literacy Centre and Panchayati Raj and Gender Training Institute. Each department had a team of about 3-4 people. The total staff is around 25 people.

Application procedure. Internship contact details

Interns have to send an application about a month in advance to [email protected] or [email protected]n. All the communication in my case was done via e-mail. They do not take an interview. They happily welcome interns from around the world.

Duration in weeks. No. of days/week. Timings

The minimum internship period is four weeks.

Interns have to report at 10:00 am from Monday to Saturday and are let off by 4:00 pm on weekdays and 2:00 pm on Saturdays. 1:30 pm-2:15 pm is the time for people to satisfy their hunger.

Accommodation: how, where, how was it?

RLEK provides separate accommodation (read dormitories) for boys and girls in the campus itself. It also offers mess facilities, the food being good enough to remind interns from outside of “home-food” (though nothing can beat that).

The office is situated in one of the most happening areas of the city. The nearby area is full of restaurants, gaming alleys, malls and multiplexes.

First impression. First day, formalities etc.

The first day saw a bunch of us interns, mostly first years, seated around a table in the office library. For most of us, it was our first internship and the look on our faces was enough to tell others that we were nervous.

Then started the formalities. They made us fill a form stating our names, universities and our expectations from the organization. Looking at people working diligently on their computers, I got the impression that it is going to be a pretty busy month.

We were welcomed by the chairperson of the organization, Padma Shri Avdhash Kaushal, a prominent figure in community service. The first day went in getting to know the kind of work that the organization is involved in and fellow interns.

Main tasks at the RLEK Dehradun internship

We drafted workshop proposals for the Ministry of Minority Affairs. The proposals detailed the socio-economic data of the place where the organization intended to conduct a workshop with the authorities and local communities and justified the need for it.

The targeted areas for this session were Mizoram, Haryana, Udhhamsinghnagar (Uttarakhand), Varanasi and Bihar. The proposals covered a wide range of issues like school drop-outs, education of girls, declining sex ratio, minority community life and effects of development on the lives of ordinary folks. The task involved thorough research of the area and its population.

The other task entrusted to us was translating materials from English to Hindi to facilitate communication between the organization and the illiterate populace. Many people in the hills of Uttarakhand are illiterate so it was imperative that the materials (posters, pamphlets) handed to them were of such a nature that they could understand our message without any difficulty.

The most awaited task was the one where we were sent to villages and dwellings of Van-Gujjars, an indigenous nomadic community, to conduct a survey for a future project. The project aims at empowering women from the minority communities by training them about panchayati raj institutions and making them aware of their rights.

Five groups were made, each group having eight interns. A single group covered around eight villages. By the end of three days, we had collected names of hundreds of women who expressed their willingness to undergo training.

On days when there was not much work, we had presentations by interns and staff on various issues like Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 2003, Right to Education, The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

The chairperson enlightened us on issues such as bonded labour and environment protection, an issue that should, at least now after the disastrous floods in Uttarakhand, be taken seriously.

Work environment, people

The environment was congenial with the staff ready to help with any research or field work.

Best things?

RLEK Dehradun gives you an opportunity to work at the ground level and interact with simple village folks, something we “urban people” would not usually do. Besides, you get to learn the administration work like report-making and documentation.

Bad things?

May-June is the time when the organization is busy drafting proposals and policies for its upcoming projects.

There is not much action on the field so there were days when we had absolutely nothing to do and this time was simply wasted.

What did you do to chill? Co-interns, colleagues

Movies, sitcoms, gossips (about co-interns and various departments) were the prominent activities of our “relaxation period.” Since some of us bonded well in a short time, occasional lunches and drives up the hills were our escapades.

Stipend/ month

No stipend

Biggest lessons

We take what we have for granted. We crib about so many things. But for many people out there, having a part of what we have would suffice. We should consider ourselves fortunate for what we have. This is the biggest lesson that I learnt during the field visits to the houses of the Van-Gujjars.

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