Internship Experience @ Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), Delhi: Research and Drafting Work, Client Meetings, Field Visits

Name and details of the intern

Fatma Rabeya, Heritage Law College, Calcutta University (4th semester).

Exact Duration of the internship

It was supposed to be 4 weeks long but I extended for another week.

22nd April – 23rd May 2019

The Organisation

Human Rights Law Network, Delhi office.

A collective of lawyers and social activists dedicated to the use of the legal system to advance human rights, struggle against violations, and ensure access to justice for all. It works as a team in 26 states in India.

Address of the office: Socio-Legal Information Center, 576, Masjid Rd, Bhogal, Jangpura, New Delhi, Delhi 110014, India.

Nearest Metro Station: Jangpura

Accommodation: There are many PGs in and around Lajpatnagar area for both girls and boys.

How to reach office: It is a 7-8 minute rickshaw ride or a 15 minutes walk from Jangpura metro station and from Lajpatnagar it is only 10 minutes away by rickshaw.

Application Procedure

One needs to apply with their updated CVs and fill up the application form for interns and a sample write up in 500 words describing one’s interests in human rights.

Apply around 2-3 months in advance to [email protected]

Timing:

On weekdays from 09:30 AM – 6:30 PM (sometimes 7 or 8 PM)

On Saturdays from 9:30 AM – 1:30 PM (Half-day)

Overall Experience

It was my first ever internship experience and I was up for anything that I encountered. My legal work constituted mostly of research work and documentation along with interaction with the clients on a personal level.

Non- legal work consists of attending various court proceedings, field visits, press conferences, documentary screenings and seminars.

What I learnt was to work, work and work really hard, to get the work done in the given amount of time as they deal with cases in the Apex Court, Delhi High Court as well as Trial Courts which are mostly cases of immense urgency and thus always tight on time.

As my work mainly constituted research on Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958. Ehsan sir, my supervisor always sought after quality work. He showed extreme confidence in me entrusting this work.

He provided me with the liberty to bring out new ways to approach the same routine work and so I, on the contrary, enjoyed the luxury of time to conduct a gruelling amount of intense research, which according to me is very rare to have in your first ever Internship.

I got the opportunity to visit Gogunda tehsil of Udaipur, Rajasthan for making a fact-finding report for another case regarding rescued trafficked child bonded labourers and it was an incredible learning experience in itself. I learnt about the groundwork that no one really teaches you.

First-day formalities

We were asked to meet HR. She asked us to fill up the forms and submit a sum of Rs 2000 (only for the interns and not for the volunteers) as this is a charitable organisation.

She also asked is to inform her if we do not find the supervisors giving us good work in the office. She told us about the do’s and dont’s of the organization. I was lucky enough to get work on day one.

All that I learnt here about:

Head of the team

Colin Gonsalves is a designated Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India and the founder of Human Rights Law Network (HRLN). He specializes in human rights protection, labour law and public interest law. In person, he is humble and is someone who always seeks knowledge.

Having achieved so much in life even then in the weekly meetings he always introduces himself as “Hello I am Colin Gonsalves, Advocate”. It’s not every day that you come across such a man.

Team 

The office consists of people belonging to different religions, castes, colours, races, sexes residing in different corners of the world and throughout the map of India.

You get to see some of the advocates working late till 10 even 11 in the night and also on Sundays. Interns here are treated equally as an integral part of the functioning of the organisation.

An intern can be provided with work to do by any of the advocates and social activists, depending on the urgency one needs to do all of it parallel completing their main task.

Work

If you come across as someone who is willing to get the work done they will assign you a lot of good quality work. It all depends on the mentor you are assigned to.

If you do some good work people acknowledge your work and appreciate your efforts.

Confidentiality

Any discussions with your supervisor regarding the work assigned are confidential and privileged information. Guard them overzealously.

Do not succumb even to Chinese torture during intern gossip sessions. You will become a stud; by retaining information with you, and not the other way round.

Participation

In the weekly Friday meetings discussions, debates and documentary screenings took place which facilitated the participation of each and every member present in the Conference room.

The environment was provided such that people, be it an intern or an advocate or the other employees, everyone was encouraged, to voice their opinions and come up with new perspectives.

Unlearn the art of maintaining notions and mastering the art of thinking about things is what I learnt in those meetings and the conversation which hence followed.

Questions

Take it from me, once given the work to be done, clear any of your doubts or confusions from your supervisor even before beginning to work on it. It will save up your time while you are on it.

Best things

Co-interns

HRLN takes in interns from around the world and from across the length and breadth of India. I got to connect with people who had come from the United States, London, France, Germany, Ireland, Bolivia and in India from Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala, Kashmir, Assam, Orissa, Bihar, Tripura and West Bengal.

Every day at lunch we had our own potluck after which we went out for having ice-creams and chips. On some days all of us interns went to Lajpatnagar Central Market for having Dolma Aunty’s Momos. The co-interns who are your colleagues during the internship period can really motivate you to work harder and also who force you to chill at times.

Friday meetings

Every Friday, all the members of the office gather in the conference room and discuss what everyone is working and they share their experiences.

There is also documentary screenings and debate sessions held in which every perspective is listened to and people are encouraged to voice their opinions and thoughts.

Field Visit experience

Me and one of my colleagues had a chance to visit Udaipur, Rajasthan for taking interviews of rescued trafficked child bonded labourers which was an experience of many firsts in itself- a great learning experience, something which you can never learn sitting in air-conditioned offices and in the comfort of your homes.

Work Environment

Everyone is very helpful, hard working. It is great to see so many people working for the betterment of our country. The cases they deal with are very interesting.

The office has a very good vibe. People there are overloaded with work but if you strike a conversation about the law in general and what to do with life in future, in particular, they are really all smiles and up for a great engaging conversation. Friday evenings are the most fun.

The Stipend

No stipend

The Cons

Delhi’s heat and travelling may get to you. Otherwise, the whole experience is enriching.

The Short

In short, work here if you want to do both office work as well as field works, get better exposure to things, learn stuff first hand from the very basics to becoming masters at it here.

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