Internship @ Janaagraha, Bangalore
Year: 1st Year with no prior internship experience
Duration: 4 weeks, Monday to Friday – 10 AM to 5 PM, Saturday – Half day – Till 1 PM
Process of application: I had applied for the Janagraaha internship based on hearsay. Most of you will recall the Jaago Re Campaign that prompted young people to vote and be an active participant in democracy.
This campaign was headed by Janaagraha in collaboration with Tata Tea. Interested in the field of work that they had done I decided to intern here.
Unlike most of my peers, I didn’t want a laid back internship. I wanted to actively contribute towards changing society. Being the idealist I was, I was a firm advocate of Gandhiji’s famous adage – be the change you wish to see.
I had heard that many seniors from Bangalore had interned at Janaagraha and inquired about it from a senior in Bangalore. Although he hadn’t worked there he stated that it was a place that did a lot of good work but he had heard mixed reviews from interns who had worked there.
I also talked to my first year friend from NALSAR and Symbiosis who had interned there right before me. They both had a great time interning at Janaagraha.
However, one of them gave me a caveat stating that some of her co-interns had faced the worst time. Already being very enthused at the work that the NGO had done, I decided to apply anyway and hopefully wish for the best.
How to Apply
Details on applying are at: http://janaagraha.org/content/pages/volunteers
One can apply by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org with the resume and cover letter.
For help on how to write a CV and cover letter browse through Lawctopus. There is an excellent entry on how to do so there. Also, keep in mind that applications have to be made a month in advance.
I got a prompt reply in less than 24 hours confirming my internship.
Also, specify that you want to intern for their Law and Policy Team. Janaagraha takes in a wide variety of interns – not just restricted to the legal field.
Alternatively you can also intern with BalaJanaagraha – where one works with children and teaches them their civic rights and moulds them into active citizens.
Work In Janaagrha
I was assigned to PROOF – Public Record of Operations and Finance which worked in the field of public financial disclosure. It is an accountability initiative for curbing corruption by examing where the government money is being channelled.
I was made to work on an elaborate questionnaire comprising of 43 questions about budget, audit and financing. For the purpose of this task I was made to go through the provisions of atleast 13 different Town and Planning Acts and Municipalities Acts.
The work was very tedious and mind Ctrl + F and “analyse” the provisions of the acts and answer the questions. So in all I was made to answer around 600 questions.
However, at the same time due to the very technical aspect of the work felt completely out of depth with no idea of what I was doing. When I finally submitted my work to my coordinator he sent it to the in house lawyer.
The in house lawyer called me and was shocked that a first year was made to do all this work. She had asked for at least a third year to be allotted such work. Thus, the work that I had tediously slaved for hours together on was completely discredited.
I don’t know if I have learnt anything from this internship experience. Perhaps I can put it as a peg in my CV. But as far as practical skills go – I just learnt the keyboard short cuts for finding words in a document.
Perhaps the only thing I derived from it all was a first hand exposure at how specialized labour leads to the feeling of anomie as suggested by Durkheim.
My friend who was interning with me had some more productive work. She had to file RTIs regarding the municipalities.
My friend from NALSAR who had worked there in the previous semester had told me that she was able to draft a bill during her internship.
However, when I inquired about such sort of similar work, I was told that that department of Janaagraha had closed down and was no longer functioning. Just my luck. :/
Work Timings and Work Culture
At Janaagraha they have a computer log in system which tracks the amount of time that you intern there. Even interns have to sign in and sign off every day and ensure that they clock in the requisite hours.
The number of hours worked will finally be published in the internship certificate that will be given to you when you leave.
However, my friend and I – who both joined at the same time found they printed the same number of hours for the both of us although we both sometimes stayed back extra for a few days.
Speaking of staying back, the people at Janaagraha are hard core workaholics.
Once I was made to stay back until 8.30 despite the fact that I was a girl and had to travel nearly 15 km all by myself back home when the auto/bus availability to my place was very low.
The officer coordinator offered to drop me home, but after my work with him was done, he instead focused on his own work and sort of pretended to ignore me.
Although such behavior is normal to expect in a law firm, I’m sure that no NGO is this serious about their work. Also, it is common practice in law firms to call and sponsor for a cab in such instances.
Food, Accommodation and Other Amenities
They have a one hour lunch break which is a welcome respite. One can go to Alliance Francise which is right opposite the building. At Alliance you get a variety of home cooked and yummy food for dirt cheap prices.
You can opt from a thali or a biryani that ranges from Rs 60 to 100. Or if you want to snack, there is a variety of food such as French toast, cut fruits etc. at very affordable prices.
The office is located on Cunnigham Road which has a number of eateries such as Sweet Chariot Café, KFC, Au Bon Pain, Pizza Stop etc. And if you are willing to splurge a little bit – one must definitely check out Infinitea for out of the world food.
Also, interns at Janaagraha are provided with a cup of tea twice a day by a smiling and friendly chap at the office.
One perk of interning at Jaanagraha is the people. The people are genuinely warm and compassionate (with the exception of my boss – but then again, pretty much every body loathes their boss). They are extremely driven.
We were always made to feel part of the team. We were even allowed to attend the lunch meeting which was hosted by the founders in an extremely fancy restraunt. They go out of their way to accommodate for you.
There were many co interns from different colleges – Symbiosis, Christ College, Josephs etc. and many more from my own. Janaagraha attracts many international volunteers. We had a volunteer all the way from Austria and two from Canada.
The work force is very diversified. One makes extremely good friends with their co interns.
Overall Rating: 6/10
Other things: The Janaagraha internship was dismal, I don’t think I learned much out of the entire thing. But the work atmosphere, with the exception of my boss, was incredibly nice and cordial. I would recommend against interning here.
Perhaps if they considered providing a stipend, I might consider changing my mind.