18 June – 18 July 2015
I got to know about this N.G.O. (Click HERE) when it partnered with our University to host Mr. Gowda (judge, Supreme Court) and other eminent personalities ranging from High Court to district court, various research assistant and professors from different varsities for a workshop on judicial dissent.
The chairperson of the N.G.O. Mr. Avdesh Kaushal (9358101392) was also a guest but couldn’t speak because he was not well. A padmashree awardee and a man of the year nominee (Profile: click HERE) is very humble and active even at this stage of life. His humbleness can be judged by the fact that he receives most of the calls made to RLEK whether on office nos. or his personal no.
Though you may need to shout (literally) sometimes, as he uses a hearing aid. He comes to office almost daily exceptions are when he had to go for a hearing or some other work, related to what RLEK does i.e. to promote the cause of the Van Gujjars: an indigenous forest-dwelling nomadic tribe of the northern Himalayas. Campaigns include literacy, elementary health and veterinary care, and community forest management.
How to reach
After the workshop ended our professors advised us to do an internship with RLEK in response to which one of my classmate initiated the intimation with the office of the N.G.O. Acting on his inputs I send my resume and a cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org The e-mails are handled by Shveta ‘MAM’.
Why I am emphasizing on ‘mam’ is because please do not call her by her name as I did, in addressing one of the e-mails as ‘Dear Shveta’ to which she responded with a guideline for me not to call her by her name.
I thought she got offended by it so on my first day of internship I apologized her for that and she just smiled. You should keep this in mind as she will be typing your certificate after you submit her your work done.
That’s not it, she will ask questions about your work done and will make sure you’re not forging.
Needless to say, she doesn’t joke around and is mostly seated at her desk busy replying to e-mails. Her glance will let you know that you are entering a “very serious” zone that’s why I counted my breath whenever I was around her office.
The RLEK building (68/1, RLEK Building, Suryalok Colony Rajpur Road, Dehradun – 248001 Uttarakhand – India) is no less then what a person would admire as a farmhouse and can be a perfect escape from the city chaos for residents of metropolis. Road Map to RLEK.
The chairperson lives in a separate house which is in the vicinity of the building which includes office of the N.G.O., Dormitory for boys and girls (separate). Boy’s dorm can accommodate as much as 15-16 interns at a time and a similar even more no. of beds are there in the girls room.
It has some rooms (separate for each one) for the foreign workers and employees who are not residing in Dun, attached to the boy’s dorm. The dorm is equipped with an A.C. and has a t.v. set with a tata sky connection. You’ll get fresh blankets and quilts here so no need to get it from home.
There is a lot of chance that your orientation won’t be on the first day as mine happened on the 5th day because there were not enough of the new interns for the first day. The chairperson does the orientation in the conference hall by describing what RLEK does, what are its goal/objectives, its achievements till now, legal cases, which will end up till lunch that is at 1 pm.
Basically, there’s not much work to be done and it can be a paradise for the ones who are there just for the sake of a certificate and to those who just want to have a month relaxing in the foothills of the ‘queen of mountains’.
The staff is very serious about the work assigned to them and will be busy in its execution. It is you who is an intern, not they so you have to search for the work suitable for you.
You can be associated to any group working there, maybe the one which is working for the education to underprivileged, children of van gujjar or maybe someone whose associated with the school that RLEK runs in Mohand, or 17 other, or PRAGATI [Panchayati Rule And Gender Awareness Training Institute (sister organization of RLEK).]
Major work and which is an essential to be on your certificate is the trip to Van gujjar deras and schools in Jaunsar.
Mr. Dharmendra is the first employee of RLEK whom I met on my first day. He showed me the dorm even helped me with my luggage. He’s very friendly and will be driving you to the deras in one of the RLEK’s jeep once you submit 100 bucks to Shveta mam.
If one wish to go to Jaunsar School he/she has to submit 500 bucks and the trip will be scheduled for the weekend. You have to submit report on both the trips.
Also if you wish to add more points in your certificate then you have to make a power point presentation on any topic you feel like, I did it on “Consumerism and N.G.O.” Again that will be presented before Shveta mam to which she’ll question you for.
Just a small disclaimer if you are here only to have a certificate under the N.G.O’s letter head then you can just sit in the library and read daily newspaper and magazines subscribed by RLEK, but if you wish to do some real work then you have options to read publications by RLEK which are thin booklets on PIL, dowry, etc., also you can go through the cases filed and fought by RLEK.
Point behind that is whatever you do will be on your certificate. A guy had only 5-6 points in his certificate. He was the one sketching all the time or watching movies.
Luckily I got some like-minded co-interns so we formed a group and surveyed the villages where RLEK has been supporting the gram Pradhan (mostly females) for the development of that area.
Though Shveta mam makes sure that you intern with RLEK for complete one month I manged to get relaxation of two days on the pretext of Eid-ul-fitra.
Our juniors who interned with RLEK recently, told that they were smooth in getting a certificate for a 3 week internship. Mr. Dharmendra used to take attendance at night and mam takes it at around 4 p.m.
Interns are expected to be at the library at 9 a.m but I use to delay it according to my will.
Office timings are 9 to 5.
You can’t use internet connection after 5 because mam switch it off before leaving for her home.
On prior request one can get accommodation in the dorm which is chargeable @ 100 Rs./day and mess is available at a price of 140/ day (three meals including tea). If you are thinking that 100 is too much this is because they have to get water tanker every day in order to meet the demand.
The food is awesome, fresh and with lots of varieties, we even get mango shake many a days. Tea break happens two times a day one at 11:30 another @3:30 apart from breakfast. Though two interns (female) who were there for two months preferred to stay in a p.g. nearby and said that was OK and reasonable but I still suggest the dorm.
I was able to cut on food expenses as it was the month of Ramadan and I kept fast for the entire month so I subscribed only for the dinner. RLEK hosts iftaar party every year and I was lucky to be part of it this time.
I was asked by the chairperson to design the invitation card. He was so generous that he got sehri items for us and asked the cheff (a lady) to prepare something everyday for us to iftaar without charging a penny.
Those who were not residing in the dorm were invited after payment of 50 bucks. It was a nice party with good food and nice people. Washing the dishes and glasses that you use is a tradition here. Ramesh ji is in charge of keeping records of food service subscription.
At the end of your internship you have to get a receipt from this jovial guy after full payment, then only you’ll get the certificate after showing it to Shveta mam.
I have been to Dehradun many a times as its near to my hometown but for the one who visited it for the first time the attractions were FRI (Forest Research Institute), Gurudwara, in Paonta Sahib (a place some 40-50 kms away from RLEK), Mussorie, Sahastradhara, lachhi wala, Rober’s cave, maggi point, MDDA park, Budhha temple in cant. area, etc.
There are two malls nearby. One is crossroads another is The Pacific. The latter is a bigger one and has PVR cinemas. The weather here is just amazing and it rained continuously for like 3-4 days sometimes.
From the building itself if you can manage to get up at 5 or 6 in the morning you can see some breath taking, picturesque view and enjoy the birds chirping. In the surroundings itself there are lots of mango and other fruit trees like jack fruit and lichi.
For the religious ones there is a temple some 100 steps from the building and a mosque is also nearby which you should inquire about. There’s a CCD opposite to the temple and the street is full of eating joints. There is an open area on the terrace where boys and girls can hang around at night or whenever they want.
My overall experience was good as I managed to get a certificate of a reputed N.G.O and made some nice acquaintance and a lot of good memories. I hope this internship experience has been informative and useful and may help future internship candidates make an informed choice.
This entry has been submitted for the LexisNexis-Lawctopus Internship Experience Writing Competition 2015-2016. iPleaders is the learning partner for this competition.