Friday, April 10, 2009

A prayer for India’s progress

N Vidya says her generation strives to be traditional yet modern in its outlook. She believes in the power of the legal profession to bring about social transformation and wants to be an independent, activist lawyer fighting for those who have suffered injustice and who don’t have access to legal aid.

It’s morning peak hour one March day on the Delhi Metro, and the coachis crammed with students headed for Delhi University. N. Vidya , 22, is on her way to the Faculty of Law. Clutching a mobile phone in one hand and a library book in the other, the first-year law student is composed, oblivious to the noisy chatter of students around her.

The train speeds past billboards that advertise products of the era of economic openness Vidya grew up in. A mobile phone company invites her to send more text messages while a private sector bank beckons her to try its free Internet banking service. And a health ministry billboard pitches yoga as a cure for “depression” in the “age of recession”—a reference to the hard times the economy is experiencing after years of rapid growth.

Vidya is happy at the way India’s economy expanded in the era she was raised. But she is sorry that the focus on frenzied economic growth in more recent years has masked social and economic divides that have only widened while social ills such as dowry still flourish.

Vidya applied for a three-year degree course in law last year because of a belief that the legal profession can bring about social transformation.

It was in the early years of liberalization, when Vidya was in primary school, that the legal profession underwent change.

New market-friendly government policies aimed at boosting economic growth created demand for corporate lawyers to advise on foreign investments and complex commercial transactions. And a spirit of public interest entered the profession as lawyers took on both corporate giants and the government over issues such as human rights and environmental damage.

Vidya wants to be an independent, activist lawyer. Her ambition is to fight for those who have suffered injustice and those who don’t have access to legal aid. She says she will do pro bono work and take on the poor as clients rather than pursue an attractive career in corporate law that she feels will be “helping rich companies evade taxes”.

POLITICAL INTERESTS
Vidya will be a first-time voter in the April-May general election. She has a voter identity card and intends to cast her ballot. She supports the Congress “because it is the only true secular party”.

Politics is something she enjoys “as a subject”, Vidya says, although she has never felt the need to volunteer or work with a political party. Before signing up for the law course, she completed an undergraduate programme in arts, specializing in political science.
“Discussing politics is important in my household,” she says.

Her father M.R. Narayan Swamy, chief news editor at the wire service Indo-Asian News Service, covered Indian politics and Sri Lankan affairs as a reporter for around two decades. Her mother Ranjini teaches English literature at St Paul’s School in Hauz Khas, New Delhi.

Source: http://www.livemint.com/2009/04/08210311/Mint-Election-Coverage--A-pra.html


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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