It’s all about finding your interests and chasing them: Sarthak Sonwalkar on Getting the LAMP fellowship

For the students of ILNU, Sarthak Sonwalkar needs no introduction. Anyone who has ever wanted to moot, or participate in any music competition or event, couldn’t have done that without any interaction with Sarthak. A prolific mooter during his college days and a fantastic vocalist, Sarthak owns a charming personality backed by a deep understanding of his subject. We expected no less from him when he got selected for the LAMP fellowship. He extracted a little time from his busy schedule to interact with our correspondent Neha and share his thoughts and experiences about his endeavors at LAMP.

  1. Tell us something about yourself? How would you introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi folks! I am Sarthak Sonwalkar. I have spent most of my childhood in some small town of Madhya Pradesh and have a penchant for music and writing. I completed my B.A. LLB (Hons.) course from Nirma University, Ahmedabad. I would like to introduce myself as a current LAMP fellow, a law graduate, a public policy and politics’ enthusiast and above them, someone who has a penchant for exploring every possible field he can and learn something new.

  1. How did you join law fraternity? Was that a pre -destined decision or something which you decided to later in your life?

To be honest, the decision to join law was very sudden and I took that only when it was a month and a half to go for the CLAT! I belonged to commerce ‘stream’ and it came in the flow that I had started preparing for the entrance exam for the CA. After preparing for the entrance exam for CA alongside my 12th Class for an entire year (because all of my friends were doing that and it drove me too towards it), only towards the end did I realize that this was not something I would like to do! I have been an avid reader of newspaper and I realized that I wanted to put myself into something which connects substantially with people, affects everyone and is everywhere. And there it was, law!

  1. What were your interests in college and what honors subject did you have? How did that help you further in deciding your career options and of course, LAMP fellowship?

I have always had a penchant to explore different fields. During last five years, I put myself into extensive mooting and the college provided me with the opportunity to represent it at some of the most prestigious moot court competitions. Besides mooting, I also participated in a number of Parliamentary debates across the country and Model United Nations conferences. Since I love to write, I used to regularly write for some magazines and letters to editor in some leading daily of the country were frequent appearances. My honors subject was Constitutional Law which I took because I felt myself inclined towards understanding it as it being the foundational law for everything. I can say that all of these helped me a lot to decide with my career options especially LAMP. Coming to my honors, Constitutional law is well connected with everyday political discourse, whether it’s about the recent Presidential elections or formation of government in some state, Parliamentary proceedings, etc. LAMP I believe is the best opportunity I could have looked for given my inclinations and that it is the closest I can work with the Legislature at present and contribute myself to the nation-building process which I think is a great feeling.

  1. What benefits do you see in the mooting culture, debates, research paper writing, etc? How are they necessary to mould you as a lawyer?

Mooting has been unofficially certified as the chief activity of a law school. The biggest advantage of mooting I feel is that you get to read a lot while researching, which enhances yours researching skills, while opening you up to heaps of things. Moots also help you to realize your potential, your weaknesses because at times you are put in unexpected situations and you learn a lot out of them. Debating I think helps you to bring clarity in your ideas and express them clearly with maneuvering which I think goes a long way and helps everywhere, be it a normal conversation or some interview. Though I was not much into research paper writing, I think it does help in enhancing the researching skills and write clearly. It is very important to promote such cultures in the colleges because they certainly help to look beyond your thinking and broaden horizon. And importantly your experiences always shape you.

  1. How did you come to know about the LAMP Fellowship?

I had initially heard about LAMP fellowship from a friend of mine and then after researching more about it I got to learn about its working mechanism and the opportunities it presents.

  1. What is the procedure to be followed to attain this fellowship? Furthermore, how did you prepare for this?

Initially, an application form has to be submitted which has to be accompanied by an essay on any policy issue and a statement of purpose. After this, the selected applicants receive an interview call. I put around a month to write the essay on any policy issue and statement of purpose where I had to first figure out the topic to write on and then how to balance it and second, the word limit which was 500 words. I wrote my essay on ‘Universal Basic Income’ which had been mooted in the Economic Survey for 2016-17. Reading newspapers and magazines regularly aided to it because then I could link it with the contemporary economic development and analyze the facts and figures properly. For the interview I kept a close watch on everyday developments in politics and policy making besides thoroughly preparing on my essay and statement of purpose. One must be clear about as to why one wants to go for this fellowship.

  1. What is/will be the work allotted to you under the fellowship?

Broadly, my work is related to Parliament especially when it is in session, say drafting questions for question hour, zero hour, etc. for my Member of Parliament and add to the interventions which he would make in the Parliament. Besides it draft/write his speeches, letters, research on key areas, work on private member bills, etc.

  1. What are your future plans after this fellowship period gets over?

After the fellowship I am planning to appear for the UPSC examination and I aspire to join Indian Foreign Services.

  1. How will this fellowship help you in your future endeavors?

This fellowship is certainly going to provide me a close watch of how the backyard of policy making works and what all goes in its actual process. So when I would venture into the field of policy making, this experience is going to give me an advantage of firstly understanding how actually the laws and policies which affect us everyday have been formulated and secondly how lives of the people can actually be improved through your interventions.

  1. What would you like to tell the existing/prospective students of law?

I would like to tell them that do not go after something because everybody is going after it because you might not be meant for it. Find your interests and go after them. It might take a while for them to fructify but you would enjoy what you would be doing. If you love something there is always a way to reach to it, you only have to believe that there is always a way.



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