I’ve recently completed my internship with the Sehgal Foundation (formerly known as the Institute for Rural Research and Development) in Gurgaon, India. My project was to analyze the effectiveness of the foundation’s legal literacy camps in the Mewat district of Haryana, through case studies. To do so, I interviewed attendees of 2014 Sehgal Foundation legal literacy camps in all five blocks of the rural Mewat district to find out what they learned at the camp, what action they took afterwards, and how (if at all) they ultimately benefited. I then spoke to attendees who were not able to secure the desired entitlement (e.g. old-age pension) even though they attended the camps. Next, I interviewed counsels and paralegal volunteers of the government legal aid centers. Finally, I interviewed members of the foundation’s field staff to gain further insights on the planning and implementation of legal literacy camps and the state of legal awareness in Mewat. All interviews were conducted in-person and in Hindi.
By documenting both successes and setbacks, I tried to shed light on the ongoing process of improving legal literacy in Mewat. In particular, the important question was why some citizens who attend a legal literacy camp act on the information gained and secure a positive result, while others do not: what is the difference between the cases of success and the cases of ongoing setback? To explore this question, I wrote a final report and presentation in which I shared the case studies, suggested lessons learned, and applied those lessons to make recommendations for improving future legal literacy camps in Mewat.
Twenty-two Harvard Law School students have been awarded the 2014 Chayes International Public Service Fellowship this summer. They are working abroad in Cambodia, Colombia, France, India, Israel, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Switzerland, and Uganda, as well as in Washington, DC. Please click here to read brief biographies and descriptions of their summer placements.
“I’m having a really great experience in Pune so far. I’m working on a project on domestic violence and I have been able to interview several police officers, protection officers, and victims of violence. I also traveled to a rural area about seven hours away from Pune for a weekend in order to explore the challenges of combating domestic violence in a rural setting. I’ve been introduced to several of the pressing social issues in India and have had the opportunity to tour a jail, visit several successful grassroots NGOs, sit in on court proceedings, and talk with sex workers and transgender individuals – just to name a few.”
Julianne is one of 23 HLS students working this summer in 18 countries under the auspices of the Chayes International Public Service Fellowship. Please visit our Chayes Fellowship page to learn more!