The LAMP Fellowship offers young Indians an excellent opportunity to work as a member of parliament's assistant for around a year. It not only gives them a comprehensive introduction to politics but also provides them with an understanding of the type of work that is done behind the scenes, setting the groundwork for a career in politics.
We, at Edugraph, connected with two ex-LAMP Fellows talking about the selection procedure, work of a fellow, fellowship experience & how it helped them in their careers.
After majoring in literature at Jadavpur University's English Department, Reeti went on to earn a social anthropology degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She began her professional life as a research associate for Prof. Anya Schiffrin of Columbia University, who had been on the lookout for an anthropologist with fluency in Bengali, the ability to research historical archives, and the ability to write clearly. After working with Anya for a while, Reeti went on to be selected as a LAMP (Legislative Assistant to a Member of Parliament) fellow. She was deputed to work with Shashi Tharoor on this programme from 2012–2013. Today, Reeti is the CEO of Aglet Ink, a company that provides personalized end-to-end services for writing resumes & cover letters.
The selection process for the LAMP Fellowship includes writing a policy essay and a Statement of Purpose (SoP). The authorities analyses every application they receive and shortlist those that meet the LAMP eligibility criteria. Before being approached for a PRS interview, the shortlisted candidates are evaluated. Candidates who successfully complete the personal interview round will be given the LAMP Fellowship and the opportunity to work for an MP.
“We were the third batch of LAMP Fellowship (2012- 2013), so the policy essay wasn't introduced then. We had to write a general essay (akin to the statement of purpose) and also appear for an interview. When we appeared for the interview, we were asked about pending bills in the parliament and acts and why we wished to be a LAMP fellow. For my preparation, I went through the PRS India website pretty thoroughly and read up on their legislative briefs and I also read newspapers quite regularly. Newer LAMPs (as you probably are already aware), have to write a policy essay”, said Reeti when asked about how she prepared for the fellowship.
Adding on, Reeti’s advise to aspirants preparing for the LAMP Fellowship is, “If you wish to apply for the fellowship, read papers like Indian Express, the Hindu and Mint. Watch Lok Sabha TV and read India-related op-eds in The Guardian and The New York Times for current affairs”
Reeti started her LAMP Fellowship as an assistant to Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resource Development, and was responsible for Parliamentary Legislative Research such as 377s and zero-hour speeches.
Recalling her first day of the fellowship she said, “On my first day, I remember being nervous, but Tharoor put me at ease by being an encouraging and supportive boss. I was based at his residence (in Lodhi Estate) at first, and at the Ministry of Human Resource Development when he became a minister. As a fellow from 2012-13, I worked on bills relating to migration, education, and gender equality as well as on press releases.”
Reeti was presented with the LAMP Fellowship completion award by Mr. Shashi Tharoor Reeti Roy
When asked about how the LAMP Fellowship helped her in starting her organisation Aglet Ink, Reeti expressed, “This is a tough question to answer, but I'd say that the basic skills I use remain the same - writing, research, and editing. It helped in enhancing my writing skills and I started providing personalised end-to-end service for writing resumes & cover letters. Later, I incorporated a professional practice under the name ‘Aglet Ink’ and it is sector agnostic, and working with a Member of Parliament so early on in my career really helped.”
She revealed her overall experience as a LAMP Fellow: "In my mind, I knew I would enjoy working with Dr. Tharoor. I had a keen interest in writing, and he is a celebrated writer. I was interested in Refugee issues, and he had acquired a wealth of knowledge during his time at the UNHCR. There was also synergy in terms of our beliefs - we both believe that the way forward for India is if its people are secular and liberal.
I learned many things from Dr. Tharoor during the LAMP Fellowship - how any research conducted must be thorough and how sources must be double-checked; how everything one writes must be backed up by solid research and how to remain cheerful and smiling even after a very tiring day. When I completed the Fellowship, Dr. Tharoor was present to give me my award. The overall experience of being a LAMP Fellow was enlightening.”
Soumyadeep Chatterjee is someone who has always been interested in policymaking and creating a viable impact on society. He is from an engineering background and with the help of the LAMP Fellowship, became a Policy Researcher at the Office of the Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha. As a policy researcher, Soumyadeep’s day-to-day tasks include keeping track of policy development, preparing briefing notes, drafting questions for the MP, and private member bills, explaining technical documents and describing documents in simple terms.
Solid preparation is important to get the LAMP Fellowship, according to Soumyadeep. He says, “It is important to be careful while selecting the topic of your policy essay and applicants must have in-depth knowledge and understanding. I personally wrote on ‘The Citizenship Amendment Act’ which was just being passed around then and I had a good command over that topic and I was comfortable going in-depth and analysing it. As part of my preparations, I looked at committee reports, SC & HC Judgement, previous rules made by the government in regard to that policy also research papers surrounding that. I kept the points very concise in the essay, looked at the issues from all angles, and did not have any bias while writing the points. Apart from the policy essay, we also had to prepare a statement of purpose for which one must have a very clear picture of why they want to do the Fellowship, and how their experience and objectives and larger career goals align with the work that the LAMP Fellowship involves. I also kept a tab on the proceedings of both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha and kept checking on the recent topics & issues that were being covered in the parliament, debates & discussions, and opinions of MP. In short, I kept myself up to date with the latest developments in policy and current affairs which helped in essay writing & subsequently at the interview stage.”
Soumyadeep worked with a Congress MP in Rajya Sabha who later become the Leader of the Opposition. As part of his fellowship, his job was primarily to provide research support for any and all kinds of work that he did as an MP, including assisting him in drafting questions, preparing parliamentary interventions on his behalf, drafting policy briefs, analysing Government data, etc.
“I was tasked with undertaking the research input for that, providing him with usable, concise & understandable inputs I gathered. The MP I assisted was also a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce and he used to regularly attend those meetings for which I also had to prepare background material & briefing documents,” mentioned Soumyadeep.
From a software engineer to a policy researcher, Soumyadeep made an incredible transition and the LAMP Fellowship was the perfect gateway for him. “It is the perfect gateway for anybody who’s not from a public policy background. PRS undertakes very rigorous & intensive training, right upfront to get people upfront, especially those who are coming from different backgrounds. The training helped in understanding the topics, how to approach the topics, how to read legal documents, how to tackle minute aspects of an issue, etc. which help candidates in understanding & broadening their horizons, which leads to incredible skill & knowledge development. What one needs is dedication and an incredible desire to learn, for the rest of it PRS provides a great conducive environment. Thus, my transition from an engineer to a policy researcher was incredible and swift.”
Describing his overall experience as a LAMP Fellow, Soumyadeep said, “LAMP Fellowship has been truly the best experience of my life. Even though I was always intrigued by the world of policy & wished to do something that would have a viable impact on society, somehow I didn’t realize the depth and nuances of these issues, because as an engineer, I was looking at these policies from a very superficial level. I understood the importance of our MPs, their responsibilities, and their impact on society. The wonderful cohort from diverse backgrounds was also the best part of the fellowship and the interaction with them proved to be a way of an incredible source of knowledge transfer. PRS also conducts sessions where domain experts in various fields of public policy are called upon to undertake sessions for the LAMP Fellows, and it was absolutely brilliant to attend some of the sessions as I got to know there’s so much potential impact of that particular sector in everybody’s lives. The entire fellowship is exceptionally good for someone who wants to get a firsthand experience of law-making and policymaking at the highest level.”
You may have the opportunity to learn new skills and aid in the development of the country by participating in the LAMP Fellowship. Keep an eye on their website and submit your application as soon as you can, since registrations for the fellowship often begin in December or January.