A phrase many of us commonly keep hearing is 'Where there is a will, there is a way', and this man's story will make you believe it. Thangminlal Haokip, or Lalcha, as he likes to be called, is a poor tribal boy from Manipur who fought against all odds to get admission in one of India's most prestigious law institutes—National Law School of India University (NLSIU). He told The Guardian,
I am a poor tribal boy from a remote state with a background of insurgency, brought up entirely on charity. I have been an outsider all my life. But when I became interested in the law, I realised this was a powerful tool I could use to become an insider and give back to my people.
Lalcha belongs to a village called L Gamnom in Manipur. His parents, who are members of the Kuki tribe, are cultivators in this village and have raised six children in a mud hut. Around 16 years ago, at the age of seven, Lalcha ran away from the tribal riots in his village. He went to live with his uncle who was a pastor in the southern part of Bengaluru.
In the next 10 years, Lalcha stayed in quite a number of charity homes and was educated at charity schools. According to the Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA) website, he eventually graduated from a school run by the non-profit organisation Parikrama Humanity Foundation in Bengaluru. When he first came to Bengaluru, he was overwhelmed and experienced a huge culture shock. Speaking about this, he told The Guardian,
There were seven houses in my village. That’s how small it was. Then I come to a huge city like Bengaluru, where I could not speak English or any of the local languages.
Lalcha then took the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), which at least 50,000 students sat for. He cleared the exam and got admission in NLSIU, which has been ranked the highest in India Today, Outlook, and Shiksha. Only the top 50 students get into this law school, and they can rest assured of a promising future.
Law school fees are extremely high, and this was a major roadblock in Lalcha's path. According to IDIA's website, Lalcha heard of their organisation through a teacher in Parikrama and approached them. IDIA is an organisation which selects underprivileged students and trains them for various law entrance tests. The organisation also pays their fees. Established by former NLSIU graduate Shamnad Basheer in 2010, IDIA has come a long way.
As per The Times of India, IDIA has also helped out Yugal Jain, a visually impaired student. Belonging to a small town in Rajasthan, he has now got an admission in NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. This story is one among many.
Lalcha desires to join the judicial services in Manipur. He told The Guardian,
I have not paid a single rupee by way of education fees my entire life—I am a product of charity—so I want to give back to my community. Being a judge seems the best way to bring about change, quickly.
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- National Law School of India University
- Parikrama Humanity Foundation
- Thangminlal Haokip
- Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access
- Northeastern India