Friday, October 24, 2014

An electrifying experience

I’m sharing my first internship experience for the #MyInternTheory activity at BlogAdda in association with Intern Theory.

It has been a long time since I wrote anything of substance in this space and I have myself to blame for not updating you’ll about the progress in my law life. Even when I do write , I hardly write on the central things of my life. So I’m dedicating this post to this barely mentioned aspect of my life.
MY FIRST INTERNSHIP 
Sometimes , it is very easy for some people to get disillusioned very easily. When you are studying a weirdly structured 5 year law course , it is very very easy to forget that you are indeed ‘studying’ to become a ‘lawyer’.  
In my college , the semester in itself is a chilling carnival of laziness ( at least to ones like me) – what with only 3 hours of actual lectures a day and stuff-  Hence , it is the internship / holiday time when we make hay in sunshine. After blowing off the first semester holidays on grounds of ignorance and lethargy , I was forced to do some productive activity in the summer of 2014. Even for me, 8 weeks was too long a time to do nothing.
Ok. Since, there is a small chance that some future law aspirants might read this  I’m gonna go stepwise and elucidate briefly on the details of the wonderful journey that was my summer internship.
Where did I apply?
Citizen Consumer and Civic action Group ( CAG) , Chennai. It is a NGO working on consumer , environmental and other civic issues like electricity which impacts all the citizens.
How did I apply?
I came to know of the NGO through my mother’s acquaintance and decided to give it a shot by sending my resume to recruiting head. She is a very friendly person, who immediately gave me guidance.
How long did it last?
This great learning curve lasted for a period of 6 weeks. I compensated for the holidays I took with another week :P
Working hours – 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM
What did I exactly do in a consumer & civic action forum?
This content is very exciting and varied. So I’m gonna make this the body of my post!
I was of the notion that CAG will involve consumer cases only and I didn’t even know what that meant exactly.
Clad in Formal white linen shirt and black pants , sweating due to the normal Chennai heat and not a very normal sense of apprehension , I approached the office. My ‘boss’ saroja ma’am immediately put me at ease with her friendliness and professional approach.
My 1st day of internship.

My very first task was to read the entire Consumer protection act , which is a pretty heavy law book. I think the purpose of the activity is to get an understanding of what consumer law is and moreover learning to be or at least acting unfazed in the face of gigantic books.

My very first Consumer complaint was on medical negligence suit charged on a doctor and I had to draft the formal complaint letter requesting the opposing part to co operate with us on settling the dispute. I drafted responses for few more such cases making ma’am note that my luck favored medical negligence. All the exposure to grey’s anatomy and house did come in handy :P
According to me, the most crucial thing I learnt in my CAG internship was about electricity. Tamil Nadu being very vulnerable in this sector and eccentric in its supply and distribution has made every consumer worried and somewhat conversant with its issues.
For starters I feel every resident of Tamil Nadu must know that the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board or the TNEB like we like to call it is actually divided into the TANTRANSCO and the TANGEDCO ,former for transmission and the latter for generation and distribution. The TNERC – electricity regulatory commission is the law making body though.
When tara ma'am first found me :P
All this sounded like pig latin to me until tara ma’am walked in. She is the head of the place and visits us weekly. I was a bit sluggish after the lunch break on my first week and I was scared stiff when she actually invited me to sit in on the TNERC meeting. This was the first meeting I ever attended and I was quite happy to just observe it. However, they wanted my views on the topic and even asked me to make a draft on the regulations to be amended or something like that. I was simply awestruck at the jargon in the beginning.
It took me a week to realize that I was working on the Tamil Nadu Electricity act and that the TNERC was proposing some amendments to the existing distribution code and that every consumer and interested party could send in their reservations and comments after notice of the intention to amend and the actual draft amendments are announced.
We talk about transparency but do we really pay interest when something is being shown and is asked to be done by us? I think not.
The amendments were on the power provided to water supply or motor pumpsets for agricultural consumers and being a city bred girl who has never visited a village properly , it was quite difficult for me to envisage the impacts the amendment could actually create on the farmers.
I learnt to compare distribution codes of Karnataka and Andhra which are quite elaborate on this topic and also ones of Gujarat and Punjab.
This entirely different task assigned to me, which seemed tougher than mandarin Chinese in the beginning, made me believe that I could learn things which I thought I was most incapable to learn.
I also got the chance to edit a bit of EmpowerTN , a journal on electricity and take minutes of TEGI – the Tamil Nadu Electricity Governance Initiative , a wonderful conference discussing all aspects of electricity problems in India today by several experts and organizations.
After TEGI/ with my co intern / last day :( 

While the consumer complaints I drafted was expected and the Ecommerce research I undertook on 20 Indian e-commerce companies ( Flipkart ,amazon , snapdeal included) using 58 criterions of consumer policy was more exhaustive but easier to comprehend and relate for me ;
 Electricity really brought me to life – it involved a lot of technical looking codes , scared me to death , I even failed to put proper work on some occasions! I’ve read many quotes which say stuff like do what scare you the most and didn’t think much of it. But once you are forced to do the unexpected , step outside that comfort zone – win or lose , you gain experience. Experience which makes you bold enough to try again and not make the same mistake twice.
And that is what I thank CAG for.
 For letting me play with electricity.

Thank you

Samyuktha Semi Jayaprakash

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