This article has been written by Aarushi Gupta (Batch of 2019, Masters in Public Policy).
‘You’re going to NLS Bangalore for Public Policy – are you kidding me?’, a random guy at a house party back in Delhi exclaimed. ‘You’re quitting your job for that?’; I just nodded nonchalantly in response. ‘Broooo, MPP is the step child of NLS, brooo’, he repeated with feverish concern as I continued to smirk and dismiss the drunken rant. Little did I know that I would soon have anecdotal evidence for the modern-day adage, “a drunk mind speaks a sober heart.”
Now, before I go on, I would like to give you the long and short of this article, especially to the defendants (yeah, I know that legal term). This piece is not meant to be a narrative of the aggrieved (nailing it) or a plea for more inclusivity. At best, the only phrase that can emote the sentiment behind this article is, ‘Lolol, but like why?’.
I was prompted to write all this down because a trespasser from the LLB territory (what territory?!) scribbled certain equations (literally and figuratively) between the LLMs, MPPs, and the LLBs (in no particular order) in our classroom.
When I first saw the graffiti, my knee-jerk reaction was to dismiss it as a childish gimmick, a reaction which resonated with a few others too. It was only after a few minutes of post-coffee brooding that I realised the folly of my uncritical bearing and the possible (albeit temporally far-off) consequences of such apathy. I began by taking a picture and sending out a mail which merely questioned the very motive (I am telling you, I could have been a lawyer) behind such an act. Why does anyone here feel the need to construct a hierarchy? I am genuinely seeking an answer to this. The utility of such bigotry (if I may take the liberty to call it so) is lost on me and the other plaintiffs (I should really stop). Even the battle cry for FUGS (Front for Undergraduate Solidarity) seemed offensive at first but now it just seems like a bad acronym. I mean, you really could have done a better job.
Even more baffling is the constant justification I receive from certain LLB students (I’d kill to take names but I ain’t in no witness box). Their justification? “Dude, not all LLBs hate your lot”. Whut? What am I to say to that? Express gratitude that the MPP-LLM hatred is not as pervasive as the gender-based harassment on this campus? Well, I mostly end up giving a chortle and walking away rather than arguing (wouldn’t have killed it as a lawyer after all).
So, what’s all the CLATter about?
I am assuming that a major source of any such sense of superiority flows from the fact that the LLBs are the top scorers in CLAT. I recognize that and hugely respect it. I also realize that the entry requirements for the MPP and LLM courses might not be as rigorous (though many might disagree) as the ones for LLB. I also concede that this is originally a law school and all of you are here for more years than us. But all these factors simply add to the narrative; none of them explain the partisan behaviour. I mean what drives this behaviour really? It can’t simply be “spaces like Chetta, Bistro, Library, Field and even Rohini have been monopolised and appropriated away from us”. That is not a battle-worthy cause. I mean, have you even eaten the food at Bistro? You can’t possibly be this possessive about the food-littered granite slabs and the artificially coloured gravies.
So, it obviously runs a lot deeper than that. I wonder if it’s got to do something with social conditioning (yes, I am going there). The kind of conditioning that debilitates one’s empathy towards people who they perceive to be less accomplished? It’s a question we all need to ask ourselves. We come with social and material privileges we take for granted and constantly fail to recognise that most of the people around us are fighting their own battles. Everyone is fighting a battle. The LLM student who fought with parents back home to come here; the MPP student who gave up the financial security of a salaried job for a place as promising as this; and the LLB student who finds it hard to stay away from home for the first time. So why make anybody feel any less worthy?
All in all, you know nothing about us except for the course we’re pursuing or may be the amount of space we take up on the grimy (and often covered with bird poop) bleachers in the field. Is that all that it takes to invoke hatred towards us? Sigh. If yes, then what is the difference between the ones who undergo the five-year-kick-you-in-the-crotch-spit-on-your-neck-fantastic (F.U.G.S.) training at NLSIU and the ones feeding off provocative WhatsApp forwards? And no, it’s not that far-fetched an analogy.
(Disclaimer: Not all MPPs)