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Nihad Basheer, a law graduate from GLC Ernakulam, is currently pursuing a degree in Physical Education. As part of the ‘IDIA on Wheels’ Project, he is currently undertaking a cycling trip across India in a bid to raise awareness about IDIA’s work in enabling access to legal education.
In this interview with Bar & Bench’s Aditya AK, he talks about the reasons behind making this journey, his experiences so far, and more.
Aditya AK: What inspired you to take up this cause?
Nihad Basheer: As of now, I can think of three things that inspired me to take up this cause. The first being, it gives me an opportunity to contribute to society, from which I have taken a lot more than I have given. It is an opportunity for me to be part of an endeavour which seeks to promote opportunity for students from underprivileged society to get legal education from top universities in India. Being a part of this has given me a lot of personal satisfaction and happiness.
The second reason is that I get an opportunity to connect, meet and interact with people from different walks of life. People who are part of IDIA team, students and school authorities, and others whom I meet during the course of my journey.
The third is that taking up this cause acts as an additional motivating factor for me to keep cycling in spite of the challenges that creep up at various stages.
Aditya AK: What do you hope to achieve through IDIA on Wheels?
Nihad Basheer: I want to spread awareness about law, the various career options after studying law, and the importance and connection between law and other professions.
Most importantly, I want to build confidence amongst people in the underprivileged sections of society that law is a profession which their children can pursue, and that too at the best of universities, with IDIA’s help.
Aditya AK: What prompted you to take up a course in physical education after graduating in law?
Nihad Basheer: While I was practicing Law, I was also part of an organization called MAD (Make a Difference), wherein I used to teach spoken English for orphan students – this got me interested in teaching children. After about two years, I switched to teaching at school full time.
While I was teaching at a school called Blue Mountain School, I got the opportunity to handle physical education classes as well – it was during my interaction with students that I realized the potential of using sports and games for better understanding of a few Mathematics and Physics concepts. This idea and my love for sports prompted me to pursue a course in Physical Education.
My long term plan is to develop a program where sports and games will be used as activities for understanding various concepts which form part of the other subjects that students are required to learn.
Aditya AK: Tell us about the sensitization sessions you have been a part of so far.
Nihad Basheer: I first interacted with IDIA volunteers from the Mumbai chapter. There we travelled to a school run for Kannada-speaking students on bicycles and did a sensitization program and introduced them to law and IDIA.
At Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, I had accompanied IDIA volunteers from NIRMA University. We hired 2 rickshaws and randomly went to various rickshaw stands and spoke to them about IDIA and what they do. They in turn referred us to the village sarpanch with whom we shared the work that we do, who in turn referred us to few school authorities. This way, we were able to develop a lot of leads, got to speak with school authorities and got appointments to do sensitization program with the students.
At Patiala, we did a sensitization program with students from a government school. It was interesting to hear the various career options they wanted to pursue after school.
At Delhi, we visited a leper home. We had students from class 8 to 12. We divided them into 2 groups – one consisting of 8 to 10 and other 11 and 12. Two different teams spoke to each group.
Aditya AK: How did you prepare for this daunting journey?
Nihad Basheer: The only preparation was with respect to getting all the equipments required – it was only during the journey with days and days of cycling did I really understand all the things required.
At the beginning I was not too sure if I will be able to do an all India tour. The first leg of my journey from Mangalore to Mumbai was the initial test – once this went without much problem, confidence to do an all India tour set in. Completion of each stretch of distance was a kind of preparation for the next stretch, physically and mentally.
Aditya AK: How many cities have you covered? What’s next on the itinerary?
Nihad Basheer: The route so far has been – Mangalore, Goa, Mumbai, Baroda, Gandhi Nagar, Jodhpur, Patiala, Delhi, Agra, Lucknow, Allahabad, Varanasi, Sasaram, Chouparan, Danbhad, Durgapur, and Kolkata.
Remaining route – Cuttack, Vishakapatnam, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Mangalore, Entire stretch of Kerala downwards.
The initial plan was to complete in 3-4 months. Now due to various delays it is likely to take 5 months.
Aditya AK: How has the journey been so far? Any interesting experiences?
Nihad Basheer: Luckily, the journey so far has been good. I haven’t faced many challenges other than the ones expected and brought on by my own shortcomings in planning. The amount of hospitality I received on the way has been immense – random people inviting me to their houses to share a meal, offering money, tea, food, room to spend the night, refusal to take money for repair of cycle, encouraging words and gestures. Most of the help has been offered by the poorer section of the society.
Bar & Bench would like to thank Kumar Panda for his assistance in conducting this interview.