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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fellowship in Politics

The Legislative Assistants To Members of Parliament (LAMP) Fellowship, an initiative conceptualized by PRS Legislative Research, targets exceptional young Indian citizens who are seeking opportunities to widen their understanding of the nature of politics and policy making in India. The fellowship provides invaluable exposure and serves as a launch pad for future careers in management, law, public policy, journalism. Each LAMP Fellow will be assigned to a Member of Parliament, and will support the MP in their Parliamentary duties.

For the duration of the fellowship, each LAMP Fellow is involved in:

  • Working closely with a Member of Parliament in preparing for their policy debates in Parliament
  • Performing research across diverse sectors and legislation in Parliament
  • Interacting with high-level opinion leaders and practitioners in the policy domain
  • Networking with leading organizations across diverse policy sectors
The pilot initiative of the LAMP Fellowship was conducted in collaboration with the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi.

FAQs About Fellowship:
Q 1. What are the application dates for the fellowship?
A.Applications for the Legislative Assistants for Members of Parliament Fellowship open on February 20 and close on March 20. Candidates may access the application form on the PRS website.

Q 2. What is the selection process?
A.The LAMP Fellowship involves a highly competitive selection process to enable us to engage with brilliant, motivated young individuals across the country. To promote greater access, the online application form provides a single window application forum.
The application form requires the candidate's academic and work experience background details. In addition, it requires a statement of intent by the applicant, expressing her/his expectations from the LAMP Fellowship.
Only Indian citizens are eligible for the LAMP Fellowship.
The application process is followed by an interview of shortlisted candidates. The interview will be conducted by PRS.

Q 3. What are the criteria for selection of LAMP Fellows?
A.PRS seeks to engage with highly-motivated, bright young people for the LAMP Fellowship. Candidates from all backgrounds are welcome to apply. Our current batch of LAMP Fellows come from diverse backgrounds including liberal arts, law, commerce and the sciences.

Fellowship Structure
Q 4. What is the exact duration of the fellowship?
A. The Fellowship is scheduled to begin in June 2011 and will conclude in May 2012 (subject to the Parliamentary calendar). Each LAMP Fellow is expected to undertaking the activities of the fellowship on a full-time basis for the entire duration.

Q 5. What is the average number of working hours I need to put in?
A. The role of a LAMP Fellow requires full-time commitment. The periods when Parliament is in session will be the busiest time of the year for anyone working with Parliamentarians, as it is for all of us at PRS. MPs are usually in Parliament anytime between 10am and 6pm. MPs typically might want to meet with the LAMPs and assign work either before they go to Parliament or after they return. Hence, during session the workload will be the maximum and the LAMP will need to be open to flexible working hours. That said, the number of working hours in a day depends on the workload. The work of each LAMP will therefore differ greatly, depending on the work of their respective MPs.

Q 6. I am not well-versed with the legal or political system in India. Will I be provided with any training?
A. PRS conducts an intensive training module, where the LAMP Fellows will be familiarised with basic parliamentary and legal frameworks, parliamentary procedures, information sources and research tools. Attendance is mandatory for the entire period of training.

Roles and Responsibilities of the LAMP Fellow
Q 7. What is the nature of tasks I am expected to perform as a LAMP Fellow?
A. The primary role of a LAMP Fellow is to provide customised research support to the MP they are working with for the entire duration of the programme. This would entail providing research inputs to help them fulfill their parliamentary duties such as asking questions, raising matters of public importance, participating in debates, writing speeches and even drafting private members Bills.
Thus, on a day-to-day basis the LAMP Fellow is expected to be in touch with the MP - complete any tasks assigned, demonstrate initiative by suggesting issues that the MP could raise aligned with the MPs areas of interests, brief the MP on research inputs etc.

Q 8. What work will I be engaged in when the Parliament is not in session?
A. In between two Parliament sessions, you will be required to continue to support your MP on any research work that is required. This would include research for committee meetings and preparation for the next session. In addition, PRS will anchor certain research projects and training sessions on a periodic basis.
Further, the LAMP Fellow will be involved in various research and capacity building initiatives with organisations working in different policy sectors.

Working with the Member of Parliament (MP)
Q 9. Which MP will I be working with?
A. The MPs who will be part of this programme are those who are actively engaged in Parliament. The pool of MPs will include MPs from both the government and opposition, across all major parties) and from both Houses of Parliament. This pool has MPs who PRS has interacted through the last five years in the course of its work as well as through suggestions by a group of MPs supporting the programme. The assigning of LAMP Fellow to the MPs will be done on a random basis; no consideration will be given to the LAMP Fellow's personal/political leanings or biases.

Q 10. When will I begin working with the MP?
A. All LAMP Fellows must attend the training programmes undertaken by PRS. The Monsoon Session of Parliament is scheduled to begin after the third week of July, when the training module concludes. The LAMP Fellows begin working with them from the commencement of the Monsoon Session.

Q 11. Is there any code of conduct I need to adhere to when interacting with the MP?
A. The LAMP Fellow will be working very closely with the MP and will be seen by them to represent PRS as well. Hence, the LAMP Fellow has to adhere to the strictest standard of professional conduct. Every LAMP Fellow must display appropriate courtesy towards the MPs and other officials. This must reflect in your language, behaviour and interaction.
Addressing the MP: The LAMP Fellow must address the MP respectfully at all times. "Mr/Ms." or "Sir/Madam" are the preferred forms of address.
Interaction with the MP: All conversations with the MP must strictly be confined to the professional realm. The LAMP Fellow is to refrain from airing any personal opinions, political views or details about their personal lives. The personal opinions or political leanings of the LAMP Fellow must not be evident or known, not only in the research that is given to MPs, but even in interpersonal interactions. The LAMP Fellow must refrain from asking for any personal favours or expressing any personal agenda to the MP. As a LAMP Fellow, you are expected to be punctual for all appointments and must adhere strictly to all deadlines given.
Confidentiality: The LAMP will be carrying out research on a number of matters for the MP, some of which could be confidential. All interaction and research material discussed with the MP must be kept confidential – not to be discussed with family, friends or any other persons enquiring about your work. During the course of your engagement as a LAMP Fellow, you will come across a number of documents and other information. The LAMP Fellow is expected to treat all such information and conversations/interactions/discussions with the MP strictly confidential. All research that is prepared for the assigned MP must strictly not be made available or shared with any fellow LAMPs or any other persons.
Media policy: The LA will under no means interact with any persons or groups from any media group (print, TV, radio, internet, blogs) about their work. If there is a call or request that you receive from any media persons, please contact Tonusree at PRS.
Social media policy: The LAMP Fellow is not to blog, post anything on social media websites, web fora, text messages or online chats about your work. You are also to refrain from making derogatory remarks or statements about the MP or politicians in any forum.
Dress code: Dress code is business casual or semi-formal. Men are expected to wear trousers and a collared shirt. Women would need to wear "ethnic Indian" (a salwar kurta) or business casual. No jeans, please. With regard to footwear, men are expected to wear black formal shoes to work.
Programme Logistics
Q 12. Will I have office space to work out of?
A. Since each LAMP Fellow will be working directly with the assigned MP, the designated work space will depend on the arrangement that the MP and LAMP Fellow arrive at. MPs do not have formal office spaces in Delhi. Most interaction, including their professional or business meetings, happen in designated spaces within their residences. It will depend on a case by case basis on whether the MP will want the LAMP Fellow to work out of the office space at the MP's home residence or make other arrangements for office space. The MP could ask you to come and meet him/her at a pre-decided time in the day.
Most importantly, your MP needs to be able to contact you for any research work at all reasonable hours.
In addition to this, the weekly review meetings with the PRS team will be held at the PRS office.

Q 13. Will I have access to any office equipment I would need to complete my tasks?
A. LAMP Fellows will not be provided with any office equipment under the programme. LAMPs will be expected to use their own computers or internet connections. In addition, the LAMP"s monthly stipend includes Rs. 3,000 to cover for any expenses incurred.

Q 14. What is the stipend that I will receive and at what frequency?
A. A stipend of Rs. 12,000 per month will be paid to each LAMP Fellow, with an additional amount of a lump sum of Rs. 3,000 to cover any expenses (such as local conveyance, telephone calls, internet charges etc) incurred. This amount will be paid by PRS by cheque made in the name of the LAMP Fellow. This amount will be paid to each LAMP Fellow at the beginning of every month.

Q 15 Will I be required to travel for work?
A. The role requires the LAMP Fellow to be based in Delhi. The work of the LAMP Fellow will focus on assisting the MP in undertaking his/her duties in Parliament. Thus, the role will require minimal or no travel outside of Delhi.
If the LAMP Fellow and the MP mutually agree, the MP could arrange a visit to the constituency for the LAMP Fellow.

Q 16. What procedure am I required to follow to apply for leave?
A. The LAMP Fellow can take one day off every month through the duration of the programme. However, any such need to take time off must be first brought to PRS for approval and then approved by the assigned MP as well.

Q 17. Who will I report to about the tasks I have completed?
A. Reporting to the MP: On a day-to-day basis, especially when Parliament is in session, the LAMPs need to report to their assigned MPs. This entails checking with them for any tasks that have been assigned, presenting the completed work, briefing the MP, suggesting any issues that the MP might want to flag etc.
Reporting to PRS: Each LAMP needs to maintain a tasklist on excel (format will be provided by PRS) detailing the work assigned, date of assignment, date of completion and any other remarks. This needs to be shared with the PRS team during the weekly meetings.
All LAMP Fellows will meet with the PRS team on a weekly basis at a pre-decided time. This meeting will involve taking stock of the work that has been undertaken by the LAMPs, discussing any pending work and clarifying doubts. A peer review process will also be initiated wherein LAMP Fellows will review and discuss each others work on a periodic basis.

Q 18. May I approach PRS for any questions or challenges I face while undertaking a given task?
A. Aside from the weekly review, a designated member of the PRS team can be contacted for any issues or questions you would like to discuss.
With regard to your research work, the PRS pool of research will be available to you as your first point of reference to help navigate the terrain before you customise the research according to your MPs needs. You are expected to access and tap into a wider pool of research at your own initiative when preparing notes for your MP.

Q 19. I am an outstation candidate. Will any facilities for accommodation be provided to me under this programme?  A. The responsibility of arranging for accommodation in Delhi rests with the LAMP Fellow.

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