Varun Eknath of our University’s first alumni batch was recently granted the prestigious DAAD Scholarship. Here is my conversation with him about life after law school, the scholarship, and more –
What are you doing currently? What does your work entail?
After college I started working as a junior associate at the law offices of Mr. Suhail Dutt, Senior Advocate, the Delhi High Court.
The majority of cases that our office takes up are civil in nature and Mr. Dutt is also a senior arbitration lawyer who has represented clients at international arbitrations. I have been assigned cases on service matters, property disputes, enforcement of contract matters and got to argue at the High Court as well as District/Trial court. Further, I have worked with Mr. Dutt on several arbitration matters and recently, I have been assisting him in the famous ‘Italian Marines case’ pending at the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. The ‘Italian Marines Case’ has got international recognition due to the diplomatic issues that have arisen between Italy and India over the jurisdictional issues involved in the prosecution of the Italian Marines in Indian courts.
Did you always know you wanted to do litigation? If yes, why the choice to leave it and pursue an LLM?
I was always fascinated by the idea of being a litigator. However, before settling down and pursuing litigation as a full time career, I want to explore other opportunities and areas related to the study of law.
We are all familiar with the idea of studying in UK or USA. Can you tell us something about Germany as a center for academics?
Germany is the best choice for an Indian student pursuing higher education today for reasons not limited to academic excellence. Apart from offering a high quality of education and being favored by international students from across the world, Germany is the economic and political leader of Europe today. Belonging to the South Asian region where economic co-operation is increasingly becoming extremely important in a globalized economy, the working of the European Union is of particular interest to me. Study of European law that transcends national borders and brings together competing claims within a common legal framework is of great relevance to my academic and career interests.
Can you tell us something about the DAAD and the scholarship you got selected for?
The DAAD is Germany’s largest scholarship-awarding organisation and runs several programs to support academic exchange between Germany and all parts of the world. These programs range from short-term exchanges for research or teaching purposes to doctoral and masters scholarships lasting several years
Among its various noble grants, I had applied for the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding – Dr. Angela Merkel Scholarship; Master’s Scholarship for European Law.
Can you tell us something about the Dr. Angela Merkel Scholarship and where all it is applicable?
The Dr. Angela Merkel Scholarship is more than just a scholarship – it is an opportunity to participate in a highly competitive and respected postgraduate degree in Law (LL.M) at one of the top academic institutions/ universities in Germany. The scholarship is applicable for the following programs:
- Masters of European Integration (LL.M), Europa Institut, Saarland University.
- European and European Legal Studies (LL.M), Europa- Kolleg, Hamburg.
- Masters of European and International Business, Competition and Regulatory Law (LL.M), Freie Universitat Berlin.
Further, the Scholarship is extremely liberal and offers the following for the selected candidates:
- · Stipend of EURO 750.00 per month
- · A lump sum towards air fare from India to Germany and back
- · Exemption from payment of university tuition fees
- · A study and research subsidy
- · Compulsory health insurance covered by DAAD
- · 2 months German Language Course in Germany – free tuition, boarding, lodging plus pocket allowance during the period of the German language course (preceding studies)
Wow! That’s amazing. What is the application process like?
The Selection procedure for the Dr. Angela Merkel Scholarship comprises of two phases. In the first, the applicants need to submit an application form along with numerous documents and references in support of one’s application. In the second phase, a few applicants are selected for a personal interview.
My interview panel consisted of eminent Professors of Law from India and Germany. The interview is an extremely challenging experience and the eminence of the panel makes it an intellectually demanding process. It lasted for about 25 minutes, and was a very engaging process – I was questioned on the personal statement I had written, the application of economics in the study of law, my career goals, accomplishments thus far etc.
How long after the interview did you get your results? What was your reaction like?
Waiting for the results was a nerve-wracking experience. The days following that interview were quite tiring, as I was nervously awaiting the results. I was informed in January 2014 that I had been selected for the scholarship.
I couldn’t quite believe it when I got an email from DAAD confirming the grant of this prestigious scholarship, and honestly, I still can’t – I think it will take time for it to sink in but I’m more delighted than I have ever been.
Out of the three programs where your scholarship is applicable, where are you pursuing your LLM and why?
I will be pursuing the Masters of European Integration (LL.M), at Europa Institut, Saarland University as it ties up perfectly with my future aspirations. I am extremely keen to work on issues related to International Economic Law and look forward to pursuing a career in multilateral organisations, academic institutions or think tanks in my home country. Eventually, I would also like to develop a practice in International Trade Law in India, an upcoming area of law in the country.
Finally, any advice to your juniors and students in other law schools regarding their application process?
I believe choosing the area of law and course of study as early as possible is the key, considering many colleges have rolling admissions. Since getting adequate funding is an important criterion for most of us applying for these post-graduate programs, I believe that one must research, explore and apply for the sources of funding that are available.