In 2010, the Legislative Assistants to Members of Parliament (LAMP) Fellowship was conceptualised by PRS Legislative Research, creating a unique platform for young Indians to engage with policy making at the national level. The Fellowship, a first of its kind in India, provides an opportunity for youth passionate about public policy to work with a Member of Parliament. Launched in collaboration with the Constitution Club of India, the Fellowship began with 12 Fellows and has now grown to include more than 40 young men and women from across India working with MPs from across political parties.
The bulk of the Fellow’s work focuses on Parliament. On average, Parliament passes 60 Bills a year. These Bills, covering a wide range of issues from food security to criminal laws, represent the government’s policy choices. Informed debates on legislation are therefore critical. Parliamentarians also use the floor of the House to discuss and debate urgent matters of public interest. The LAMP Fellowship provides young Indians with the opportunity to do legislative work through a 11-month professional engagement with an MP. Fellows are exposed to critical issues in public policy through which they will acquire knowledge about policy, parliament and governance structures, develop analytical abilities and hone leadership skills.
The Fellow typically supports an MP by providing research inputs for: policy and legislative debates, parliamentary Questions, standing committee meetings, and framing private members’ Bills. Beyond Parliament, MPs have to focus on their constituency; LAMP fellows may work on issues at the constituency level. Many Fellows in the current cohort have also had a chance to visit the parliamentary constituencies, often travelling with the MP to meet district officials and engage with constituents. Visits usually include a trip to the site of a centrally-sponsored scheme, engaging with public health officials, or attending panchayat meetings. Some Fellows also assist their MPs with media-related work like drafting press releases and preparing research for public appearances.
The LAMP Fellowship is enriched by various workshops, seminars and discussions providing greater exposure to public policy. The current cohort have already engaged with experts like former Director General, CAG Amitabh Mukhopadhyay; social activists Reetika Khera and Harsh Mander; policy practitioners Nitin Pai of The Takshashila Institution, Laveesh Bhandari of Indicus Analytics and former Chairman of TRAI Nripendra Misra; and leading JNU academic, Niraja Gopal Jayal.
“At LAMP, there is no ‘typical’ day at work. Each day comes with new tasks, new challenges. My work for my MP has forced me out of my comfort zone to explore and understand an array of subjects.” – Kavya Iyengar, LAMP Fellow 2012-13
Fellows also get the opportunity to interact with organisations from various sectors like Google India, UNHCR and BCG. For instance, this year’s Fellows participated in the iPolicy workshop for young leaders, organised by the Centre for Civil Society. Last year, the Indian School of Business (ISB) Hyderabad hosted LAMP Fellows for a 3-day residential leadership development workshop, led by professors and guest speakers, including former RBI Governor, Dr. YV Reddy.
The LAMP Fellowship provides policy exposure but also guarantees a truly distinctive year: no two LAMP Fellows have the same experience. Every MP will have different research demands; LAMP Fellows have to be flexible, self-motivated and hungry to learn. Work can be challenging but also hugely rewarding. Previous Fellows have used the Fellowship as a launch pad, pursuing further studies at top Universities like Yale, John Hopkins, and Oxford and embarking on careers in political consulting, public relations and think tanks. Some Fellows have even continued to support the work of parliamentarians, pursuing their area of interest like media, policy and constituency development projects.
India’s vibrant democracy is constantly confronted by complex, urgent and important challenges. The Fellowship provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to understand these challenges and, perhaps, even help overcome them. Be a part of the solution, be a LAMP Fellow.