Journey so far: Sanya D. Kishwar on winning a Fellowship from Pennsylvania State University

By Sanya D. Kishwar, Central University of South Bihar, Bodh Gaya.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less travelled by

And that has made all the difference.

Greetings to all my friends, seniors and elders! I, Sanya Darakhshan Kishwar have taken to this platform to share my experiences and the learning process that I went through, during my journey from India Rounds of 3rd Prof. N.R. Madhava Menon SAARC Mooting Competition, 2017-18 to the SAARC Rounds of the same.

All this started in the month of August, when I was randomly perusing a law portal and I sorted out two Moot Court Competitions; thereafter I started my search for a teammate. Mooters would agree, this is a difficult task indeed. As our internal selections were over, I had to separately appear before a bench of Judges for getting the permission to go for any Moot I selected. Till that time, I had already participated in two Competitions-International: K.K. Luthra Moot Court Competition, and National: Jamia National Moot Court Competition. But after getting eliminated from the prelims round itself, in both places, I had this intrinsic feeling that I had to prove my mettle. I was also working for the National Youth Parliament at that time and I asked one of the members of the Organizing Committee to help me out in selecting one Moot out of the two I had shortlisted. I must give special thanks to that person, my brother, Vishal Kumar Singh, a 4th year student, who had himself taken part in both the Moots, and made me aware of the fact that the SAARC Moot had bigger opportunities for me.

Without thinking much, I asked him to collaborate with me, for making a team and we set out to find a third member. At this point, I must thank Amar Vivek, a 4th year student, who agreed to be the Researcher for our team.

India Rounds

Days went by and we made the Memorials and practised hard. We reached Lloyd Law College and were ready for the India Rounds.

Round 1

Round 2

We performed our best and ultimately, the results for this round were announced. Vishal had been talking about the positive result he had been hoping for, and we got selected for the SAARC Rounds and also won the Second Best Memorial Award. Then and there, my way for this Fellowship opened up.

Qualifying Teams


Qualifying Team Award

Second Best Memorial Award


Out of the five teams selected for the SAARC Round, the fifth year students were shortlisted for the prestigious Best Law Student Award (the SILF-MILAT Award). The Awardees (Best Law Students-Male and Female) had to be selected on the basis of their Academic Record and the Moot Court Competitions they had participated in, during 2017-18. They were to receive an Admission for Masters in Law and a fellowship of $50,000 each, from Pennsylvania State University, School of Law, U.S.A. The Award was sponsored by SILF (Society of Indian Law Firms) and MILAT (Menon Institute of Legal Advocacy Training).

SAARC Rounds

We were a team of three, but had to get a fourth member for our team, for the SAARC Round and thus we included Tanay Akash, a 3rd year student, in our team, for the same. Amar and Tanay, thereafter, engaged in preparations for the Law Student’s Conference, which witnessed paper presentations from SAARC nations too. Vishal and I got busy with the Moot and it is pertinent to mention that the problem for SAARC Round, just like the India Rounds, was an excellent piece of technicalities, posed to us by Mr. Ravi Prakash. As time elapsed, we went deeper into the nuances of International Law, a subject both of us did not have any command over. We turned to our library for help and took hold of important books, including those by Starke, Brownlie and Oppenheim. After spending days studying the idea of Secession, Autonomy of Indigenous People and, Women and IDPs’ human rights, we started working on our Memorial. After this step, I had to work with equal commitment towards both goals I had set out to achieve, one being the Moot and the other, the SILF-MILAT Award.

Not to forget, my teachers helped me a lot and helped me revise each and every subject that I had studied so far, as it was impossible for me to go through all those Books, Bare Acts and Cases. At home, my mother, aunt and maternal grandfather helped me handle the pressure. I was able to revise the Criminal Law Subjects, with the help of my grandfather, an excellent advocate and an expert in cross-examination. But, I had this feeling that I was not studying that hard. So, I took to burning the midnight oil, and reserved a quarter of my day for Moot preparation, a quarter for the Award, another quarter for perfecting the Memorial and the last quarter, for sleep, of course. From my experience, I understood that there is no good in sacrificing your sleep, because if you study the whole night, you would certainly fall asleep at crucial times when you have to perform and so, I would like to advise my friends and colleagues, not to sacrifice their sleep time, if they wish to excel in their chosen pursuits. Success would not come via that route, rather you would be stationed at a place where you would not be able to enjoy the success coming. So, sleep properly, eat well and yes, meditate, to handle the pressure.

Amidst all the peer pressure I had been facing, I found support in my teammates, who stood beside me like elder brothers, although they were younger to me! That support is what made me manage my time. After attending classes, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., we would stay back and practice. After reaching home, I would go to my study room and revise all the subjects properly; of course, I did not study all the books I had, but I could not have risked to leave even the Bare Acts and Case Laws unread. 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. was our practice time, and we practiced over the phone, asking questions from each other from the issues assigned to us for the Moot.

Finally, the day came and we were to show what we had learnt in the Preliminary Rounds. But before that, on 16th of February, we had our interview, before luminaries like Prof. Madhava Menon and Mr. Lalit Bhasin. A bench of four Judges tested our knowledge. We (three female students and two male students) were told to submit our Resume and bring all our original documents. After perusing the same beforehand, we were asked technical questions from diverse subjects and it is to be mentioned, that the questions were not at all easy!

The result was supposed to be declared on 18th February and so, we took back to our Moot, and the Law Conference. We qualified for the Quarters, and also for the Semi- Finals, beating teams from prestigious universities across the SAARC Nations. But after our elimination from the Semi-Finals, my mind went blank; thereafter, thoughts of the Award engaged my mind.

Preliminary Round I

Quarter Finals: We were the Respondents

Semi Finals: Respondents Again!!

The Award

In the valedictory, Mr. Lalit Bhasin addressed the gathering and revealed that this time, two female students were chosen, instead of choosing one male and one female student. That time, I was sitting with my team praying to God and my brothers were calming me down as I was very anxious. But, soon a voice struck my ears, “And the names are: Sanya Darakhshan Kishwar, from Central University of South Bihar, Gaya” and my teammates made me realise that I had to go to the stage instead of sitting dumbstruck!

Going there and shaking hands with luminaries like Justice Adarsh Goel and Padmashree Prof. Madhava Menon, was an honour in itself. As I walked back to my seat, the realisation dawned upon me that I was going to the USA for my LL.M. and my brothers were happier than I was! We also won the Second Best Memorial Award! All this was not easy for us, coming from a newly-established university, with limited resources. However, as it is said, everything happens as God wills it to happen! So, all my friends who aim at doing big, my only advice to you is: study well and always stay rooted to the ground! Never let success blow your mind! And of course, sleep and eat well, because you have to stay alive for getting success, right!

The woods are lovely dark and deep

But I have promises to keep

And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep.