In the next part of our series we talk to Mr. Harssh Poddar, an IPS officer from the Class of 2008 on his law school journey, days in Oxford, working with Clifford Chance, clearing the Civil Services examination and serving the nation in his capacity.
Rewinding back to his school days, Mr. Harssh Poddar credited his school La Martinere, Calcutta for focusing more on co-curricular activities which served a breather from route memorization at a time when educational institutions groomed students into becoming professionals in the field of medicine and engineering. In the middle of Class 11, Mr. Poddar realized that his calling wasn’t technical science and that he wanted to do something that involved a greater social impact leading him to consider an undergraduate specialisation in law.
Recollecting his first days at NUJS, Mr. Poddar though was excited about his onward journey slightly felt intimidated by introductory sessions. One was meeting Prof. Dr. NR Madhava Menon and the other that with the seniors who had just that year won the Vis Vienna. The scale of achievement the law school demonstrated though were challenging also inspired him. As what he describes as the golden era for NUJS in terms of contribution to society, he added that Vice Chancellors Mr. Chimni, Mr. Menon and Mr. MP Singh demonstrated a high social commitment.
During his five years in college, Mr. Poddar demonstrated extraordinary talent and commitment. He was involved with the NGO CRY ( Child Rights and You) wherein he worked on child protection laws. He is credited to be one of the forces behind the NUJS Law Review wherein he was involved in drafting the Law Review’s constitution based on Mr. MP Singh’s revolutionary idea to engage a resident pool of writers and a peer review done by the editorial board. When he took over the Literary and Debating Society as the convenor the society only organized and operated on debates that were city based. He was instrumental in bringing parliamentary debate thereby into the university circuit which led to the birth of the NUJS Parliamentary Debate. Apart from this, Mr. Poddar also headed the human rights legal advocacy group comprising of NUJS students that documented the labour rights violations in the tea gardens of North bengal and ensure that judicial relief reaches them. This effort was taken up in association with CRY.
Chief adjudicator, 1st NUJS Parliamentary Debate
Mr. Harssh Poddar then went on to pursue BCL from the University of Oxford with a British Chevening Scholarship. The university taught him to balance an academically intense course and strongly oriented about public life. It was here that Mr. Poddar was advised by his mentor to take the path of civil services. After his graduation, he went on to work with Clifford Chance, a london based law firm.
Mr. Poddar then gave the civil services examination and when asked about why he chose to become an IPS officer he mentioned that a personal tragedy involving the death of his father had induced a sense of raw vulnerability which oriented him towards a path where he could serve people who were experiencing extremely grave situations.
He is credited by many to have donned the role of an officer who works with the youth to effect a change. Here are some of his contributions that have caught the media’s attention
Recently Mr. Poddar was the youngest recipient of the year’s GFiles award for exceptional contribution to good governance recognizing his work on de-radicalization, rescue of mob lynching victims and the SMART police initiative in Maharasthra. At NUJS, we take immense pride and honour in congratulating him on his extraordinary achievement and thank him for his extraordinary role in serving our nation.