Dear Juniors, Welcome to the Gyaan Culture
Quirk has a treasured collection of life, love, laughter and gyaan at Law School and this article is an introduction to all of that and more. It is a subset of the gyaan bootcamp that you will receive throughout your five years, but most commonly, and soon annoyingly, in your first year. The writers of this article have chosen to be anonymous because they do not wish for this to be seen as their Law School experience, but rather a collection of Law School experiences – something that the readers can choose to ignore or accept – just as they may with all the articles included in this piece.
Now that you have entered this wonderful haven you will come to call Law School, you will categorise everything before this point on as “Before Law School” and everything to come as “Different”. The reason we say this is because Law School has an ethos that you can feel, but cannot fully comprehend, leading you to get consumed by it. It’s like that clichéd scene in every horror movie where you know that there’s a ghost in the house, but you don’t know where. You are the dumb blonde boy that happily follows the knocks of the ghost around the house. And the end result? You’re going to get spooked killed.
Since you are like newborn lambs who enter the world, wide-eyed and lost, at least in the opinion of those goats who have been around for a year, you need guidance to navigate through this ethos. And in this brave new journey, your friendly neighbourhood senior goats will sit you down in vajraasan and give you a mouthful of what they call gyaan. At no point in your life at Law School will there be a lack of gyaan. However, be careful to not confuse gyaan with advice. Merely think of it as an experience that you can add to your repository of tidbits about this place that can give you a more encompassing idea of what the law school ethos is about. But don’t forget that this is not the only experience, it is not an experience you need to follow, and that there are so many other experiences out there – including the one that will soon become your own.
The problem with buying into the gyaan culture blindfolded is that in a blind world, one-eyed man is queen. And these seniors who think that they have perfect vision and knowledge about this place will just force-feed down your throat cynicism-filled metaphorical alcohol (we keep it PG-18 in here, guys). They will assure you that someday you will understand this place and become an alcoholic yourself (a metaphorical one, hopefully) – believing that cynicism is just another part of what it takes to be a Law Schoolite. It becomes a self-fulfilling toxic prophecy.
In Law School, more than anywhere, it rings true that knowledge is power. And gyaan, the Law Schoolite’s preferred form of dissemination of knowledge is a not-so-subtle power flex. It’s a straight up Huk-kind-of-punch in your face. No doubt, the kind of relationship Law School encourages between seniors and juniors is unique, supportive and nurturing in a way you would not imagine – something you will realise in your first few days here. However, there have been instances where this relationship has been abused – when getting gyaan is met with an obligation to reciprocate in some form, no matter how skewed. This is why gyaan should be given just the right amount of importance it deserves – no more, no less. So, remember kids, take the unsolicited gyaan you get with a pinch of salt and also a lemon and a happy shot of vodka.
One of the more problematic ways in which gyaan manifests is in the form of seniors separating courses into “scam” and “legit” and everything in between (you would think the top 80 legal minds of the country have other things to do). They will sit you down and categorically explain which courses need the effort to get an ‘O’ and which courses don’t and how to go about scamming that research paper. Very often this doesn’t work out because courses (along with portions, reading materials, examination patterns and the like) change from year to year, and from person to person – just ask any second year about their Speluncean Explorers experience and they’ll probably eat you alive in frustration. At some point in your five years, you might find yourself questioning what you’ve actually learnt. The course might seem scam, but there’s a reason it’s part of your course structure, is there not? (We really hope so, I mean, it’s half a decade, there’d better be a reason.) And it’s up to you to figure this out – take all the gyaan you want, but let the choice be yours.
Another aspect of gyaan (that we remember all too clearly) is the incessant buzz of some senior whispering down your ear that there are certain activities that Law School places on a pedestal – mooting, debating, negos, and that if you are to climb the stairs up to that pedestal, you must excel in these activities. How else would you be knighted “studly” as these seniors have? However you have to realise that it’s often the people whose Law School experience was defined by these activities who push you to do them – don’t let that stop you from choosing your own experience in Law School. Fun fact: Law School is more than these activities, and there is more to life than Law School. Insert self-worth quote (we found it on the VC’s noticeboard): “You are more than the sum of your achievements blah blah.” “Noted. Sent from my iPhone.”
But that being said, if you do decide to take up these activities, or anything else (from being a flower girl at Spiritus to running a media organisation), realise that Law School is a place where help will always be given to those who ask for it (and even to those who don’t – in re: unsolicited gyaan). So, in a twisted way, the gyaan culture is what this place runs on – it’s what brings us together because there’s nothing we like more than sitting a junior down in vajraasan and spouting some “advice” and feeling self-important. (Why do you think we wrote this article anyway?)
Jokes aside though, Law School is a place where, when you thank an unnamed senior for all the help she’s given you, she’ll probably tell you “Don’t thank me, just help a first year in your fifth year – keep the legacy alive.” It’s a place where the books you need for each course are passed down by your seniors, accompanied with the tacit assumption that you’ll do the same when your time comes (Note: It’s not advisable to burn down your eco textbook after the course). It’s a place where you’ll take your kid out for chocolate coffee, just because that’s the first thing your fifth year did, in an effort to make you feel at home.
And that is the elixir of the Law School community. (Please note, it’s not water because Law School water is akin to poison – when they say BYOB, they mean Bring Your Own Bisleri – don’t drink from the tanks in the classrooms, kids.) When people tell you that the best thing our college has is the massive alumni base – this is what they mean. The most beautiful thing about this place – despite all of the cynicism and toxicity that everyone talks about – is that students look out for each other, especially their juniors. You will get a tremendous lot out of your time at Law School. See that you pass it down all the way through. Like one of our SBA Presidents, Aman Saxena (Batch of 2018), succinctly put it, “It’s what you leave behind, and do, for a place that gave you so much that matters.”