“Since college shut down due to the pandemic, evenings on this terrace are possibly the only thing that have held me together,” a student of the National University of Juridical Sciences told me in the summer of 2020, sitting atop a concrete water tank on a terrace sandwiched between two taller buildings in their home city. “People in college seem to be living in a world apart—landing internships, acing their exams. No matter how hard I work, it doesn’t seem to translate.”
The student, then in the middle of their law education, had been born with a medical condition that left them with a serious disability. Doctors confirmed early on that they would need special education. The student was motivated to pursue law in the hope of improving their family’s modest financial circumstances and due to a deep interest in politics and society. At the age of 17, they cracked the highly competitive Common Law Admission Test, the gateway to the country’s 23 National Law Universities. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the student joined NUJS, in Kolkata, as one of the small minority of disabled students at the university. This is where, chatting away one afternoon, we met each other as fellow students.