Should UPSC Aspirants apply for the LAMP Fellowship?
Updated: May 5, 2021
Legislative Assistants to Members of Parliament (LAMP) is a program run by the PRS Legislative Research which is a non-profit think tank based out of New Delhi. The title of the fellowship is fairly self-explanatory wherein you would be working as a research assistant to a sitting Member of Parliament.
A MP largely performs three functions :
1. Participates in Parliamentary Processes such as discussion on Bills, Question hour etc.
2. Participates in the proceedings of the Parliamentary Committees if she is a part of any.
3. Representative of the Constituency she represents
You would primarily assist the MP with the first two functions and rarely with the third. It is important to note that no two experiences of two LAMP fellows are the same. A lot depends on the MP you would be working with. This is very similar to how no two IAS probationers have the same takeaways from their district training as it would depend on how keenly does the District Collector want to involve them in the matter of the district beyond the mandated protocols of their training manuals. You can find more details by clicking here.
I have tried to hypothecate as many scenarios as possible to answer the fundamental question posed in this article so that it answers your question as specifically as possible. There are primarily two kinds of UPSC Aspirants, one who are absolutely sure that they want to clear this exam as soon as possible and two, who are interested in the larger field of public policy but are not sure whether civil services is what they really want to do. Let me make this perfectly clear that you would have be perfectly honest with yourself when you read any further and even if you are someone who is not sure of this exam, there is absolutely nothing wrong. After all, a moment of doubt in the present is far better than a lifetime of regret.
Let us address the first type of aspirants, the ones who are absolutely sure of writing this exam as soon as possible.
1. If you have just started preparing, then you should not think of applying for this fellowship as you need to spend enough time with the syllabus and truly get a hang of it.
2. If you have been preparing for a year primarily by attending classes and have not really self-studied, you should not apply for this fellowship as you still haven’t finished one full circle of core preparation which requires a substantial amount of memorising and self-evaluation which in itself requires time.
3. If you have been preparing for a year or more but in a substantial manner. You have a good hold over your subjects and you have covered a major chunk of your syllabus at-least once, then yes, you may apply for this fellowship as you know exactly what to read, re-read, and more importantly, what not to.
4. If you are someone who believes the fellowship will give you perspectives that will dramatically enhance your answers, you must understand that by reading one more newspaper apart from your standard one would also get you the exact same depth you think you need. Hence, there is no need to apply in such a case.
5. If you are someone who wants to do this fellowship so that you would have something intriguing to show for during your interview stage of the UPSC CSE, then the input output balance does not match. The amount of time you would spend working on this fellowship would be far too much compared to you perfecting your interview without the fellowship in it.
Let us move to the second type, the ones who are not quite sure of this exam in the first place. You must first understand why! The enormity of the syllabus should not be a forefront reason why you may not want to appear for this exam. There must be some deeper and foundational reasons making you not want to write this exam.
1. If you are looking at a doing an advanced degree in Public Policy or Management, the fellowship holds good pedigree when applying to Universities in India as well as overseas. It does add an edge to your resume which essentially is a stepping stone to something else.
2. If you are someone who is thinking that the fellowship might just be the platform you need to get into politics whether from an active or strategy perspective, the chances of those are extremely rare as the fellowship is fundamentally, an academic and a research oriented one.
3. If you are someone who is looking to also work alongside like-minded individuals such as yourselves and want to build your network, then the fellowship is a good idea.
To sum it up, your reasons to apply for this fellowship should not be driven by the underlying uncertainty to this exam but a genuine interest in the kind of work the fellowship would offer. Keep in mind, much like reading endless pages for this exam can take a toll on the best of you, so can endless pages of research. After all, it is a part of the same umbrella called Public Policy wherein you aspire to be Permanent Executive on one hand and assist the Elected Executive on the hand. Choose well. Choose wisely.