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NLSIU’s Vrinda Bhandari only Indian lawyer to win Oxford Rhodes scholarship: will return to India for research

The Radcliffe Camera is a cold, cold place in winter
The Radcliffe Camera is a cold, cold place in winter
Exclusive: NLSIU Bangalore student Vrinda Bhandari was the only Indian lawyer this year to have been awarded the prestigious Rhodes scholarship, continuing NLSIU’s streak of producing Rhodesians.

Bhandari was the only Indian law student who was told on Saturday (5 November) in Mumbai that she was selected for the international award that entitles recipients to free study and a stipend for a subject of their choice at Oxford.

She said: “I intend to study law and society – my area of interest is access to justice, so on the issue of justice looking at case delays and case management systems. I have also done a lot of empirical research on the consistency of decision making – basically a judicial trends analysis.”

At Oxford she was looking to study under Professor Adrian Zuckerman, who she said specialises in case management systems and who was instrumental in England & Wales’ revolutionary civil procedure reforms under Lord Woolf.

Commenting on her future plans after completing up to three years of Oxford’s BCL and potentially two years of MPhil, she said: “I plan to come back and continue further research and join academia. Some of the options I would be looking at are a lot of independent think tanks for policy research - they are a really good place for doing non-partisan research - or even working in a law school environment. In Delhi there’s also the Jindal Global Law School and also NLSIU Bangalore itself.

“I am definitely sure I’d like to come to India.”


Three other law students – one from NLSIU, one from NLU Jodhpur and from RMLNLU Lucknow - were also interviewed on Saturday by a panel chaired by Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata.

Bhandari said that it was a tough process of around 500 applicants from India, involving a 1,000 written statement of purpose, six personal references and the 20-minute interview.

Bhandari, ranked second in NLSIU’s current fifth year, told Legally India that her strong interest in sports probably counted in her favour with the nine-member quizzing her in detail on her and India’s sporting achievements.

She explained that she was a five-time national basketball player, had run for Delhi State in athletics and had helped organise NLSIU’s annual sports festival Spiritus.

In each of the last three years, two lawyers had bagged the Rhodes: V Niranjan of NLSIU and Aditya Swarup of Nalsar Hyderabad in 2010, with Niranjan later topping the BCL course at Oxford; Nalsar’s Shreya Atrey and NLSIU’s Gautam Bhatia in 2009; and NLSIU’s Sushila Rao and GLC Mumbai’s Dhvani Mayur Mehta in 2008.

NLSIU is understood to have produced Rhodes scholars almost every year for the last 16 years.

Non-law Rhodesians

Exclusive: Four other Indian students were also selected this year for the Rhodes, said Bhandari: physicist Akul Dayal from IIT Delhi; geologist and forestry student Nikita Kaushal from Pune University; sociologist Sujit Thomas from Delhi University’s School of Economics; and chemistry student Amit Kumar from IIT Roorkee.

Photo by: wit

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