NUJS alumnus awarded the Gates Cambridge Scholarship

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In a phenomenal achievement in the field of academia, Mr. Nishant Gokhale from the Class of 2011 has been awarded the Gates Cambridge Scholarship for pursuing a PhD in law at the University of Cambridge making him one of the very few lawyers to have been bestowed with this honour.

Mr. Nishant Gokhale was an active member of the NUJS Legal Aid Society during his college days and was the convenor of the same from 2010-11. He then did a judicial clerkship, followed by a few years of working as an associate at the Law Chambers of Kapur and Trehan. He was well known for his role at Project 39-A at the National Law University, Delhi (then the Centre on the Death Penalty). He then went on to pursue courses during his LL.M. at Harvard which helped him make a transition from criminal litigation to legal history and tribal issues in India. He currently works at William J. Clinton American India Foundation based at the Adivasi Academy which is managed by the Bhasha Research & Publication Centre. This he believes gave him an opportunity to work in a predominantly tribal area and spend a year in an inter-disciplinary library of nearly 50,000 books.

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship programme was established in October 2000 by a donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge. The selection criteria for the scholarship include the demonstration of outstanding intellectual ability, leadership potential, a commitment to improving the lives of others, a good fit between the applicant's qualifications and aspirations and the postgraduate programme at Cambridge for which they are applying. The aim of the Gates Cambridge programme is to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others.

When asked about his journey which led him to getting the prestigious scholarship and how he feels on receiving it, Mr. Nishant Gokhale mentioned that "It still has to fully sink in. Last year, I was admitted to the same program but had to decline for lack of funding. This scholarship not only covers all fees, living costs and other expenses but enables me to be part of a vibrant interdisciplinary community of scholars-- ranging from astronomers and musicians to zoologists--- who are trying through their work to tackle inequities. NUJS played a major role in shaping how I look at the law. Being part of a class with students from across India, I saw their experiences with the law were often vastly different from mine. This was particularly true of students from tribal communities for whom law libraries rarely contain materials which contextualize their experiences. I look forward to spending the next few years at Cambridge looking at legal history to developing solutions for present-day problems facing tribal communities in India."

He also added that "(a) Particular mention must be made of my class-mate Babatdor Dkhar for the endless cups of coffee and insightful experiences with his family in Shillong. He decided to not practice law and has gone on to do many creative things. Amongst NUJS faculty members whose electives I took, Pritam Baruah, Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Saurabh Bhattacharya inspired me to do, and to be better. It was only later that I came to realise the key role Professor M.P. Singh played as V.C. in hiring and retaining talented faculty members. My family, while healthily sceptical of my career choices, has been a pillar of strength. Reaching till here would not be possible without the support of these persons and several others-- friends, teachers, colleagues and clients-- who regrettably are too numerous to name here."

At NUJS, we take immense pride and honour in congratulating him on his brilliant achievement and hope to have him among us soon.

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