New Arrivals at the Oxford India Centre

As the academic year begins, Somerville and the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD) are delighted to celebrate the arrival of the Centre’s new Executive Director and of this year’s new Indian scholars.


nandaDr Vivek Nanda has now taken up the post of Executive Director of the OICSD. Dr Nanda brings to the Centre a powerful record of strategic and capital city-building expertise. He is an active policy maker and project leader focusing on both physical and social infrastructure and his particular expertise is in Urban Regeneration, Smart Cities, Sustainability and Resilience. Read more about Dr Nanda here.

The OICSD advances India’s sustainable development by bringing different academic disciplines and sectors together to carry out multidisciplinary research. Its scholarship programme is a key strand of this work, supporting talented Indian graduate students who would not otherwise be able to take up their places at Oxford. This year, we welcome five new scholars who join a growing cohort, and we renew our thanks to those who fund these valuable awards.


Our 2017 Cornelia Sorabji Programme Scholars

2016 saw the establishment of the Cornelia Sorabji Law Programme, named in memory of Cornelia Sorabji, who came to Somerville in 1889 and was the first Indian woman admitted to Oxford.



This year, the number of scholars has grown to three, and we are fortunate to benefit from a new award, the Ratanshaw Bomanji Zaiwalla Scholarship. Generously supported by Mr Sarosh Zaiwalla, Senior Partner at Zaiwalla & Co LLP, London, this is named in memory of his father Mr Ratanshaw Bomanjee Zaiwalla, who qualified as an English solicitor in 1925 and after working for one year in firm called Warwick & Warren in the City of London went back to India and established Zaiwalla & Co Solicitors in Bombay.

Zaiwalla web

He was probably one of the first Indians to qualify as an English solicitor when many Indians would qualify as Barristers but not as solicitors. Mr Sarosh Zaiwalla has created the scholarship to offer an ‘opportunity for young Indians who wish to study law in a prestigious university like Oxford University but are unable to do so because of financial constraints.’


Shreya Prakash PictureShreya Prakash is the first holder of the Ratanshaw Bomanji Zaiwalla Scholarship and is reading for the BCL (Bachelor of Civil Law). Shreya graduate from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore and then worked with Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy in India, assisting the Government of India with corporate and financial law reform projects. ‘Developing countries like India are focusing on attaining financial inclusion and increasing corporate responsibility while ensuring higher investment and growth,’ Shreya says. ‘I believe that well-designed laws play an important role in achieving these goals.’ She is especially excited to be studying at Somerville: ‘It is inspiring to be part of the institution where some of the most pathbreaking women of the twentieth and twenty-first century studied.’

Mr Zaiwalla is delighted that Shreya has taken up the award: ‘As the world becomes smaller and more global, I hope Shreya in some ways will contribute in placing an Indian footprint on the global international field. As it happens, my firm which was established in 1982 was the first English Solicitors firm in the one square mile commercial district in the City of London started by a solicitor born in India.’


Aradhana webAradhana Vadekkethil holds the Cornelia Sorabji Scholarship and is reading for the BCL (Bachelor of Civil Law). Aradhana graduated from National Law University, Delhi. ‘I still remember reading Cornelia Sorabji’s Love and Life Behind the Purdah and feeling her sheer determination to liberate women,’ she says. ‘It is a tremendous honour to be studying as part of a scholarship programme named after her, and it is inspirational to be part of Somerville, with its rich legacy of strong women such as Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi and Dorothy Hodgkin. I am interested in bringing legal reforms to the field of criminal law and in analyzing the intersections of gender, class and caste as they relate to crime and violence. I always recall a conversation I had with a death row prisoner while I was working on a research project. He told me that “As a law student, your shoulders carry the burden of rendering justice and the hopes of millions who trust you to lead them in the right way”. The OICSD and the Cornelia Sorabji Scholarship have given me the opportunity to broaden my perspective and help me to contribute to the criminal law in a meaningful way.’


navya290Through the generosity of Mr Hemant Sahai of New Delhi, Navya Jannu took up a 2016 HSA Advocates Award under the Cornelia Sorabji Programme. Navya’s scholarship was initially for a one-year course, and we are delighted to report that Mr Sahai has now extended his support to enable Navya to continue her studies on to the DPhil programme.


Our 2017 Oxford-Indira Gandhi Graduate Scholars

The Oxford-Indira Gandhi Graduate Scholarships are offered jointly by the University of Oxford and the Government of India to those studying in areas broadly related to sustainable development.


Gabriella webGabriella D’Cruz is reading for an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management. She took her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science at Fergusson College in Pune and has worked with the National Institute of Oceanography and the World Wildlife Fund as well as with local coastal businesses in India. She is interested in the challenges of conserving local marine resources in keeping with the needs of a growing coastal population. ‘Having grown up along the coast, I am deeply concerned with the degradation of India’s marine ecosystems,’ Gabriella says. ‘I am very grateful to have received the Oxford-Indira Gandhi Graduate Scholarship to pursue my studies. It was Indira Gandhi who adjured for the conservation of India’s coastline, through a directive which was later formulated into the Coastal Regulation Zone Rules in 1991. This progressive piece of legislation stands today as the primary custodian of India’s coastline. I believe that policy and law based on sound science are where we need to begin in order to conserve India’s extensive and fragile marine resources.’


Sana webSafa Fanaian is reading for a DPhil in Geography and the Environment. Safa holds a Masters in Water Resource Management from the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands and an MSc in Ecology and Environmental Science from Pondicherry University in India. She has been involved with projects including ecosystem-based economic assessment of water systems and participatory irrigation management and has also worked with groups of young people to empower them to contribute to social action. ‘I received a practical understanding of the realities through my work at SaciWATERs,’ says Safa. ‘There, we used innovation to address issues of water quality. I contributed to building capacity and improving dialogue to lead to better governance of the Brahmaputra River. I also co-ordinated a 400+ member pan South Asia network to address the ongoing problem of arsenic in groundwater. At Oxford, my research will seek to understand the possibilities for effective governance and management in Transboundary Rivers while navigating trade-offs for policy, civil society and enterprise.’

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