Pranahita Srinivas

In the advanced years of my undergraduate law degree in India, I became fascinated by the idea of the modern corporation and the principles of corporate and financial law that underpinned these corporations.

I was fortunate that this exposure came at a time when these traditional principles were under challenge. A growing body of academic and industry opinion had begun considering whether a stakeholder model (contrasted with the shareholder model) would prove to be better at maximising welfare for all. Around the same time, India witnessed the issue of its first development impact bond (DIB) for purposes of financing the education of girl children in rural areas. The DIB was an innovative, results-based initiative unlike the usual cheque-book philanthropy. Naturally, my interest piqued—here was an example of the transformative potential of targeted private credit and private enterprise to serve as an instrument of social change. My passion in these areas of law and finance had taken firm root by the time I graduated in 2017 with the prizes for the top mark in company law, property law, banking and finance laws and constitutional law. I also received the University prize for the best all-round female student of the graduating class.

Upon graduation, I applied my academic interests to solve real-world problems as a corporate associate in the banking and finance team of a leading Indian law firm. I advised Indian financial institutions and offshore investors on investments in development-oriented sectors such as infrastructure, micro-finance and renewable energy. In law practice, I observed how environmental, social and governance goals were written into legal documents by impact investors to strike the balance between welfare and returns on capital. On the other hand, I also realised how it was often difficult for small-and-medium scale enterprises to fulfil these goals or secure viable funding because of economic and regulatory constraints. On a few occasions, I was glad to see innovative financing models that helped these enterprises overcome their constraints. As a lawyer, I am determined to lead innovation in development finance through a combination of law practice and policy advocacy. The Bachelor of Civil at the University of Oxford offers a unique, inter-disciplinary and academically rigorous opportunity to equip myself in pursuit of these goals. To this end, I will be studying regulation, property and trusts, conflict of laws and financial law at Oxford.

I am truly honoured to be the recipient of the Ratanshaw Bomanji Zaiwalla Scholarship and would like to extend my gratitude to Mr. Zaiwalla, Somerville College and the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development for this kind and generous offer of scholarship that has made it possible for me to fulfil my dream of reading law at Oxford.