India Endows Chair and Fellowship at Law School

Fall 2010

This spring marked a significant milestone in Columbia Law School’s longstanding relationship with the government of India.

Meera Shankar, the Indian ambassador to the United States, visited the Law
School in April to announce that the country would endow both a professorial chair
devoted to Indian constitutional law and a fellowship named after Professor Jagdish Bhagwati.

The title of the new chair, the B.R. Ambedkar Professorship in Indian Constitutional Law, refers to the architect of the Indian Constitution, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, who graduated from Columbia University in 1915 with a master’s degree before also earning a doctoral degree from the University.

“[Ambedkar] is remembered today as a symbol of social change, as a vigorous advocate of social justice in India, and as an architect of the world’s longest and most comprehensive national constitution,” Shankar said. The inaugural chair will be Visiting Professor of Law Akhil R. Amar.

As a second gift, the Indian government will underwrite the Jagdish Bhagwati Fellowship program, which was created to support the studies of at least two Law School students annually. Fellows will likely be Indian residents who are at the Law School studying trade, public interest, or human rights law. Bhagwati is the senior fellow in international economics for the Council on Foreign Relations.

“I feel flattered,” Bhagwati, a world-renowned economics, international trade, and globalization expert, said of having his name affixed to the fellowship. “There is something in beingrecognized, not just by . . . peers, but also by your own country. I feel very happy about that.”

The Indian government’s gifts enhance the Law School’s role as a leader in international law and reinforce its scholarly focus on India.

“In the 21st century, India will play an increasingly important role as the world’s most populous democracy,” Dean David M. Schizer said at the announcement ceremony. “From India, the world has much to learn about pluralistic democracy and about successful economic development in a democratic system.”