Meet the 2022–2023 Jagdish Bhagwati Fellows

The fellowships, supported by the government of India, are named in honor of University Professor Jagdish Bhagwati, the influential trade theorist, and a cohort of fellows is chosen annually.

Columbia Law LL.M. students Kinshuk Jha, left, and Shreyansh Singh

Columbia Law School’s Jagdish Bhagwati Fellowship, sponsored by the Indian government, supports LL.M. candidates specializing in international trade, trade law, public interest, and/or human rights. This year’s fellows, Kinshuk Jha ’23 LL.M. and Shreyansh Singh ’23 LL.M., are using their time at Columbia Law to expand their knowledge and explore interdisciplinary aspects of their chosen fields of interest.

Read more about the 2022–2023 fellows below.

Man in a blue blazer, white shirt, and blue tie

Kinshuk Jha ’23 LL.M.

Kinshuk Jha ’23 LL.M. attributes his interest in law as a policy instrument to his parents and the discussions he would have with them on different social issues. “They were strong believers in the rule of law and were conscious of the fact that laws ought to keep pace with the changing times,” he says. “This is where I received my initial lessons in distinguishing right from wrong and comprehending the role of context in any set of facts.” 

This idea of adapting laws to the changing times is apparent in Jha’s current research, which is focused on understanding the intersections of technology, tax, and trade. For the past 10 years, Jha has taught domestic and international tax law at Jindal Global Law School in India. He is also co-author of the book Taxpayer Rights: Deciphering the Indian Charter. Columbia Law School, he says, is the ideal setting for expanding his knowledge. “With courses taught by renowned scholars and practitioners, a multitude of legal clinics, and emphasis on blended solutions through experiential learning, Columbia Law School was quite attractive to me,” he says. Jha is also intrigued by the possibility of pursuing additional studies at Columbia Business School and the School of International and Public Affairs. “To offer nonlinear solutions to the novel challenges created by tech disruptions and the needs of sustainable development, especially in cross-border scenarios, it is ideal to have a kaleidoscopic comprehension of technology, trade, investment, and taxation laws,” he says. 

The Jagdish Bhagwati Fellowship, Jha says, provides him with the opportunity to continue his studies “in the largest capital market and a major tech and financial hub of the world. I am gaining unparalleled insights on different dynamics of international commercial laws from my instructors, who are pathbreaking scholars and leading practitioners in their domains.” The fellowship comes at a critical time for Jha since India holds the presidency of the G20 until November 2023. He is watching India’s role closely and hopes that the country can “emerge as a navigator for the international community in these times of poly-crises with models on public welfare solutions, enhanced role of technology in governance, and immediate actions on climate change. . . . The fellowship provides an opportunity to have vibrant dialogues on such issues with the finest of faculty, international scholars, and industry experts,” he says. 

After completing the LL.M. program, Jha plans to gain a practical understanding of the present and future challenges of multinational corporations, especially with regard to their cross-border business plannings. Jha ultimately hopes that his practical experience and academic understanding of trade, tech, and tax will allow him to be a policy negotiator on a global platform such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development or the United Nations.

Man in a blue blazer and white shirt

Shreyansh Singh ’23 LL.M.

Shreyansh Singh ’23 LL.M. realized that he wanted to pursue international trade when he was a law student pursuing his LL.B. and attended a summer school on international trade law and policy. He knew he wanted to add teaching to his career plans when he accepted an invitation from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific to train government officials from Nepal on digital trade and development programs.

After receiving his LL.B. in 2018, Singh began working with the Centre for WTO Studies under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the government of India. There, he was “part of crucial WTO and FTA negotiations between India and its partner countries,” he says. “I helped India formulate its negotiating position on digital trade, services, intellectual property rights, and COVID-19 response package.” In 2022, Singh joined the Commonwealth Secretariat, London, where he worked as a research officer in its International Trade Policy Section. In his role, he partnered closely with Developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), aiding them with international trade law and policy issues and helping them engage with the World Trade Organization. 

Singh was drawn to the LL.M. program because of Columbia Law’s renowned faculty and academic environment. “The LL.M. program will help me in further developing my expertise so that I can advise the Global South on their internal deliberations in a better way,” he says. His previous experience showed him that “a lot of developing countries do not have robust frameworks in place to strategically negotiate with their trading partners,” he says. At Columbia, his courses “have helped me gain insights on making internal deliberations more transparent—with adequate checks and balances in place.” A course that had a significant impact on him was Political Economy of International Law with Eyal Benvenisti, Samuel Rubin Visiting Professor of Law, “because he incorporates elements of global administrative law to address the concerns that many Global South countries raise that relate to international organizations,” he says. 

In addition, Singh is taking a course at the School of International and Public Affairs on Policies and Practices in Human-Centered Digital Development. This interdisciplinary approach to his research will allow him to “gain insights on adjusting digital development and tailoring it to socioeconomic realities,” he says. 

For Singh, receiving the Bhagwati Fellowship “means not just financial assistance but also the recognition of my work and interest in international trade law that I had developed in my initial years of legal education,” he says. The fellowship is also meaningful to him for personal reasons. “Apart from professional reasons, this fellowship is also important because my mother is a professor and teaches economics in Madhya Pradesh, India; the fellowship is named after the legendary economist Jagdish Bhagwati who has shaped international trade policy in numerous ways,” he says. “After graduation, I will probably work with intergovernmental organizations,” he says. In following his family tradition, Singh also hopes to make a career in academia by teaching international trade law in India.