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Giving Month | Research Degrees at NLSIU: Nurturing Top Legal Researchers

February 2, 2022

Giving Month is an initiative to provide the alumni community updates on key initiatives at NLSIU, and invite their support in jointly achieving the University’s development goals.

Each week of February will delve deeper on a separate focus area for the University’s development. This week’s focus is Research and Teaching at NLSIU.

National Law School of India University’s pursuit of academic excellence goes hand-in-hand with efforts in raising our research output quality to the highest standards. The University is committed to training and supporting senior scholars who are pursuing their higher research degrees with us. Candidates of the highest calibre have enrolled and completed research degrees at the University since 1993, when NLSIU launched its Ph.D programme in Social Sciences. The University launched the Ph.D programme in Law in 2005, and the Integrated Ph.D programme in Public Policy in 2019. The Ph.D programmes form the anchor around which the University’s research profile is built.

Last year, 6 scholars joined the Ph.D in law programme, while the Interdisciplinary Ph.D and Ph.D in Public Policy programmes had one scholar each. Research topics being explored by these candidates align with the University’s increasing focus on interdisciplinary research, with topics ranging from ‘Regulatory governance in the field of electricity regulations in India’ and ‘Role of private capital in Indian legal system reform’ to ‘Ambedkarite jurisprudence’.

On the significance of doctoral research at the University, Post-Graduate and Doctoral Council Chairperson Prof. Somashekhar said, “NLSIU was instituted with an interdisciplinary approach towards the study of law, and the Ph.D programme fits into this schema by way of increasing interdisciplinary studies, which contributes to critical thinking.”

Ph.D Funding Initiatives

In the last two years, NLSIU introduced two new funded programmes for Ph.D candidates  – the Dr Menon Ph.D Scholarship and the Thakur Foundation Ph.D Scholarship.

“These scholarships, and other initiatives to enhance rigour in the programme are encouraging a new cohort to undertake doctoral research, and even attracting students, who earlier might have considered doing their Ph.D abroad. PhD programmes have a multiplier effect in nurturing research talent and raising the bar on scholarly output in the country,” Prof. Somashekhar said.

Dr N R Madhava Menon Scholarship

The Dr N R Madhava Menon Scholarship, established in memory of Dr Menon, NLSIU’s founder and keen advocate of quality legal research, is the University’s flagship funded research programme, in line with global standards for supporting Ph.D scholars. Established in 2020, the Dr Menon Scholarship is committed to identifying and supporting Ph.D Scholars to make an exceptional contribution to legal knowledge and legal education, and to become future leaders in India.

Raag Yadava, a Menon Scholar, who is conducting research on the metaphysical and psychological roots of liberalism, said, “My work is inspired by Sri Aurobindo, who presents an evolutionary account of the development of human societies that marries the rich insights of the Indian spiritual traditions with political theory. Given the deep challenges to liberalism we witness today, I hope that this work can ground an informed and constructive debate moving forward.”

“Legal scholarship plays an immensely valuable role in shaping the rule of law. We are glad that NLSIU is making an effort to revitalise the doctoral programme by making it more inclusive and consequently more meritocratic. We feel privileged to be able to contribute towards the Dr Menon Scholarship and wish the candidates the very best” – Class of 1995, on supporting a Dr Menon Scholar 2021-24

Read more about the first and second cohorts of Menon Scholars.

The Ph.D programme costs Rs 22 lakhs per scholar over a three year period. So far, the Dr Menon scholarship has been an externally-funded scholarship receiving CSR and alumni support. The University is now looking to raise Rs 10 lakhs from the alumni community towards the Dr Menon PhD Scholarship for AY 2022-23 during Giving Month. To make a contribution, click here.

Thakur Foundation Scholarships in Public Health and the Law

Thakur Foundation is an organisation investing in capacity building for an empowered society through participative, socially-just governance. Through this scholarship, the University hopes to contribute to issues that lie at the interface of law & public health while developing research capacities of early career researchers.

Read more about the Thakur Scholars 2021-24.

Along with these scholarships, the University has taken several steps in relation to research degrees, in order to become the institution of choice among prospective candidates in India and drive a new cohort of students to undertake their Ph.D here. NLSIU has tightened intake to enhance qualitative attention to scholars. Further, candidates are systematically encouraged to engage with the University through teaching, participating in ongoing research projects and presenting papers at Faculty Seminars. This helps candidates receive feedback, contribute to and integrate better within the NLSIU community.