During law school at the National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata I met students from diverse backgrounds, including many from tribal communities in India. Their encounters with the law were vastly different from my own and there existed little in Indian law libraries to contextualise their experiences. The reason for this lack of materials remained at the back of my mind for the several years that I worked as a Supreme Court judicial clerk, litigator and a researcher in India.
Despite several legal protections and living on richly resourced lands, many tribes remain the worst off amongst India’s citizenry across various socio-economic indices. My PhD at Cambridge explores how colonial rule uniquely affected tribes in South Asia and also how tribes affected colonialism. It seeks to develop a “hybrid” legal history for tribes in India which views not only colonial law’s perceptions of tribes but also tribal perceptions of law and government. This builds on my LLM at Harvard where I explored tribal property rights in Indian legal history. In looking back, I hope to find workable solutions for a more just future for tribal communities across South Asia.
I am grateful to the Gates Cambridge Trust for providing a global platform to this underserved area of law. I look forward to the opportunity to be part of a vibrant interdisciplinary community of scholars with a social conscience.