August 3, 2018 was a proud day for the Law and Other Things (LAOT) family. One of the former editors of the blog, Dr. Tarunabh Khaitan, received the inaugural Letten prize for his work on equality and non-discrimination. Dr. Khaitan emerged as a winner out of five shortlisted candidates from a pool of 200 applicants.
After graduating from NLSIU with a gold medal for the “most outstanding student” of his batch, Dr. Khaitan went on to study BCL, M.Phil and D.Phil as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. He is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Oxford and the University of Melbourne. He served as an Editor of the LAOT blog from 2007-2018 and continues to be a permanent contributor to the blog.
Dr. Khaitan’s research on anti-discrimination is well-documented in two books, numerous book chapters and journal articles authored by him. His book titled A Theory of Discrimination has been cited by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ) and reviewed very positively in leading journals, including in Law and Philosophy, where Sophia Moreau said “In this magnificent and wide-ranging book … Khaitan attempts what very few others have tried.” In Ethics, Deborah Hellman said that its “ambitious scope and the careful argumentation it contains make it one of the best in the field.” In his review in the Modern Law Review, Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen claimed that “Khaitan’s account is sophisticated, extensive and among the best normative accounts of discrimination law available.” Colm O’Cinneide’s review in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies mentioned that “Khaitan’s quest shows up the inadequacies of previous attempts to track down this Holy Grail, and the path he has laid down will encourage others to follow in his footsteps.”
Dr. Khaitan has also previously assisted the Indian parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor in drafting of the Anti-Discrimination Bill 2017. On the LAOT blog, Dr. Khaitan initiated several fruitful discussions in a variety of issue, including about this Bill, housing discrimination against Muslims, atrocities against sexual minorities and SC’s verdict in Naz v. Koushal. His scholarship on discrimination and other issues can be accessed from his SSRN page.
About the award
The Letten Prize was founded in March 2018 by the Latten foundation in partnership with the with the Young Academy of Norway. Starting 2018, the prize is to be awarded every two years to a young researcher below the age of 45, who contributes in fields of health, development, environment and equality. The award has been commemorated in the memory of late Prof. Letten S. Saugstat who carried out intersectional research in areas of public health, environment and equality. Inspired by her work, the Letten foundation aims to encourage cross-border intersectional research that can be used to transform societies.
The Letten prize committee lauded Tarunabh Khaitan’s path-breaking research on the contemporary issues of inequality. The committee believed that his work transgressed the Indian borders and was relevant in many other present day societies. After receiving the award of US $260.000, Dr. Khaitan expressed his plans to use the prize money to launch an Indian Equality Law program at the Melbourne Law School, which will fund a doctorate and host visiting scholars working on the subject. Upon receiving the award, Dr. Khaitan said “I am very grateful to the Letten Foundation and the Young Academy of Norway for this Prize, which I hope to use towards contributing, in a small way, towards a vision of an India free from unfair discrimination. This ideal, reflected in the principled pragmatism of Dr Ambedkar, the chief architect of India’s pluralistic Constitution, has been a guiding light for my scholarship.”
The committee chaired by Ole Petter Ottersen, Vice-Chancellor at Karolinska Institutet stated that Dr. Tarunabh was a worthy recipient of the award. The LAOT community is proud to be associated with Dr. Tarunabh Khaitan and wishes him all the very best for his future endeavors.
Parika Kamra is a Student Editor-in-Chief of Law and Other Things.