Profile with Aarthi Anand

Aarthi Anand (India & Harris Manchester 2003) is Director of the Clean Energy: U.S.-India Project at the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School and is currently assisting the Solicitor General of India before returning to New York in the fall. Previously, she clerked with Justice Ruma Pal of the Supreme Court of India and taught at the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research in India. She is a dual-qualified attorney, entitled to practice in New York, and in India. 

Rhodes Project: Where do you call home? 

Aarthi Anand: New York.

Rhodes Project: What was the first job you ever held?

Aarthi Anand: I was a clerk at the Supreme Court of India immediately after graduating from Law School in India. After Oxford, I spent the year teaching at the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research, India’s top law school, and working on corporate transactions at Holland & Knight LLP, New York – talk about contrasts.

Rhodes Project: What was the last book you couldn’t put down?

Aarthi Anand: I just finished reading Tariq Ali’s Night of the Golden Butterfly – I read it until 3 am on Saturday evening, and took up the book again first thing on Sunday morning. Ali was a former President of the Oxford Union, and was rumored to be the inspiration for the Rolling Stones’ song, Street-Fighting Man. It was an amazing book with several well-etched characters instead of one protagonist, and the plot and storyline moved effortlessly. At times, it felt as if one was in the story and in the shoes of the characters.

Rhodes Project: When you were a child, what did you aspire to be later in life?

Aarthi Anand: An inspirational leader or writer, one who made the world a better place. I was – and to date remain – inspired by Gandhi, C. Rajagopalachari and members of the Indian freedom struggle.  I aspired to be a leader, committed to public life, and to win a Nobel Prize. 

Rhodes Project: What is the best part of your job now?

Aarthi Anand: Writing, undoubtedly. To be lost in the written word, when the writing is going well – it is the ultimate joy – a most perfect dance, music, moment even.  

Rhodes Project: And what is the most challenging part?

Aarthi Anand: Writing again and editing – I think it is both "Agony and the Ecstasy," or "A Nightmare and a Nobel Dream", borrowing from the title of Nicola Lacey’s biography of H.L.A. Hart.

Rhodes Project: How much writing would you say you do in a week?

Aarthi Anand: It varies. I just submitted a serious academic piece of 27,000 words two weeks ago, and a shorter op-ed a few days ago.

Rhodes Project: What advice would you give to a young woman in your field?

Aarthi Anand: Find something that you are passionate about which will make you wake up at 3 a.m. and sit with a cup of coffee. Follow your dream until the very end and never give up. To quote Tennyson, “To follow knowledge like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.”

Rhodes Project: If you could meet one female historical figure, who would it be and why?

Aarthi Anand: Michelangelo. If I had to pick women, it would be either Elizabeth I or Catherine of Aragon – for their indomitable will and courage in a far more difficult era. Or, Marie Curie – for winning not just one but two Nobel Prizes, a feat few have accomplished.

Rhodes Project: What do you do to relax?

Aarthi Anand: Reading – a good book can transport one into realms as yet untravell’d and restore equilibrium whatever be the mood.  "In vacant or pensive mood," when I lie with a good book, “my heart with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodils” to borrow from Wordsworth’s sonnet, Daffodils.

Rhodes Project: What inspires you and why?

Aarthi Anand: People – accounts of bravery and how they persevered and triumphed over adversity, and the kindnesses of other human beings, who helped them on their path. Similarly, the Rhodes Scholarship provides the incredible gift: meeting and gaining fellowship with most extraordinary people – peers, world leaders, several of whom are frequently Rhodes Scholars as well. 

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