By Deependra Kumar Jha, Vice Chancellor, UPES
The current political and economic climate has led to one definite realisation – there is an urgent need of policy makers who understand not just the changing dynamics of global relationships but also the reformations needed to upskill the citizens. Youth population (individuals in the age group of 15 to 24 years) of India almost equals the total population of all 18 Western Asian countries. Powered in many respects by digital media practices, young people are increasingly forming strong views and mobilising on local and global issues. Examples include safety from violence, climate change, poverty alleviation, gender diversity and mental health. However, studying public policy is one of the formal and effective ways for youngsters to explore numerous avenues and roles available for help transform society and the nation at large.
With the growing knowledge around public policy, students have begun showing tremendous interest in the field and exploring new career avenues in turn contributing to the country’s transformation. Today, resolving complex public problems is not the sole preserve of politicians and bureaucrats. Public policy experts working for think tanks, NGOs, international agencies, and other organisations are equally capable of recommending effective solutions in overcoming issues of general importance.
How to become public policy professionals?
Mastery of public policy requires the study of diverse domains such as law, social science, political science, psychology, policy research and analysis, programme management, history, healthcare, economics, statistics, communication, urban planning, etc.
Considering the discipline’s complexities, some universities have been offering specialised courses for students wishing to make their career as public policy professionals. These undergraduate and postgraduate courses help prepare the youth for careers as administrators and policymakers, equipped to actively or proactively participate in formulating and implementing public policy.
Interested parents and students may be wondering what kind of scope public policy offers. Indeed, multiple avenues are available. These include government agencies; international entities; urban and regional planning; city management; financial planning; think tanks; academic institutions; and NGOs; to name a few. Additionally, there is growing demand for policymakers even in private consultancies, the media and advocacy units.
For example, a career with an NGO may offer openings in multiple spheres such as education, environment, healthcare, rural development, community uplift, etc. Public policy courses prepare aspiring candidates for a better career as policymakers. This learning is essential given the vast gamut of issues to be handled and those that could arise out of the blue. Academic training ensures these potential public policy experts are able to smoothly navigate the complex terrain of policies and public entities.
Besides the career prospects mentioned earlier, there are additional opportunities. The evolution of electoral methodologies calls for serious strategic thinking to capitalise on even the smallest of electoral openings.
Even subliminal strategies are being employed on social media to expand incremental footholds in unconquered constituencies. With psychology and sociology being some of the subjects taught, public policy experts could offer their expertise via varied means in driving winning political campaigns. In essence, they could be part of the reforms brigade that transforms India.
Given the vast and varied opportunities, a degree in public policy can clearly take aspiring candidates far in their quest for personal and professional growth – even while they help in facilitating societal and national transformation.