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Friday, May 24, 2019

Developing Public Policy Leaders for a better tomorrow

India has completed its phases of elections, with results on the horizon; policy discourses have been in focus during the entire election campaigning. In fact, if one looks at the incumbent Government's records, a number of policy frameworks have emerged: National Policy on Biofuels 2018, National Health Policy 2017, National Energy Policy 2017, National Steel Policy 2017, National Civil Aviation Policy 2016, National Offshore Wind Policy 2015, National Policy of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015, National Agroforestry Policy 2014 are just some of the examples at the national level. States have their own policies, since many of the key areas are State subjects under the Constitution. As the Government moves from being a service provider to a service facilitator, one sees the importance of policies and regulatory bodies on the rise.

Further to the above, the Government has begun exhibiting interest in hiring people from outside the bureaucratic ranks, in many of their policy and development work, as consultants. NITI Aayog, the in-house government think tank, which replaced the Planning Commission, is staffed by young graduates, from top universities in the world, as policy consultants. The Prime Minister Fellowship Scheme is an initiative to attract young people in policymaking. A range of Government departments and ministries are housed by professionals, from various disciplines, engaged in research and advisory services. In fact, as a marked departure from tradition, the Indian government recently recruited 9 individuals working in the private sector at a joint secretary level (senior bureaucrats) as lateral hires.

Interestingly, however, despite the interest and willingness, there stands a lack of quality public policy professionals in the country. This is attributed to a deficiency of good Schools teaching public policy as a discipline. Of those that exist, almost all of them are embedded in a university set-up with regulations that make them less agile in adapting to the rapidly changing world of public policy. More importantly, they offer two-year degree programmes, since India does not recognize a one-year, post-graduate degree.

Signs of change are emerging however; these are being adapted to by educational institutions imparting training in the field of public policy - be it in the duration of the course, the curriculum design, and/or the faculty, which impart the same. Amongst the notable Public Policy Schools is the Indian School of Public Policy, launched in October, 2018 by N. K. Singh, Rajiv Mehrishi, Gurcharan Das and others, and driven by Parth Shah and Luis Miranda of the Centre for Civil Society. The School is an outcome of academics, policymakers and professionals conceptualizing together a world-class policy education institute in India, and offering a one-year postgraduate programme in Policy, Design & Management.

The School’s Academic Advisory Council includes Vijay Kelkar, Shekhar Shah, Jessica Seddon, Arvind Panagariya, Shamika Ravi, Ajay Shah and many others; it enjoys the guidance and support of patrons such as Nandan Nilekani, Vallabh Bhanshali and Jerry Rao. The faculty includes Shubhashis Gangopadhyay, Amitabh Mattoo, Dipankar Gupta, Sanjaya Baru, Pronab Sen, Sudipto Mundle, and other accomplished faculty members.

Industry partners like GMR, PwC, Deloitte, Uber, Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, EY, Manipal Education, APCO Worldwide, and many others ( have already come forward endorsing the programme.

The ISPP commences its first batch in August, 2019.

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