Changing Face Of Public Policy Education In India

Due to the progressive Corporate Social Responsibility law, Indian non-profits became financially stronger and could attract talent.


For quite some time in India, public policy education was largely restricted to Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA). This was in part because the policy planning and implementation was almost entirely managed by the civil servants. When it came to seeking external help, civil servants would turn to planning commission or policy schools abroad for guidance. Policy planning in India in its construct was mostly defined by socio-political interests and very rarely would it be based on evidence and globally acclaimed frameworks.

Private talent in this field was also limited because youth neglected this sector as they didn’t want to be branded as ‘Jhollawallahs’. Most public policy jobs were limited to working at small non-profits or doing social activism. Corporate India didn’t have enough public policy jobs as there were no public policy departments and even if there were in some cases, the pay scales were abysmally low. Hence, our youth preferred studying business administration or other professional courses which could get them high paying jobs. India was also going through a phase where self-preservation over the larger interest of the society was preferred. 

By the turn of the previous decade, things started to change for the better. People started demanding better infrastructure, schools, healthcare and wanted more accountability from the government. This led to a shift in the mindset of the government. They started engaging more with civil society as well as started recruiting private talent to work for them. State governments such as Haryana, Delhi, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra were the early adopters when it came to hiring external public policy experts as Fellows. Niti Aayog and other central government bodies also started engaging private individuals as Officers on Special Duty (OSD). Any Fellowship with the state government or a job as an OSD could pay up to 1.2-1.5 lakh a month.

Due to the progressive Corporate Social Responsibility law, Indian non-profits became financially stronger and could attract talent. Non-profit fellowships such as Teach For India, Lamp, Young India as well as Gandhi Fellowship started attracting talented youth to work on India’s reform process and that led to a steady supply of public policy professionals in the job market. The progressive corporate social responsibility law allowed non-profits to become financially stronger and they could in-turn attract private-sector talent.

With the advent of mobile app-based service delivery, tech policy became a huge opportunity for Indian policy professionals. Global tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Uber and certain Indian tech start-ups such Mobile Premier League, Ola, Zomato all started having public policy departments to proactively engage with the government.

All this has led to the evolution of public policy education in India. From purely mathematics, finance, economics centric courses we are now talking about managing cities using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Issues such as climate change and education have found political space. We now have to cater to the needs of the technology sector and how it engages with the government. Youth are now more involved in political and social activism and take pride in working on social issues. Communication for public policy, campaign management as well as multi-party negotiations are emerging as key fields where India needs its talented youth. Hence, Indian youth have started looking out for professional courses in the field of public policy. With LBSNAA only catering to the needs of the government, it is imperative for India to now have a world-class policy school that can prepare professionals to solve for India’s 21st-century problems.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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