The Urgency for Public Policy Education in India

    • By,
      Varshit Aggarwal – Student, Kautilya

Nanhe munne bacche, teri mutthhi mein kya hai?
Mutthhi mein hai kismet hamari!

The above lines are from a song that the 90’s that stir nostalgia among the kids of a generation along with it the idea that citizens of India hold within themselves the power to shape the destiny of a nation. As India ascends on the global stage. Indians are filled with a rejuvenated sense of pride internationally.

A career in public policy constitutes a journey of intellectual pursuit, conceptualisation of public issues and aligning it with a vision, engaging in insightful research and identifying root causes for many of the social and developmental issues plaguing the country. To some, the pursuit of a career in public policy may come across as strictly professional – as it should be since politics is serious business! For others, the pursuit of public policy is driven by the passion to bring about fundamental change in society- to become a part of the growth story of a nation. The outcome of such passionate dedication towards bringing about change can be seen in stories of triumph in public policy, echoes and ripples of which are felt in future policy and analysis.

Nation-building rests strongly upon the intellectual advancement of a nation. Any nation that emerges as a superpower has a legacy of having built over generations a strong foundation for research and development. Many of the issues which India is afflicted with today can be dealt with by having an interplay of policy interventions that account for far-reaching impacts on the conceptualisation of new policies.

India currently lags behind in promoting research, and therefore experiences significant lack of, indigenous cutting-edge research and technological innovation. This acts as a barrier for India in rising to the stature of a global superpower or a global economic powerhouse. The brain-drain which India experiences, indicates the lack of research infrastructure in India, and requires policy engagements from multiple fields other than ones related to education, research and infrastructure.

Another challenge is the existing ‘conceptual framework’ of education in India, around which the primary school curriculum is designed. The approach to education should focus upon enabling the critical thinking abilities of kids from a developmental age, rather than enforcing conformity in terms of curriculum and pedagogy which inhibits the holistic growth of an individual. A 360-degree innovation and revamping of education should constitute of incremental steps, with the help of other policy interventions that have interaction with the education discipline and could constructively aid in educational policy segment.

Another case of existent challenges requiring multi-disciplinary or multi-policy interventional approach is the disconnect between majority of Indian public and the awareness. Awareness may not be a part of formal education, but is nevertheless an envisaged outcome of the same, and plays a rather pivotal and fundamental role in India’s democratic feature by making citizens more conscious, empowering individuals, and fostering collaboration among the public at local level towards the civil engagements and participations that aim in aiding India in its global power aspirations.

The onslaught of the covid-19 pandemic hurdled a new class of challenges to the education. The primary education and the weaker economic sections of the society experienced heavier impacts of the same. Inaccessibility to the means of education, and the great disparity among the population as a whole, requires resolution through multiple policy interventions which are in-sync and have the redressal of the associated issues in this instance as an objective of effect of the policy interventions.

Therefore, instead of considering multi-disciplinary nature of policy-making as a complexity, employing the cross-disciplinary nature of policies for affecting efficient change through policy interventions should be the goal. The education in public policy has to be a niche field, which must encompass multi-disciplinary policy-making education, matched with higher standards of ethics, vision, approach and a holistic understanding of socio-economic and developmental issues at large.

A well-realised public policy education curriculum will help to a great extent to garnering intellectual potential and shaping-up the talent, to meet the demands of envisaging a grand strategy and eventually realising a policy ecosystem that is efficient and well-rounded and grounded in positive impact and outcomes. Issues such as inaccessibility to education does not allocate to a singular causality which in turn is simple to de-construct and have a solution be designed for it. Since there are overlap of various socio-economic dynamics affecting and allocating observable patterns of deformed institutional outcomes or ill-affecting processes, it is best to have a grand strategy along which the policy interventions must follow. A wave of policy redressal for each of the developmental issues at best is alternated by specific policy redressals which are harmoniously and mutually complementing the outcomes of each other.

*The Kautilya School of Public Policy (KSPP) takes no institutional positions. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views or positions of KSPP.