Developing Policy Makers for a better tomorrow
I remember when I completed my schooling there were not many options to choose from, with engineering and medicine leading the rather short pack of choices. So, if one is not carved out for these limited options, then one’s career is not set for a take-off. Thankfully, this gamut was substituted, over the years, with creative and meaningful career paths.
Not one to follow the conventional path, I opted for the aviation sector as a launch pad, and launch it did, across the globe, or rather halfway around it. This was much before the sector saw the boom it did, as far as pilots and air hostesses were concerned. The remaining career choices were also rather avant-garde: be it teaching a foreign language, marketing an upmarket tourist destination, or public diplomacy; the very fact that these even developed over the years was a grace. Not only do a plethora of career options ensure holistic development as an individual, but also enhance creativity and resourcefulness.
One of my current assignments led me to a workshop on public policy. The term though not so popular a recall in my head, served as intrigue enough for me to explore. I wondered: what could one possible learn under an umbrella topic as large as this? How does one even teach a subject like this? And, can good sense, (rather common sense), passion, and wisdom of judgement be not enough to bring about change? Well, the questions were many. Over the sessions I attended, I understood that if there is change, there has to be change at a sustainable and measurable level, and for this policy professionals are a pre-requisite, not because the common man has not the drive, or knowledge, or wisdom, but simply because these elements have to be channelized in the right direction, with the right energy and planning, at the right time. This needs training, training of a different kind – a mix of theoretical vigour and experiential methodologies.
Besides the above, this career choice is accompanied by a plethora of opportunities that serve as a career springboard, countless opportunities to enhance networks, holistic development, and the satisfaction of serving communities and societies through the successful implementation of carefully designed policies. The private sector offers opportunities in the form of corporate careers, entrepreneurial consultancies, work with political parties/politicians, not-for-profits, et cetera. The Government sector has begun to open its doors to policy makers from a cadre besides bureaucrats. A recent decision of the Government’s to induct policy makers from non-bureaucratic ranks goes to prove just this point.
In India, as abroad, a number of educational institutions offer courses in public policy, with most of them being two year courses, and a few providing compact one-year ones. An interesting point, I learnt, in addition, was the introduction of the design element in policy making. Yes, you read it right. Design indicates the design of the solution developed to solve a very specific challenge being faced. Another element that compliments public policy training is management – managing the implementation of a well-planned policy.
For me, the above was quite a revelation of sorts. I had always understood change to be the driver of consistency and even vice versa. However, I had never perceived the implementation of change as a study; perhaps, more of an individual decision of sorts, where I decide to be the change I wish to see. In today’s fast paced world, where almost everything is technology based and specialized, it is critical to remain abreast the latest, and a fine training helps one be better prepared for what is expected, and even for what is not expected. In our times, it was more: get pushed in the water, learn to swim, or drown – a more radical approach though, but something the generation I belong to could relate to. Now, the world remains better informed, and with information comes the wisdom of choice, or hopefully so. One can only hope that the world of today, and the decisions makers of tomorrow are not only equipped with the right tools as far as subject know-how is concerned, but also bring the drive and passion that none can teach. That remains inherent, or so I would like to believe.
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