A Discussion on Careers in Public Policy

Session Report

Nitya Kuchimanchi

With topics ranging from enhancing competence in public financial management, and designing public policies to achieve citizen centric outcomes to managing India’s urbanization while balancing environmental goals and a special focus on careers in public policy, A One- Month Immersive Online Intermediate Certificate Training Course titled ‘Contours of Public Policy in India in the Amrit Kaal’, was conducted by IMPRI (Impact and Policy Research Institute) from September 1 to September 30, 2023. 

Catering to a diverse audience, the course aims to provide participants with a unique understanding of the challenges faced in contemporary governance from numerous perspectives involving economics, foreign policy, the role of media and civil society, and feminism in policy making, equipping them with the tools required to tackle policy issues. 

On the 8th day, the final session on the discussion of careers in public policy was taken up by Mr. Yash Agarwal commenced the session by providing a brief description of his professional journey in the domain of public policy. The session then explored the concept of public policy. Public policy encompasses a wide range of government actions, decisions, and initiatives aimed at addressing societal issues and improving the welfare of citizens. It encompasses the entire policy-making process, from ideation and design to implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.

IDIME Framework in Careers in Public Policy

The IDIME framework, consisting of Ideation, Design, Implementation, Monitoring, and Evaluation, serves as a critical guide in the development and execution of public policies. This structured approach helps policymakers, think tanks, and researchers to formulate, implement, and assess the effectiveness of policies.

Roles of Academia, Think Tanks, and Research

Mr. Yash Agarwal highlighted the significance of academia, think tanks, and research institutions in shaping public policies and therefore careers in public policy. These entities contribute to the ideation and design phases of policy development. Research provides evidence-based insights that inform policy-making decisions. Students with relevant policy design interests would be well suited for the same. 

Highlighting the role of the Development Sector

The development sector, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), plays a pivotal role in policy implementation. These organizations work on the ground to translate policies into action and drive social impact. They bridge the gap between policy formulation and its real-world application. Specific data skills, such as surveying and econometrics, are crucial for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of policies. These skills enable policymakers to collect and analyze data to assess the outcomes and impact of policies accurately.

Spaces, Functions, and Verticals

He then introduced the notion of spaces, functions and verticals for professionals to be able to set clear professional goals and map their pursuits. Discussing  the various spaces, functions, and verticals within the realm of public policy:

The various spaces he brought to the attention of the participants include the research Space, private sector space, public sector space in organizations such as NITI Aayog and in contractual Roles in State Government, Fellowships like LAMP (Legislative Assistants to Members of Parliament), the policy consultancy space within organizations such as KPMG, Deloitte, etc, niche policy Consultancies such as Samagra, political consultancies such as  I- PAC (Indian Political Action Committee),  and finally global organizations with an active presence in India such as the UN and UNDP. 

Moving on to verticals, he encouraged early career professionals to identify a sectoral focus and explore various domains through internship and volunteering experiences. 

Highlighting specific roles like communications, advocacy, program management and risk advisory functions, he guided the participants in understanding the interplay between spaces, functions, and verticals that can help individuals evaluate the suitability of a role within the public policy landscape. It’s essential to possess the necessary background knowledge in the chosen space, relevant skills for the assigned function, and prior experience in the selected vertical.

Navigating the Public Policy Landscape

To succeed in the field of public policy, participants were encouraged to sample various roles to discover their competitive advantage and demonstrate competence through substantial work experience.Mr. Yash Agarwal also emphasized the importance of communicating effectively about professional achievements and embracing  opportunities to collaborate with institutions, including through cold email outreach. It is imperative to focus on producing high-quality work and emphasizing the positive impact of their contributions and seek ways to stand out withstanding the competition. 

In conclusion, the session shed light on the multifaceted nature of public policy in India. It emphasized the importance of the IDIME framework, and understanding the diverse spaces, functions, and verticals within the public policy ecosystem. Navigating this landscape requires a combination of knowledge, skills, and effective communication to make a meaningful impact on policy formulation and implementation.

Acknowledgement: Nitya Kuchimanchi is a research intern at IMPRI

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