Policy Career Talks @ CVV – November 2020

Talk 1: ‘How to Decide a Career in Public Life’ 

Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth (CVV) in association with the Rashtram School of Public Leadership hosted a webinar discussion titled ‘How to Decide a Career in Public Life’ on 7 November 2020. Shri Shobhit Mathur, Co-founder and Dean of Rashtram School of Public Leadership was the speaker for the day who interacted with the students and faculty of CVV. He addressed the students on various career options available in the field of Public Policy and Governance motivating them to make a wise decision.

Shri Mathur identified four main concerns associated with policies in India. According to him, firstly there exist ideological and social issues that require immediate attention and a change of mind-sets at large. Caste, gender and race-based discrimination are a few of them. Secondly, there is a lack of authoritative laws that can have a significant impact on a policy. The RTI Act and Plastic Ban are examples of successful legislations which have effectively served their purpose in the recent past. Third, he pointed out the poor implementation of existing policies, especially in the Health, Education and Agriculture sectors. Lastly, he also opined that there is a lack of proper understanding of the problem itself. Inadequate research is seen to be one of the main reasons contributing to this situation. Low per capita income, huge population and weak institutions are a few other challenges one has to face while opting for a career in Public Policy in India.

However, he pointed out that on the optimistic side India is one of the fastest-growing economies of the world possessing tremendous youth potential. The vibrant and restless nature of democracy in the country provides numerous opportunities in the field of Public Policy and Governance. The time-tested knowledge traditions that exist in India, especially on public administration and governance, have been proven to contain useful insights on contemporary policymaking and governance.

Shri Mathur highlighted the available career paths in politics, bureaucracy, academic research, think tanks, and NGOs working in the field of Public Policy and Governance. These different career paths seem to have varying levels of involvement and impact on the policymaking process. Apart from entering politics or the bureaucracy, he explained how Media and IT professionals too can take part in policymaking and governance through App development for the government, Data Analytics, development and maintenance of online Policy Advocacy Portals etc. He shared with the students the links and portals to actively track and know more about such career opportunities.

The interactive and informative discussion was followed by a Q&A session where Shri Mathur clarified the doubts and queries raised by the students. Assistant Professor Nithin Ramakrishnan moderated the session and thanked Shri Shobhit Mathur for his time and presence. The students actively participated in the session, gaining clarity on the various paths and careers in the field of Public Policy and Governance.

Talk 2: ‘Opportunities in Sustainable Development and Energy Policy’ 

On 21 November 2020, Chinmaya VIshwavidyapeeth’s Outreach and Placement Cell arranged a talk by Shri Ashok Sreenivas as a part of the Policy Career Talks Series. Shri Sreenivas enlightened the students on the opportunities in sustainable development and energy policy by introducing his organisation and their activities. He spoke about his career trajectory, life experience and also about his institution Prayas, encouraging students to apply to Prayas for internships and placements.

PRAYAS is a non-profit organisation established in 1994, that mainly works on two key areas, energy and health policies in India. The policy analysis which PRAYAS works on, by applying professional knowledge to the social problems, has a broad vision of equitable development for all residents of India. The prime reason for choosing the energy sector is the wide range of footprints it has in sectors such as economy, environment and society.

PRAYAS has specific objectives in the areas of energy which envisage universally accessible and environmentally responsible energy. The stakeholders they involve are governments, regulators, CSOs/CBOs/NGOs, industry consultants and research groups/academia. PRAYAS majorly works on policy planning and governance aspects. Recently, they have been working on modelling and tools to bring in efficiency in their policy analysis. Their involvement in central ministries, NITI Aayog and other top agencies in the country provides us with an opportunity to engage with them in shaping a sustainable energy-driven India.


Talk 3: Right to Information Act (Right to Swaraj)

In the third session of the Policy Career Talks, on Saturday, 28 November 2020, RTI activist and former Information Commissioner Shri Shailesh Gandhi spoke to us, the students of M.A. P.P.G., about the RTI Act and how it is the most powerful tool in our hands, as citizens, if we choose to use it. He spoke about how the RTI is an implied fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution and ultimately makes us the owners of the information.

He covered the provisions in the RTI Act one by one and convincingly showed how RTI helps keep a check on government arbitrariness and corruption. Shri Gandhi urged each of us present to file RTI petitions as an act of faith to the nation, as every time a citizen files one, something small changes in the governance structure. He underlined the importance of the active participation on our part, as citizens, in the governance process to bring in accountability.

He concluded by saying that each one of us is equally responsible for the state of affairs in the country and thereby the onus falls on us to reorient the system towards change. The floor was opened to questions for the last 30 minutes and saw active participation from the students and faculty alike.

M.A. P.P.G. student Navamohana Krishnan expressed gratitude on behalf of the students and the Vote of Thanks was delivered by Shri  Shanker Ramanathan, Director, Outreach and Placements.

Reported by: Aswathi Prakash, Student of M.A. P.P.G.