As per estimations, the population of the age group of 15 to 24 year olds in India almost equals the total population of 18 western Asian countries. Powered in many respects by digital media practices, young people are increasingly forming strong views and mobilising on various issues. In this light, studying public policy is one of the most effective ways for youngsters to help make a positive and impactful change. Doing so can enable them to act on the issues that need immediate attention.
With the central government undertaking a slew of policy reforms, public policy experts are increasingly becoming crucial in facilitating the country's transformation. They recommend effective solutions in overcoming issues of importance. However, there is a dearth of talented individuals in public policy. To address this gap, specific courses have come up to train the youth and transform them into competent professionals well-equipped in the intricacies of handling issues that the governments face. These issues can range from everyday hassles like lack of garbage pickup to critical ones like gender equality.
Although most public problems are known, their solutions are not necessarily straightforward. In some cases, solutions offered may not be implemented. Or if implemented, these are bypassed by a few. Therefore, new laws, rules or norms may need to be created, implemented and enforced. Thereby, the well-being of society at large can be assured. Hence, public policy professionals need to study various domains such as law, psychology, policy research and analysis, economics and urban planning.
Considering the discipline's complexities, universities are now offering specialised courses for students who aspire to become public policy professionals. These undergraduate and postgraduate courses help prepare them for careers as administrators and policymakers, equipped to actively participate in formulating and implementing public policy. Academic training ensures that these potential public policy experts are able to smoothly navigate the complex terrain of policies and public entities.
In a public policy course, subjects like Economics, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Administration and Indian Foreign policy are taught. These will give students a complete overview of the field and prepare them for being successful administrators of the country. Public policy courses prepare aspiring candidates for a better career as policymakers. This learning is essential given the vast gamut of issues that needs to be handled and those that could arise out of the blue in a particular region.
Students pursuing a programme in public policy should explore avenues for practical learning. This may include:
* Joining platforms that promote youth participation in governance.
* Engaging in activities that foster community connections and collaborations.
* Internship opportunities with relevant institutions or organisations.
However, despite various career opportunities, some are still not fully aware of the field's scope. In fact, pursuing such a course opens up multiple avenues. For instance, if one is working as a public policy expert with a non-profit, one has the opportunity to work in areas such as education, environment and rural development. Other places that one can consider working with include government agencies, urban and regional planning agencies, think tanks and academic institutions. Additionally, there is a growing demand for policymakers in private consultancies, media and advocacy units.
Apart from these, one can also consider working in the field of politics as politicians today have come to understand the importance of deploying professionals in public policy to boost their brand image. With Psychology and Sociology being some of the subjects taught, public policy experts could offer their expertise via varied means in driving winning political campaigns.
Given the vast opportunities, a degree in public policy can clearly take aspiring candidates very far in their quest for personal and professional growth. At the same time, they can help facilitate societal transformation.
(The writer is vice chancellor, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun)