Public Policy Professionals: Drivers Of Change In Society

Mr. Luis Miranda, Governing Council Member of ISPP and Chairperson, Centre for Civil Society, and Dr. Parth Shah, Governing Council Member of ISPP and President, Centre for Civil Society speak to BW Education on the formation of first Public Policy School of India

Mr. Luis Miranda, Governing Council Member of ISPP and Chairperson, Centre for Civil Society, and Dr. Parth Shah, Governing Council Member of ISPP and President, Centre for Civil Society

Q.    Why India needs its own high-quality world class policy programs that are affordable as compared to the world’s top policy schools based in the US and Singapore?

The reason India needs its own high-quality policy program is to offer a unique Indian policy context and perspective to students, which has hitherto been missing from the education landscape. That is the primary consideration to offer a new program, for Indian students to have a world-class policy school option in their own country.

Making that program affordable relative to top policy programs from around the world is an important, but secondary consideration.

A growing number of multinationals and new age, technology led companies operating in India to have an acute need of policy professionals who can interpret a rather dynamic policy landscape to ensure that their businesses are not affected adversely. Non-profits, multi-lateral organizations, and political parties are getting sophisticated in their operations and engagement with government, people, communities and stakeholders. They are under immense scrutiny for decisions and recommendations that they make and they need the high caliber cadre of professionals who can analyze and critique the existing policies and guide their plans for the future.

Q.    How for the first-time industry is actively participating in policy thinking, designing and implementing a policy program that is contextual and relevant to the government and industry in India and preparing young policymakers?

For the first time, ISPP has established an Industry Advisory Council for a policy school. We have active partners in the Council from the likes of Uber, Deloitte, KPMG, Ernst and Young, PwC, GMR Group, Samhita and Dasra.

These partners will help us not only with designing and structuring the curriculum, but also organize and conduct policy action exercises and industry seminars for our students to grapple with real-world policy challenges through the duration of the program.

Our partners will also be guiding our students through their choice of policy specialization leading to their eventual choice of career and placement at the culmination of the program.

Q.    Traditionally, there have been well-known policy schools in India. However, since the governance model in the country is changing at a rapid pace, Is there a need for a new format of policy education?

In fact, dedicated policy schools are only a recent occurrence in the higher-education landscape of the country. None of them have yet established preeminence in the field and therefore ISPP sees the potential to become the first definitive policy school for the country.

In terms of catalysts, it is not only the pace of change in governance in the country that requires a new format of policy education, but also the changing nature of policy challenges and the way they are being addressed by industry, civil society and government. The GST debate and the Aadhaar debate are illustrations of this.

Our uniquely designed program will prepare students well in this regard by teaching them design, negotiations and policy communication on top of core policy issues.

Q.    How can the gap between the policy formulators and the people for whom the policy is being formed will be bridged?

Bridging this gap is one of the critical aims of the program at ISPP. We want our students to be well-versed not only with the theories and methods of public policy but also the unique local and national contexts of policy implementation in India.

The program will address this in two ways for its students. First, by mandating field-immersion in almost all of its courses from the beginning of the program. This will allow students a direct connection with the various stakeholders involved in their natural setting.

Secondly, the program will instruct students in the important areas of behavioural economics, psychology, public policy design, and ethics to allow them to develop a compassionate and broad-minded public policy perspective.

Q.    What is the role and need for private organisation and young public policy professionals in policy making?

Private organizations and young professionals are at the heart of the public policy debate in the country. This is due to many reasons, not the least of which is that technology is at the heart of many policy decisions the country faces and technology is something driven by private organizations and adopted first by young professionals. Add to that concerns on privacy, equity and equal opportunity and it becomes evident that private organizations and young professionals have a critical role to play in policy formulation and implementation.

One of the most important ways this can be done is by having private organizations and young professionals involved in policy advocacy from the inception and formulation stage. As they are the drivers of change in society, their participation in the process is crucial.

Q.    What are the courses that ISPP will be an offer and How affordable will these programs be? Will there be any scholarships that would be offered?

ISPP will launch with a flagship program in Policy, Design & Management. This will be a 1-year Master’s equivalent, a certificate program for early career professionals as well as recent graduates.

The program is priced relatively affordable at 7 lacs/annum which is 1/0th of the cost of a top-quality program in the US e.g. the Harvard Kennedy School costs 1.2 crores INR for a two-year program, after which most Indian students end up coming back to India on account of limited job opportunities in this domain for foreign nationals. ISPP will offer a significantly superior return for an investment.

Additionally, at least 20% of the batch would be on scholarships and the Patrons are committed to ensuring that no qualified students would be unable to attend the program on account of financial constraints.

Q.    How would ISPP’s course be different from other policy education programmes offered in India?

ISPP’s course offering will be unique in many respects. The program in Policy, Design & Management will the first of its kind in the country, combining a robust theoretical foundation in public policy by cutting edge precepts in design thinking and management.

It is the School’s stated intent to prepare professionals for a career in policy practice and hence the program is structured in such a way as to provide the best possible training for policy action. As such, students will take coursework not just in traditional policy disciplines like statistics, political economy and research methods but also market design, policy communication, impact assessment, negotiations and lobbying.

The founding team offers unmatched credibility and bring valuable experience to the design and development of ISPP. Patrons include noted philanthropists like Shri Nandan Nilekani, Founder of Infosys, Shri Vallabh Bhansali, Founder of ENAM Group, Jerry Rao, Founder of Value and Budget Housing Company and Mphasis. Illustrious members of the global academic advisory council chaired by Padma Bhushan and Former Finance Secretary Shri Vijay Kelkar include Chairperson NCAER, Shri Shekhar Shah, Economist Prof. Arvind Panagriya, Prof. Michael Greenstone Professor, Harris School, UChicago, Prof. Razeen Sally, LKY School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.

Governing Council members like Shri Luis Miranda, former founding team member of HDFC and IDFC Private Equity, Dr. Parth Shah, President of Center for Civil Society and Dr. Shubhashis Gangopadhyay, Founder of India Development Foundation and Former Adviser to Finance Minister of GoI have been either closely guided by policy changes as investors or researched, critiqued and influenced the design of new policies 


Q.    Are we looking for any academic or industry partnerships to facilitate on-ground training to the students?

ISPP will be partnering with both academic institutions and corporates in varying capacities to assist with several areas of curriculum design, development and delivery as well as provide faculty members and instructors across disciplines for short courses, guest lectures, workshops and skill-shops.

These partnerships will also extend to providing on-ground training in the form of internships, field immersions, apprenticeships and mentorship to students, depending on their choice of policy specialization and post-ISPP career interests.

Many such partnerships will be announced in the coming months.

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