Politics for a career

One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. — Plato

Plato can’t be more correct. We are now witnessing unprecedented curiosity for and interest in politics — higher voter turnout, corporate stalwarts in the fray, debates on social media and so on. The seeds for a political renaissance are sown.

The general mindset has been that politics is inaccessible as a career. This is being proved wrong. Many a brain works behind high-profile campaigns. Young Turks in the outgoing government, with qualifications from globally reputed universities, have been elevated to leadership roles. Debutants in the current elections are an eclectic mix — corporate leaders, bankers, social activists, professors, and so on. Many more highly motivated and dedicated youngsters demonstrating early signs of leadership want to change the nation through public service in both government and non-governmental organisations.

Quality and credibility

Though a good politician is not defined by his degree, there are some prerequisites, namely, knowledge of political systems, culture and behaviour. Many of our politicians are lawyers. Some others are products of premier institutes such as the IITs. But we need to have more. Traditional streams such as law, political science, business, finance, law enforcement, journalism, sociology and social work can add credibility to your political role. Master’s in International Relations and Master’s in Public Policy are sought-after for those seeking high-profile positions in governance. Many universities in the West offer graduate programmes in these streams. In India, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, Haryana, offers an interdisciplinary programme. Indian Institute of Management offers a multidisciplinary course with special emphasis on health policy and environment policy.

Take up volunteering Seek out and grab opportunities to intern and volunteer for political campaigns and/or public service agencies. Start by managing campaigns and constituencies. A regional party’s invite for internship reportedly got an overwhelming response from IIM students. The enthusiasm among the young to work for the masses has led to the emergence of Swaniti , a non-profit organisation founded by a group of Harvard and IIM graduates. It aims to help create channels for participation of youth in polity. If you want to come out of your comfort zone and work for a cause that you believe in, then it’s politics. The field is challenging, but rewarding too.

Nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Leadership Award, Arati Devi, an MBA degree holder, former banker and now sarpanch of Ganjam district, Odisha, is one of those many who got into active politics at the grassroots level. She has, reportedly, improved village-level governance by streamlining the public distribution system and initiating literacy campaigns. Nishanth Baranwal, a former Goldman Sachs equity analyst, plunged into politics by joining a leading young politician in his parliamentary constituency. ‘Working in the political system gives me huge exposure and diverse experience which no corporate office can offer,” said Baranwal, to a business daily.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world, said Mahatma Gandhi. It’s time many Aratis and Baranwals entered active politics and gave lesser mortals a ray of hope.

The writer is GMAT trainer at semantics. Email:

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 5:37:36 pm |