NEP 2020: How can India become a Centre For Public Policy Education in the Next Five Years?

India must create a new generation of nation builders trained in public policy and learn from diverse disciplines such as law, management, technology, economics, and humanities instead of looking at public policy professionals to be anchored in just the arts and humanities.
NEP 2020: How can India become the centre for public policy education in the next five years?

In the Global Higher Education region, India is a desirable destination. Our demographic dividend will enable us over the next decade to have the highest population of young people globally. We need to reset our higher education offerings that are going to be in line with the emerging needs of our nation and our region and the world.

Specifically, when we take a closer look at the public policy arena, India's Act East policy has far-reaching implications throughout Southeast Asia. China's policies over the years, ranging from increased engagement with ASEAN, the creation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, debt diplomacy, and the recent Belt Road Initiative, have demonstrated a reorganisation of regional dynamics. 

The standoff between the US and China, the changing relations between Middle Eastern countries, etc., will lead to the emergence of new world order.

Domestically speaking, the repeal of nearly 1500 acts during the tenure of Lok Sabha between 2014 and 2019 is an impressive feat given that less than 2000 acts have been repealed over the previous six decades. The emphasis on "Minimum Government Maximum Governance" and attempts to increase the "Ease of Doing Business" all point to a new impetus in India until recently to alter the way governance was done.

As the CommonWealth Foundation's 2012 article says, "Governance is too important and complex to be left to governments alone." Good governance will only be achieved when society, business, and government come together and explore ways to work together to introduce more mechanisms of citizen-centric governance. For a long time, public policymaking has been mainly the domain of bureaucracy in India and many other countries. What began in the UK under John Major, the "Citizen Charter" movement, has resulted in the "Right to Public Services." being delivered by different states over the last decade.

  • Innovation in different fields:

Many public services are offered at the doorstep, further innovation by several states such as Delhi, Karnataka, and other states. Inputs and views of other stakeholders are rarely sought in a welcoming manner, and they are less likely to be incorporated even if suggestions are received. The journey of "Changing the way we govern ourselves" calls for the best and brightest to engage in nation-building and continue to become more citizen-friendly and business-friendly.

  • NEP aims to increase the gross enrollment ratio:

The National Education Policy 2020 correctly identifies the need to double the Gross Enrollment Rating from the 2018 GER, which stood at 26.3 percent, to 50 percent by 2035. The higher educational institutions will have to add more than three crore seats across disciplines. 

Although there are nearly a hundred Masters in Public Policy courses worldwide, India has only a handful of institutions offering the same. Most of the other public policy courses are part of the arts stream, with public policy MA being the master's programmes.

  • A new generation of nation builders:

India must create a new generation of nation builders trained in public policy and learn from diverse disciplines such as law, management, technology, economics, and humanities instead of looking at public policy professionals to be anchored in just the arts and humanities. 

In addition to geopolitical reconfiguration, innovation in the delivery of public services, rapid technological advances and their implications require progressive regulation to safeguard the privacy and threaten the threat of a jobless future. All this adds to the need for public policy to be professionalised. Holistic and multidisciplinary education is rightfully encouraged by NEP.

A trust-but-verify mode needs to replace the current, low-trust, high-touch regulatory approach, giving better performing institutions greater autonomy to develop long-term roadmaps for emerging areas, such as public policy.

  • Different public policy courses:

In view of the above conditions, public policy courses designed to maintain Indian ethos with Western public policy frameworks will be essential ingredients to move towards a better-governed nation. Our students and faculty must blend ancient wisdom from texts that capture local realities and cultural contexts, such as Kautilya's Arthashastra, Bhartrihari's Niti Shatakam, and others. 

In combination with proven Western governance mechanisms, these texts cover various aspects of governance, ranging from ethics, economics, law, politics, military, spies, intelligence to logistics, which have given excellent results.

A chance to leapfrog to a new normal comes with every crisis. For the Commonwealth countries, South and South-East Asian countries that share similar governance mechanisms, many lessons from India are relevant. 
As cooperative federalism takes centre stage, many more opportunities will open up for the introduction of these reforms in the government sector at the state level and at the national level. Several new fields are being deregulated and opened up.

During this transitional phase, many companies will look for public policy specialists who can advise them. In FY19-20, India's CSR spending on BSE 100 companies itself crossed 10,000 crores. In addition, many professionals with a good foundation in public policy education will benefit from large grants not raised for-profits nationally and internationally. 

All of the above aspects augur well for India to become a hotbed for public policy education, powered by the National Education Policy. India will become an innovation powerhouse that will usher in a citizen-centric and inclusive future for everyone.