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Career in Public Policy

Dr. Rahila Sikandar

The concept of public policy generates from the paucity of resources and the identity concern.  It is generally made for the development of the under developed. It is made by the state for the ‘welfare of citizens’.  It comprises of political decisions and implementation for accomplishment of goals and welfare of the society. The objectives of these policies narrate about the plans and actions such as, what will be the achievement, who will be benefitted by the policy and what are the steps that needs to be taken for their accomplishment.

According to Dye, “Public Policy is whatever government chooses to do or not to do”. Public policy acts as the government action whereas it is also defined as consequences of the actions and decisions of the government. It is the study of government decisions and actions designed to deal with a matter of public concern. It comprises a plan of action or program and a statement of objective, in other words, a map and a destination. (Cochran and Malone, 2007). Thus, it can be understood that public policy is an act or action of the government for the growth, empowerment and social justice.

Public policy is also the outcome of the will of the citizens and governmental decisions. This also helps to locate what is good and best for the general welfare of the society. Addressing the issue of inequality, caste, gender, equity, education, employment and vice versa,

government must perform the social justice to all and not to a few sections of the society. And that one section cannot become the free rider of the society, to control these free riders and to stop exploitation of the poor and for the equal welfare of the society more and more public policies are made so that the society may become more equitable and  just.

 The adoption and implementation of public policies are helpful in making the country rise from its social and development issues.It creates a link between the government and its citizens and also breeds a relation of mutual accountability and responsibility.The process of Public Policy making includes a wide variety of features like problem that needs to be addressed, design of the policy, financial aspects and tools for the policy needed for the achievement of its goal, keeping in mind the general and social interest of the citizens.

 These policies and programes must bring capabilities so that citizen benefitted with these may lead a good life. The current need is a new thinking in policy making and implementation including the cross edge and cross traditional approach to the dynamics of public policy. Learning public policy helps to understand about the challenges that the country faces. It helps to disseminate the old welfare policies and programmes, and bring new policies and programmes by understanding the changing problems and issues of the citizens, their economy, environment, national and international issues etc. leading to a progressive move. Some of the Public Policies of the Central Government like MNREGA, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, National Drug Policies, National Water Policies, Higher Education Policies, Reservation Policies, National Mineral Policies, and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana etc. are the examples of human develpment policies.

Ethics and Public Policy:

Knowledge of ethics helps policy makers to understand and follow what to do and what not to do in formulating public policies and later at implementation stages.  It is basically the moral justification of what to follow and what not to follow for the betterment of the society.

Career in Public Policy & its Scope:

Public Policy was introduced late in academia especially in country like India. With a degree or diploma in Public Policy one is prepared to enter in numerous areas in government and in private organisations and many other domains where the main purpose of the government is to get innovative and advanced ideas and to make them fruitful for the development of the country and by and large to its people.

Public Policy helps comprehend the challenges faced by the state and its people. Studying and making career in public policy opens up many options for scholars in the areas such as, research and development, teaching, career in think tanks and independent research centres, Non-governmental organization etc. The scope of the public policy is not limited to the above, it is further expanding.

Research and Development:

Many national and international organisations are involved in research and development activities, thus advanced research in public policy is an open option for making career in public policy. Many independent research centres are conducting research activities and offer a promising career.


Ph.D. is the foremost requirement to get into teaching. ‘Public Policy’ is one of the sought after course in Indian varsities. Universities and institutes train students into it and some provide them placements. They may also get appointed as lecturers and professors in various public and private universities. Now it is also being adopted by the management institutes in India including the premier one like IIM’s, ISB etc.

In Government Sector:

There are number of activities which involve Public Policy with Public Administration, Political Science, Administration, Law, Management, International Relations, Geography, Economics, Science, Maths, Statistics, Environment, Social Sciences and other related subjects. There are many more upcoming opportunities in state and central government which are involved in urban planning and rural planning and require a public policy scientist in the above areas.

Management and Public Policy:

 It helps the managers to make policies in organisation so that the capacity building and the capability of the employees enhances, and it also makes them understand how to manage and cope with the financial and human resource polices in their organisations. It also trains them to become resilient during the time of stress and to provide better ideas to relieve from the pressure.

Public Administration and Public Policy:

It empowers the public administrators to understand public policies in a much more thoughtful manner. This also helps in making public policies in a more humane way.  Public administrators are the people who have knowledge of both people and policies; they understand political pressure as well as the pressure of civil society, political parties, media and other peer groups. With the understanding of public policy, the public administrators will be able to execute their duties in more precise manner in their regular routine towards the government and the people.


There are many other private and government organizations, Civil Society and Public Policy institutes which are involved in public policy research and development activities. It widely opens career as a trained policy maker in administration, management, government as well as in various research and development organisations. A degree or diploma programme in Public policy will equip one to work in the field of education, healthcare, administration, management, corporate and into the institutions of national and international repute. There are many universities in India which offer certificate, diploma, degree in Public Policy and PhD as full time programme.Some of them are listed below:

Educational Institutes:

Few educational institutions which are involved in Public Policy research are -Indian Institute of Management Bangalore; Indian Institute of Management Kashipur; Jawaharlal Nehru University; Jamia Millia Islamia; Aligarh Muslim University; University of Lucknow; Indian Institute of Public Administration; Institute of Public Policy- MDI Gurgaon Indira Gandhi National Open University; Centre for Public Policy Research; Public Policy Research Institute; Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs; Indian School of Business; Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, etc. (The list is indicative only.)

(The author is associated with the Centre of Excellence in Public Policy and Goverment, Indian Institute of Management, Kashipur, Uttarakhand, e- mail rahsik.jnu@gmail.com)