In Conservation with Dr. Yugank Goyal, Associate Professor, Jindal University; and member, Governing Council, the Indian School of Public Policy

By auther pic. CSRBOX

June 27, 2019

In Conservation with Dr. Yugank Goyal, Associate Professor, Jindal University; and member, Governing Council, the Indian School of Public Policy

Dr. Yugank Goyal

In context of increase in the interest of Public Policy courses in today’s youth, we had a conversation with Dr. Yugank Goyal. Dr. Yugank Goyal is an Associate Professor at Jindal University and a member of Governing Council at Indian School of Public Policy


Is Public Policy a discipline? What are your thoughts on this?

Frankly, it is a big question: when does a stream of thoughts become eligible to become a discipline. What makes a discipline, a discipline? Is it the narrowness of the subject matter in terms of expertise optimized with the breadth of its significance? Or is it the market demand, becoming more and more specific? Or is it when society feels certain sensitivities are necessary to be offered regardless of other things associated? We don't quite know, but we do know that the time for entrepreneurship to be a separate discipline has come, perhaps just like the domain: environment. In a similar vein, public policy appears to have 'arrived.' With the right amount of ingredients, society takes an intellectual call. A host of factors may be part of it. Public Policy is now fertile enough to be able to do justice to itself as a 'separate' discipline. Rising need for specialisation (even though one may say public policy is a rush towards reinvigorating the need for generalists in society) coupled with higher academic focus on specialised journals and subject matters around the world is an evidence that public policy is an area in which people can be 'initiated.'


In India, Public Policy is seen as an emerging career choice. What do you feel is the reason behind this?

India is at a transformational crossroads. On the one hand, its youth is now ever motivated to participate in governance of the country and engage in ideating and policymaking, far more than the preceding generations. On the other, governments are becoming significantly more open to draw talent from outside the traditional IAS cadre. This is because of two possible reasons. First, information technology has catapulted accessibility to power, unheard of in earlier days. Not only is the youth more adept in using the tools provided by the IT-services, it is also now more conscious of governance that affects surroundings given the information highway it sits on. One can also imagine the exposure to media, rise of alternative media – another byproduct of technological revolution – that has led to such consciousness emerging. Second, governments are now under intense pressure to produce efficient results, and are evaluated on outcomes rather than promises; the youth has become a powerful voice that can topple power centers. This makes it necessary for power to be shared. 


What kind of training is envisaged for a public policy professional?

Public policy professionals must be able to navigate across vertical silos of disciplines – perhaps that is why interdisciplinary thinking is most important. They should not think in parochial disciplinary terms because public policy issues and their solutions have no fixed boundaries. If doctors are on strike and demanding laws that protect them from angry victims, public policy on this matter cannot be thought through medicine, sociology, economics, and political science alone. It requires an amalgamated understanding of contexts, and the scientific application of rationalities.


In addition, I would say public policy professionals cannot do without having an excellent command over writing and communication – a skill perhaps most needed, but least instilled. The other non-negotiable training aspect is that of ethics and leadership: a strong sense of principle and courage to not succumb to populist pressures. 


Amongst other skills, public policy professionals must be trained in understanding data, and perhaps programming. They should be trained in recognizing how governments work locally, their competing interest alignments and their thought process – this understanding, I think, is best delivered in the field. Besides this, public policy professionals should be able to do quick and simple summaries of complex arguments,and churn out quick research (now that is an oxymoron one would say), which basically means, knowing how to elicit best research and literature for a public policy issue. Finally, these individuals should be very good in understanding how to do evidence-based policymaking. 


What is the career progression in this field ?

Big corporations now routinely hire public policy teams. ‘Lobbying’ as such is not allowed in India, but every major corporate house and technology company drives it through their public policy experts. The Government has also become very open to hire people in this field from outside the IAS ranks. The CM Fellows, PM Fellows, NITI Aayog fellowships, and many more are a testimony to this fact. Nonprofits, international organizations, journalism and academia are other major employers.


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