Dr Amrita Dass
It is truly heartening to note that in recent years during our Career Counselling sessions across the country many students have expressed their desire to join politics. The reasons for most of them are the ability to make a difference by reaching the unreached masses, who still live below the poverty line; good governance; tackling corruption; infrastructural development to expedite all round development thus boosting our economic growth etc. Their seriousness is evident as they want to know more about how to go about carving a career in politics.
Pathways to a meaningful career in Politics
Here are some guidelines:
1. Though there are no specific academic qualifications for a political career, it is advisable to be a graduate and acquire in-depth knowledge of a subject of your interest along with general awareness of important national and international issues. Specialisations in Political Science, Public Administration, Social work. History, International Relations, Law, Economics and Business are advantageous.
2. Try for fellowships, internships or paid positions on offer with those holding elected positions, public policy organisations, NGOs involved in community outreach work or government departments. These will give you both the requisite knowledge and experience essential for a career in the political arena. For example, (I) the Chief Minister’s Urban Leader’s Fellowship Programme was announced recently by the Delhi Government. The fellowship aims to attract outstanding young men and women from across the country to address some of the most pressing urban challenges in India and to experience the process of ‘making change happen’! Fellows will be assigned work with Ministers or senior officials across various departments of the Delhi Government. There work will include analytical support in policy formulation, project implementation and various other government initiatives. They will receive a remuneration of Rs 1,25,000 per month while Associate Fellows will get Rs 75, 000 per month. (ii) Another valuable opportunity is provided by the Legislative Assistants to Members of Parliament (LAMP) Fellowship. The LAMP Fellows work full time with an assigned MP. (iii)The Legislative Department, Niti Ayog (Planning Commission), Ministries of External Affairs, Law and Justice, Women and Child Development, Finance also announce internships each year. Here, while you will not receive any stipend, the experience is invaluable. (iv) The Gandhi fellowship is an intensive 2 year Residential Fellowship Programme in Transformation Leadership (v) The Ashoka Young India Fellowship enables you to champion new innovative ideas that transform social systems thus improving the lives of millions of people.
3. From school onwards, participate in community service related projects as a volunteer. This will give you an in-depth understanding of people from varied backgrounds and how to engage in meaningful activities for the well being of the community. Having gained the trust of the people, you could later nurture this as your constituency.
4. Stand for School, college/university elections and showcase your leadership. This will be an ideal opportunity for you to develop leadership qualities, team spirit, public speaking and effective networking skills. Become known for your perseverance, commitment, integrity and indefatigable spirit!
5. Look for opportunities to participate in the election campaign of a political leader that you admire for his/her vision, dynamism, value and ethics.
6. Develop a strong presence on social media platforms by sharing your vision and success stories.
While gaining the necessary experience, also consider another paid career related to your interest because fighting for elections requires a large sum of money particularly if you don’t belong to a family of politicians!
A vast number related of jobs are available in this field at the local, state and national levels. These range from campaign management, public relations, media specialists, political strategists and consultants to legislation drafting.
So go ahead purposefully to realise your dream and make a difference!
(The author is a leading educationist and career consultant)
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