Mounik Lahiri has been a student of the Masters of Public Policy programme at NLSIU, 2014-16 and is also one of the co-founders of Lokniti. In the capacity of an outgoing editor, he offers some perspective on the inception of the blog, along with its potential as a policy forum.
It just dawned on me a few days back that I am no longer a part of this experience of learning and debating Public Policy with some of the best professorial minds and the brightest students that I have had the privilege of sharing a classroom with and of working in an unending array of projects (published or otherwise) during my two years as a student of the Masters of Public Policy programme at NLSIU. And I realised the best way to give vent to my current state of mind would be through the blog which I and some of my enthusiastic classmates who are now friends for life co-founded two years ago and which is now managed quite brilliantly by our equally enthusiastic juniors and the current editorial team.
At the outset, it gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction to narrate and perhaps offer some perspective to this space (this blog), which belongs to all of you to share your thoughts, ideas and ramblings on the theoretical and practical manifestations of public policy. Two years ago when we jointly founded this blog to give a voice to all of us and to successive batches of public policy students who will occupy the coveted positions of being participants for the Public Policy programme at this prestigious institution, we had no idea where this blog would go but had to start it nevertheless. And now I feel the blog is not just in safe hands but that it has great possibilities ahead. And it must be mentioned that it wasn’t easy, we were a group of students enthusiastic to jointly embark on a journey of exploring the contours of public policy in India and globally and by virtue of being the first batch of students here, we were attempting to do so in a law school that has had no legacy of prior public policy education.
Carving out our own space for expressing our views and perspectives and to give vent to unending intellectual discussions and debates in class and outside, we felt this was the best platform and so we gave to ourselves this blog. My earnest appeal to all of you is to give more thoughts, ideas and contributions to this blog and to make it grow to a collection of the best that students of Public Policy at NLSIU has to offer. In the next few paragraphs, therefore, you will find some perspectives on our common purpose with respect to this space in the worldwide web through this blog and in the practical realms of the world and our shared discipline and passion – public policy!
If you are reading this article it is highly likely that you are a public policy student here at NLS, and if you are, the chances are you will belong to one of the two categories. Either you will be a new entrant to law school, which are the physical and the intellectual space that is encompassed within the boundary walls of this colourful institution or you will be one among quite a few who just moved a year closer to graduating with a public policy degree. One of the most beautiful features of this programme is that it makes all participants go through a series of systematic learning and training exercises on how to most systematically think of public policy and its various manifestations, irrespective of their disciplinary background.
The challenge though is that most of the humanity does think and opine on public policy anyway, we discuss it over the morning newspaper, the dinner table with family and friends and on weekends or when glued to the twenty-four-seven news channels at the fag end of a tiring day. And unlike astronomy or medicine, the majority of individuals anywhere on the planet think they do not need any special training or specialist knowledge to think or opine on issues of public policy relevance. Even though all of you would have a multitude of reasons for wanting to study public policy as an academic discipline, it shall be really unfortunate if you do not find yourself in the tiny minority which believes that public policy deserves no less of academic, analytical and intellectual rigour that is reserved for some of the most elevated natural science disciplines.
This is because this conviction is what will get tested and decide what you do with the discipline as you deal with the multitude of ambiguities and policy paradoxes over the course of your interaction with the various theoretical dimensions of public policy. And since you will be in the tiny minority with this conviction, you shouldn’t be surprised when you come across people or even voices within you that question the desirability of abandoning an intuitive common sense approach to policy studies for a more rigorous analytical approach to solving policy problems. Of all that the theoretical discipline of public policy and the practical world of policy making and evaluation needs is the conviction of policy scientists like you, who can believe against all temptations, in a rigorous and systematic study of policy sciences and take it upon themselves to inform and educate the world on how better policies can be made, understood and implemented. Therefore the task ahead of us is not slight but one that shall be immensely satisfying and meaningful at the end of the day.
Finally, to all of you who have gone through a rather long list of ramblings which are packaged as perspectives and experiential learning, thank you for your patience and may you all find this journey as meaningful and satisfying as I have and be as nostalgic as I am currently, at the end of your respective journeys. May all of you also be successful in spreading your passion for public policy wherever you choose to go and make a difference with your training and intellectual curiosity.