Siddharth Sekhar Barpanda is a student of Masters Programme in Public Policy from the batch of 2014-16 at the National Law School of India University.
Siddharth is a former editor member of Lokniti. Here, he talks about his background, public policy relevance and his career.
Tell us more about your life before NLSIU. Why did you choose to pursue Public Policy?
I hail from Rourkela, an industrial city in Odisha where I also did my engineering. During this time, I used to volunteer to teach underprivileged children living in the outskirts of the city which shaped my inclination towards public policy. The poor quality of education being provided to the marginalised children in the neighbourhood government schools infuriated me. I realised there is a need to address the structural issues associated with primary education sector in India and this inspired me to join a think-tank, Foundation for Democratic Reforms in Hyderabad. Under the guidance of Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, former IAS officer and an MLA, I contributed to the organisation’s proposal to amend the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Also, I became interested in Indian polity and governance during my one year association with the foundation. To acquire a strong background in the subjects of law and economics, I decided to pursue an advance degree in Public Policy and that brought me to NLSIU.
How did your experience at NLSIU help you find the career of your choice after Masters in Public Policy?
The strong pedagogy of the MPP course at NLS was exhausting at times but nonetheless stimulating. There is a perfect combination of classroom lectures with out-of-classroom engagements which allows the participants to identify their interest areas and learn about ground realities. The peers coming from diverse backgrounds adds to the learning experience, especially on how to negotiate with stakeholders maintaining different opinions and reach to a common agreement. The MPP course improved my research and writing skills and sharpened my analytical abilities.
Present nature of work at the current organization?
I am presently working as a Policy Analyst in the Office of Member of Parliament, Mr. Rajeev Chandrasekhar. My job entails providing background research to the lawmaker in the form of policy briefs and undertaking stakeholder engagements to advocate reforms.
What would you look for if you were in the position to hire new MPP graduate(s) from NLSIU to this organization?
An aptitude for wide choice of reading, analyzing and writing on policy matters is essential in this industry. Along with that, knowledge of data analysis, strong verbal communication and a knack for identifying issues that requires lawmakers’ attention will make you an ideal candidate.
What role does internship and dissertation have in securing the career of your choice?
Internships are the best way of finding your career interests. Public Policy graduates are hired by government bodies, private corporations, non-governmental organisations and research institutes. Based on the policy subject, your work profile and other considerations, such as remuneration, location, etc., one should aim for internship at the set-up where you want to work post MPP. Dissertation will strengthen your research and writing skills and will be of much help in getting the preferred internship/job as well.
Any concluding thoughts?
All work and no play makes one dull. So, along with fulfilling all the course requirements and pursuing career objectives, make some time for extracurricular activities. Play sport, watch movies, go out and explore new places, participate in group activities. Cultivating leadership qualities is a necessity in the modern world and for that, one needs to take initiative and engage in social clubs and associations. Serving in the edit board of Lokniti and representing the course in a dialogue with the UGC and MHRD were valuable experiences for me both professionally and personally. Understanding policy is important but so is understanding the public, for whom the policy is intended. I wish you enjoy your time with MPP@NLS!
Siddharth can be reached at email@example.com