Deepa K. S. is a student of Masters Programme in Public Policy from the batch of 2014-16 at the National Law School of India University.
Deepa is a writer, researcher, playwright and a poet. She is also an active blogger. She has published in the Anthology of Short Stories and Poems by the British Council, Voices Israel and has contributed to Kritya, Muse India, Word Riot, Reading Hour, Indian Literature, Vayavya, Dialogue, Auto Didact, Cyclamens and Swords and Voicesnet Poetry. Her first book of poetry, ‘Turning Thirty and Other Poems’ was published by Authorspress, New Delhi, in October 2016.
Tell us about your life before NLSIU. Why did you choose to pursue Public Policy?
I did my Bachelor’s in Biology, Master’s in English Literature and was working as the Editor of an art and culture magazine that I had founded along with an extremely enterprising team. The magazine was called ‘Dialogue’ and it was supported by writers, photographers and artists from India and France. I was based out of the Indian office in Puducherry. While I was writing and editing articles, India’s development was always an issue of central interest which elicited artistic and political responses. The need to make sense of the problems facing the country was compelling. That was when I came across the call for applications for this new course on Public Policy that was offered by National Law School. I applied without a second thought- this was exactly the kind of multidisciplinary course that I was looking for.
How did your experience at NLSIU help you find the career of your choice after a Masters in Public Policy?
I always wanted to get back to school and finish my studies while I was working with my magazine. My heart was in academics when I was writing and editing. I joined the Public Policy course with the intention of moving towards research and teaching. NLS helped me move towards my goal in three distinct ways: The course curriculum and teaching involved research subjects with the dissertation as a core component. We had research methods, mathematical modelling for policy analysis besides courses in economics, political science, law and of course, public policy. I had ample time to study and further develop my writing skills as well as the application of research methods. The teachers were inspiring and the debates and discussions in class were the best part of it. I have a lot to thank my batch mates for! Secondly, there was a component of field research where I spent a month looking at how a policy worked on the ground. This experience brought me closer to reality, teaching me the practical side of a policy as it was alive and experienced by people. There is a lot of difference between policy as a text and policy as a lived experience. Finally, NLS was one place where I could be a dreamer and not be faulted for it – the teachers and especially my batch mates brought in a lot of commitment and idealism to work. I had the most inspiring team at school…
I have been accepted as a research scholar at the University of Cambridge. NLS was the most important step that has helped me reach so far.
What is the nature of work at the current organisation you are working for?
I am currently working with South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE). It is an organisation that allows for a platform of politics by the civil society, policy advocates and academics from eight South Asian countries. The core focus of the organisation is to bring out the experience of development in South Asia through the voice of its people. SAAPE does it uniquely by bringing out a people’s report of development in South Asia once in three years. I am presently a part of the editorial team that is bringing out the SAAPE report 2016.
What would you look for if you were in the position to hire new MPP graduate(s) from NLSIU to this organisation?
A person who aspires to work with SAAPE should have a deep commitment to issues of development, genuine interest in narratives of the South Asian people and respect for democratic means of expressing them. There is plenty of opportunities to learn and grow with a dedicated team of campaigners, activists and academics.
What role do internship and dissertation have in securing the career of your choice?
I wanted to go for research in public policy with a specialisation in development. For this, I had to get training in oral and written communication, introduction to thinkers and intellectuals in the field of my choice and exposure to the academic setting of deep solitude punctuated by debates and discussions with a supervisor. I received this twice over during the course of work! My internship was with Prof G. Raghuram of IIM Ahmedabad was both intense and exciting. The internship resulted in a working paper where we traced the policy process of GST that is still relevant in India today. The second experience was during my dissertation that I worked under Prof Sony Pellissery where I examined land policy and its politics in India which is also coming out as a publication by this year end.
Any concluding thoughts?
If I could talk to the current and prospective students of MPP, I would like to tell them that academics is an exciting field to pursue after their coursework. Unfortunately, the best among us are not taking up research for a varied number of reasons. In a country like India, there are a lot of issues to be understood contextually in the policy realm; it is a nascent field and there is a lot to explore. We have a great opportunity here to bring the issues from India from an Indian point of understanding and through the prism of public policy. The best of minds have an exciting discipline waiting for them. Academic work is long and a lot of hard work is required to read, write and understand but what is life without a challenge? In what other fields can you keep thinking and contributing ideas that make a difference to this world that you live in? So I would tell the future students of MPP- let’s bring academics back to business!
Deepa can be reached at,