A group of 60 students and young professionals in Bengaluru have just embarked on an experiential programme in public policy launched by Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC), an organization that seeks to create transformative learning experiences to equip young people with skills that enable them to lead change in society.
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The programme cohort of 60 participants, selected from a pool of over 250 applicants from the city, is a diverse mix of lawyers, chartered accountants, artists, start-up evangelists, social sector professionals, and engineers who have had past educational stints in institutes such as IIMs, IITs, BITS Pilani, Azim Premji University, Christ University, Imperial College London, NIT, NUJS Kolkata among others.
The modules of the program have been designed by the founders of YLAC, Aparajita Bharti and Rohit Kumar, public policy graduates from Oxford and Harvard university respectively. They were closely guided by their board of advisors Dr. Shashi Tharoor (MP, Lok Sabha), Mr. Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda (Lok Sabha) and Prof. Michael Walton (Harvard University).
Apart from attending classroom sessions aimed at imparting skills in policy research and advocacy, participants will also work on live projects for seven members of parliament — Gaurav Gogoi, Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo, Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma and Poonam Mahajan of the Lok Sabha, and Husain Dalwai, M V Rajeev Gowda and Tiruchi Siva of the Rajya Sabha.
The YLAC team works closely with the offices of these MPs to zero in on the projects offered to the participants. Teams of 4-5 members each are assigned to work on pressing policy issues for the participating Parliamentarians.
During the course of the programme, students will also interact with Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, an independent legislator from Bangalore.
The programme also places strong emphasis on educating students about the different career paths they can take if they want to remain in the policy and development space. Co-founder Aparajita Bharti feels that one of the ways of deepening democracy in India is to get young people to think critically about how society is shaped and equip them with tools to engage with institutions. “We are excited to see the enthusiasm for public policy in Bengaluru, a city which is primarily known for its love for technology,” she said at the launch.
“The wide range of policy topics that the students will be working on will equip them with the necessary skills to lead change for issues they feel passionate about,” added co-founder Rohit Kumar. He also shared that the project topics would range from electoral funding reforms to effectiveness of health policies to government interventions that could make Bengaluru a tourist hub.
Incidentally, this is the second edition of YLAC’s Policy in Action programme, the first being held Delhi in September-October 2016, in which 55 students had participated. Many of those participants have already started working directly with lawmakers or think tanks in varying capacities.