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A step-by-step introduction to Indian Institute of Politics (IIP)

Isn’t it about time we established an Indian Institute of politics?

Any executive running a publicly traded business would have either formal training that equips him for the job or years of apprenticeship working at various levels in the company or long experience in the industry or in many cases, all the three above. But what about our dear politicians who make million dollar decisions affecting the lives of billions? Even though India likes to claim that she has highly educated politicians based on two data points, arguably the most important two (P and PM), you and I both know that they are more the exception than the norm. There is nothing in our political system that makes sure that people who make the decisions know what they are deciding about, or even that they are competent enough to understand the options before them.

In the interest of ensuring every citizen of the country has an equal chance at governing us, let us introduce no pre-screening (though, I am very tempted to argue in favour of this). Imagine the elections are over, and the reality of what they promised their voters have just hit the candidates. When it comes to election campaigns, the feasibility and economic soundness of a policy ranks way below their probability of increasing a politician’s popularity. This probably means that in many cases, they have no clue what lies ahead. Or they have a skewed one-track mind. What could be a solution to the issue at hand?

Indian Institute of Politics:
There is an undeniable need to establish a Indian Institute of Politicians (IIP) – an educational institution aimed at India’s politicians, run by academics and experienced practitioners, accredited by a university, with a curriculum transparent to the public and media. The mission of the institute would be to ensure that our politicians have the necessary skills to do their job.

Skills assessment: Before any politician is allowed to make a decision that changes the course of our future forever, they should pass a basic skills asssesment test. The test would assess them on the fundamentals of public policy, their understanding of the processes and their awareness of the impact of their decisions. Everyone needs to pass this test before they can be sworn in / appointed to top posts.

In-depth knowledge assessment:
For areas they are directly responsible for, every politician should be able to demonstrate a sufficient degree of understanding of the issues, concerns, options and challenges as well as the history of all policies made so far, along with their outcomes. Now, this may be tough for someone just elected to power, though I see no reason why someone would take up a job they are ill-equipped to do. In the spirit of generosity, we could let them attend classes for three hours a day, five days a week for one whole month, where the academics at the Indian Institute of Politics would teach them, methodically, all they need to know. Till then, they can do their usual chores of smiling for photographers, attending ceremonies, kissing babies and whatever else they do, while spending a fair portion of their day studiously attending classes and reading books, so they can start their real job – the first salary slip depends on their receiving satisfactory grades (anyone has any ideas on controlling access to bribes till they pass their test?)

Continuing education:
Throughout the course of their tenure, politicians will be aided through regular training. Every decision maker needs to attend two relevant training sessions of one week each, every year. Politicians will have regular access to the university where academicians can help them to identify what courses would best suit their needs, and tailor programs for specific departments.

Communication skills:
In addition, every politician should be taught basic communication skills, chief among them being the virtue of brevity and the use of facts to make arguments. Too many of us have been tormented by rhetorical speeches which contain no substance and seem to go on forever. We would even be open to the use of power points to accompany speeches, as long as packs are kept to less than 20 slides per session.

If you think all this is far-fetched, I urge you to take a look at the professional development department of any major company. And then compare the impact of a decision made by, say, a brand manager against that of a nation’s policy maker. I have no doubt that you would agree with me that the investments would be well worth it. Even from the politician’s perspective, they deserve on-the-job training, just like the rest of us, so that they can develop professionally and be better at what they do.

For our better lives and better future, IIP is not an option, but a necessity.

Posted in India, Management, Society on November 22, 2006


8 Responses

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  1. Sig11 says

    Interesting idea though I am not sure whether it would be translated into practice any time soon :)

    It is wrong to say that politicians do not get trained. As someone said “Life is the best teacher you can have”. But, I guess when life decides to teach you a lesson you must have already screwed up big-time and for a power yielding politician this would translate to wide range of side effects.

    But questions remain

    – would great politicians like Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar been successful at this institute?

    – institutes are by nature a place where inbreeding of idea happen. Do you want all your consecutive finance ministers or defense ministers to follow the same, old and unsuccessful policies?

  2. Surya says

    Hey Sig11, I agree, this is not something that will translate into practice soon. But more because of lack of will than lack of need or feasibility.
    Since you say, “Life is the best teacher you can have”, would you let yourself be treated by a physician who hasn’t undergone four years of medschool? Would you walk over a bridge designed by someone who hasn’t learnt the fundamentals of engineering? Given advances we have made in the areas of economics, finance, development policy etc. long gone are the days when politics was governed by intuition.

    Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar were great leaders, who led the country through times when we needed them. But did they make sound policies that have pushed the country onto progress? Highly arguable.

    No, IIPs don’t need to be institutes of inbreeding. They are not universities where one studies full time, but mainly a place where you get additional training. Training that can be facilitated not just by faculty, but by healthy debate, new ideas fuelled by visiting faculty, prominent members of the public etc. In fact, the ideal institute would have a very lean structure with just a few core academics and then many program planners who can put together educational programs based on visiting faculty.

    And knowing history doesn’t mean you repeat them. It is only by understanding the mistakes of the past that you prevent yourself from repeating them. That is why they should learn about past policies and outcomes.

    Convinced? :-)

  3. Simi Jacob says

    Nice to see Ur Site. Woman with purpose.
    Good Idea. And Nothing is impossible.If thereis strong will and proper motivation. Personal Opionion Its not lack of institutes thats is lacking but lack of purposeful youths, who is bold enough to make a change. Youths(youths at heart) who care about their purpose and stood for it than their lives like Gandhi. No schools can train politics if not ignites the hearts with passion for nation/world. ANd only those with passion, the institutes can help to fine tune them, else it becomes again a game for big career than motivated one.

  4. Rasita says

    Hi,

    Your dreams have just transformed into reality.The MIT School of Government was established in Sep 2005 at Pune in the lines of other Schools of Government across the world. I passed out from the first batch.What the school needs is people like you who would enroll in it to make a difference to the nation. After undergoing the course I now understand that is easy to be a mute spectator outside and pass comments. What our country needs today is “action” from the youth. People crib about everything but are not ready to take a small step for change.” Be the change you want to see in this world”. Make the best use of what ever is available , learn about how the government works first before giving out your valuable comments!!!95% of people are ignorant of how the system works.They don’t know Constitution, Fundamental Rights and Duties but expect to get the best deal from the government and blame the system for all their miseries.But what have you contributed to make a change? A democracy can be called a democracy only if it is participatory. Unless you know how do you expect to rectify things?One needs strong desire, determination and courage to change oneself first and then try to change things around. I suggest educated bloggers enroll in this school (as this is the only one at present)and understand the structure of government and work towards a change in the system than mere lip service.It is always easy to air ones views and grievances but personally what action does one take? The government is not meant to be treated as an “outsider” who will solve all our problems. It consists of us citizens who are part of the system to help mould it and bring in the necessary change.Unless good quality people enroll in this course and strive for change , it would just be mere wishful thinking even if such institutes are established.Think about it.

  5. fef says

    not bad

  6. Dr Ramesh Kumar, Ambala Cantt. says

    Keeping in view the prevailing situation, the Institute of Indian Politics in real sense is the need of the hour. It will be really useful and fruitful for the future generations. It is expected that the idea of Institute of Indian politics or global politics will be considered as soon as possible by the students or budding scholars of Asia.

  7. khyati says

    MIT-SOG Pune is executn of such an idea…

Continuing the Discussion

  1. DesiPundit » Archives » Indian Institute Of Politics: Its Time We Had One linked to this post on November 22, 2006

    […] Isn’t it about time we established an Indian Institute of politics? Surya ponders the question. […]



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