Authored and submitted by Mr Aditya Kumar on behalf of the IIM-A Public Policy SIG
This article is an account of the new SIG’s formation, its ideas and plans, its founding members’ backgrounds, activities started already, those planned for the near future, and lastly a call for participation from the broader community.
IIMA’s vision is “to be recognized as a premier global management school operating at the frontiers of management education and practice while creating a progressive and sustainable impact on society.”
One aspect of having a sustainable impact on society is to nudge policies in a way that create a more expansive horizon for all citizens: whether in business, government, or social service. IIMA graduates have gone on to lead some of the largest business organizations in the world, many of them serve and have served at the highest echelons of public service, and quite a few have led from the front in their zeal to serve the society. Public policy is the art of crafting a future together by building upon opportunities for all the three segments.
On 9th October, 2019, twenty-two IIMA alumni across batches, ages, professions, and viewpoints gathered in a conference room in Aerocity, on the outskirts of Delhi. The group enthusiastically lit up the room with their spirited conversation and, for several hours, passionately discussed how to start and nurture a special interest group (SIG) on a topic they were interested and expert in: public policy. Like the three pillars of the society, the SIG serves to bring three IIMA communities together: the institute (and its faculty and students), its alumni, and the public policy practitioners.
The group that gathered in Aerocity was a diverse and representative sample representing over four decades of alumni. It included retired and serving career bureaucrats, lateral-hire civil servants, multilateral agency professionals, officers on special duty to Union Ministers, officials and professionals from central, state and local public agencies, representatives from the corporate world, think tanks and the civil society, consultants, and of course, the academic community. The individual political, economic, and social views ranged across the spectrum. That served to enrich the discussion on how to collectively channel this considerable wealth of human capital towards focused and impactful avenues. The institute alumni office led by Prof. Rakesh Basant, Prof. Anish Sugathan, and Anurag Choudhury pledged to provide the required institute support to the SIG.
In the eight months since then, the world has changed immeasurably, opening up vast opportunities for public systems to react to the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant economic challenges. For the nascent SIG and its members, this has meant having to sprint while still learning to walk. And the SIG is delivering. The group zoom-meets every Saturday for an hour-long virtual brainstorming session wherein individual members share their work and ideas, and then discuss what activities the group can take up both in the short and long term. The SIG WhatsApp group buzzes with new ideas and reports of activities tried and the results.
The group identified a set of quick value-adds for dealing with the crisis, including identifying model response structures and practices across a number of sectors, districts and countries. Individual members started feeding these inputs to policymakers in their networks. Through the JSW School of Public Policy that the SIG is working closely with, a set of academic student projects involving faculty and alumni are being developed. An effort was kicked off to find internship placement opportunities for IIMA students whose offers were rescinded due to Covid-19.
Simultaneously, a longer-term agenda is being put in motion. Individual members have started compiling ideas and norms for the longer-term “new normal” in their respective sectors and fields of work. Research projects are being initiated in which SIG members work with the JSW School faculty and students to come out with analytical insights that will inform policy.
The SIG is working to increase the depth and scope of its activities by creating a network of experts within and outside the alumni community who can contribute insights, knowledge and networks. The members are planning events to bring together leading experts under the aegis of the SIG.
The SIG’s pipeline of activities has been possible because of the regular commitment of all stakeholders in the initial months. The SIG has in turn provided members with a unique platform to connect, reflect, ideate, and contribute. The core purpose of the SIG has been clear since its inception: meaningfully contributing to India’s socio-economic development. The fact that the SIG can count among its members several notable alumni is very promising. We are always on the lookout for further commitment and support from the IIMA community. Come join us and make a name for IIMA in the policy and development world!
[To join the Public Policy SIG or to offer any suggestions for the SIG, please contact the SIG Coordinators: Akhilesh Tilotia at firstname.lastname@example.org and Suhail Kassim at email@example.com ]