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A Career in Politics?

It’s not hard to combine your political aspirations with academic demands. JAM chats with IIMA graduate,
Krishna Chepuri who interned with the CPI(M) in 2007.

Most of us want to run miles away from a political career. But in doing so we are shirking off our responsibility to propagate and facilitate change. Being aware of the various career options in politics will give us a chance to decide whether we can make politics a noble career option. Also, a full-time involvement in this field can entail financial growth, success as well as professional growth. Politics is just a top-management job; unfortunately our country doesn’t specify a top-management degree for the position.

Krishna Chepuri, an IIM Ahmedabad graduate was one of the first to transform his desire to be a part of a politics into something tangible. After his first year at IIMA, he interned during the summer of 2007 with CPI(M) party member Sitaram Yechuri in the party’s economic cell. According to him it was no different from any other normal internship in a consulting firm. He got good exposure in politics and was assigned the task of helping the party’s economic cell formulate social security in the organised sector.
Krishna confesses that he always had a latent desire to be involved in policy as a Public Policy Analyst. As a result, he thought that an internship with a political party would be a good idea. That’s when he approached Prof Sahil Gupta of IIMA and asked him how he could go about it. Prof Gupta suggested he intern with CPI(M), since the party came to the campus every year. The party also responded quite enthusiastically and helped facilitate the process. Krishna now wants to make such internships sustainable since they are completely within the rules of the institute.

According to Krishna, “A public policy group has been set up in the institute which will give students a platform to be involved in politics. You need not necessarily be involved in conventional political activities but work in sectors like economics, micro-finance, analysing within the political framework.” He says they can also float electives for students where they can work remotely with MPs and other politicians. That will define what role they will play in assisting them. He adds that the batch after him has taken this up and there are now more internships with political parties like the BJP, Congress and CPI(M). In 2008, IIMA started a course in constituency management where the participating students would be engaged with an MP to profile his constituency and prepare a report including recommendations to introduce effective management practices in the constituency.

When asked whether he intends to make politics a full time career in the future, Krishna responds that the thought has crossed his mind. However he says, “To become an effective activist, your income stream should not be dependent on your political aspirations. This becomes a constraint, since you need to be financially secure to venture into politics.” However, he admits that, “One can deal with it and it depends from person to person.”

Krishna feels that internship opportunities with political parties should be fully explored. He says, “You should do it in a way that it leverages core competencies, especially financial core competence.”

– Aditi Kotwal

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