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Like to be today’s Plato?

A graduate in political science can work in the public and private sectors, NGOs, the media, and academia

education Updated: Jul 28, 2010 11:51 IST
Satyajit Singh
Satyajit Singh
Hindustan Times

The discipline of political science is concerned with the theory and practice of politics. A political scientist provides a description of political systems and political behaviour by focusing on social and economic relationships underlying past and present (and in some cases future) realities. It is a vast discipline both in terms of its scope and method, providing students with a broad range of skills, tools and expertise. In India, it includes the sub-disciplines of political thought and theory, comparative politics, international relations, public policy and administration, and Indian politics. Even though the discipline is based within humanities and liberal arts, it claims to be a science for its use of scientific methods.

The study of power in its varied dimensions is at the core of the discipline. The study of political systems, international organisations and diplomacy, statecraft and institutions of governance and policy is conducted with the study of classical philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Kautilya and Machiavelli, as well as with reference to contemporary popular works related to power and administration such as Raag Darbari, the Narmada movement, or indeed films such as Modern Times or Raajneeti. If you are passionate about social concerns such as gender, the environment or human rights, you will find the discipline exciting.

Career options
An honours graduate in political science has a wide range of options in the public sector, private sector, non-government organisations, the media, corporations, publishing and academic institutions.
Industries and organisations
. Legislature
. Government and its agencies
. Academic institutions like colleges and universities, schools
. Media — newspapers, news agencies, television and radio, Internet
. Corporate houses
. Insurance and market research firms
. Consulting firms
. Non-government organisations
. International and national development agencies
. Law firms
. Civil society and advocacy groups
. Administrative and policy institutions
. Research institutions

Skill sets required
. Ability to decipher patterns in the reasons and outcome of political events that lend itself to generalisations.
. A desire to read a lot, write clearly and argue well, clarity of concepts, institutions, laws and rules. While there may be no room for objectivity in social sciences, political scientists do require a greater level of objectivity.

Even though the traditional discipline of politics has focused solely on analysing reality, sub-disciplines such as public policy and administration provide an opportunity to craft policies and design institutions for better governance, equity and accountability. If you are interested in contemporary issues, you will find political science exciting.

Best institutes Delhi:
Hindu College
. Lady Shri Ram College for Women
. Kirori Mal College
. Ramjas College
. Miranda House

Colleges in India:
. Loyola, Chennai
. Presidency, Kolkata
. Xavier’s, Kolkata

The author is dean and professor, School of Development Studies, Ambedkar University, Delhi (on leave from the department of political science,
University of Delhi)

First Published: Jul 28, 2010 11:47 IST