Written by Aditya Sharma, a second-year Political Science student at Delhi University
When my friend, who shall not be named, asked me to write an essay on my career aspirations, I kid you not, I had a proper meltdown.
Political Science in India is primarily studied by those who share the following aspirations – firstly, to either serve in the civil (or the police) services via cracking the UPSC CSE, or secondly, those who’re not quite sure about where exactly they fit in our country’s largely outdated educational set-up that places conventional academic excellence at the highest of pedestals.
But, as with all things – there’s this thing, that thing, and the other thing; in this case, the ‘other’ being those students who study and pursue Political Science simply out of love, admiration, and interest towards the discipline. This article is meant for such people.
What’s Political Science?
Political Science is a unique discipline. In its early days, the subject was largely a discussion of who gets what, when, how, and, arguably, why- if the peasants do not have any bread, why do they not eat cake?
Globally, the discipline has in more recent times tried to reinvent itself as something that is less ‘art’ and more ‘science’- to come up with a completely value free, scientific, objective way of looking at things, and if the question that comes to your mind is, well, what things precisely, the answer is quite simply, because quite simply, everything.
The food that we eat, the clothes that we wear, the people we’re friends with, the music that we listen to, how we reach our workplaces every day- everything is at least subtly or at times an outright political statement, and is therefore under the purview of Political Science.
This essay is supposed to be a guide, not to Political Science, but to what exactly one can be doing if they decide to pursue the subject out of a certain degree of love for the subject.
Tragically, the only way to answer that question is with a counter-question- why exactly do you admire the discipline?
If politics is what attracts you, Political Strategism and Election Studies are a wonderful field of interest- the evolution of a value-free way of looking at the proverbial lifelines of democracy- is a fascinating field. If this is something that you feel is of interest to you, the basics of The Public Choice Theory would be a good entry point to the field.
Journalism and Law too, are very popular paths many undergraduates of Political Science choose- if those fields interest you, an undergraduate degree in Political Science sets you up for specialisation courses in either of the fields- a lot of institutions offer MA degrees in Journalism (refer to Vedika’s article for more) to those with a bachelors in Political Science. However, for Law, you would have to appear for CLAT if you wish to go for a Public University.
Academia is an exciting space as well- good work-life balance, freedom of expression (debatable, but still), incredible intellectual stimulation, and, if one is to believe my professors, a deep sense of satisfaction(well, every now and then.)
One of the best perks of Political Science, or any other Humanities discipline is that they tend to be very fluid in their expression and offer a great level of versatility- if you’d like, you can be a journalist specialising in Public Policy, as well as engage in academic seminars, paper discussions, and more; the point being, you don’t have to confine to a single stream.
Coming back to the question of ‘what’ in Political Science, we, therefore, see it is irrevocably linked to the ‘why’, which is a fancy way of saying that the career path which is most likely to satisfy one, in Political Science, depends on why the person, in this case, you, like Political Science
Personally, my field of interest is Peace And Conflict. I’m currently pursuing Honours in Political Science from the University of Delhi, am interning under a Professor at the University of Jammu, working with a think-tank for some ‘on-the-job’ experience, and helping out with a blog devoted to exploring the discipline.
Remember that what course you have is generally more important than what college you’re in. If you have identified a field of interest right out of high school, it is advisable to specialise in that field straight from under graduation. If not, an undergraduate in Political Science as a whole is probably your best course of action- to get a more comprehensive understanding of the field.
If one wants to pursue under graduation in Political Science, here are a few good colleges:
- Delhi University, New Delhi
- Shiv Nadar University ( International Relations)
- Ashoka University
- Fergusson College, Pune
- St. Xavier’s, Maharashtra
- Ambedkar University, New Delhi (Global Politics)
If there’s any takeaway from this essay, it is this- before the what, figure out the why.
Political Science is a very challenging, very exciting field with applications in a multitude of fields, and requires a very diverse skill-set (ranging from good debating skills to an interest in math(statistics and calculus, mostly)), and while not necessarily having wholly moved away from the times of, say, Voltaire of the fabled French Revolution – his submission that he detested what his opponents said, but would have defended to death their right to say it, finds relevance today more than ever, but has certainly seen a shift towards more objective, scientific methods of study- Game Theory, Militant Competition, and the like are (relatively) new and unexplored fields, and with the growing centrality of Geopolitics and Public Policy in our everyday lives, Political Science, in the twenty-first century, is amongst the most exciting fields of study and research.
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