Politically correct

It is an interesting subject, and students are looking at converting their education in political science into full fledged careers, finds Reena Jhaveri

Sector overview

Politically correct

Till we live in a democracy, we are going to have a political structure in the country, which will need to be studied in various forms by new and young minds each year. Politics, in its broadest sense, may involve those activities that govern the working of a country. These activities are bases on certain rules, and the formation of such rules, along with their preservation is termed as the study of political science.

The field is considered a part of the social sciences, and mainly involves deep understanding analysis of the Constitution. The Constitution is the highest law of the land of and different political aspects. Its study involves the study of governmental, non-governmental systems and operations.

A career in political science is a befitting option for students who are ‘socially conscious’ and have the aptitude and inclination to study pressing sociology-political problems, their analysis and are keen on providing the solutions.

Students pursuing this field need to have a keen sense of the nation, and while pursuing a degree, they are encouraged to develop an analytical thinking ability. The rigorous curriculum with debatable matters leads to such a development. The analytical thinking abilities coupled with the leadership qualities enable students to go out and pursue befitting roles in various sectors.

Studying politics enhances the development of skills that are not only specific to the field, but also transferable to other situations. Undoubtedly, students gain a clear understanding of politics, national and international. Reasoning ability provides the basis of the work that they are expected to do in the future, which is to arrive at decisions based on the analysis and synthesis of information.

To get there

Politically correct

To enter this field, the easiest route is to opt for an arts degree with a full or part major in political science. Almost all universities in the country offer political science as an option for arts students. The eligibility is to complete class 12 (HSC or equivalent) either in arts or another stream and then opt for a Bachelor’s of Arts with political science as a major.

The development of seeds of political understanding begins from school onwards, with the onset of civics. Political science is offered on its own for the first time in plus two. The bachelor’s degree in political science with a major or honours, and then the master’s degree provides adequate coverage of political science.

A political scientist conducts surveys, analyses election results, interview relevant individuals and scrutinise available documentation. Some even attend legal proceedings and observe public events. Other work includes:

  • Consulting work for bodies and agencies
  • Identifying, researching, analysing and advocating public issues
  • Preparing reports and documents for the field of work you are in
  • Writing articles for publications

In this field, the learning is primarily research-based, although many experts are emphasising that students should focus on experiential learning, which can be brought in academic courses through internships.

The job market

Politics affects virtually every aspect of our lives, including what is on offer in terms of education, availability of jobs, housing and healthcare. Whether countries are at war or at peace depends both on what governments do and who supports them. The demand for political science research is growing because of increasing interest in politics, foreign affairs, and public policy, including social and environmental policy issues, healthcare, and immigration.

Campaigns and elections are one of the more obvious career choices. Traditional campaign jobs are generally found through individuals and local parties. Volunteering for a campaign or a local party will help you to get a paid position later. Careers in campaign management are cyclical as they come and go with election schedules, but there are on-going opportunities with consulting firms or a political action committee of an interest group. Political science a very useful base for a career in social work, human rights, social or political research and urban planning.

Teaching, research and publishing are typical occupations for the political scientist.

Salaries offered

The earnings of new students entering the field cam very with type of job as well as the company. Earnings of political science experts depend on their education and experience as well as on the location and kind of position. Those with a master’s degree can obviously expect a better position and salary compared to those with a bachelor’s degree. The main criterion for appraisals, however, is the performance of the candidate, cause the degree can get you only as far as the placement. The pay scale starts at least at ` 20,000 for researchers, and can head on more from there. Even in the government sector comprehensive pay scales are good.

Earlier career options in this field were limited to academic field alone. But now it has changed and scope is brighter and one can choose among a variety of fields. There are lot of opportunities in central and state government services also. You could choose to be a political analyst, join the civil service, serve in the Indian Foreign Service and even teach at the college or university level.

A student says

Rehana Suri, Pursuing her Bachelor’s

When studying for this programme, I am learning interesting facts like the there are increasing opportunities for political scientist who can use their basic political training to make more informed policy decisions and administer programmes more effectively and more imaginatively.

The curriculum comprises a broad range of courses at the introductory, intermediate, and advanced seminar levels, as well as independent study and a thesis at the master’s level. Students are encouraged to undertake fieldwork and internships to balance their knowledge of political science theory with practical, hands-on experience. Students can get experience working at law offices and courts, political campaigns, and social service agencies.

An examination of political systems across the world chosen to illustrate different types of political regimes, states, and societies helps students understand the evolution of such systems. The political system is seen to include formal institutions of government, such as parliaments and bureaucracies; political parties and other forms of group life; and political beliefs, values, and ideologies.

In the field

Haritha Rajaraman, Working for a think tank

As a person who worked as researcher for a large part, I can say that it is an important area that can be explored by political science students. India serves as the greatest research laboratories in the world. There are numerous issues which need to addressed, be it in the area of health and sanitation, urban infrastructure, rural governance, political party dynamics, women and child development, international relations, and so on.

Research is an excellent options for students who are academically oriented and want to arrive at solutions by applying and expanding knowledge through constant research.

Working for a think tank was a natural transition for a researcher since there are several opportunities for postgraduates at this. There are several national and international think tanks that look for fresh blood each year, and if it is your cup of tea, it can prove to be a fruitful option.

An aspirant asks

Teena Patnaik, HSC arts student

I am deeply interested in this field, since I follow politics, both national and international very keenly. My parents advised me to opt for a BA in political science and explore the opportunities in the field. I am also interested in international relations. Is there a way I can work in the field of business with this degree?

Professional Haritha Rajaraman answers: There is a way, however, I will advise you to work for a little bit in the field before you switch over completely to business. This is because once you have the flavour of the working of the field. There are some opportunities in business and entrepreneurship. Those with a postgraduate degree can work for human resources as well as management with the corporations. Those with advanced degrees are employed by (or consulted with) many corporates.

Many political science experts are also prominent in public opinion research, which is of interest to those in politics, and communication. In industry they are often employed as industrial political scientists – experts in productivity, work or physically challenged, relations, minorities, and women in the work force, linking technology to the organisation, corporal culture and organisational development. Political scientists in industry and business command an arsenal of skills and knowledge to solve a wide range of problems.

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