Who would you consider to be your role model? The answers usually vary from film personalities to sporting heroes. But in today’s day and age, very rarely would one pick a politician to be a role model.
In an attempt to change this perception about politicians, in 2018, Prakhar Bhartiya and Hemakshi Meghani, decided to create Indian School of Democracy (ISD), a place where young leaders with their diverse beliefs are nurtured for a lifetime of service in politics.
Prakhar and Hemakshi are both Teach for India fellows who started having conversations about the need to start this programme sometime in 2017. While Hemakshi went on to study at Harvard Kennedy School and also worked with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Prakhar moved to Columbia University, where he pursued a Masters in Public Administration. He is the founder and CEO of Youth Alliance.
About the school
- ISD is a non-partisan organisation, which was established in 2018.
- Those with an interest in politics and who are between the age group 21 to 40, can apply for the programmes being offered.
- ISD offers both short term and long term courses for those who have political ambitions.
- Democracy Express, one of the short-term courses is a nine-day immersive journey that takes the participants across 2000 kms in four states of India.
- This course had 30 participants and focussed on an inner transformation with allowing the participants to spend a lot of time in self-reflection.
- She Represents is a seven-day course that is specifically designed for women. The class enrolls 20 women to create spaces for women to enter politics.
- So far, with both the courses, more than 50 participants have benefitted.
- Both the short-term courses are designed for someone who is active in their local/college level politics. Those from tier-2 and tier-3 cities engaged in political work and also those keen on enrolling for the longer programme may apply.
How much do the courses cost?
The current cost for the short-term programmes is Rs 35,000. However, given that the programme is now conducted online, a registration cost of Rs 3,000 is charged per participant and the rest is left up to the participants. Prakhar says, “We wanted it to be based on trust. Once the course was completed, we asked the participants to pay what they deemed fit.”
The cost of The Good Politician programme, a nine-month programme, is Rs 2 lakhs. There is also an option of applying for a scholarship, which is awarded on the basis of merit. Adding to this, Prakhar says, “We do not want the cost of the programme to be a deterrent for any deserving candidate. There are enough and more scholarship programmes available and we urge you to apply for this programme, if there is a genuine interest.”
What are the prospects post completion of the course?
Prakhar says, “Out of 50 participants who completed the course, we have 10 who joined active politics in existing political parties like AAP, BJP, and AIDMK in Tamil Nadu. A few of them have started their own initiatives while a handful of them are students who continue to explore possibilities.”
A few participants from Odisha have also come together to launch an all-women political party and are in the initial days of planning. Prakhar also mentions that one of the participants has moved back to Bihar and intends to contest elections at the local Sarpanch in Sitamarhi district, which will take place next year.
The Good Politician
- This is a nine-month programme, wherein participants meet every trimester for three weeks.
- The launch date for this programme is 26 November 2020.
- The selection process for this programme will be held in March-April 2021.
- The programme is scheduled to start on 15 August 2021.
- This programme is best suited for those who have spent between three to five years at the grass root level and have one to two years of active political experience.
- Having a meaningful dialogue during the course is one of the USP’s of this programme.
Who can apply?
- Those who plan to contest sarpanch or councillor elections in next two to three years.
- Recent joinees of parties, party workers; elected or past candidates of rural/local urban body elections
student politicians social workers with significant field experience and electoral aspirations
other sector experience with strong transferable skills etc.
- Those looking for skills and experience of supporting electoral roles/candidates.
If you would like to get more information about the courses, the official prospectus can be accessed here.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)