As a primary component of the institute, Alumni and External Relations (AER) office acts as a vital role between the Alumni Special Interest Groups (ASIGs) and IIM Ahmedabad. The office aims at re-connecting significantly more alumni and students to the institute through their participation in the in-campus meets, off-campus meets and other alumni activities and focuses on developing far-reaching synergies across the traditional and emerging alumni engagement programs at the Institute and the Alumni Association. The role is set up to keep alumni connected to each other and to encourage and promote the professional development of alumni on an individual level.
The Public Policy Alumni Special Interest Group (PP ASIG) is a group of alumni and faculty of the institute with expertise and interest in the fields of public policy and India's development. Backed by the institute, the PP ASIG fosters collaboration among the IIMA community (faculty, students and alumni) and the wider world of public policy practitioners to contribute to India's inclusive development agenda.
When a group of WIMWIans convenes, we find ways to change the world, if only to change the world around us. This is both our training and our legacy, for IIMA has always been at the forefront of policy decision making in the country. Professors have contributed to the design process, shaping the contours of policy, and alumni have been part of the policy making framework over decades, whether as part of their day jobs, on consultation and expert committees, or via industry bodies.
The work on making the idea of Public Policy Alumni Special Interest Group (PP ASIG) come alive began with Prof. Rakesh Basant reaching out to create a core group. Discussion documents were created to delineate the purpose and focus of the ASIG along with initial thoughts on the logistics of making it real (we have dug around in our archives and have pulled out one of the initial documents for the group to read and reflect upon in this annual report). A detailed survey was run in early 2019 to solicit views from a variety of stakeholders on their inputs for the PP ASIG’s purpose and focus. After all this groundwork, to convene with our shared interest in policy was the next logical step, and the policy hub of Delhi was the natural location for the meeting in early October 2019. The vibrant exchange of views, backed by evidence, examples, practice and purpose, was focused on building a shared space where we could all contribute to public policy in constructive ways.
There were a range of experience in the group - some alumni had retired from policy positions while others had just been recruited into the formal world of policy. The government’s new lateral entry cadre had just been actioned, and we had representatives from there, as well as from civil society who had worked on public policy research and action for decades. A wealth of experience as Officers on Special Duty with Union Ministers, as professionals with multilateral and multinational agencies, as consultants and practitioners, and as academics, lent heft to the discussions. As we progressed the discussion, we realized that there was much to contribute to the policy discussion. The key question was then about strategy and process - where and how should we make a start, and which efforts would be sustainable in the future.
The group has made substantial progress a lot since that day. While internal discussions within the group help us understand and navigate policy issues outside of our core domains, we also extended these discussions to the wider community. The deliberations within the group are about sharing and learning, as we seek and explore deeper understandings of the problems and possible solutions. The discussions that are shared with the public focus on conversations with eminent personalities, and their experience with navigating policy structures to do good. Our dialogue has been wide ranging but also pragmatic with significant depth as they are led by domain experts.
The PP ASIG has been one of the first of the IIMA alumni groups to align in this “ASIG” avatar, and has been able to lead and support other ASIGs in their early endeavours by sharing both pace and outcomes. Its confident start lays the foundation for achieving the enormous potential that the policy space presents. Despite restricted circumstances of the pandemic over the last two calendar years, the PP ASIG zoomed forth online and enabled discussions on myriad issues of import at the national level. There is much that we can do together as alumni, and as we go further down the path of enabling policy makers for social good, we realize how many of us have been doing excellent work over the decades in this area. This has been a journey of discovery of the impact of our Institute at both the national and regional level - and the stories we find are truly inspiring.
As the PP ASIG reflects on its solid start, it needs to expand its domain to something even more substantial, given the potential within the group. From sharing learnings and stories, to debating difficult policy positions, and to creating pathways for the future – there are many things that can be done. This is an ongoing discussion, for policy necessarily follows the needs of the people, and must therefore grow in line with these needs. The PP ASIG stands at a vantage point in this discussion as it begins to realize its potential to make improvements in the lives of the people.