Civil service dreams, aspirations for higher studies abroad and specialised subjects of contemporary relevance — these are among factors that could explain the surge in popularity of Political Science as a discipline for Delhi University entrants.
The Indian Express had reported how, despite rocketing cut-offs, admissions to Political Science honours has closed in most top colleges, with many admitting far more students than the number of seats available.
Political Science teachers said a large role is played by various specialised courses students can opt for within the programme, which serve as bridges to various fields after graduation.
“There are specialised courses which have a lot of contemporary relevance. One of these is public policy — most IIMs and upcoming private universities have masters in public policy and studying political science in undergraduation provides a direct link. Other such courses are gender studies and international relations, all of which are very relevant, particularly for those interested in higher studies,” said Dr Tanvir Aejiz, who teaches at Ramjas College.
Dr Jayashree Pillai from Miranda House said courses offered within the programme offer ample flexibility. “Students are equipped to deal with philosphy as we have a paper on political philosophy from Plato and Marx to Chanakya. They study the Indian political system, which equips them to deal with bureaucracy. Public policy is useful for those who go on to appear for CAT, and can join the corporate field. International relations opens up possibilities in the UN, world politics and international law,” she said.
Teachers said the programme hasn’t always been this dynamic, but frequent updating of syllabi and addition of new elective subjects has helped. They also said this programme possibly opens more doors later on as compared to other arts courses like History, Sociology and English. And while Economics also offers vast avenues, it is considered more rigorous, particularly because of mathematics being a requirement.
Dr Pillai said the varied exposure helps students get into masters abroad. “Earlier, doing post-graduation abroad was not a common aspiration for the middle class. But now many are entering undergraduation with that aim,” she said.
Dr Uma Gupta, who teaches at Kirori Mal College, linked the popularity to a growing number of students from other states, particularly southern states. “We are seeing students coming from their states to DU with the single purpose of becoming civil servants, and political science is the most popular subject for IAS aspirants,” she said.
Dr Aejiz pointed to how two of the compulsory papers in the UPSC exams are from public administration, which is also a compulsory paper in the undergraduation curriculum.
Students testified to this. “I’m not sure yet of what I want to pursue after college, but be it journalism, civil services or international relations, I can go anywhere from here,” said Rajlakhmee Borah from Assam, who is pursuing the course from Shaheed Bhagat Singh College.
“I didn’t get into political science because the cut-off was very high; I will take it as my elective subject. Studying the subject will help me decide if I want to take civil service examinations in the future,” Ayushi Lamba from Uttar Pradesh, who has taken up BA (Hons) History at Miranda House, said.