Making a Career out of Governance Consulting
Aishwarya Rao
April 08, 2019

My passion to work in the field of policy and governance stems from a fundamental desire to help make lives better. This desire, coupled with a keen interest in the social sciences in school led me to develop a sense of pride and belief in India’s democratic polity as a medium to drive good governance. When I was studying to be an engineer,  I was actively involved in my university debating society, as a part of which I debated several key policy issues. This experience contributed to engendering an ambition to build a career out of my interest in policy and governance.

The atmosphere at an engineering college is very distant from the sphere of governance, as a result of which I was unsure of the next steps that would give me a chance to  impact the lives of citizens. In my final year of college, I applied to the LAMP Fellowship and joined the cohort of 2016-17. The fellowship was an exciting experience, primarily because it was overwhelming to not only be able to enter the Parliament of India, but also write the very words that were spoken in its august halls.

My key learning from the fellowship was that the greatest challenge in Indian governance is not about designing good policies, but more about implementing them effectively on the ground. I realised that the best way to create impact in the lives of citizens, and to see my work translating into visible change on ground, was by working at the implementation end of governance.

I learnt of Samagra and its work at a time when I did not clearly understand what governance consulting was. However, Samagra matched my values and passion towards creating impact. Above all, it provided me with a great platform to implement my learnings and do good work. The interview process at Samagra challenged me immensely, which made it all the more satisfying when I was selected to be a part of the team: it was a strong reaffirmation of the fact that my passion for governance had been recognised.

During my onboarding into Samagra, I recall being overwhelmed by the sheer quantum of work that had been done, and the outcomes that had been achieved by the various teams across states and domains. The district visit to Faridabad at the end of my onboarding gave me a chance to witness how Samagra’s initiatives pan out on the ground. The SARAL Kendra was a stellar example of Samagra’s impact in terms of streamlining service delivery, true to the spirit of the Samagra Way of making life simpler for users. It was a unique opportunity to not only understand the level at which impact could be created, but also to observe how the efficacy of existing work could be further enhanced. It helped me further understand why Samagra places an emphasis on field visits as the best way to understand a problem in and out. Conversing with district-level officials and government employees enabled me to understand their perspective and to develop a nuanced understanding of the work that they do and the challenges they face while doing it. One such perspective was obtained by conversing with a policeman, who explained how erratic working hours and tough job conditions contribute to the hostile attitude of some policemen towards citizens, which fuels the existing perception about the police force being unresponsive and unfriendly to citizens.

What makes Samagra’s work meaningful to me is the number of lives it has touched and made an impact on: it stands true to the motto of creating “Impact at Scale”. Equally importantly, I was struck by the realization that I am among a set of like-minded individuals, who are driven by the desire to create impact at scale and that I am where I want to be.