Parth J Shah, the Founder of Center for Civil Society aims to bring a social change through advocating public policies. He shares his thoughts with Brainfeed Higher Education Plus in an exclusive interview.
What’s the vision of CSS?
I founded CSS with intent to bring changes in socio-political-economic scenario. As a professor of economics, I realized that a combination of research and activism was a good way to achieve my intent. So, I founded a think-tank model that allowed building an argument to change a policy, advocate, and promote policy ideas that affect both people and the govt.
Could you explain us the meaning of economic freedom, choice and competition in education?
Choice implies having a choice for parents, teachers, school principals, managements and all the stake holders of education landscape to choose what they want. While, only rich can afford choices, our aim is to proffer choices for the poor too.
Our idea is that policy-making and regulatory system for the education should be designed in a way that the choice is maximized. One thing that we want to maximize in the system is ‘choice’ which actually becomes voice in a certain stage!
Choice also supports quality. If a stakeholder doesn’t get a service of his choice, he could opt another service.
Good choices do lead to good competition. In-fact, choice and competition are the two sides of the same coin. The fact that people have a choice implies having multiple service providers to choose from.
What were the challenges that you faced in implementing CSS?
Running an organization requires financial assistance. So, finding the right set of philanthropists, foundations and people who understand the cause was challenging.
Also, in India, the trust system doesn’t allow trustee to draw a salary. Managing finances at that urgent hour takes a lot of planning. One has to opt for a non-full time job as one cannot do a full-time job under the existing norms of non-profitable institutions. That is a big challenge, I think, we need to address.
What are the few successful projects led by CSS?
- Amendement in Forest Act: Before a few years, Bamboo was defined as a tree. However, in truth, Bamboo is a grass. Our advocacy helped tribal to utilize Bamboo for livelihood which in other case were forced to take permission from forest officials.
- Choice campaign: The idea of choice is gaining more ground in every place.
- Separation of functions: We are striving for the idea of one agency – one power in the realm of education. In other words, there should be different agencies to look after different areas of education.
How is collaboration with ISPP helpful?
ISPP is developing more leaders in public policy domain. It is helping build capacity and talent in the policy space.
What’s your valuable suggestion for youth?
If one wants to be part of nation’s development, working in public policy domain is definitely a good shot.