This article was originally published by KAYLEN RALPH

Shruti Kapoor MPP Class of 2020, who grew up in India, has witnessed the effects of this poverty’s effects firsthand. 

“There are a lot of social dilemmas there that are existing at this point and time,” she said. Although the poverty level is improving on a large scale, these social dilemmas, including job scarcity and rural underdevelopment, continue to affect pockets of the population in visceral ways. 

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Kapoor arrived at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy this fall with four years of government and non-government development experience under her belt. While leading operations for the McKinsey & Company’s social development spin-off, “Generation,” which aims to devise disruptive solutions for youth unemployment in India, she pioneered partnerships with stakeholders who in turn provided training and unemployment to more than 4,000 unemployed youths across remote and semi-urban locations in India. 

She’s pursuing a degree in public policy because she wants to learn how to blend her experience in the field with analytical skills in order to assume a strategic position that will allow her to “up-scale” the impact of social development programs to a larger population in India. As a member of the Harris Public Policy Class of 2020, Kapoor is one of the 458 students who constitute the largest and most diverse class in the school’s history, with student representation from 40 different countries around the world, and an international cohort that remains robust despite a downtrend nationwide in international student enrollment — a large bloc of the 95 percent increase in applications to Harris over the past years are international. 

Kapoor’s aspirations to continue working in the social sector after graduation from Harris — perhaps at the World Bank, United Nations or International Labour Organization, she said — are indicative of the priorities shared by this new “Policy Generation,” who, disillusioned by increasing partisanship in politics, yet emboldened to be changemakers, are exploring avenues for policy creation outside the realm of traditional political structures, both domestically and internationally. 

“A party may have a certain set of beliefs on paper, but I know members that may not really abide by all those principals,” Kapoor said. “It’s a very, very turbulent situation at this point in time and therefore, I don’t think there is any [party] that corresponds to the kind of beliefs that I want to have. In the future, if something excites me, I do not mind working for them but…I want to be in a policy position to impact the population (of India), and not just the written policy, but also the implementation bit of it. Once the policy [rolls out], how can we design something [to ensure] that whatever is written and whatever is promised to people is actually done?”