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Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.

Fellow Spotlight: Prajapati Trivedi

Fellow Spotlight: Prajapati Trivedi

Prof. Prajapati Trivedi is currently the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for SDG Implementation, Commonwealth Secretariat, London, UK; a Distinguished Professor at the School of Public Policy and Governance, Management Development Institute (MDI) India; a Visiting International Fellow at the IBM Center for the Business of Government, Washington, DC and a visiting Economics faculty at the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where he has taught various courses for the last 40 years.

Who or what inspired you to enter into public service?

Our family has a long tradition of public service. Several members of my immediate family, including grandfathers on both sides of the family, were dedicated to public service. My maternal grandfather, Pt. Ravishankar Shukla, was a leading freedom fighter and Prime Minister of erstwhile Central Provinces and Berar (now Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra). My paternal grandfather was a District Judge during the pre-independence era. My father was one of the earliest recruits in the Indian Revenue Service and several of my uncles were members of the Indian Parliament. With such wonderful role models, public service was an obvious and unambiguous choice for me. I qualified to serve in the Indian Civil Service but decided to serve the nation via teaching.

What is your favorite class you have ever taught or taken and why?

Of all the classes I have taken, I count two to have had fundamental influence on my thinking and career: One of my favorite classes was the one taken as part of my M.Sc. (Economics) degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science, London, delivered by Prof. Amartya Sen, who went on to win the Nobel for Economics. He taught us a course on Social cost-benefit analysis and expanded our horizons to look at all outcomes from a public or social point of view rather than the narrower private point of view. To paraphrase: ask not if it is good for you but whether it is good for the society. My other favorite class was taught by Prof. Leroy P. Jones on Public Sector Management at Boston University. Where he answered the question: if not for profit, then for what?

My favorite class to teach remains Applied Economics for Public Policy Makers. I have taught a version of this class to mid-career public policy students at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, since 1979. I have also written a book by the same name, and it is still sold at the Harvard Coop. The USP of this textbook is the rearrangement of chapters. Way back when it was published in 1990, it was the only textbook that brought the concept of welfare economics upfront as one of the early chapters. Until this time, welfare economics (concepts like the consumer surplus and producer surplus) was relegated to the end of most textbooks. I raised the question: all things considered, is the society better off or worse off by implementing a particular economic policy.

What advice would you give to those interested in pursuing public policy or public administration as a career?

While it is essential to have a bird’s eye view of all topics in public policy analysis and formulation, it is equally important to acquire practical toolkits that can bring immediate benefit to future employers. Hence, my skills in social cost-benefit analysis and public sector performance evaluation and management have been the most in-demand. These skills allowed me to get my dream jobs at the World Bank in Washington, DC, the Government of India, and the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

What area of public policy interests you the most and why?

I have spent most of my career on issues related to measurement and management of government performance. This has included the core government departments, whose performance to date was considered beyond measurement.

What is your favorite cuisine?

Thai cuisine or South Indian Cuisine (Dosa and Idli)

What is your favorite hobby or activity that you enjoy doing in your free time?

Going to the gym, swimming and badminton in covered wooden court.

Who in your life has been an influential mentor or inspiration for you?

Without question, Professor Leroy P. Jones, who taught me the essence of public enterprise performance evaluation.

What was your dream job as a child?

To be a senior civil servant or be in public life as a minister. But I am thrilled to be where I am right now in my journey.

									 Prajapati Trivedi
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