Alumni Speak

Sabyasachi Biswal
Research Analyst, Janes Defense India, MADLB 18-20
Visually, through a brochure, JGU does appear to be a colourful utopia. Its humongous campus space, book-studded library, massive reading rooms, beaming tech-assisted classrooms, state of the art miscellaneous facilities, and the promise of an exceptional pedagogical technique does tend to overwhelm you, especially if you belong from a small town, like I do. Did it overwhelm me? Of course it did, and also filled me with due anticipation for moving into an academic world, which honestly in itself was half of the size of my own town, and boasted of knowledge-sharing at par with any benchmark Western university around the world.

I had the privilege of attending the prestigious School of International Affairs (JSIA) for my M.A. in Diplomacy, Law and Business for the batch of 2018-20, which earned me a specialisation in Conflict in Peace. As you take admission into this behemoth, JGU promises you nothing but excellence, and in a moment of rare gesture it delivers every time you call upon its promise of academic superiority. I won’t be giving out my testimony out of sheer chauvinism for my alum when I tell you that not only JGU and JSIA imbibed a distinct academic character in me, it prepared me to be pitched to world of academic/professional expertise, which will last for the next five to six years. It takes a confused, anxious student just out his/her under-graduation and moulds him/her into a singular individual with a name to live up to, and skills to utilise at every step of his/her life.

JSIA’s professors and experts do not possess the characters of a stoic academician as we once stereotyped and feared. In fact, in them, you will see the same extreme enthusiasm of dissipating knowledge as you will see in their students eager to gain knowledge. Classroom teaching in JSIA are not designed to receive and regurgitate, but to receive, discuss, analyse, and achieve objectives. The professors activate the critical thinking of our mind, while they pitch us to the world of peacebuilders, or economic experts, and simulate our experiences into professional/academic roles that will take up in future. Other than the usual classrooms, JSIA leaves no stones unturned in letting students receive knowledge from sources not particularly affiliated to JGU, but nonetheless, extremely important. In my two years I have been in the vicinity of retired/practicing ambassadors, ex-ministers of foreign countries, and the high and mighty Indian policy-makers of Lutyens Delhi, thanks to the logistics provided by JSIA – JGU in achieving those goals.

Furthermore, JSIA – JGU has a vast list of administrative and academic collaboration with multitude of foreign universities which makes it easier for students to be part of multifarious student exchanges, special summer schools, and semester abroad, without the administrative hurdle. I also had the opportunity to attend one such special summer school where I received a certificate in “Identity based conflict resolution” from Bar-Ilan University – Israel after a month long in-class teaching funded by the Israeli Government itself. Adding into that as a caveat, JSIA’s Centre for Israel Studies gave me the opportunity to extend my stay in Israel, and indulge in an academic research on holocaust memory, state-building, and collective trauma upon which the state of Israel is founded upon. Other than that, I was also a part of the Centre of Border Studies and worked on a project on assessing and tabulating civilian casualties around the LoC between India and Pakistan. These experiences would in future help me in choosing my specialisation of graduation.

However, beyond the usual academics, what does JSIA – JGU has to offer in terms of career placement? In JSIA, at least for the M.A. the course demands for two specialising internships, and a long-term capstone as an option of degree fulfilment. To assist in that JSIA – JGU has its specialised Office of Career Services to spoil us with choices on organisations, which range from corporates, to NGOs, to Think Tanks, to dedicated Policy Institutes. In my two years, OCS roped me exclusive internship from Centre of Land Warfare Studies, Odisha Legislative Assembly, and Centre for Studies in IR and Development, while it also settled me for a leading Policy Advocacy firm – Chase India for my degree fulfilment capstone project. The experience imbibed from the internships, capstone, and the support of OCS in the upcoming years will prove beneficial to prove my professional mettle, as well as choosing my future objectives. I will also thank them for roping me with Janes Defense India for a full-time opportunity as a Research Analyst (Europe and Baltic States), which was a great gesture of support, provided we live in harsher and struggling times.

In the end, for those who are currently pursuing their degrees in JSIA – JGU, and also to those who will do that in future, I do welcome you to an adventurous path, where the inculcation of quality education is the milestone, and where no academic idea is stupid, boisterous, or blasphemous. In fact, it was this encouragement to think higher that made me end up with an award in Best Student Publication, Best Student Research Initiative, and 22 academic publication. The journey here will surely increase your outlook to the world you’ll face in real time, you just have to engage your professors and peers in critical dissipation of knowledge, open yourself to academic theories, think as if your life depends on it, and inject out fun from day to day activities inside the campus. Your fundamental benefits far exceed your expectation, and I just hope that your career glides to the top once you open yourself up to an upward journey.
Thank you!