PPE/Economics+Politics Personal Statement

My interest in politics stems from my grandfather, who was a Kashmiri politician. Accompanying him to political events ignited my passion to learn more about the Kashmir situation and political activism in general, causing me to read 'Kashmir in Conflict' by Victoria Schofield, outlining the history of the issue and possible solutions to the problem, which I found achievable yet unattainable due to the current political climate. At age 12, I wrote and read a speech at Westminster Parliament explaining the causes and consequences of Partition and how the status quo can be improved through public policy, namely specialised laws that promote freedom as opposed to the revoking of article 370. I would like to learn more about the unfairness in society due to race, gender and beliefs; therefore, a multifaceted and interdisciplinary course would be ideal. Having witnessed the abuse of political power by Modi's government in rendering article 370 inoperative and the wider social implications of his policy, I decided to investigate theories of political and social justice. Motivated by a desire to understand how social inequality impacts politics, I read 'What Does It All Mean?' by Thomas Nagel where he describes redistributive taxation as a means of reducing inequities in society. His assertions that everyone is born into a luck-based, unjust socioeconomic system encouraged me to research more about unfairness in society by undertaking an online course on John Rawls' political philosophy. I agreed with his case that rags-to-riches stories were too rare and that one-off cases were made prevalent by the most powerful to create a facade that societal reform was occurring. Similarly, I found Jenni Russell's recent argument that the dogma of meritocracy only widens social divisions convincing in the British context, but I believe that the continued conflict in Kashmir has been due to political elitism and the lack of even a facade of meritocracy. This led me to read 'On Liberty' by J.S. Mill to gauge his views on society's power over the individual. I was particularly enthralled by his opinions on freedom of expression and opposing ideas, especially how he regards suppressing society's ideas as suppressing the truth and hindering social progress. I find it compelling to look at this from an economic perspective, where suppressing innovation and entrepreneurship can prevent economic growth. One of the basic principles of economics is to maximise the outcome from a given set of resources to promote prosperity. We see this being avoided in totalitarian governments, which causes one to question the trust and morality of modern politicians who prefer to fulfil their own agendas. 'The Prince' by Niccolo Machiavelli provided an interesting challenge to my instinctive mistrust of self-serving politicians. I also decided to compare it with the views of Thomas More, extending my analytical and theoretical capabilities. I found the differences in leadership styles riveting, yet the similarities regarding corruption and dishonesty as a hindrance to a civilised society even more compelling as we see the development of many countries thwarted by unstable governments in modern times. While More's 'Utopia' may be the ideal we should work towards, it is unfeasible in today's society, therefore one may be more inclined to side with Machiavelli's cynical, yet realistic argument. My insight into political theory was furthered by studying government intervention in economics where, by way of Adam Smith's 'invisible hand', I learnt that, in reality, any policy will have unintended and unexpected consequences. Public health policies are prime examples of this, such as cycle-to-work schemes that are made to improve national welfare yet lead to more injuries and increased pressure on hospitals. The opportunity to explore these questions of international, social and economic justice make me hugely excited about the prospect of undergraduate study.

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Accepted by LSE/Warwick for PPE and Bristol for EconPol

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