This Personal Statement was part of Bhadra Sreejith’s successful application to the LSE for Government and Economics, the University of Warwick for Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and the University of Edinburgh for Politics and Economics.
To change the world, one must first understand it. I come from Kerala, a state with a strong tradition of Marxist ideology and the highest Human Development Index in India, despite its low levels of economic growth. This has given me the opportunity to observe the effect of government policies on development and shown me that economics and politics are inexorably linked, thus leading to my desire to study them, in order to understand the world further.
I enjoy studying A-level economics and try to read beyond the confines of the syllabus. Paul Krugman’s ‘End This Depression Now’ alerted me to the consequences of different macroeconomic policies countries use to cope with a crisis such as the ‘Great Recession’. His criticism of austerity interested me in the political repercussions of austerity, such as the Greek protests of 2011, and the increased popularity of fascist parties. I have also become particularly interested in the economics of developing nations, fuelled by my observation of India, where massive wealth and desperate poverty often coexist. In particular, I desired to learn about the connection between democracy and economic growth. To this end, I read ‘Development as Freedom’ by Amartya Sen. I found it to be engrossing as it argued the case for political participation being a measure of human freedom, and constituting development in its own right. While autocracies may claim a higher economic growth rate, I like the idea that democracy is not a means to an end, but an end in itself.
To further my interests in the theory of freedom, I watched Michael Sandel’s ‘Justice’ series of lectures and became attracted to the concept of utilitarianism. It was interesting to relate utilitarianism and the concept of the general good to Jacques Rousseau’s ‘The Social Contract’ and the general will. However, I feel that the espousal of the general good could often lead to totalitarianism and the ‘tyranny of the majority’. It could also be manipulated by a loud, determined minority, such as a lobbying group, when applied to current politics. I also read ‘On Liberty’ by John Stuart Mill and found his defense of free speech and liberty compelling, noting its continued relevance in the modern world.
My fascination with politics has been reinforced by taking part in Model United Nations conferences. They have sharpened my debating skills and allowed me to look at situations from the perspectives of various countries with different political systems, teaching me the importance of keeping abreast of current affairs. I am interested to note the consequences of a gradual shift in power towards the East, such as the G-8 gradually being replaced by the G-20 due to the rise of India and China. Kishore Mahbubani’s ‘The New Asian Hemisphere’ described this rise in detail, but I did not think he considered that countries such as India have too many domestic problems to take on a more dominant international role. Living in both Malaysia and India has shown me how differences in political systems can contribute vastly to the amount of political freedom citizens of the country enjoy. I would like to explore these differences in detail at university.
I enjoy writing. I am the Editor-in-Chief of the student magazine, and through this I have learned to write clearly and clarify arguments. I was also vice-President of the local Toastmasters club, which put me in charge of organizing meetings and inviting speakers from other clubs, allowing me to improve my public speaking skills. As a hobby, I play the piano. Balancing my A-levels alongside my extra-curricular activities has proved to be a challenging task, but my time management skills have improved as a result. By studying in a university in the UK, I hope to understand why the world is the way it is, and hopefully change it.
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