Meet Shrutidhar Tripathi, a Master of Diplomacy graduate who is using his powers of persuasion to be a peacemaker both at home and abroad.
Shrutidhar Tripathi believes life is all about negotiation.
“It starts from early in the morning when you’re negotiating with your kids over what to have for breakfast!”
It was this belief in the importance of negotiation skills which led Shrutidhar to the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at ANU to study a combined Master of Diplomacy and Master of Arts in International Relations.
Before coming to ANU, Shrutidhar had been working with UN agencies for almost eight years in his home-country of Nepal, negotiating with conflicting parties to implement humanitarian programs – a far cry from the breakfast table. As National Coordinator for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) for the rehabilitation of ex-Maoist combatants, he was responsible for re-integrating former child-soldiers into peacetime livelihoods.
“I was representing UNFPA, but there were many UN agencies like UNDP and ILO, and other agencies, working there. We had to negotiate with each other because we each had different mandates. At the same time, we had to negotiate together as a team with the government, on the one hand, and on the other, with the leadership of the Maoist rebels, whom they had been fighting for almost 10 years. These factors were affecting the successful implementation of the program.
“I thought then that having formal training and more exposure to theories of negotiation and conflict resolution would provide me with an extra edge to push the best agenda.”
With a Master of Diplomacy under his belt, Shrutidhar says he would approach situations like this differently now.
“I was not aware, for example, of concessions, of the give-and-take, or to what level you actually bend, and what your fall-back position should be. These kinds of things were not in my mind.
“Studying the Master of Diplomacy has helped me tremendously in building my experience and knowledge of negotiation, conflict-resolution and diplomatic practices.”
Shrutidhar says his professional experience, alongside that of staff and fellow students, allowed him to connect what he was learning in the classroom with real-life scenarios.
“Based on my experience, I was able to contribute practical examples of theories, and field-level challenges and realities; something from which I think the entire class benefited.
“We had a blend of very experienced people in our class who are actually engaged in real-life international negotiations. We had one sitting diplomat, one sitting ambassador, a consul of Mauritius, a first secretary from Thailand, and military personnel from the US Army. We always felt we could learn from and take advantage of each other’s experience, and it’s always good to have these kinds of connections.”
Shrutidhar says he was very happy with the learning environment at the College, and gained more than just professional knowledge from the program.
“There’s a dedicated lab and very amicable staff and professors, who have an open-door policy. The program has a very good blend of practical skills and theoretical knowledge, backed by ample resources. There’s also a retreat, and a one-week workshop on negotiation and conflict-resolution, providing a very conducive environment for learning and sharing experiences.
“The workshop, in particular, was a very enriching experience for me, and I think it will help me tremendously no matter where I work in the future. The experience is applicable not only in the professional field but in social aspects, and all aspects of life.”