Vinay Raniga

A skilled dentist with plans to run for office believes in the potential of entrepreneurship to rebuild communities.

The Political Leadership Scholarship for the Master of Public Policy is for applicants who are motivated to run for elected office at the local or national level in the UK or Ireland. Dr Vinay Raniga (MPP 2021), a dentist, hopes to run as a Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party, and sees the key responsibilities of this role as two-fold:

“An MP has two main jobs: they represent their constituents which means they must understand their community, and they have a say in parliamentary politics. The underpinning of each of these roles is understanding policy and I think it’s important that people who enter public office have some training in public policy.”

Vinay is a believer in the power of community cohesion. As such, feeling a connection to the community he would be representing is an essential prerequisite for him when choosing where to run for office. Among his other main policy interests are healthcare and empowering people to become independent through entrepreneurial opportunities.

“I care deeply about helping people become more independent through entrepreneurship. The thrill and independence of running your own business is a great thing. It can help a lot of people who have it within them to start their own business, but simply don’t know where to begin.”

A graduate of Barts and The London School of Dentistry, Vinay spent a year in public service as a dentist in his hometown after graduation. At the same time, he began running his own business aimed at helping dentists find passion and purpose in their career. The year after he trained as a junior head and neck surgeon at Northwick Park Hospital and then went on to split his time, working two days a week as a public policy and government affairs consultant for {my}dentist, the UK’s largest provider of NHS dentalcare whilst still being clinically active. During this time, he worked on increasing access to NHS dentistry in parts of the UK with the lowest levels of access. He also produced and presented a briefing on the state of dentistry in the UK to 50 MPs.

His interest in policy and politics, however, dates back to before his undergraduate studies. In fact, when undertaking a gap year in India, volunteering and learning about his heritage, Vinay found himself in something of a crisis. He was torn between going down a more traditional route into politics by studying a subject like Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE), and going into dentistry. After seeking advice from a range of people, he made his decision.

“My intuition guided me to do a degree that would allow me to directly help people in society and to deeply understand communities. The GP, the dentist, the local coffee shop owner – all of them sit at the heart of the community. They get to know people from a very young age, see people grow up and really understand their local area.”

During his time at dental school his interest in policy grew. He developed his knowledge and understanding of evidence-based dentistry and how to improve people’s access to dental care through policy implementation. 

Vinay had spent three years as a practising dentist, along with building his experience in political advocacy when he decided it was the right time to apply for the MPP back in 2019. He applied with the Political Leadership Scholarship in mind, believing his experience in public service, political advocacy in the healthcare sphere, as well as his involvement in party politics made him a strong candidate for the scholarship. 

Vinay was undertaking a year-long training programme to become a junior head and neck surgeon when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. As ventilators used in surgical theatres were redeployed to strained intensive care units (ICUs) across the UK, the unit where Vinay was working began discharging all non-emergency patients. 

When asked if he would like to stay and support the doctors in ICU at the hospital, he was hesitant at first; though he’d received medical training during his dentistry degree and surgery training programme, it was far outside of his area of expertise. However, Vinay felt a sense of duty to serve his country during the crisis and spent the next four months living in a hotel away from his family working 12-hour shifts in the ICU. The hospital where he was based became the first in the country to declare an emergency and was at the epicentre of the first wave of COVID-19 in the UK.

Vinay was in isolation with COVID-19 early on in the pandemic when he received his offer to study the MPP from the School. As summer was approaching, the School got in touch again to offer him the Political Leadership Scholarship. However, as case numbers in the UK began to rise once more and hospitals were under increasing strain, Vinay was called back to ICU. He made the difficult decision to defer his place on the MPP for a year, knowing this would put his scholarship in jeopardy. Thankfully, when he reapplied for the class of 2021, he was offered the scholarship once again:

“I had to take a risk because I couldn’t have done the course without the scholarship; it would have been impossible. I am so grateful that they offered me the scholarship again for this year.”

Now that he has arrived in Oxford and begun the MPP, Vinay has been impressed by the course’s outstanding diversity and collaborative nature. Spending time reading and reflecting on philosophical literature and how this can be applied to policymaking has been a standout activity from his first few weeks of classes. 

In addition to his primary interests in community-building, entrepreneurship and healthcare, Vinay hopes to use his time on the MPP to delve into other important policy areas. Given the rapidly-developing role of technology in education delivery, along with the urgency of the climate crisis, he sees understanding these issues as crucial for anyone intending to run for public office in the future. 

November 2021.