India Fellow Program – Become a Socially Conscious Leader

India Fellow Program - Become a Socially Conscious LeaderAbout the Author: Rahul Nainwal is the co-founder of India Fellow and iVolunteer. He shares insightful details about the fellowship and how it’s creating real, socially conscious leaders trying to solve the development challenges that our country is facing.

What does it mean to be a socially conscious leader? A simple yet powerful insight coming from a 22-year-old, working in a difficult area with women groups on household finance, during a recent conversation made us wonder.
Jayashiree, in a session, told us, “There was a time when I enjoyed walking into a fancy restaurant and eating all that I wanted. Today, after working 6 months in rural Chhattisgarh, I cannot eat more than my basic requirement. Something about overeating is unfair when so many others I’ve lived with have so little, and I cannot bear to do it.” Jayashiree is a fellow from the current batch of the India Fellow Social Leadership Program.

For the youth of this country, there are many platforms to discuss problems in the development sector and think about their solutions. College debates, social media, news channels etc. – there are many mediums to give your opinion about challenges in India and how the systems are failing. But what after that? If you, as a young person, want to make a difference by changing the current scenario, you need to take the first step. What could that step be?

Well, we believe that an opportunity where you can dig in and get your hands dirty, and understand the development challenges through hands-on work, training, and coaching would be a good place to start. A social leadership program provides such an opportunity. It aims to bring together passionate individuals and give them the space to look at development challenges from close quarters and to spend some time working with the communities to help them learn more about the realities of the country. An India Fellow typically works in various thematic areas like Education, Public Health, Empowerment, Social Enterprise, Livelihood and Skill Development, Communication for social change, etc.

Students who are willing to step out of their comfort zones and embrace a new community, are willing to live in tough situations and experience the problems themselves, and who have the courage to try something new in order to understand their own selves and make an impact on the lives of others are the ones who are apt for this program. To get selected, you need to have some basic educational background, an interest in the development sector, and the commitment to spend a full year working with a grassroots organization. The fellowship also promotes values which enable individuals to absorb the complex understanding of development challenges and requires them to be humble, open to learning, and committed to such a cause.

Our selection process:
1. Interested students need to fill an application form. Applications are open until 28th February 2017
2. Shortlisted candidates will go through a telephonic interview on a rolling basis until 15th March
3. Those who qualify after the telephonic interview would work over a short field-cum-written assignment from 15th to 31st March
4. Finally, selected applicants will be attending a day of the assessment process and personal interviews in one of our centers in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, or Hyderabad. This will be between 5th to 30th April

The fellowship has a training component spread across three parts – induction training, mid-point training, and end-point training. All the three training parts include components of theory, tools that can be used, perspectives of the sector, and listening to practitioners from different fields. The idea is to aid the fellows and supplement their grassroots learning with the larger questions and learnings from the space. The fellows also undertake a travel workshop in their fellowship year where they explore a new ecosystem and try to understand its challenges in a few days.

“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, we can work together.” — Lilla Watson

Ultimately, a fellowship like this is similar to walking into an alternative reality. With the completion of this program, we hope that young passionate people will find newer perspectives that would make them better decision makers of the future; they will understand the inherent complexities and use their learning in whichever field they go to. A real leader is actually the one who can put herself in the shoes of every person that she is making decisions for. And this is what we hope to achieve with this fellowship – development of real, socially conscious leaders.

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