A Path Truly Different:Young India Fellowship

As a student at IIT, you spend 4 to 5 years studying the nuances of aspecific branch of engineering or science. Excellent though this training may be, it is entirely possible that you feel the need to add that extra dimension to your education before you make the plunge into the real world. If so, you might want to check out the first-of-its-kind Young India Fellowship, which promises to fulfill precisely this need.

What is the Young India Fellowship?

The Young India Fellowship (YIF) is a year-long multidisciplinary learning and leadership development programme. It claims as its vision: ‘To identify and develop unique & high potential change agents of India through a multi-disciplinary programme guided by eminent leaders and scholars of our time.’ Currently in its first batch of students, this residential post-graduate programme admits 50 candidates from all over the country, who are brought together to the Sri Aurobindo Center for Arts & Communication (SACAC) campus, Sri Aurobindo Society in New Delhi.

Who runs it?

The YIF is administered by a not-for-profit company called the International Foundation for Research & Education (IFRE) in collaboration with University of Pennsylvania through an MoU with the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The IRFE is set up with the vision to create Ashoka University, billed to be ‘India’s first world class university’.
YIF’s founding team is made up of eminent personalities from India’s professional world, including Sanjeev Bhikchandani (Naukri.com), Ashish Dhawan (ChrysCapital) and Vineet Gupta (Jamboree). ISB’s Founding Dean Pramath Sinha is the Dean of the Young India Fellowship.

How does one apply?

The programme is open to candidates who are in the final year of their undergraduate or postgraduate degree, or have completed their undergraduate degree and worked straight after that for not more than two years. The selection process consists of an initial application submission followed by telephonic and in-person interviews. Applications are solicited in two rounds. Though the first round of applications for the class entering in 2012 is over, candidates can still apply in the second round which closes on February 28.

About the programme

The programme includes classroom lectures by faculty from India and abroad as well as workshops by professional experts on writing and communication, leadership and team work skills. Again, YIF seems to have roped in extremely distinguished faculty – including renowned sociologist Andre Beteille – to deliver its courses, which are wide-ranging and cover areas like anthropology, life sciences, climate change and entrepreneurship. A highlight of the programme is the Experiential Learning Module (ELM) – an eight-month long engagement with an organization that every Young India Fellow undertakes to gain real work experience under the guidance of a team of coaches. This confers the dual benefit of exploring your interests and learning to work within an organization when your salary does not depend upon it.The programme is spread over eight brisk six-week long semesters, each with up to five courses and its own mid term and end term exams to boot. So expect a significantly busier academic life than the laidback pace you are possibly used to in the relaxed environs of Kharagpur. The YIF website rather ominously states:

‘We do not encourage working even part-time while you are with us as your schedule with us will be very hectic.’


Young India Fellows are given access to an enviable, diverse pool of mentors containing the likes of Infosys Chairman NR Narayana Murthy, and receive a full scholarship amount of Rs 8 lakhs covering all expenses including fee, boarding and lodging. This, combined with the holistic liberal arts-based curriculum and the experience of sharing a classroom with 50 students handpicked from different branches of education in the country, should result in an intense year of learning about yourself and how to pursue your goals. The YIF should also provide plenty of opportunities for building networks which could come in handy later in your professional life.

However, the programme is still in its infancy.  The first batch of Young India Fellows is scheduled to graduate in May this year. It is likely to be some time before the merits and demerits of the programme become evident and concrete examples can be held up as proof of the fellowship’s efficacy, or lack thereof.

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