Everything you need to know about young India fellowship

Young India Fellowship 

Nelson Mandela had once famously said, “The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.” To nurture the youth of our country into agents of development and social change, the Young India fellowship (YIF) was started in 2011. The main idea was to break students away from the existing education system that allowed them to specialize only in specific subjects. YIF was bold enough to experiment exposing students instead to a one year intense Liberal Arts program focusing on not one, but multiple disciplines. #FellowshipNeverEnds is a trending hashtag and not without a reason. This is exactly what every alumnus has to say about YIF. Though the program is supposedly for a year, the learning and support system that extends post-learning for career is never-ending.

It’s Conception: 

When the YIF was first rolled out in 2011,  57 students registered for the course. With the success of the first year, the number of students increased; in fact it almost doubled in the coming years. While in the first three years, YIF was functioning out of Sri Aurobindo Centre for Communication and Arts in New Delhi, it finally moved into the Ashoka University campus in Sonepat, Haryana in 2014. The primary aim of the fellowship is to broaden each student’s worldview and sharpen their skill sets. YIF does this through its 6 pillars that are the basis of its foundation: (Young India Fellowship Brochure: https://yifp.in/Uploads/Brochure/YIF-Applicant-Brochure.pdf)

  1. Unique Multidisciplinary curriculum
  2. Inspiring faculty and enriching guest sessions
  3. Peer learning and cohort diversity
  4. Experiential learning and professional development
  5. Ashoka ecosystem and campus life
  6. The way ahead and life after YIF

Why Should I Be Interested in YIF?

As already mentioned, Young India fellowship (YIF) concentrates on the all-round development of its fellows. This is done by exposing them to an atmosphere where they can maximize their opportunities to enhance their inter and intra personal skills. Moulded by global achievers, the fellows work through an array of multidisciplinary courses plus two flagship components of the program: The Critical Writing Program (training to read carefully, think critically and write constructively) and  Experiential Learning Module (also known as ELM that allows students to apply their skills by working on real world projects). This essentially means that students concentrate on an eclectic mix of subjects from Literature to Statistics, history to Mathematical thinking and gender studies to Psychology etc. Upon completion of the course, fellows come out as well-rounded, potential leaders and critical thinkers with effective communication who go on to become the future changemakers. Now, does that leave you with any reason to NOT be interested?

Do I Fit In?

If you’ve read so far and are interested to apply, you need to know if you actually fit in their eligibility criteria. Let’s take a look at them:

  • Do you exhibit an intense desire to be an agent of social change? 
  • Do you have a leader hidden within you who’s also humble and believes that there is no end to learning?
  • Do you have a deep-rooted ambition to solve the problems that plague our society?
  • Are you energetic, open to new initiatives; do you exhibit qualities of integrity and open-mindedness?

If you said yes to all of the above, then you are half way there. YES, only HALFWAY. Besides the above criteria, you should also fulfill the following requirements:

  • Have an undergraduate/post-graduate degree from a recognized university.
  • Not more than 28 years old.
  • Have strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • Have an impressive academic record.
  • Must have been actively involved in extra-curricular activities.

How Do I Apply?

The application process is relatively easy, but the selection very stringent. This program involves eminent personalities from India and abroad to mould and shape you and offers partial or even complete funding in certain cases. The only primary expectation from the applicant is that they should be passionate about an idea that could be transformed into a wider social or business initiative. This is not for people who only have personal benefits in their minds.  To get started, you need to: 

  1. Create an account in the Ashoka University portal and register for the Young India Fellowship program. A password will be sent to the registered email address of the applicant.
  2. Once you get the password, log in to the portal with the credentials provided.
  3. Move on to the Application Details section where you have to provide extensive information about yourself. These include, among others, personal details, contact details, academic details (if you have any), parent’s details, referee details (if you have any), extra-curricular activities, essays etc. Essays are very important as they give an insight into the applicant’s life and the values they believe in. So, take time and fill in the application very carefully. This decides your selection, in a way.
  4. Submit your application. Short-listed applicants are contacted and interviewed over telephone. This decides if the applicant is suitable for the course, so answer the questions with care. Applicants who clear this stage are called for a personal interview. 
  5. Along with the interview, a comprehension test is given to test the applicant’s written communication skills.
  6. This is followed by the final stage where the applicant is chosen based on the cumulative score of all the stages. Chosen candidates are intimated through call/email.

Hence students applying for the fellowship need to be careful to clear the application assessment, telephonic interview and final comprehension test plus the interview. Each of these steps is crucial. Interviews are held in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore while international candidates can attend the interview over Skype.

What About Funding?

Fellows driven with a passion for development are not restricted to a certain section of the society. Keeping this in view, Young India fellowship offers partial and/or complete funding that covers tuition expenses, course materials, textbooks, library subscriptions and living expenses. The fellowship is supported financially by prominent corporate leaders, philanthropists and institutions.

Important Dates in the YIF Application Calendar:

The application and selection process takes place in 3 rounds, so if you are really keen, you must not just be aware of the dates but should also be on the lookout so that you don’t miss out.

Round 1: Applications for round 1 begin in July/August and filled in applications have to be submitted by November/December. Interviews are held between October and January and the final list of selected candidates is out by February/March.

Round 2: Applications open in November/December and the forms have to be submitted by January. Interviews are held between December and March and final list of selected candidates is put up by April/May.

Round 3: Applications for this round commence in January/ February and the last date for submitting the filled-in applications is March/April. Interviews are held between March and May and the final list of selected candidates is out by May/June.  Waitlisted candidates, if selected are intimated by June/July.

And Finally…

The Young India Fellowship is a prestigious program which started with 57 fellows in the founding year (2012) and today about 300 brilliant young minds are taken in.  If you take one look at the list of selected candidates, you cannot miss the geographical and cultural diversity that it reflects.  With top-notch mentors like Narayana Murthy (Chairman, Emeritus, Infosys), Deepak Parekh (Chairman, HDFC), Sanjeev Bhikchandani (Founder Info Edge which owns naukri.com) and Adil Zainulbhai (Retired Chairman, Board of Directors, McKinsey, India) among scores of other mentors, the fellows are bound to come out shining, ready to serve the society with all the polishing that they undergo while on board the fellowship program. Log on to their Facebook page (@youngindiafellowship) to see/read some of the most inspiring stories of the alumni; stories of how the fellowship transformed their lives and their way of thinking from someone mundane to someone very influential. Who knows, you could be among this intellectual elite too, someday! 

Janaki Sreenivasan

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