India Fellow (social leadership program)

Deadline: June 30, 2022


Trainings & Fellowships NGO & Institutes


  • India


Through the India Fellow program, we want to capture the attention of young people from all walks of life, with diverse career interests, to dig in and get their hands dirty, to get to know the development challenges through the hands-on work, training and coaching. This, we believe will help them in becoming committed and passionate leaders of tomorrow, and in the process contribute in their localities and in the world.

We are looking for potential leaders of tomorrow. 


Many many years ago, fifteen young people set upon a daunting task, that none before them had undertaken. No … there weren’t going after dragons or princesses. This was 2009. They had committed to go and work with grassroots organizations for two years. Selected as part of a fellowship program, designed by a visionary, Dr. Nachiket Mor, and two enthusiastic IRMA guys, Shalabh Sahai and Rahul Nainwal, who were co-founders of iVolunteer, an  organization working to connect enthusiastic volunteers with non-profit organizations on short term assignments.

The new program created was called the ICICI Fellowship and it aimed at finding young people from diverse backgrounds, grooming them to be leaders to impact long term social change. After three years and three cohorts, the name was changed, and some of the structure too. Learning from across the years were put together and mistakes were bettered. India Fellow was born and Anupama Pain, from the founding cohort came forward to run it along with Rahul. These are the introductory characters of our story. It has been over a decade now. But for the purpose of being concise, this is what we are:

India Fellow is an experiential social leadership program for young Indians that include working full time for 18 months with a host organization on a social issue together with training, peer learning and mentoring. This experience will empower India Fellows to find their own leadership potential, shape their futures and make a difference.

Our Change Theory

The development of India is the responsibility of each and every stakeholder, right from the government, corporates, civil society, enterprises to most importantly, its citizens. Our belief is that in each and every sector, India is in need of talented young leaders who have had a deep exposure to India’s broader realities, who understand the challenges and opportunities presented in diverse environments, who have the empathy, skills and determination to create social good. Young people have tremendous potential to bring change in this country. In order to channelize such passion, we need to invest in these young leaders and provide them with opportunities to get exposed to India’s social development challenges. We also give them the space to explore their role within it so that they can approach the future with the passion and purpose they need to make an impact on our world.

Many young people are making conscious career choices to work in the development sector. However there are many who have not considered their role in social development and therefore can tremendously benefit from an experiential learning program that can help them find their own path to contribute to social change, irrespective of whether they choose a career in civil society, corporates or government. To be a socially conscious leader, a young person will also need to develop some life skills and imbibe some fundamental values that will help take their determination for social change forward. We believe that a combination of an immersive grassroots experience with a credible non-profit along with training and mentoring will come together to help bring out their best.

Vision and values

  • VISION: A future where leaders in all spheres of life are driven by compassion, commitment and understanding of the social challenges that India faces and have a deep desire to make a difference.
  • MISSION: Our mission is to engage young Indians in nation building. We want young Indians to get exposed to the myriad social challenges that India is facing and find their leadership potential, shape their future and make a difference.
  • OBJECTIVE: Create a learning platform for young Indians who undergo a 13-month long journey of discovering their own leadership potential. It includes training, mentor-ship, reflections and hands-on work experience with a grassroots organization working on social issues.

Fellowship Design

The India Fellow design has 4 prime pieces that fit into each other over the full time duration of 18 months

  • Working At Grassroots - Fellows spend most of their time (17 months) working at grassroots with an organization committed to bring social change. This can be anywhere across the country. The fellow is expected to live in their work area, typically a rural or a peri-urban setup, and work as a team member to understand the complexities at that level. This powerful experience inculcates sensitivity, consciousness and a deeper understanding for the fellow to look at the social issues India faces.
  • Training - India Fellow has 45 days of residential training, spread across the duration of 18 months. It is required for all the fellows to come together at a common place for this component. This is divided into 3 parts of 15 days each at the start, middle and end of the journey – induction, midpoint and endpoint. The India Fellow pedagogy is unique; engages a strong collective of varied sector leaders, academicians, and practitioners. 
  • Mentorship - Every fellow is exposed to a pool of mentors, both from the host organizations as well as the fellowship network. A mentor is an expert in their domain, someone who would be a philosopher and a guide to the fellow in their journey. Along with that, the fellowship ecosystem consists of facilitators, alumni and experienced professionals from various walks of life who are available to interact with the fellows to enrich their experience. This component helps the fellow build meaningful relationships and an influential network for professional growth.
  • Constant Engagement - To ensure a balance between action and reflection, throughout the 18 months, fellows document their observations, experiences and insights as monthly blogs/vlogs/podcasts and a detailed monograph at the end of the journey. Adding on to that, there are virtual sessions with mentors, online courses to do and collective fundraising to build a holistic understanding of sector and develop crucial skills. This component is designed in such a way that the fellows stay in constant touch with each other as well as the program team, and leverage every opportunity to learn with peers

Opportunity is About


Candidates should be from:

Description of Ideal Candidate

Eligibility Criteria To Apply 

  • You are between 21 to 28 years of age
  • You are already a graduate (in any discipline) or will be before fellowship begins
  • You are an Indian citizen
  • You are ready for a 18 month full time commitment to the fellowship
  • You understand that this is not just a job and will expect you to be engaged 24×7 with the community with almost no ‘me’ time
  • You understand that you can be placed in any part of the country and in any thematic area

The Steps To Selection

  • Applicants fill a detailed online application form
  • Shortlisted candidates will go through a telephonic conversation with our team member
  • Those who qualify, will be encouraged to write an essay and will be invited for an assessment day
  • Final selections are be announced, 45 days prior to the commencement date of the fellowship 


Deadline: June 30, 2022

Cost/funding for participants



The cost to select and nurture a fellow through this unique journey is INR 2,50,000. A part of this (50 percent) is raised by the fellow as depicted above and the rest by the fellowship team. The fellow also gets a modest, but adequate stipend from the host organization for sustenance and ensuring that they do not spend anything out of pocket in this journey. It can be viewed as a scholarship.

India Fellow has a strong commune run and managed ethos. In the past, our cohorts have come forward and supported the fellowship through collective fundraisers, learning precious skills and values in the process. Many of our alumni continue to part take in critical aspects of the design like marketing, selection, partnerships and training, pro-bono.

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