Leading professionals launch 'The Young India Fellowship’

India Infoline News Service | Mumbai |

The programme aims to challenge the current trend of specialisation in our higher education system by offering students the chance to explore fields beyond a typical narrow engineering, commerce or business curriculum

A group of India’s most successful professionals and entrepreneurs announced the launch of the Young India Fellowship (YIF), a first-of-its-kind one-year multi-disciplinary learning and leadership development programme for postgraduate students. The programme aims to challenge the current trend of specialisation in our higher education system by offering students the chance to explore fields beyond a typical narrow engineering, commerce or business curriculum. 

Introducing the YIF, Dr. Pramath Raj Sinha, Founder & Director, YIF & Founding Dean, ISB, said, “This distinctive initiative will bring together 50 young leaders from different parts of the country for a one-year residential post-graduate programme in Delhi. Delivered by top-rung faculty, especially selected for their inspirational teaching, the curriculum aims to broaden perspectives and help our Fellows carve their own paths, aligning who they are with what they do in life. While it resembles an academic programme, it is really a unique life experience. ”

In collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania’s (UPenn) School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), the YIF promises to take 50 exceptional minds and nurture them into agents of change and innovation for India. UPenn is one of the eight Ivy League universities in the US and is ranked within the global top five for several of its undergraduate and post-graduate programmes.

Prof. Eduardo D. Glandt, Dean, SEAS, UPenn, said, “We are proud to support the Young India Fellowship. Nearly a dozen faculty from Penn will teach in the YIF programme. The Fellowship is designed to not only build perspectives and open minds but also to impart practical skills of problem solving, which include scientific thinking, engineering and business analysis, writing and communication, teamwork and leadership to the participants. We are confident that YIF will become India's most prestigious fellowship programme.”

The programme is open to final-year undergraduate students or graduates with less than two years of work experience. Students from all disciplines are eligible to apply –engineers, scientists, accountants and lawyers, as well as those who have graduated with degrees in history, sociology, literature, or any of the other liberal arts. Applications open from the 24th of January, 2011. (Applicants can visit www.youngindiafellowship.com for more information.) Classes begin on May 30, 2011. 

Every one of the first batch of 50 Young India Fellows will receive a scholarship of Rs 8 lakhs to cover the full cost of tuition, board and lodging for the YIF. These scholarships have been donated by group of leading professionals who want to give back to the country and want to make a difference to higher education in India. The programme will be housed in a functioning educational campus in Gurgaon, within the Delhi NCR. Complete residential accommodation facilities are being arranged for the students near the campus. 

Young India Fellows will take classes in a range of subject areas that cover anthropology to ethics, life sciences to climate change, and art appreciation to entrepreneurship. While the YIF offers a diverse, multi-disciplinary curriculum, the emphasis is clearly on the humanities and social sciences. The YIF will also focus on developing the critical thinking, reading, writing, communication and leadership skills of the students. The YIF founders created this curriculum with a desire to challenge the increasing specialisation of Indian undergraduate programmes and develop a more holistic educational experience right here in India that mirrors some of the best undergraduate learning environments in the world.  

The programme will be delivered by some of the world’s most reputed faculty, known for their outstanding teaching and research, drawn from the best universities and institutions around the world,. Some of the faculty members who will teach on the programme include: economists Kaushik Basu (Chief Economic Advisor to the Govt of India & Cornell University – PhD, London School of Economics) and Suman Bery (Director-General, NCAER – PhD, Princeton); sociologist Andre Beteille (PhD, Delhi); social scientist Vivek Bhandari (Director, IRMA – PhD, Pennsylvania);

English academic Giti Chandra (Professor, St. Stephen’s College – PhD, Rutgers); writer & historian Ramchandra Guha (Fellow, IIM Kolkata); business academic Rishikesha Krishnan (Professor, IIM Bangalore – Fellow, IIM Ahmedabad); development economist A.K. Shiva Kumar (UNICEF India & National Advisory Council – PhD, Harvard); public policy expert Pratap Bhanu Mehta (President, Centre for Policy Research – PhD, Princeton);

journalist & historian Rudrangshu Mukherjee (Editor, The Telegraph – DPhil, Oxford). Several faculty from the University of Pennsylvania including Ken Foster (PhD, Indiana); Dwight Jaggard (PhD, California Institute of Technology - Caltech); Devesh Kapur (PhD, Princeton) Sanjeev Khanna (PhD, Stanford); Kenwyn Smith (PhD, Yale); Santosh Venkatesh (PhD, Caltech) will also teach on the YIF. 

Students will also be mentored by some of the best minds and inspiring role models: from corporate leaders to social activists, from researchers to entrepreneurs, the YIF Council of Mentors will help them think through what they should do next in life and how.

Some of the mentors include: Sanjeev Aga, CEO, Idea Cellular; Keki Dadiseth, Chairman, Sony India & former Chairman, Hindustan Unilever; Robert Greenhill, Chief Business Officer, World Economic Forum; Dipak Jain, Dean, INSEAD; Kiran Karnik, former President, NASSCOM; Vijay Kumar, Deputy Dean, SEAS, UPenn; C.V. Madhukar, Founder & Director, PRS Legislative Research; Zia Mody, Senior Partner, AZB Partners; N.R. Narayan Murthy, Chairman & Chief Mentor, Infosys; Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC; Rajendra Pawar, Chairman, NIIT; Ramesh Ramanathan, Founder, Janaagraha; Ajit Rangnekar, Dean, Indian School of Business (ISB); Jerry Rao, Founder, Value & Budget Housing Development Corporation; Sanjeev Sanyal, Founder & President, Sustainable Planet Institute; Uday Shankar, CEO, Star TV India; Analjit Singh, Chairman & MD, Max India Limited; and Adil Zainulbhai, MD, McKinsey & Company India.


The Young India Fellowship is the first step in a larger philanthropic venture, the setting up of Ashoka University, a world-class university in India, by a group of successful Indian entrepreneurs and professionals. The Ashoka University will ultimately reflect the multidisciplinary and open pedagogical style and emphasis of the YIF, something that is lacking in our current higher education system.  

The YIF and the Ashoka University are supported by the International Foundation for Research and Education (IFRE) – led by founders and donors such as Ashok Belani, CTO, Schlumberger; Arjun Bhagat, Chairman & CEO, Calibrated Group; Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Founder & Vice-Chairman, Info Edge (parent of naukri.com); Ashish Dhawan, Senior MD, ChrysCapital Investment Advisors; Ashish Gupta, COO, Evalueserve; Pranav Gupta, MD, Parabolic Drugs; Rajat Kumar Gupta, Former Global MD, McKinsey & Company; Vineet Gupta, MD, Jamboree Education; Rakesh Jaggi, VP, Schlumberger; Vinati Kastia, Partner, AZB & Partners; Sunish Sharma, MD, General Atlantic Partners; Pramath Raj Sinha, Founder & MD, 9.9 Media; Saurabh Srivastava, Chairman, CA Technologies; and NV ‘Tiger’ Tyagarajan, COO, Genpact.



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