Empowering young men and women to become change leaders who go on to create large scale change fueled by the philosophy of 'Build Self, Build Nation'.
Gandhi Fellowship is an experiential 2-year residential fellowship course in transformation leadership. For the last 10 years, Gandhi Fellowship has empowered young women and men to groom themselves into change leaders who go on to create large scale social and public systems change, where each fellow is fueled by the philosophy of “Build Self, Build Nation”.
The program is designed to bring out one’s entrepreneurial thinking and leadership skills in order to create lasting changes in society.
We started 10 years ago when there was no other fellowship in the country that focused on the philosophy of building self and building the nation. Today, various fellowships are present in the country, which provide opportunities for young people to develop themselves. When we started, the aspiration that we set out with was to build a network of ten thousand young people across the nation by 2025. These would be people who have been a part of the fellowship and would, therefore, have very tight bonds. In the business culture, there is deep trust and therefore speed, in forming relationships. We want to build the Gandhi fellowship to be a brand like that.
At the Gandhi Fellowship, one imbibes the values of being ethical, being grounded, and the skills required to influence government, get things done, and lead people. That is the brand we would like to build for our country - a brand filled with young people who are high in ethics, grounded, get things done, know how to lead people and do things in the best interest of the nation. When recruiters see this, they realize that Gandhi Fellowship is where they should be recruiting from.
Gandhi Fellowship’s vision lies in enabling customized learning paths for fellows to become new millionaires who create social impact at scale. The New Millionaire Program (TNMP) is structured to help fellows who want to make a difference develop their potential over a period of 10 years (including the 2 years of fellowship) to become The New Millionaires. The New Millionaire (TNM) is defined as a person who can impact a million lives over a period of 10 years - from a fellow to an alumnus.
Founded in 2008, the Gandhi Fellowship program began in two districts (Jhunjhunu and Churu) with 1 program (School Leadership Development Program) and 10 fellows, who were fresh graduates.
By 2020, the fellowship has expanded across the country (14 states, 42 districts*) with 3 programs (School Leadership Development Program, District Transformation Program, and State Transformation Program) with 500 + fellows across the country. The fellows are handpicked from across the country and come from diverse backgrounds, and yet are united in their desire to make a difference. A number of fellows also carry the experience of working for a few years in various sectors before joining the fellowship.
Today, Gandhi Fellowship operates across the country under distinct programs. They are:
India is home to 104 million tribal people who primarily reside in hilly, forested, and remote rural areas with limited or no access to a public health system that remains largely urban-centric. Socio-cultural discrimination further alienates them. Their own deeply ingrained beliefs and traditional practices prevent them from seeking medical assistance elsewhere.
Anamaya, the Tribal Health Collaborative arose from the need to address the unique and complex challenges faced by the tribal people in 177 districts. To eliminate preventable deaths among them, Anamaya is collaborating closely with indigenous people and governments to develop an empathetic and effective public health system informed by community voice.
The Collaborative has already embarked on an intensive journey to resolve the issues of tribal communities by introducing innovative solutions. These include increased community participation through close collaboration with tribal healers, youth, opinion leaders, NGOs, and civil society organizations. It also collaborates with tribal healers to create networks for the exchange of information and documentation of their best practices.
Approximately 100 million of India’s poorest reside in 112 Aspirational Districts, which have the lowest human development indicators and are plagued by unique, complex challenges that impede access to water, health, and education.
Aspirational Districts Collaborative, a flagship initiative of Piramal Foundation and NITI Aayog, aims to accelerate and support the government’s efforts to improve the lives of these 100 million people through hyperlocal collaboration and last mile convergence.
The Twin Pillars
Collaboration with 6,000+ potential local institutional players to leverage in-depth community knowledge and facilitate behaviour change. Hyperlocal collaborators include NGOs, youth, media, faith leaders, panchayats, and self-help groups who, under the leadership of the district administration, can transform the lives of their communities.
Convergence between 12 district-level departments to ensure 100% utilization of government programmes and schemes. It will be a significant step towards strengthening governance for transforming on-ground delivery and laying the groundwork for sustainable development in Aspirational Districts.
The government has been closely integrating technology into all its systems and processes. However, there is still a long way to go before everyone in the country can access high-quality service delivery. The need of the hour is a holistic digital transformation with a robust systems integration approach and a model for sustained collaboration.
Digital Bharat Collaborative addresses both the supply and demand sides to transform the delivery of public services with increased accountability, accessibility, and quality of service that is impartial for all.
Three aspects that make it a game changer are:
The Indian public systems have advanced significantly over the last decade. However, there are still gaps, and more must be done to support the government in transforming its systems to be more inclusive and equitable.
Piramal University is a first-of-its-kind, world-class institute for strengthening systems (institutional processes, practices, and governance) within the government by leveraging technology, as well as for developing the leadership skills of officials to drive innovation and learning.
The School of 21st Century Education will equip students with 21st century skills.
The School of Systems Change will foster trust in public institutions by equipping officials with skills in governance, legal reform, communication, and public finance.
The School of Transformational Leadership will build motivated leaders who can evolve as catalysts for innovation and learning.
The School of Public Health will influence state-level agendas for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, nutrition, and communicable and non-communicable diseases.
The 500+ fellows handpicked in the current batch undergo a process of unlearning and learning. At the core of the Gandhi Fellowship program lies the gem to transform; to look at oneself as the way to harness the potential that lies within everybody, to switch from a regular college-goer to a change leader.
The foundation of this process lies in building the self; this aspect is likely to be put to test during the two years of the fellowship, where fellows are expected to lead on-ground change as a part of their assignments. In the course of time, this trains them to manage people and become effective decision-makers. This, in turn, enables them to contribute to organisational outcomes. At the end of the fellowship, the candidates are equipped enough to lead projects which cause social impact at a regional and national level. Those with entrepreneurial dreams also get a pathway to see those manifested.
While every Gandhi Fellow is expected to be a self-learner, the fellowship provides the fellows with various inputs and opportunities to learn. Unlike a traditional college program that requires students to spend long hours in classroom lectures, the fellowship inculcates learning by doing. At the same time, there are certain concepts and skills that cannot necessarily be learnt on one’s own and it helps to have someone to facilitate that learning process.
The fellowship follows the omni-channel approach to learning. Omni means all or every, as students do not need to restrict themselves to just one medium of learning. Rather, every process, every interaction is a learning opportunity. The fellow’s work in the field is as important as the workshops conducted or the inputs received in the online courses. We are believers in the power of reflection as a driver of self-learning.
Ways in which each fellow’s self-transformation is supported are:
Workshops – There are multiple workshops conducted at locations which equip the fellows with the knowledge and skill needed to become change leaders. These workshops also enable fellows to use new tools to help them in their work on the field.
Online Courses – Fellows can access online courses with specific learning objectives that can be done in 4 hours.
Immersive Experiences – Experiences with different stakeholders enable the fellows to learn by living the life of a stakeholder. These interactions help fellows unlearn previous beliefs that could be based on prejudices, develop empathy for the stakeholders and gain a first-hand perspective that helps them understand the stakeholders’ problems better.
Learning Journeys – Not all learning can be done staying in a single location. The learning journeys expose fellows to experiences like Vipassana and organizations working in diverse geographies and sectors to gain exposure to help build their personal dreams.
The Gandhi Fellowship journey begins by looking at oneself and introspecting one’s attitudes and actions. It is often believed that the outer world is largely a reflection of the chaos that goes within one’s own self. Our curriculum, therefore, has modules to manage the self.
Through Socio-Emotional-Ethical Learning (SEEL), the fellows learn how to be aware of themselves, to take stock of what is going on within their own selves (mind and body). This awareness enables them to develop self-compassion (instead of self-criticism) and engage with their own selves to resolve anything that keeps bothering them.
Once the fellows practice the techniques of ACE (Awareness, Compassion, Engagement) on themselves, they are better equipped to apply the same principles on the society around them (family, colleagues, stakeholders and the world of people in general) and the different systems that exist (the whole ecosystem that surrounds us).
Additionally, the fellows are encouraged to undergo a 10-day Vipassana. During the Vipassana process, which involves disciplined self-observation, they experience a deep interconnection between the mind and body. This acts as a great enabler for self-transformation and developing self-awareness.
The fellowship places a lot of importance on helping fellows develop as reflective practitioners, regardless of the career they might choose post their fellowship. As described above, a lot of support systems and processes are put in place to help fellows develop the habit of reflection.
The focus on reflection is paired with equal importance that is given to how that reflection is used. There is an understanding that reflection which doesn’t translate into action is not a useful characteristic for a leader. In the fellowship, the fellows follow a cycle of Plan-Act-Reflect-Share-Plan, which helps them build important leadership skills in themselves.
Tanushree Sharma, Gandhi Fellowship Alumna, Batch 2012-14, Ahmedabad location, is currently working at Piramal Foundation; the strategic philanthropic arm of Piramal Group and leading employee-volunteering program for 12,000 + employees globally; creating a platform to strengthen the culture of giving (Seva Bhav) at the Piramal Group.
Shalu Gupta, Gandhi Fellowship Alumna, Batch 2016-18, is the Founder of the Utsa Foundation Trust which works to improve the lives of many children by conducting awareness workshops across Odisha. Here she shares her journey during the Gandhi Fellowship and how it led her to start Utsa Foundation.
The FACT team supports the Gandhi Fellow in landing an impact role as he/she completes the fellowship and is about to start working on a mainstream level. The responsibility to get the job lies with the fellow, while the team plays a supporting role. Landing an aspirational job role helps each fellow kickstart his/her social transformation journey. Additionally, the team begins intervention while the fellow is in their third semester. The interventions include knowledge and skill-building workshops, which also involve sharing information about market realities to prepare the fellows for the market. To follow this, mock interviews, recruiter interaction, and boot camps are held. FACT supports each fellow in their placement and helps them plan and execute their next career move.
NEST (Network, Engage, Support, Transfer Knowledge) refers to the Alumni Association of Gandhi Fellows. It constitutes a community of committed, proactive and like-minded individuals who come together to share, support and learn from each other to bring sustainable systemic change.
Under the aegis of NEST, one can Network- meet industry experts, connect to popular alumni who have carved out their own journeys and make the right move to realize the impact career they have always dreamt of; Engage- with mentors (domain experts), peers/alumni to not just grow professionally but also support each others personal growth; Support- an all too well-known concept for Gandhi Fellows, who learn to stick to each other through thick and thin - to practice and revive their spirit of camaraderie; Transfer knowledge - through skill-building sessions the fellows share and increase their domain of knowledge.
NEST provides an opportunity to all Gandhi Fellowship alumni to lead, collaborate, and execute projects. They get a chance to form their own teams and run the show by virtue of their respective city chapters. Additionally, they get ample opportunities to drive personal interest by way of organizing events, gatherings, sports meets, and any other things of interest.