So you have read everything and now you have lots of questions? Fair enough. Here you will find responses by the fellowship team on some frequently asked questions by India Fellow aspirants.
But do realize that while it is natural to have a lot of doubts and questions (which we will always be ready to answer), the fun is in the surprise as well, especially for a journey like this. We don’t have all the answers for what an intense experience like this will do for you, honestly, each one will have a different journey and different challenges. But we have tried to answer some of the basic questions here.
Q. I am still unclear about what the fellowship is about. Can you summarize it for me very briefly?
Okay, let’s attempt to explain what all of our website couldn’t. We’ll break it down for you. Read the following carefully-
- You work with a grassroots NGO on a specific project for 13 months under this program
- There are three training meets we conduct, an induction training, a midpoint training, and an end point training followed by convocation. There is also a travel workshop component for which the fellows themselves have to fund raise and manage. But we won’t tell you where this workshop will be conducted. For that you will have to be selected first!
- You will also be connected to mentors who will be experienced people from the development sector who you can reach out to for guidance on your work, clarity on the development space and your professional challenges.
That’s about it.
Q. What is the goal of the India Fellow Program?
- We hope to give young people interested in exploring the development space a chance to do so, so that while you work in a space different from the life you have been leading uptill now, you discover who you are and what is your purpose even while contributing to your project in the NGO.
- We hope to create, in the end, socially conscious leaders who empathize and understand the diversity of challenges in the development space and in doing so attempt to create holistic solutions.
Q. My family is concerned about my safety with regards to this 13 month journey and the idea of not knowing the assignment field location is getting difficult to explain. Can I know which organization I will be placed at before hand?
It is very crucial that we all get into the fellowship with the clear understanding that the main motive is to completely immerse into the 13 month experiential journey – into our selves and the heartland of India – allowing all the learning and work experience to seep in.
The fellowship consciously wants to distance itself from creating a very per-informed setup since that hinders with the kind of learning we wish to promote. While we have been interacting with you during the assessment process; a better understanding can be arrived at only after the first few days into the induction training. Hence to pre-decide which fellow gets mapped to which assignment will not be truly effective and fair.
Having said that, we also wish to re-assure that all host organizations have been selected after thorough credibility assessment and the values of the fellowship being acceptable to them. Your security may not be a legal commitment of ours but we have a far bigger moral obligation and at all point, both the fellowship and host organizations take care of this. However, like in all adult relationships, each one of us are responsible for our personal safety. We will request you to take this opportunity and have a very candid dialogue with your folks explaining all this and the true purpose of both the fellowship and your commitment to undergoing it.
Q. Can I pick the geographical region and/or thematic area I want to have my work assignment in?
We will consider the preference of a fellow. But that doesn’t mean they will be able to hand-pick the assignment they get to do. It is the same case with the host organisations that we partner with. They hand in their preferences but do not make the final decision.
The India Fellow ecosystem thrives on the faith which each stakeholder (fellows, host organizations, trainers and mentors, alumni and program team) brings into it by participating whole-heartedly and taking up opportunities with great openness and commitment.
Q. I am not sure of the stipend component? What is the amount? What all will it cover and what will be my out of pocket expense? What about accommodation and the related costs? Will the fellowship or host organization provide/help for my accommodation?
The fellowship is a learning experience by working hands on with grassroots organizations and also accessing high quality training and expert mentor ship; alongside being a part of the wider network. As you already know, there is no fee that you need to pay for it.
- In terms of monetary contribution – fellows collectively fund raise for a travel workshop which is INR 40,000 per head and is mandatory. This also entails a lot of learning on how collectives work and concepts of fund raising. The travel cost to reach the induction training and going back to next destinations after the completion ceremony at the end of 13 months is to be borne by the fellow
- All costs and arrangements during the training (accommodation, food, resource persons, material costs etc.) is borne by the fellowship.
- For the duration when the fellow works with the host organization, the organizations pay them a stipend which is basically to cover the living expenses of the fellow. To keep parity, this amount is as follows:-
- For rural areas if organization provides for accommodation (some organizations have their field offices and/or guest house where you can stay) the stipend is INR 12,000 per month.
- For rural areas if organization does not provide for accommodation then the stipend is INR 15,000 per month.
- For metropolitan areas of Mumbai and Delhi, the stipend is INR 15,000 and 18,000 respectively for with and without accommodation
- The fellow is expected to use the stipend for living expenses like accommodation, food, local transport between stay and host organization office/field. Please remember that it is not a salary but a stipend. For a long distance travel which is work related, the organization reimburses the amount. Any other personal travel is to be borne by fellow.
- While the organizations are not mandated to provide accommodation to fellows, their team will be supportive and will help you make suitable arrangements on arrival at the assignment field areas.