What does it mean, to become a socially conscious leader? How does one think in terms of a social consciousness, let alone imbibe it. A recent conversation helped us think through this concept.
Jayshiree, in a sharing session told us, “There was a time when I enjoyed walking into a fancy restaurant and eating all that I wanted. Today, after working 6 months in rural Chattisgarh, I cannot eat more than my basic requirement. Something about overeating is unfair, when so many others I’ve lived with have so little, and I cannot bear to do it.” Jayshiree is a fellow from the current batch of the India Fellow Social Leadership Program. A simple yet powerful insight coming from a 22 year old, working in a difficult area with women groups on household finance.
As a young person in this country, there are many platforms to discuss problems in the development sector and think about solutions. College debates, social media, news and many other ways to give your opinion about challenges in India and how the systems are failing. But what after that? If you, as a young person wants to make a difference, to change the current scenario and find solutions, you need to take a first step. What will that step be?
This is it. A social leadership program is one that aims to bring together passionate individuals and give them the space to look at development challenges from close quarters, and spend some time working within communities to help them learn more about the realities of the country. An India Fellow typically works in various thematic areas like Education, Public Health, Empowerment, Social Enterprise, Livelihood and Skill Development, Communication for social change, etc.
Students who are willing to step out of their comfort zones and embrace a new community, be willing to live in tough situations and stare at the problem for a long time, who have the courage to try something new in order to understand their own selves and make an impact are the ones who are apt for a program like India Fellow. In order to get selected, a young person needs to have some basic educational background, an interest in the development sector and the commitment to spend a full year working with a grassroots organization are the ones eligible for a program like India Fellow. The fellowship also promotes values which enable individual to absorb the complex understanding of development challenges and be open to learn, be humble and committed to such a cause.
The fellowship has a training component spread across three parts; an induction training, a mid point training and an end point training. All training provide components of theory, tools that can be used, perspectives of the sector and listening to practitioners from different field. The idea is to aid the fellows and supplement their grassroots learning with the larger questions and learning from the space. The Fellows also undertake a travel workshop in their fellowship year where they explore a new ecosystem and try to understand its challenges in a few days.
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come to because your liberation is bound up in mine, we can work together.” — Lilla Watson
Ultimately, a fellowship like this is like walking into an alternative reality. With the completion of this program, we hope young passionate people find newer perspectives that make them better decision makers of the future, people who understand inherent complexities and use their learning in whichever field they go to. A good leader is actually one who can step into the feet of every person he/she is making decisions for. This is what a fellowship like India Fellow hopes to do.
For more information about India Fellow, log on to www.indiafellow.org