Other links:

Other links:

Reflections and Celebrations: A transformative academic year at the Young India Fellowship

Speaking at the 2023 YIF Convocation, Aniha Brar, Dean of the Young India Fellowship highlights the achievements, growth and impact that the Fellowship has had on Fellows past and present

Aniha Brar

12 July, 2023 | 4m read

Thirteen years ago, the Young India Fellowship was established as the flagship programme and precursor to Ashoka University. The YIF is a one-year postgraduate diploma in Liberal Studies and is open to graduates from any discipline who want to explore their full potential. We welcomed the first batch of 57 Fellows in 2011, and now we have a class size of 99 Fellows graduating today. They come from 60 cities and towns across India and beyond and represent more than 73 undergraduate institutions. 

Academic Excellence and Multidisciplinary Learning:

The YIF academic year is structured into eight terms, emphasizing a broad range of courses taught by Ashoka Faculty and leading intellectuals from India and abroad. Fellows engage in the YIF Critical Writing course and the Experiential Learning Module, which allows them to work on real-world projects throughout the year. 

With 25 courses offered, including 17 core courses, special seminars and five new additions such as “Climate Change and the Future of Health, Food and Agriculture”, “Using Behavioural Economics to address Global Policy Challenges”, “The Universe and Us”, “Khayal, North Indian Classical Music and the Modern Song” and “Language, Politics and Society in India”, YIF provides a rich and diverse academic experience. Additionally, the program offers cross-listed courses in collaboration with Ashoka’s Centres, enabling Fellows to earn credits in areas like entrepreneurship and psychology. These included courses on Entrepreneurship, Business Analysis and Strategy, and Living with Purpose: Tools for Life from Psychology, Neuroscience and Cognitive Wellbeing. 

YIF values immersive interactions with accomplished individuals from various fields. Through initiatives like the Crossover series, Fellows have had the opportunity to engage with stalwarts such as renowned musician Shubha Mudgal; Shaheen Mistri, founder of Teach for India; former Foreign Secretary of India Shyam Saran; media professional and founder of Lallantop Saurabh Diwedi; and Bihar’s first lady IPS officer Manjari Jaruhar, among others. 

The Alumni-in-Residence program further facilitates meaningful connections, as accomplished alumni share their expertise through masterclasses, office hours, and fireside chats. The guidance and mentorship provided by these experienced individuals widen the horizons and expose the Fellows to multiple opportunities. 

Real-World Projects: 

The Experiential Learning Module at YIF enables Fellows to collaborate on real-world projects across diverse sectors. This year, 20 teams undertook projects ranging from government offices to corporate and development sectors, tackling issues in education, data and technology, gender/law, healthcare, and more. The programme also enables Fellows to build meaningful connections with Mentors from diverse sectors. This year, we had 54 Mentors coaching and advising Fellows on their personal as well as professional development. 

Career Opportunities:

YIF is also committed to helping Fellows build successful careers post-graduation. Over 250 organizations participated in Ashoka University’s recruitment process, with Fellows securing positions in renowned companies like Bain & Capital, Deloitte US, Deutsche Bank, The Tata Group and many others. 

Beyond the Fellowship:

Several Fellows have chosen to pursue further education internationally. Through academic collaboration with Sciences Po, Paris, Aliya Fatima Sheriff, Divyesh Rajendra Patil, Mukul Bhatt, and Tanmay Sarkar were chosen to represent the YIF at Sciences Po for the semester. Also, a partner, the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change conducts an Annual Global Seminar; Shreya Kaul will represent the Fellowship at the seminar this year.

Sonakshi Grover is headed to Oxford University for an MPhil in Development Studies. Aakansha Saraf is headed to Duke University for a Master’s in Environmental Management, and Simran Bajaj for a Master’s in Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design. Dharani Dhavamani has been accepted into the English PhD programme at Concordia University and for an MA in English and Media Studies at Rutgers University.

Samya Verma has been accepted to the Masters programme in International Affairs and Development Studies at the Graduate Institute of Geneva. Siddhima Sirohi has been accepted to the Master of Public Policy program at the Hertie School in Berlin. Pragya Agarwal has received offers from Universities in the UK to pursue a Master’s in psychology. Manan Batra has received offers from the University of Chicago for a Masters in Public Policy and from Bocconi University for a Masters in Economics and Management of Innovation and Technology.

Several Fellows from this batch will also be joining the Masters of Liberal Studies programme at Ashoka to pursue their research under various departments. 

Publications and Artistic Achievements:

Over the last year, Fellows have had their work published in diverse forms such as policy papers, academic articles, or even music. Aashna Anandani’s paper was part of Delhi University’s Journal of Applied Research in Humanities, Language and Social Sciences; and Samya Verma’s article was published on the Gender Security Project, a digital platform with a focus on gender, security, justice, and peace. Manan Batra attended the Shape South Asia event in Kathmandu this year, organised by the Global Shapers Community, an initiative of the World Economic Forum (WEF). He has contributed to the climate advocacy paper, “Shaping Climate Resiliency towards a Great Himalayan Future for All”. Dharani Dhavamani was a member of the ‘Literature across Borders’ initiative of the Green Literature Festival – a collaboration between Bath Spa University (UK) and Ashoka. Her prose piece is in the process of being published. 

Pranjal Joshi made it to the semifinals of the International Narrative Category of the 49th Student Oscar Awards for his short film, ‘Mela’. Arvind Mohan was inducted into The International Society of Caricature Artists, a non-profit trade organisation dedicated to elevating the art and artists of caricature. 

Shlok Mishra’s single ‘Out of Words’ has been released on all streaming platforms and has crossed thirty-five thousand streams. Siddharth Agarwal’s song ‘Banja Beimaan’ has been featured on three Spotify editorial playlists. Among the entrepreneurs, Tanmay Sarkar and Nawaf Faraaz Ahmed’s entrepreneurial venture aims to be India’s first technology-enabled B2B marketplace that will make affordable eco-friendly products accessible to businesses. Arvind Mohan and Yaswanth Kumar Rayapati are building ‘Hashmint’, a creator subscription platform that enables creators and fans to build communities. 

Fellows consistently strive to do more and do better, and this year has been no different

Celebrating Accomplished Alumni:

As you may have heard us say, “The Fellowship never ends” and it would only be right to talk briefly about the alumni and their accomplishments 

The YIF Alumni community comprises over 12 Civil servants. They also count multiple Fulbright, Chevening, Erasmus Mundus, and Schwarzman Scholars in their ranks. Tanita Abraham now becomes the 17th Fellow to be awarded the Fulbright Nehru Master’s Fellowship. There have also been several German Chancellor’s Fellows, a Rhodes, a Yenching, a Humboldt, a Helmut Schmidt, a Knight- Hennessey, a CommonWealth and a Gates Cambridge scholar over the years. 

  • Eight YIF Alumni will be joining Harvard University this fall. They will be headed to graduate programmes at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School.
  • Srishti Sardana from the Founding Class was appointed the student speaker at Columbia University’s doctoral hooding ceremony.
  • Ashwini Ashokkumar, YIF 2015 will join NYU Psychology this fall as an Assistant Professor and Director of the Identity & Language lab. Arpitha Kodiveri, YIF 2012 will be joining Vassar College as Assistant Professor in Political Science. Abhilasha Kumar YIF 2015 has started as Assistant Professor of Psychology at Bowdoin (boh-dun) College in Maine.
  • Vishnupriya Rajgarhia, YIF 2016 has been selected as one of the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia in the Arts.
  • Varsha Varghese, YIF 2015, won the Scholastic Asian Book Award 2023 for her children’s book manuscript “The Summer Avisha Turned Detective”.
  • Simranpreet Oberoi, YIF 2013 has been named one of the top 5 social innovators by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship at the World Economic Forum, Davos.
  • Aafaque Raza Khan, YIF 2014 was awarded the Grant for Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology.
  • Chamba Tsetan’s Adventure Sports Foundation of Ladakh created a Guinness World Record for the highest frozen lake half marathon to promote environmental responsibility through sports.
  • Many of our Alumni are in leadership positions in renowned organisations across the world. Shreya Mathai, YIF 2013 was appointed Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company. 

As we reflect on the journey of the Young India Fellowship over the past decade, we are filled with pride for the growth and achievements of its Fellows and alumni. The program’s commitment to multidisciplinary learning, real-world experiences, and mentorship has paved the way for remarkable accomplishments in academia, entrepreneurship, and social impact. We celebrate the YIF community, both past and present, for their dedication to knowledge and making a positive difference in the world.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka