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.
Today, Gandhi Fellowship operates across the country under three distinct programs. They are:
The School Leadership Development Program (SLDP) is a foundational program initiated in 2008. It is focused towards developing personal, instructional, institutional and social leadership skills in headmasters to improve student learning outcomes by efficiently managing the school and engaging with the staff & communities. SLDP creates leadership capacity in the education sector and works in 1300+ schools across 12 districts in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana and Uttarakhand.
The essence of the School Leadership Development Program is our motto Build Self, Build Nation; the belief that by developing young change leaders who embody and practice leadership skills, we can cause large scale change in social and public systems and thus bring genuine change in the public education system. These two-years at SLDP give every fellow the opportunity to get a deep insight into the ground realities of the education system, the local communities and the ways in which positive change can be created. The fellowship provides the platform to explore ones entrepreneurial ideas and test them on the ground while helping their inner change maker emerge.
The DTP Fellowship program started in 2016 with the idea of building the capacities of education leaders across different tiers in the system. In 2018, Piramal Foundation and NITI Aayog collaborated to transform education in 25 aspirational districts across India.
The program operates on the belief that empowering the block and district education officials will lead to stronger school leaders. This will eventually lead to schools that have ever-improving learning outcomes and students who have better chances of having a bright future.
Every fellow in DTP works not only with primary stakeholders like government officials at a block and district level, but also other stakeholders like community, parents and media. As a result, the fellows become more self-aware, are less scared of risk, and develop a mindset of denominator thinking to work towards scalable and sustainable solutions.
The State Transformation Program (STP) was created based on our belief in the power of personal transformation, distributed leadership and designing institutions that create meaning, learning, joy and pride in education officers while improving the quality of education at a state level.
STP partners with state governments to realign their state and district level education structures, capabilities, processes and technology. Our central objective through STP is to help state institutions sustainably build a skilled and engaged teacher workforce equipped to deliver 21st-century skills to their students. The program designs and implements practical change across levels and builds institutional capacity to nurture change in the long run.
STP began in 2016-17, and currently partners with 10 state governments, including the three states where we are partnering with NITI Aayog and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) for the SATH-E (Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital) Program. In this program, fellows work with state-level officials to impact systems that equip sustainable changes.
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.