Young India Fellowship

YIF Class of 2023 Share Insights About Course, Career & More

Mehwash Hussain
Mehwash Hussain
Posted on 05 Dec 2022
16:06 PM
YIF Class of 2023 Nishita Singh (L) and Arushi Bahl (R)

YIF Class of 2023 Nishita Singh (L) and Arushi Bahl (R) Edugraph

The YIF, a 2011 initiative by Ashoka University, aims to train socially conscious leaders and change-makers for the 21st century
YIF is helping Arushi in grasping skills along with several disciplines while Nishita is utilising the learnings from YIF to widen her horizon to think in newer ways to become what she aspires to be i.e., an academician

Ashoka University's flagship programme, the Young India Fellowship (YIF) is a residential postgraduate diploma in liberal studies. The YIF, a 2011 initiative, aims to train socially conscious leaders and change-makers for the 21st century. In order for fellows to (re)imagine themselves, identify their interests and find jobs that excite them, and help them advance, they go through a development process throughout the duration of the programme.

We at Edugraph, connected with two current fellows to get an insight into the course, classroom, and their futures after YIF.

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Arushi Bahl

Arushi Bahl holds a BA (Honours) in Economics from Hansraj College. Before joining the Young India Fellowship, Arushi worked as an analyst at a consulting firm. Today she doesn’t just view her education as a means to find a career, but also to learn about the world and transform it.

Nishita Singh

Nishita Singh has completed her graduation with a BA (Honours) in Psychology from Jesus & Mary College, University of Delhi. She is passionate about minority studies and wants to stay in academia and raise awareness about the many and varied social realities that are generally overlooked by mainstream psychological discourses.

How & Why YIF Happened

Arushi came across YIF through her colleague at her workplace who had already done the fellowship and how it had transformed them in many ways. When asked about what made her choose YIF, Arushi says,I was blown away by the clarity of thought and problem-solving skills of my co-worker. His ability to think and articulate clearly was bewildering. In a day and age of so much information and content, the ability to synthesise it with clarity and communicate effectively is a skill I wish to learn. The aspects that excited me the most stem mainly from three things. First, my interest in an array of disciplines including sociology, economics, and political science. The vastness of the courses offered in the fellowship and the breadth of disciplines and inter-disciplines they cover was exciting. Further, the pedagogy is enmeshed with interactive ways of teaching and learning. Second, what drew me is the diversity of the cohort. It is enriched with a myriad of perspectives from across the country. I wanted to learn about their perspectives and add my own narratives and experiences to them. Third, the Experiential Learning Module is very exciting. I have strived to be in environments that require solving real-world problems and managing various stakeholders, this was a critical reason to undertake this programme.’

Nishita also found out about YIF through word of mouth, mostly. She was interested in a fellowship programme after her undergraduate degree in Psychology. It was half her efforts and half YIF’s own reputation that helped her in coming across the course.

When asked what made her choose YIF, Nishita said, ‘The courses in YIF include some disciplines that one has already been exposed to and some disciplines that you never dealt with before. Since I am from a Psychology background, I have always wanted to explore a whole interdisciplinary thing. I was interested in finding out what YIF has to offer because a lot of the courses there are interesting from a social science perspective and some of them are interesting from a STEM perspective. So, I thought I would really benefit from having this holistic engagement with subjects across disciplines, in general. I believe, learning is not just about its utility of it, it is also about the expansion of one’s horizon. So, this is the reason I chose YIF.’

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Initial & Current Thoughts on YIF

Arushi doesn’t view her education as only a means to her career, but also as a means to learn about the world and to transform it as she develops into a conscientious social being. Talking about her initial thoughts on going to YIF, she said, ‘I hoped that it would enable me to create a powerful, nuanced voice, and the confidence to express myself freely. I hoped that this program will empower me regardless of the profession I choose to embark upon.’

‘And I am happy to share that the program has superseded my expectations. Every day I find myself encountering something I never have before. The disciplines being taught and the teaching styles compelled me to come out of my comfort zone and I see myself evolving every day as a result,’ said Arushi when asked how it is going at YIF currently.

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Where for Nishita, YIF was initially intense, but gradually she adapted to the schedule and curriculum. Describing her first month, she said, ‘It was really challenging, both emotionally and physically. But with time, I am adapting to the schedule, class timetable & course materials. I've become accustomed to things over time, and my cohort is incredibly kind, which has aided me in doing so. There were disciplines that I haven’t engaged in for a long time, such as Statistics, and Foundation Statistics was really complicated since we were studying it from a different perspective. But I’d say, it’s been a good transition. It was definitely difficult initially and it still does get academically exhausting, but overall it is great.’

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Inside a YIF Classroom

In Arushi’s words, ‘The YIF classroom is an intellectually stimulating environment. While the flow of each class depends on the instructor and the course, the classroom is always bustling with excitement and opinions. Our classes often exceed the time limit given due to our never-ending debates and discussions. But while intellectually stimulating, it is also a safe space to express opinions of all kinds. Each opinion is respected and held in high regard.

Nishita: Our classes are usually very long, with lectures of a minimum of 2 hours consecutively, or sometimes it goes on for 4 hours at a stretch. In a day, we have about 3-4 classes on average, but it fluctuates. The timings of the classes are a bit crazy because sometimes it goes on till 8 PM in the evening and the next day it starts around 9 AM in the morning. Very often it becomes like a 12-hour work day and beyond too. The class is really focused on learning and discussing opinions openly and with respect. A lot of course materials of YIF relate to real-world situations which help in understanding the real-time application of what you are learning.

YIF Courses

At YIF, there are over 25 courses available for students, out of which they have to select 8 core courses and 12 elective courses. When asked what is a course they enjoy the most, the two fellows mentioned

Arushi: Out of all our courses thus far, I enjoyed our course on ‘Shakespeare and the World’ the most. It was a true delight to read Shakespearean plays and become well-versed in the writing style and the language. I enjoyed our lengthy discussions on the different elements and themes of each play and how these stories are still relevant in 21st-century India. It was also exciting to note the way stories are interpreted and re-interpreted and how they travel and traverse boundaries only to be adapted to different contexts.

Nishita: One of my favourite courses is the one on Language, Politics, and Society in India. Attending classes on The New Geography of the Information Age is another course I enjoy. Both of these classes are quite interesting.

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YIF & Career Plans

YIF is considered to be a transformative course for the youth of today. We asked Arushi and Nishita how they thought their stint at YIF will help them in the future. Here’s what they had to say:

Arushi: I think the YIF is equipping me with not only skills and a grasp of several disciplines, but also a large network of established professionals. Its various programmes like Alumni-in-Residence, YIF Crossover, and the Mentorship series empower me with a network of mentors and aspirational professionals I can interact with and learn from. Furthermore, the excellent Career Development Office has been floating job profiles of several leading companies I want to work with.

Nishita: I plan on becoming an academician and I think YIF definitely helps in having a wider set of tools that not only stick to social sciences but also move beyond that. There is a lot of learning that one can get by enrolling in YIF and you also widen your horizons to other subjects as well. So, I think YIF helps me know the greater context of the things that are happening in the world, which is extremely important to know. I feel that what the YIF can and will potentially do for me is it will expose me to newer ways of thinking that I can utilise in my research whenever I do my Ph.D. or when I become a lecturer myself.

Last updated on 05 Dec 2022
16:06 PM
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