[email protected] India Fellowship

This group has been created to share various aspects of the program - activites on campus like exhibitions, talks, guest lectures, dinners etc. with those that may be interested in being a part of the fellowship. Feel free to ask questions and share your experiences here.


Life after the Fellowship: Prashant Gautam

As I started moving with the Erasmus Mundus European Master in Tourism Management program, from Denmark to Slovenia and, finally, Spain, I realized that this was like living YIF all over again.

Earlier this month, I graduated from the Erasmus Mundus European Master in Tourism Management (EMTM) Program, an academic adventure I had embarked upon two years ago. After completing my year at the Young India Fellowship, in 2013, a two year corporate stint followed, but I was soon drawn back to the domain of heritage and tourism, because that’s where my story really begins. As a disenchanted 18-year-old engineering student, I started working with ITIHAAS, a Delhi-based organization that allowed me the platform to take heritage education and active citizenship to thousands of school students from the city. An association that lasted throughout my university years, and went from strength to strength, also brought me to YIF, where my efforts were recognized and felicitated with an opportunity to join the program. What drew me to EMTM, some three years later, was the prospect of another enriching academic experience in three vibrant corners of Europe, the Mecca of global tourism. As I started moving with the program, from Denmark to Slovenia and, finally, Spain, I realized that this was like living YIF all over again.

 With ‘Sustainability’ steadily becoming our academic raison d'être, the multiple perspectives and diverse opinions continued to be very much in place, as I shared space with classmates from 22 different nationalities who wanted to learn about tourism through the lenses of History, Art Appreciation, Hospitality, Consumer Psychology, Sports and Marine Biology! I was fortunate to get the chance to enrich my experience further by receiving an Erasmus+ grant to move to the Voronezh State University in Russia, for the last semester, to work on my Masters Thesis that explored the influences Bollywood movies have on the travel behaviour of Indian tourists in Europe. My time in Europe overlapped with several historic events in this part of the world, from the Syrian Refugee Crisis to Brexit, and now the Catalonian Independence Movement in Spain, and the multilayered realities of these issues have demolished and rebuilt my worldview many times over! After having shared rooms, meals and conversations with countless individuals from the most unexpected parts of the planet, while travelling around over 15 countries in Europe, I have come to realize that beyond the façade of cultural differences and ethnic unfamiliarity lie the most essential human reality – extend a slice of warmth and sincerity, and you are sure to strike upon an immense reserve of kindness. Here’s to never losing sight of this mantra as I continue to engage with life and its many wonders. 



"Happy Halloween! Who are you dressed as?"
"I’m dressed as the Feminist Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo."

"Because I believe my personality and my thoughts could do justice to hers. What drew me to Frida was her creativity and how she didn't care about society’s standards of beauty. One crucial area where I resonated with her was her ability to channelize all her emotions into art despite all the struggles in her life. I think it's badass that she embraced her beauty and exaggerated her unibrow and moustache just to say “Eff You” to the society. She knew what she wanted; not only was she an amazing artist, she also fought for women's rights. Initially, I had decided to dress up as a bra-burning FemiNazi. I would have drawn on a Hitler moustache, attached a flame cut-out over an old bra and had #YesAllMen on my shirt (countering the convenient #NotAllMen movement that props up the moment you talk about women’s issues). This satire would show people what exactly they conjure in their minds when they call a Feminist a FemiNazi. Suffixing anything that annoys you with a “Nazi” is disgraceful. Feminists are not gassing a section of society and torturing them. We are just sick of the patriarchy and of being the exploited section.

I am exhausted, so so so exhausted, of constantly being on my guard. I travel solo regularly but I can never truly relax. Like, I have to sit in the corner of the auto even when the chilly wind slaps me. I take the chance of catching a cold because I need to be seen by the outside world in order to feel that I am ‘safe’. I have to keep a book or bag close to my chest in the auto when I see the bhaiya peeping constantly in the rearview as he drives on a bumpy road. I am sick of constantly updating my family and friends about my whereabouts in order to be accountable for my safety. Every woman has a rape timeline running in her head and to explain this exhaustion and historical oppression, #YesAllMen. Of course, patriarchy hurts men as well but this exhaustion is absent from their lives. The Young India Fellowship has helped me better grasp the nuances of so many fields, especially gender studies (I owe this to Urvashi Butalia’s course). It is problematic when people laugh off sexual harassment as “eve-teasing” when women don't think harassment is problematic enough as the other horrible alternatives. On a side note, I also don’t understand why open breastfeeding petrifies people, this is the same nourishment we all got and why should a baby be fed in the toilet? I really feel for Women and Child issues. After Dwight's course on Leadership, I have realized that my second career would focus on women and children, in my capacity of an architect or otherwise. Earlier, I wasn't completely open to the school of thoughts counter to mine and I wouldn't engage but thanks to Dylan Marron’s ‘Conversations with people who hate me’, I have realized that in order to make this world a better place, we all need to engage with each other. I’ve started talking to people who counter the feminist theories or want it to be renamed as ‘equalist’. A movement can not just be called ‘equalist’ because by doing so, one takes away the fact that a certain section has systematically been pressed. Naming your movement after them (as a homage or otherwise) is the least you can do. It's great to see small changes being made with regards to everything in society - the world *is* getting better. Also, I am super excited to attend my first Pride March this month, I even have my sign ready! ”

“Honestly, I always thought, if I ever get featured on this page, I would speak only about my Naval background because that is a big part of my personality but I now realize that being a Fauji BRAT (born, raised and transferred) was an accident of birth and my identity of a feminist is my choice.”

- Dhriti Nadir
Young India Fellow, Batch of 2018


 "I was born and brought up along the riveting valleys of Kashmir. The love for our culture and motherland is something that has been inherent in my family, and I too possess the same. Balancing out traditions with modernization has been a huge challenge for me as I am trying to adapt to the dynamic environment here, keeping the love for my culture in mind.

My life, balanced with happiness and sorrows, has helped me realize the transient nature of human life. After all, what matters is not how many assets one accumulates but how many people’s lives does one impact meaningfully. I realized that, at the end, the net worth doesn’t count and what matters is the character of a person- whether or not he is able to bring smiles on others' faces because of his deeds and how honest he is in various aspects of his life, be it work, personal relations or random interactions.

Just a couple of days prior to joining YIF, a person close to me lost her loved one. The shock, the agony and the subsequent display of strength by my friend had forced me to rethink my outlook and prompted me to not get overly dependent or attached to anyone because eventually, everyone will leave this world. It has also taught me to be prepared to face any eventuality and wake up from this bliss that all last forever. Also, this event has impacted me on a personal level as I now want to get self-sufficient as soon as possible so as to get ready to support my family in any kind of circumstances. I have to be strong."

- Mahoor Shaw
Young India Fellow, Batch of 2018 


 "I have learned Carnatic music for ten years, started to growl and then tried being in a rock band. I was working with a corporate as an IT Engineer and shifted to be a Corporate Fundraiser with an NGO. I was still not content with it and progressed to working on videos and documentaries for the NGO. Amidst all these pivots, I have taken new directions, but I have also kept along everything that I gather from my experiences.

I think I am a proud pivotal but there is a constant umbrella over all my choice which is music. Music has been in every aspect of my life so far, and it will be present in every step I take in my career. I really want to do something in music, but not in music alone. I want to create meaningful documentaries with a kind of music that gives chills. People, generally, overemphasize on the message they want to portray in a documentary. I don’t wish to do the same. I want to work and focus on the experience of making documentaries, the message will automatically find its place.”

“Why would you leave a decent job to take a risk and start something fresh?”

(smiles) “Priorities. I have learned to prioritize.”

-Bimal Thankachan
Young India Fellow, Batch of 2018 


 “If you ask me, I’ll tell you that I was never a student with an exceptional academic record. However, it was pretty early in my life that the failures made me realize the importance of figuring out my strengths and building upon them. My first source of motivation came from the prize that I had received in my third standard for a drawing competition. Having received it, I started sketching and painting every day, and I enjoyed it. The faces around me fascinated me the most, and hence they found a profound position on my canvases. My exposure to self-learning began there, as I couldn't find a teacher in or around my village to teach art. I always have an urge to learn something new, and it was after my secondary schooling that I developed my interest in music. I chose to learn violin, mostly by myself, because of the unavailability of a violin teacher in our locality. I wouldn’t deny that it was a challenge for me, but I had to accept it and move ahead with my decision of learning the new art form that I had discovered. At a very later stage, my teachers, both in Guwahati and Chandigarh, namely Jyotsna Deka Patowary, Gopal Dey and Mool Chand Shah, infused me enough to keep going even if my journey with them was a very short-lived one.

It was my perseverance and zeal to learn music that helped me to go through another process of self-learning. The entire process of self-learning and self-teaching was rewarding in itself, but if you ask me about the importance of teachers in my life, I’d say that my Mathematics teacher, Sir Roy Jose, aided me to get away with my fear of the subject, and helped me in every possible way to make my dream come true - a man who picked me up when I fell and set me on my feet. After all, for a guy who had failed in mathematics for five consecutive years cracking IIT, an impossible dream made possible because of his belief in me.

The IIT life didn’t take music away from me, in fact, I came close to it. I continued practising the violin throughout my under-graduation, and even at YIF, I enjoyed teaching violin to my co-fellows, and one of the Critical Writing preceptors. Violin is like an appendage to my body, and playing music has now become a daily bread. I just can’t stop playing.” (smiles)

“As our senior, what would you advise us?”

“The first lesson that I had learnt from Prof. Dwight was that of the first follower - the sole reason why I chose to begin teaching violin to my co-fellows during YIF without any prior experience. Such a major boost in the beginning of the fellowship amplified my belief in this thought, and I’d share the same with you- If you want to do something, don't think too much about it: just do it. And every day nurture it bit-by-bit, brick-by-brick because in this era of instant gratification you need to recall the forgotten thought that results often take a lot of sweat and blood and time."

( Prabha is currently pursuing his Masters in Computational Science and Engineering from ​Technische Universität München (TUM), Munich, Germany)

- Ravi Prabha Shankar
Young India Fellow, Batch of 2017 



It was a hard phase to convince the mind, body, soul and society about me stepping into the Liberal Arts sphere. Why was it so difficult to do what we wanted to do? That's because nobody knew what I was going to do. Well I myself knew very little about what I was about to do. This confusion arises because liberal arts is not just one thing. It is several things coming together to blow your mind with amount of knowledge you had and would have never gained else where. 

Liberal arts can be worded as something that is interdisciplinary, covering several areas of study like the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and formal sciences. There is room to experiment with everything under one cover. The YIF was one place which offered too much within a span of one year. It has been just 4 months so far into the programme and I've already been flabbergasted by the subjects, pedagogy, faculty, coursework, exposure, learning and fun that takes place here. 


1. You gain a lot of exposure to various fields and you get to choose your interest areas from a large umber of choices. 

2. You learn things whih are essential for life, but also those that we've never really been taught. 

3. Open to a variety of career choices. 

4. To see things in different perspectives and not just through one lens. 

5. To think, write and speak critically and analytically. 

6. To not just accept everything the way they are and to question it and understand it more. 

7. Room to express, expose and experiment. 

8. Experiencing something new and challenging everyday. 

YIF has been great so far. The fact that we've all had been from different educational backgrounds and now being a collective, diverse batch gives a lot of room for Peer group teaching and learning. Learning never stops in this place and who knows, it might continue beyond this one year too! Seein the different things we do, our parents and fiends who never really understood what we were upto, now feel really happy about what we're doing. So give it some room, things will all fit into place some time! Life is yet another Jig-saw puzzle! 

#1 #Fellowshipneverends #Learninginfinity #Realitycheck #Seethechangeyouwishtosee #YIFdiaries #Liberalartsisallright