In this Interview, Kudrat Dutta Chaudhary, Class of 2017,talks about her selection in the Young India Fellowship and her decision to join Harvard Kennedy’s Executive Programme instead of YIF.
The Blue Pencil: What kind of a selection process does Ashoka University follow when it comes to Young India Fellowship?
Kudrat Dutta Chaudhary: Ashoka University has a very stringent and a rigorous process atleast in terms of selecting Young India Fellows. It starts with your application, which holds about 60 marks and is one of the most important catalyst to one’s selection. The applications open twice in a year in two rounds and I applied on the last day of the second round. The sooner one applies the sooner one will know about their selection or not. Ashoka University gives a lot of weightage to one’s application till the end of the admission process. It’s like a doorway to who you are. Then if they like your application the admissions committee shortlists you for a telephonic interview. The telephonic interview is basically a subjective discussion about how YIF would help you and what value you would add to YIF. The telephonic interview can go on from fifteen minutes to forty minutes. Mine went on for around forty minutes wherein I was asked about my skills and questions about Mediation since I am a certified Mediator. They would generally test your knowledge about issues you have mentioned in your application. Till this stage one’s resume isn’t seen and the sole basis of selection is one’s performance in the telephonic interview and the application. Then if one clears the telephonic interview, he/she gets a call for a personal interview, which I feel is one of the most life changing experiences of one’s life. It is at this stage that all our previous achievements, resume and career plans along with our application are thoroughly assessed by the Panel, and if one manages to impress them- Then Voila, one receives an acceptance to the Young India Fellowship.
TBP: According to you, what are the traits and qualities that are required for securing the fellowship?
KDC: The only thing that sets apart Young India Fellowship from every other program of the country is the fact that it is multi disciplinary and that it takes pride in the diversity it offers. I personally feel that where there is diversity there exists sheer uniqueness, which is offered by every fellow in his own way. Hence, to be a Young India Fellow one has to offer something distinct, something positive and something enriching which the other fellows can learn from and imbibe. However, I personally feel that one gets preference over the other applicants if one is honest and being themselves.
In my case, I ensured that I maintained the person I am, If I knew the answer to the question that they were asking I obviously answered instantly but if there were times when I didn’t know, I accepted my ignorance and was honest about it. Just be yourself, and authentic off course. Rest there are no particular characteristics that can guarantee one to secure the fellowship.
TBP: What are your expectations of the Fellowship?
KDC: I applied to the Fellowship on the last day of the final round of the applications. Back then I only cared about the subjects that the fellowship offered which I have always been interested in and I thought that the fellowship would give me a the right platform to pursue them all at the same place in a routine environment. I had no clue about the degree YIF offered and various other nittygritties. In fact when during the telephonic interview, I was asked which degree did YIF offer, I simply replied that I didn’t know and in fact didn’t care whether one even got a degree or not, because all I wanted from YIF was to study from par excellence Professors and evolve as a personality. And nothing about my ideas has changed till now. My expectations were only and only to learn and ensure that I utilize every minute to grow and evolve as a person.
TBP: The curriculum of YIF is considered to be very comprehensive as it encompasses a wide range of subjects. Could you throw some light on what would you be studying there?
KDC: The curriculum of YIF is exceptionally diverse and is pretty comprehensive. One gets to study and deeply analyze many subjects throughout the course of one year some of which are World Economy, Gandhism, Art Appreciation, International Relations,Women and Gender and so on a so forth. Its very multi faceted and entails a lot of learning along with creative thinking and brainstorming.
TBP: Do have any advice for students wishing to apply for the Fellowship?
KDC: Well, the only advice I’d give to YIF aspirants is that, find your unique selling point and make sure that you work to better and polish it day and night so that you are an asset to the Young India Fellowship and are in a position to give it as much as you intend to take from it.
TBP: Could you tell us your reasons for not joining the Fellowship?
KDC: I am fairly aware and conscious of what I want from life and what steps I need to take in order to get there. Hence I feel that the The Programme I’d be doing in Harvard would help me more than the Fellowship in pursuing my career plans. This just perfectly, fits my plan, so there has been no confusion at all in choosing Harvard over the Fellowship.”Leading Nonviolent Movements for Social Progress” is Harvard Kennedy School’s newest executive program designed for leaders and activists from social movements; communities building alternative institutions; and those working at both local and national levels to affect social change. Presented in collaboration with the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, this innovative course explores the conceptual frameworks for effective leadership through learning modules focused on building collaboration, strengthening the strategic capacity of leadership teams, tactical flexibility and innovation, and negotiation.