By Anupama Pain:
“At 25 when I walked into a remote, tribal, paddy growing village in West Maharashtra for the first time, I was wide eyed and equipped with a few ‘poverty assessment tools’; intending to do a field study. 2 months and loads of eye openers later, I devised my own tool – far more efficient and effective. A home that served me rice starch and chilli paste was the poorest; that which served boiled rice and lentil soup was managing through financially and that which welcomed with rice flour bread and a spicy vegetable was well to do. Their skills and resourcefulness are infectious and some of it I believe rubbed on to me as well.
The past few years have meant I live without a mirror to look at every morning before leaving for work; replace the laptop in the bag with literacy charts sometimes, and samples of farm produce for potential wholesale buyers on other times; commute in vegetable trucks instead of superfast intercity trains; to sleep on mud floor one night and participate in a national policy conference the next; to conceive a work piece along with the community and then strategize, fund and execute it by ourselves instead of just being a piece in a big machinery. Not one day has gone by when I did not feel grateful for the step towards the social space…”
A good big part of our young lives, especially in urban India are spent between theoretical sessions at universities and job hunts for that secured future. But as the golden city dream is crumbling and its inability to be fulfilling is getting apparent, the youth today are becoming more exploratory – wanting to look both inwards as well as at the heartland of our country to be truly aware. And therein lays the opportunity of a future of socially conscious leaders who will take the nation as they realize their own paths and potential.
India Fellow started with this as the backdrop, and the realization that most often young people only need a nurturing and enabling platform to begin with. It is a 13 month full time fellowship program which selects socially motivated young Indians from across the country and places them with grassroots organizations working closely with communities on diverse social issues. This experience along with training, peer learning and mentorship from experts enables the fellows to work on their sensitivities, awareness, resourcefulness and leadership skills leading to a future more consciously arrived at.
Applications for the India Fellow 2015 Cohort are now open. Visit here for more details.
About the author: Anupama Pain is a fellow of the 2010 batch, having worked at grassroots for past 4 years in areas of livelihood and micro finance with women self help groups. She is the cofounder at India Fellow along with Rahul Nainwal.