SBI Youth for India Fellowship is inviting applications from young leaders who wish to empower marginalised communities.
India is a country of great paradox where the urban and upwardly mobile co-exist seamlessly with the rural and the marginalised. While, on the one hand, we have access to every convenience, the fact remains that the majority of Indians still live without the most basic of amenities such as running water, indoor sanitation, and electricity. Beyond the poor infrastructure, the lack of access to primary healthcare, education, and organised banking amidst gender inequality are just some of the challenges.
SBI's CSR arm SBI Foundation's flagship initiative SBI Youth for India Fellowship is a one-of-a-kind, Indian rural development programme managed by SBI Foundation in partnership with several leading global and national non-governmental organisations (NGO).
Through SBI YFI fellowship, young Indians who wish to work hands-on and empower rural communities to facilitate change are given the opportunities and resources to make that vision a reality. Founded in 2011, with 27 fellows, over the years, more than 350 fellows have worked in fields as diverse as education, health, environmental protection, women empowerment, and social entrepreneurship in 35 rural locations across 12 states in India.
"It has been 10 years since the program was first conceptualized. Almost a decade of creating change in India's rural communities, and the work does not stop here. What started as a thought has now turned into a movement. It is time for the youngsters to keep the light burning," says Manjula Kalyanasundaram, Managing Director, SBI Foundation.
The Road Less Traveled
Who can apply
Every year, SBI Youth for India Foundation calls for applications from aspiring youth leaders who want to contribute to the betterment of rural communities through one of India's best fellowships. Applicants then go through a three-stage fellowship selection process that begins with a preliminary screening based on a few basic details shared in the application form. These include his or her professional background and academic information, among others.
The next step is an online assessment; shortlisted candidates from the first stage have to write in-depth responses to questions that will give selectors an idea about the former's world-views, perceptions, and overall approach towards the fellowship.
Upon clearing the personality assessment test, candidates are invited for personal interaction with the Selection Board.
To apply, the person must be an Indian Citizen or an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) between the ages of 21 to 32 years. They must also have completed their Bachelor's degree before the programme starts.
The selected candidates are then invited to an induction ceremony, 'Aarambh', where they interact with industry experts and SBI YFI alumni. This is followed by a week-long orientation that offers unique insights into the development sector.
After spending time at the NGO center where they plan the scope of their work and are assigned a location, domain, and local guardian, and once they finalise the scope of their project plan and get it approved by SBI Youth for India team and the NGO, they spend 13 months in the field implementing their project.
"SBI Youth for India fellows come from such diverse backgrounds, but somehow when they all meet each other, a common thread binds them all. They find rare connections that were missing all their lives. I believe that's the power of this platform. It creates a space for like-minded people who believe if you truly have faith, change will happen. I have seen the fellowship from the past 10 years, and I can proudly say that change indeed has happened," says Nixon Joseph, President & COO, SBI Foundation.
Impact for India
Over the past decade, SBI YFI Fellows have played a significant role in bringing about changes in the communities they live and work in. This was particularly true in 2020 when SBI YFI was one of the few rural India fellowships that continued its work in the field during the pandemic.
"With a strong belief in the idea of 'Do not Complain. Contribute', I switched from a well-established career in the medical profession to SBI Youth for India Fellowship in a remote village in Rajasthan. Having worked on health and hygiene aspects of women and adolescent girls, the challenges that I faced during my fellowship did not only provide me space for immense personal growth, the journey also helped me realize my true potential and professional aspirations," says Dr. Charvee (Batch 2018-19)
SBI Youth for India alumni of 2019-20 undertook various relief activities and focussed on issues that people in rural areas faced during the pandemic, such as lack of employment, reverse migration, lack of accessibility to information regarding the virus, and the relief schemes provided by the government.
Among them was Isha Mishra who worked with a group of tribal women in Wayanad, Kerala, to start a stitching unit that supplied thousands of masks to nearby communities. The women were able to generate a livelihood at a time when people were being laid off from their jobs.
Chyavan Mallya B. played a crucial role in establishing a link between the government and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic and helped more than 100 families gain access to extra ration by linking their ration cards to the government portals. Through his initiative of establishing a 'Village Information Centre,' he helped identify several migrant workers who benefitted from his efforts. He also helped several families get gas connections under the Ujwala Scheme.
These are just some of the projects through which SBI YFI fellowship helps impact the most underserved communities in the country. SBI Foundation Fellowship is ardently working towards making an impact in the most rural communities and providing the required interventions.