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Indian Government Fellowships that are shaping young leaders

In a fast-changing world, governments are faced with complex challenges which require newer ideas, innovative thinking and action, based on accountability and collaboration. This is possible through shared vision for change that enables stakeholders from different communities to work together. To infuse fresh thinking and experiment with diverse learning systems, the Central government and several state governments in India have opened up to the idea of fellowships. Through these fellowships, governments are willing to create space for dynamic and driven individuals who can address different areas of development and empower communities. 
 
One such fellowship that gives young people a peek into the country’s law-making and public policy is Legislative Assistants to Members of Parliament (LAMP) Fellowship. LAMP Fellows are mentored by a Member of Parliament (MP) and work full-time with the assigned MP during a given year, where he or she provides extensive research support such as drafting parliamentary questions for the MP, preparing the MP’s speeches for zero hour debates, raising matters of public importance, drafting private members’ bills etc. When the Parliament is not in session, LAMP fellows participate in field visits to gain a practical exposure to governance at the grassroots. 
 
When it comes to state governments, the Government of Maharashtra has created the CM Fellowship Program which is unique opportunity to work with the government and understand policy-making, execution, monitoring and evaluation of programs. 
 
According to Vamsi Krishna Reddy, who is working with AP government on Social Welfare Fellowship, the experience has been enriching and satisfying. “At Social Welfare department, I got an insight into the SC/ST sub-plan in detail. I have had the opportunity to implement digital classrooms concept at various schools, created a database with several modules for social welfare schools and hostels as well as digitised several manual processes,” he said, adding that one needs to be patient to see the impact. 
 
On the other hand, Haryana offers Chief Minister’s Good Governance Associates programme (CMGGA) which is a partnership between the State Government and Ashoka University. Under this program, candidates undergo two weeks of intensive training at Ashoka University and they are then the posted in each of the 22 districts of Haryana for a 12-month period where they represent the Chief Minister’s Office and work closely with the Deputy Commissioner and other district officials.
 
Through these fellowships, young people also get the opportunity to visit various think-tanks, institutions and interact with stalwarts across different industries apart from gaining insights into problems plaguing our administrative system. The Prime Minister Rural Development Fellowship (PMRDF) is one such fellowship created by the Ministry of Rural Development which focuses on reduction of poverty and improving the lives of people in rural India. 
 
Suresh Ghattamaneni, who belonged to the first batch of PMRDF, says such fellowships have created numerous opportunities for development professionals across India. “You can do social sector work and get paid well. In my case, PMRDF took me to a different level where you cross your peer groups by at least 10 years. It provided me a holistic understanding of communities at the grassroots level and create livelihood opportunities for people,” adds Suresh who is a social entrepreneur, heading SEEDS Impact. 
 
According to Leela Gautam who is a Young India Fellow, these fellowships programs prepare candidate for leadership in both public and private sectors. “The alumni community provides a safety net where you always have qualitative opportunities to explore across multiple sectors,” he adds. Going by the exposure and opportunities, these fellowships help one learn through peers, projects, passion and play - all within an immensely diverse community of individuals, united in their drive and commitment to improve the state of the world.

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