What does it take to be a Young India Fellow?


Think about the Ivy League in India and the Young India Fellowship (Ashoka University) will rise to the top of your mind. Creating the leaders of tomorrow and turning pathbreakers into pathmakers, while the admission process for the class of 2015-16 has already begun, HireTale brings an exclusive chat with one such engineer Ajay Singh Rathore, a 2014- Young India Fellow, who after doing his bachelors from LNMIIT Jaipur, worked in IT. He later became an author with his book ‘Chai Ki Thadi Se‘.

Apply for Young India Fellowship 2015-16


1. You have a diverse profile, an engineer, author, worked in IT. How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers and followers?

In today’s world, we carry multiple identities with us. I think picking out one would be difficult for me. I would let the reader’s perception decide what they think of me (at the end of the interview).

2. What do you consider as the biggest achievement so far?

I think I haven’t achieved much in my life yet. Whatever I’ve done till now are simple milestones in a long journey. Yes, reaching milestones does give me some satisfaction.
Completing my first book and receiving the first salary are some things that are moments worth cherishing for a lifetime. And most important is love I get from the people around me.

3. Please elaborate, why YIF after doing B.Tech and serving for a year in IT.   .Do you think engineers should go for Young India Fellowship?

For YIF it doesn’t matter what you have studied in your under graduation or post graduation. YIF is something that prepares you for life.  Even if we look joining YIF from an engineer’s point of view, I find that problems in today’s world have drastically changed. They are much more complex and enigmatic. An engineer doesn’t write code in isolation, at the end of the day we all are working for throbbing hearts and not machines.  YIF as a course on liberal arts helps in developing a perspective of how society operates, history makes me aware about the mistakes of past, learning and appreciating arts has given me this sense of the aesthetic value of whatever I design. I believe if an engineer thinks he is much more than what he is right now, to discover themselves they should come to YIF. This is true for other professions. At YIF we share perceptions, we learn to accept a different way of thinking. Talking to a history graduate or a lawyer or an Urdu poet, all in one day and for 50 weeks, I find that it would surely have an impact. 

4. How do you think your YIF life is different than corporate life. ?

I was keen to join the YIF programme in my final year of B.Tech. I even registered myself for the application process but never submitted my application. I thought negating the idea of working in the corporate sector without actually doing it is not fair.  So, I decided to take up a job. It taught me a lot. The corporate world is much different from college world, I mean there you have no option of late submission and silly excuses. It made me much more sincere and diligent. Adding to that, it helped me towards my approach of resolving problems and achieving goals in a limited period of time. But while doing job there was a sense of incompleteness in me. I wanted to do something worthwhile in life and in IT job I was not able to do that. This dissatisfaction that I had in my heart made my question “What I want to do with my life?”  I didn’t want to waste my short life doing something that I was not sure about doing. So I quit the job and here I’m.

5. Many people apply for YIF every year but the selection ratio is almost 1:50 ( we have our sources everywhere 😉 ). What should one keep in mind while applying for YIF?

(I don’t know from where you got this number). This time fellowship has 200 people in it. The best part about YIF is that no one forces you to join YIF. Unlike engineering, the management or any other professional course that people sometimes join because of herd mentality or peer pressure. But people who are here are actually those who wanted to do it.

YIF is not a placement oriented course, it is about life skills. The course is about being more self-aware and broadening perspective. The quality of faculty and fellows is unparalleled.  According to me, YIF is a place to add new skills and revive the old ones. Join YIF if you want to actualize your potential and want to meet people who have excelled in different fields. But remember YIF is no magic wand, YIF is what you make out of it. It just gives you an opportunity to meet best in the field, academicians, entrepreneurs, industry giants and many more people from different fields.  It depends on you then what you do with all these opportunities.

6. Coming from an engineering background, what did like liked and disliked most about it?

Engineering has taught me more than working with capacitors and transistors. It gave me the skill to think rationally, the art of jugaad and to be confident about doing things at the last moment. Engineering taught me to perform under pressure and to find solutions even from minimum resources. One thing I didn’t like about engineering was that after entering the real world there was nothing from textbooks. Most of the things I’ve learned are of no use.  I used to listen such kind of stories from seniors but to experience that feeling was something difficult.  But it was again engineering that saved me. The ability to learn and unlearn that I acquired helped me to recover.

7. How much is CGPA important in an Engineering student’s life according to you?

CGPA is important. It sounds good to listen to stories about people who made it without CGPA but you will find the majority of people who did all those things were people with good CGPA. Simultaneously, it is important to remember that your love for CGPA should not refrain you from doing extracurricular activities. In the real world, you can’t wear T-shirts with CGPA printed on them. It won’t be a great idea. For overall development of personality, we need passion, we need things that don’t count. The trick is to maintain a fine balance.  Pointer plays an important role when you sit for placements and apply for post-graduation. It’s important to have a decent score. I want to share what my college senior once said: “CGPA is something but not everything.”

8. Can you explain the process of getting into YIF for our followers?

If you have a graduate or a post graduate degree and your age is less than 28, you are eligible to apply for YIF. The selection process consists of three rounds. Three rounds are:

  1. Assessment on the basis of submitted applications: All applications will be reviewed by the selection committee consisting of faculty and executive members of the programme spread across different parts of the world.
  2. Telephonic interview: Short-listed applicants will be interviewed on the telephone before being called for an in-person interview.
  3. In-person interview: First-round applicants who are short-listed will be interviewed in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bangalore while the 2nd-round applicants shortlisted for interview will be called to New Delhi. There could be multiple rounds of interviews for a candidate, depending on the need for further assessment. At this stage, applicants will also be administered a general ability test to assess their verbal, written and analytical skills.

Most of the candidates are not able to clear the first round. It’s crucial that they give attention to what they write in their applications. Telephonic interview is a very short round of five to ten minutes, in which some simple questions related to your profile are asked. In the final round, candidates are supposed to write a short essay on the topic given to them. After that, the person will be interviewed by members of the selection committee.

Apply for the Young India Fellowship:

Admission process for YIF Class of 2015-16 started from 5th September 2014 and close on 28th Feb 2015. YIF offers a rolling admission process and is split into two rounds. Each round accepts applications within a specified date- window and selects Fellows from the pool of applications from that round. Please refer to the calendar below for important date-windows for the two rounds.

Want to be a Young India Fellow. Apply here.

Application round 1: 5th Sept to 15th Dec
SN Activity Dates (Rolling)
1 Applications open for 1st round 5th Sept 2014
2 Last date to submit applications for 1st round 15th Dec 2014
3 Telephonic interview 20th Sept 2014 – 28th Feb 2015
4 In-person interviews for 1st-round applicants 28th Oct 2014 – 15th March 2015
5 Final offers to 1st-round applicants 1st Feb – 30th March 2015
6 Final offers to wait-listed applicants 1st June – 6th June 2015




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