Published: 30th April 2021
American India Foundation renames flagship US-India fellowship; expands its ambit in 20th year
The Foundation said in a statement that AIF's William J Clinton Fellowship for Service in India has been rebranded as 'Banyan Impact Fellowship' on the occasion of its 20th year anniversary
American India Foundation's board co-chair Lata Krishnan and her husband Ajay Shah have announced a USD 5 million endowment to its re-christened Banyan Impact Fellowship programme, under which selected fellows from the two countries get to work on sustainable development projects in support of social justice in India.
The Foundation said in a statement that AIF's William J Clinton Fellowship for Service in India has been rebranded as 'Banyan Impact Fellowship' on the occasion of its 20th year anniversary.
Also, the programme's scope has been expanded to include climate justice, social inclusion, sports, arts, social inclusion and many other pressing issues of national and international importance in addition to the fields of health, education and livelihood. The USD 5-million endowment announced by Krishnan and Shah is the largest so far to AIF to bring the programme's renewed vision to life, the statement added.
The fellowship is an immersive, 10-month volunteer service programme that gives an opportunity to fellows from both the US and India to work with civil society organisations in India on scalable and sustainable development projects in support of social justice.
The programme aims to shape the next generation of leaders committed to positive and sustainable change and creating a lasting US-India relationship by broadening the existing constituency of future leaders, civil society and other stakeholders.
AIF CEO Nishant Pandey said, "From our 20 years of running this strategic programme in the US-India corridor, we believe the programme is at a crucial stage where it can expand, grow and flourish as a separate entity within the AIF umbrella."
Mastercard Executive Chairman Ajay Banga said, "Our hope is for the US and India to form a much tighter partnership so that their people understand each other better and can contribute to solving real problems in each other's countries. Through this fellowship, we are creating a force multiplier."
Started in 2001 as the AIF Service Corps for young Americans to work in India on disaster relief and long-term rehabilitation, the programme was later renamed the AIF William J Clinton Fellowship for Service in India in recognition of the former US president's role in creating American India Foundation.
As the programme grew, it took another large step in 2011 to include youth from both the US and India. On the new name, Krishnan said, "The 'banyan tree' is a symbol of strength, resilience, and interconnectedness -- a powerful metaphor for mobilising a collective force towards sustainable impact." Shah said, "We are building young leaders who will be able to sustain development throughout their entire careers. The relationships and bridge-building go well beyond the one year fellows stay on the ground."