Rob Katz

Indicorps Fellowships – Apply by March 1

Question: What do you get when you mix equal parts Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy?

Answer: The ideal Indicorps Fellow.

I first learned of Indicorps through my Georgetown classmate, Neil Jain. Neil quit his finance job on Wall Street to return to India after 15 years as an August 2008 Indicorps Fellow. In India, Neil partnered with Indicorps-Ahmedabad to create a Young Professionals Service Initiative to encourage other young professionals to join him in serving the country.

Intrigued by Neil’s posts home from India, I pushed to learn more. I did, perusing their extensive web site and reading their up-to-date blog. But it wasn’t until late last year that I really learned the special sauce of Indicorps, during a meeting with its founder, Roopal Shah.

Over coffees in a crowded West Village coffee shop, Roopal shared her vision: to inspire a new generation of global Indian leaders through structured grassroots public service opportunities. Hence the Gandhi + King + Kennedy:

Gandhi – Indicorps Fellows live with the poor, so as to fully engage and empathize. They experience and develop “moral imagination” – the ability to see oneself in another’s shoes – in spades.

King – Roopal is, to put it bluntly, building a social movement. Inspired by King and others like him, Indicorps builds broad support for its work, one Fellow at a time.

Kennedy – Like the Peace Corps, which was started under Kennedy’s watch, Indicorps leverages the immense and under-tapped talent of young, passionate volunteer Fellows, who live and work in low income communities for at least a year at a time.

How does this all relate back to BoP? These Indicorps Fellows – exemplified by Neil – bring a wealth of private sector experience to what is traditionally considered a “development program” – but they manage not to lose their souls in the process. This is the beauty of Indicorps.

Applications for the next set of Fellows – beginning in August 2010 – are due next week, March 1. It is not too late to begin your application. Think about it – could there be a better way to spend a year than by taking the best of Gandhi, King and Kennedy?