“Why do we rarely find a role model among our present political leaders?”
Addressing this question, Prakhar Bhartiya, a Teach for India fellow and founder of Youth Alliance, embarked upon a journey to change the narrative of the future of politics. He was joined by Hemakshi Meghani, also an alumna of Teach for India and Harvard Kennedy School and a strong believer in inner transformation for making external changes. In 2018, Hemakshi and Prakhar created the Indian School of Democracy, a place where young leaders with their diverse beliefs, could be nurtured for a lifetime of service in politics, particularly at a time when politics in India is considered to be a dirty word. They, along with their team, are working to shape the belief in young people and politics as a tool for service, into an institution.
Indian School of Democracy (ISD) is a non-partisan organisation that works with youth aged 21-40, with a focus to nurture principled leaders for politics, from diverse political, social, geographical, religious, gender and other backgrounds.
Working to strengthen Indian democracy, ISD has created short and long term programs that focus on developing:
- Relevant hard skills like policy analysis, negotiations, constitutional law, communications, mobilization, public finance, and more
- Spaces for inner transformation through immersion, reflection, practice and building of personal leadership
- A community of peers and mentors that helps in a sustained and collective impact in the public sphere
Programs at ISD
Designed in a manner to help the young and aspiring politicians engage in a steep learning curve and understand India and her opportunities better, the programs at ISD help the participants develop the skill sets of serving the nation as remarkable policymakers, journalists, or politicians at the village, district, city, state and national level. Below, we take a look at some of the exceptional programs that ISD conducts.
You can hear what political leaders have to say about ISD in this video.
A 9-day journey across multiple states of India, for 30 aspiring leaders, to build a positive narrative around politics and explore different pathways to politics.
The first successful edition was conducted in December 2019 where 30 participants from 18 different Indian states, travelled to 4 states and interacted with many renowned political leaders, speakers and practitioners. The participants left with an action plan for their political journey and building fellowship amongst the community of political peers. Catch the highlights of Democracy Express in this video and on the website
A residential space designed for aspiring women political leaders of India, for 9 days, to develop strong political skills and engage oneself in the political reality of India by overcoming inner and systematic barriers.
Women with strong political commitments who are willing to make a change in today’s India can apply for this program to build skills and create an action plan for our political system, be a part of the community and connect with leaders and politicians and to share their vision of an inclusive India. The details can be found on the website.
Team and Culture at ISD
Hemakshi and Prakhar are founders of the Indian School of Democracy. Hemakshi has worked with BCG before moving onto building ISD full time since September 2018. Prakhar founded Youth Alliance in 2008, a social enterprise that nurtures empathetic leaders. In 2018, he joined SIPA Columbia University to do an MPA and build relevant knowledge and partnerships for ISD. With Anita and Saurabh joining the team in 2019, ISD has become more fun and diverse.
ISD is a small team with four full-time members, 2 part-time consultants and looking to add five more! Few organization values that define the culture
- Reflection: Ability to hold a mirror to self and others, take a step back and commit to self-growth. This means we end up talking and writing a lot!
- Rigour/ Excellence: Everything that is done, is done with a lot of depth and thought. From choosing the space for office off-site to a piece of research, we give it our all and hold ourselves to the highest standards!
- Optimism: Having fun, being realistic but with a lot of optimism about youth, politics and India.
- Learning: Commitment to learning continuously from books, movies, each other and life. We intentionally create spaces to ensure each one of us is learning and expanding our boundaries. We have paid time for learning journeys and some budget allocated for this.
- Discipline: No leader was made without practising discipline. Being disciplined in thoughts, actions, words and work is integral to our culture. (So we always show up before time!)
- Integrity: Doing the right thing in conversations, actions, fund-raising, actions even when things get difficult. We believe if we have to nurture principled leaders, we need to imbibe those values ourselves.
- Interconnectedness: Respect for each other’s opinions, commitment to work on our inner selves and harnessing the diversity of life experiences. We also actively seek people who disagree with us and learn to understand them, to work together.
Currently, ISD is looking for:
- 5 principled leaders who can help the organisation redefine politics and uphold the values of our progressive constitution
- Someone who believes they are capable of changing the narrative of the Indian political system and has a strong commitment towards building an inclusive India
The five positions are:
Leads: (6+ years of experience + Masters)
1) Selection Lead
2) Political Partnerships Lead
3) Research Lead
Associates (1-3 years of experience)
4) Design and Communications Associate
The Job Descriptions (JD) can be found on the website and each JD has an application form on the last page. If you think you are the one, apply here to join the team. Or just spread the word!