The Policy in Action Program is a month long engagement for young professionals and university students who are keen to explore the fields of public policy and development. The program is designed to deliver core skills in policy analysis, advocacy and leadership, along with the experience of working on live projects for policymakers – MPs, MLAs, ministries and other government institutions.
Public policy can be a potent tool for civic action. The Policy in Action Program is YLAC’s attempt to increase citizen engagement with the policymaking process and equip people with the skills necessary to drive change. It is also an attempt to strengthen the development and governance ecosystem in India by expanding the pool of talented individuals committed to working in the space.
Launched in 2016, the program is a highly selective engagement that receives a large number of outstanding applications from a diverse pool of candidates. The program schedule is designed as a mix of weekend sessions and remote collaboration that makes it easy to accommodate alongside regular study and work commitments.
Applications to the November 2021 edition of the program are currently open. This edition is designed as a virtual engagement to accommodate constraints imposed by COVID-19. All sessions will be conducted online and the program is open to applicants across India. Please follow the links below to see details and apply.
See: Schedule | Program Rigour | Eligibility & Deadlines | Fees & Scholarships | Previous Editions | FAQs | Applications
The online edition of the Policy in Action Program is scheduled to run from 13th November to 12th December, 2021. Fellows will be divided into teams on the first weekend and tasked to work on specific projects. Check-ins with mentors will serve as structured platforms for guidance on direction and pace. Teams can also connect separately, as and when required, apart from the check-ins marked in the given schedule.
The sessions will be facilitated by the YLAC team, including the founders. You can view their profile here.
Project Work & Program Rigour
The Policy in Action Program is designed as a short, but rigorous program. It rests on the philosophy that learning by doing is the best way to internalize material. While the sessions impart training in policy research, analysis and advocacy, a large part of the learning comes through the work on live projects.
Projects are sourced from policymakers (Members of Parliament, Members of State Legislatures, Ministries and Government Departments as well as Institutions such as NITI Aayog) and focus on policy problems that their offices are engaging with. Typically, a team of 4-6 fellows is tasked to work on one project. Fellows are expected to undertake research and/ or develop powerful narratives to support the policymaker in addressing the identified problems. The final output is either a policy brief and/ or advocacy material.
Projects usually get finalized a week before sessions begin. Details of projects from the previous editions of the program can be accessed here.
The Policy in Action Program is a month long engagement. A majority of fellows in the cohort are either full time working professionals or students enrolled in universities. Given the constraints on their time, fellows are not expected to undertake any primary research or on-ground mobilization. Instead, they are expected to rely on existing literature, data sources and consultations with stakeholders/ experts for their analysis. In terms of advocacy, they are expected to draft opinion pieces and craft strategies to build support for the proposed policy solutions.
During the course of the program, each project group is required to make multiple submissions, starting with their project plan, followed by the draft and revised submissions. All submissions are jointly prepared by the team of fellows working on the project.
Evaluation & Requirements for Graduation
Attendance at the program sessions is mandatory and all project work is tightly managed and supervised to control for quality. Each submission is assessed by YLAC and its panel of experts, and teams are provided detailed feedback and guidance.
Eligibility & Deadlines
In each edition, promising candidates are carefully selected, trained and mentored over a period of five weeks to explore the fundamentals of policymaking and apply the learning to real-life policy problems. The program is open to young professionals and students between 18 and 30 years of age. There are no prerequisites in terms of academic background or experience. However, since we work with sitting policymakers, eligibility is restricted to Indian citizens. Citizens who are otherwise living/ working outside India are eligible to apply as well.
First deadline: 5th September (Sunday)
Scholarships deadline: 5th September (Sunday)
Final deadline: 3rd October (Sunday)
Fees & Scholarships
Rs. 15,000 (+ GST @18%)
The fee is payable only after an applicant has been selected into the program.
We recognize that all deserving candidates may not have the means to fund their participation in the program. To support such candidates, YLAC offers need and merit based scholarships to a select number of candidates.
For the Policy in Action Program, YLAC will offer 50% scholarships to the selected candidates. To be considered for a scholarship, applicants must submit an additional essay explaining how they plan to use the learning from the program and why they need a scholarship to attend. They must also submit contact details of two professors or supervisors at work for reference checks.
The Journey So Far
The Policy in Action Program was launched from Delhi in 2016. Delhi’s success and the overwhelming support of our fellows encouraged us to expand the program to Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai. Since November 2020, we have also been running editions online. Each edition attracts participants from a wide range of backgrounds and academic disciplines. In fact, a key highlight of the program today is the diversity of its cohort.
Another highlight is the opportunity to work on some of the most pressing policy problems in the country. In the time since its launch, Policy in Action fellows have supported the work of MPs from across different regions in India, representing a spectrum of political parties in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, as well as many central and state government ministries and institutions such as NITI Aayog. Our fellows have had the chance to work on a diverse range of issues such as electoral laws, labour reforms, encryption policy, urban homelessness, HDI and malnutrition, to name a few.
The opportunity to work on real and live policy issues, along with the chance to interact with experts and learn from a diverse and talented cohort, is the primary appeal of the program today!
For specifics related to the previous editions, please see: Bengaluru 2020 | Chennai 2020 | November 2020 | March 2021
Frequently Asked Questions
The Policy in Action Program is ideal for those who wish to develop a better understanding of public policy and development. It is designed to give participants a sneak peek into the policymaking process in India, as well as to give them an opportunity to affect real change by working on live projects, while at the same time building on their leadership and communication skills.
If you are civic-minded and you want to know how the system works and how it may be pushed, this is the right place for you. In addition to helping you pick up skills to analyze policy, the program will equip you with tools to build influential advocacy campaigns and powerful public narratives.
If you are someone who is considering a career in public policy or development, this program will help you get the right exposure. Both the sessions as well as the projects are designed to give you an insight into the different roles available in policy and development. The program will also plug you into a network of professionals in the space and help you tap new opportunities. Many of our fellows from the earlier cohorts have already transitioned into the sector.
Undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as young professionals between 18 and 30 years of age are eligible to apply. There are no prerequisites in terms of fields of study or prior experience.
Since we work with sitting policymakers, eligibility is restricted to Indian citizens. For online editions of the program, there are no restrictions in terms of residence; candidates living/ working outside India can apply as well. For editions conducted in-person, physical presence at the sessions is required.
There are two broad categories of projects: ‘Policy research’ and ‘Advocacy’. Project topics are decided on the basis of requirements specified by the participating policymakers. You may be asked to research and advise on a particular policy issue or develop an advocacy campaign. Details of projects from the previous editions of the program can be accessed here.
YLAC will invite policymakers to address the Policy in Action cohort. In the past, speakers have spent time interacting with the class, giving insights into the their work, and the broader policymaking process. We have also had policy professionals from offices of Members of Parliament (and otherwise) come and speak with the participants.
However, please note that project related engagement with participating policymakers or their offices will be minimal. This design element is intentional. YLAC realizes that policymakers are stretched for time and often do not have the bandwidth to supervise projects. The Policy in Action Program in fact allows them to outsource some of their policy work. Training, project supervision and quality control is completely handled by YLAC and its panel of experts. The program is specifically designed to not add to the workload of policymakers.
This arrangement is a win-win for both the participants and the recipients of the output - it gives participants an experience of working on real and live policy issues, while supporting the work of our policymakers in the legislature and in government.
Project allocations are made on the basis of your preferences. While we try to match projects with your areas of interest, a specific allocation cannot be guaranteed.
Projects usually require about 12-15 hours per participant per week. This is over and above the time spent in attending classes.
The Policy in Action Program aims to select talented young individuals who are committed to leading social change in the future. Applicants are selected on the basis of their responses to the questions in the application form as well as their resume. We look for logic, nuance and structure as well as motivation and past initiatives.
Applications to the Policy in Action Program are processed in two batches. Those applying on or before the first deadline are eligible for early decisions. For the others, admission decisions are announced in a few days after the final applications deadline.
The Policy in Action Program is a highly selective program that receives outstanding applications from a large pool of candidates. Candidates from the best universities and colleges in India and abroad apply to the program. We usually receive upwards of 250 high quality applications for each edition and select 50-65 fellows.
Fellows come from a diverse range of backgrounds – lawyers, engineers, chartered accountants, anthropologists, economists, political scientists, journalists, architects, writers and even start up evangelists! This diversity of the cohort has become a mainstay of the program and is one of its key highlights today.
A majority of the fellows are young professionals. The median age in the program is 25.
Yes, a certificate is issued at the end of the program. However, certification is subject to attendance and successful completion of the assigned project work.
Please note that attendance is mandatory. Since the program involves working in teams, if members miss training or team meet-ups, it adversely affects the team's output. Please also keep in mind that as a participant in the program, you'll be working on live projects for policymakers and you'll be required to complete your assigned project work to the satisfaction of the facilitators. Your final submission must be analytically rigorous and well presented; it must meet the highest standards of quality.
In case any unforeseen circumstances prevent you from joining the program, you can request our office to initiate the refund process. YLAC will refund 100% of your payment if the request is received 30 days before the beginning of the program. For requests received 15 days before the program, the refund amount shall be 50% of the payment received. YLAC shall not be able to issue any refunds in case the intimation reaches us at a shorter notice.