Concept and Framework

The School for Democracy (SFD) or Loktantrashala is a non-formal educational institution dedicated to promoting and deepening democratic education and learning in India. It is conceived as a space that will enable eclectic groups of adult learners from diverse social and educational backgrounds to learn about the theory and practice of a functioning democracy.

A major objective of the SFD is to support the innumerable efforts of motivated individuals, groups and communities, to assert their citizenship within a democratic framework. The SFD seeks to be a space where such groups can come to get specific inputs, reflect about challenges in their field of work, and understand the broader context of their work. One kind of initiative we have found to be extremely useful is to enable and provide support to such individuals and groups through small fellowships. These allow the individuals or groups to define and detail what they would like to do, offer them the flexibility and modest support to carry out their initiative without interference from an outside group, while freeing them from the burden of having to build or maintain an institutional structure.

In this regard, the School for Democracy is initiating a fellowship programme called Democracy Fellowships in partnership with the Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiative (APPI), Bangalore. 52 fellows working in the broad areas of governance, accountability, and participatory democracy will be supported through these fellowships while respecting their creativity, commitment, and independence of work.


The realization of rights and entitlements in a democracy requires a framework for governance where principles of democratic practice can be used by citizens to participate in, and monitor institutions of government and development. There are a number of initiatives with committed individuals and groups who have varying degrees of experience and many different approaches to the question of empowerment of citizens. Often the individual/group is unable to reach out and connect with others making similar efforts. Therefore there is a need for some form of peer support so that these do not become isolated efforts. Also they need a minimum level of financial support to carry out their endeavours effectively, especially in the current political context of widening state regulation and restrictions on civil society engagement and social/political activism.  


The Democracy Fellowship Programme (DFP) aims to support initiatives and efforts of grassroots activists, groups and organisations, in the broad areas of governance, participatory democracy, accountability, and empowerment of marginalised communities within a constitutional framework. Such efforts need to be multiplied all over the country and the fellowship programme will attempt to create a platform for cross-application of learning and experience, fostering collective action for change.


The individual proposed for the fellowship should be an activist having an experience of minimum 1-3 years.

The individual proposed for the fellowship should be willing to give a commitment of three years.

Selection process

The group/individual has to submit a fellowship proposal (in the format attached) detailing the work for which support is needed.

The proposal will be examined by a committee and if additional information is required the applicants would be contacted over the phone.

Shortlisted candidates will be called for a discussion and interview.

The fellows would be selected by a Search and Approval Committee consisting of senior activists/journalists/academics/public intellectuals who will also agree to remain connected with the fellows and provide them with advice and support through the course of their fellowship.