The core activity of the New India Foundation is the New India Fellowships, awarded to scholars and writers working on different aspects of the history of independent India. From a large pool of several hundred applications, about 15-20 are shortlisted to meet with the jury and about 5-10 fellowships are awarded.
Open only to Indian nationals, including those currently living abroad, the fellowships are awarded for one year and carry a stipend of Rs.1,50,000 a month. Fellowship holders are expected to write original books. Their proposals should be oriented towards final publication, and outline a road map towards that destination. The Foundation is ecumenical as regards genre, theme, and ideology: the only requirement is that the proposed works contribute to the fuller understanding of independent India. Thus Fellowship holders may choose to write a memoir, or a work of reportage, or a thickly footnoted academic study. Their books could be oriented towards economics, or politics, or culture. They could be a highly specific-an account of a single decade or a single region-or wide-ranging, such as a countrywide overview.
The books that result from the New India Fellowship convey original research in an accessible manner to different constituencies. To that end, each book is published by a prestigious publishing house. The Trustees have wide experience of publishing with leading firms in India and abroad.
Candidates for the New India Fellowship are sought through select advertising in leading journals. The Trustees assess the proposals and make a short list from the submissions. The shortlisted candidates are called for an interview, with a jury consisting of eminent people from the worlds of scholarship, business, and social service.