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Alajangi Viswanath Swamy


Brief bio

Shri. A. V. Swamy was a renowned social worker, and was director of NGO Oxfam. He had started his own NGO Viswas at Khariar Road. Prior to joining politics, he was appointed as Non-Official Block Development Officer in Boipariguda block in Koraput district in 1961. He also worked as Regional Development Officer in the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) from 1963 to 1973.A Former Rajya Sabha member and social worker Alajangi Viswanath Swamy died of prolonged illness at his Khariar Road residence. He was 91.Born on July 18, 1929, in undivided Koraput district (now Nabarangpur), Swamy was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Odisha as an Independent candidate in 2012. Having completed his BSc from Ravenshaw College (now University), he did his BTech in Chemical Engineering from Bombay University in 1955. at his Khariar Road residence. He was 91.Born on July 18, 1929, in undivided Koraput district (now Nabarangpur), Swamy was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Odisha as an Independent candidate in 2012. Having completed his BSc from Ravenshaw College (now University), he did his BTech in Chemical Engineering from Bombay University in 1955. Read More

Ambarish Rai


Brief bio

Shri Ambarish Rai will be remembered as a stalwart in the Education Movement of India, who devoted his life to the cause of the right of education of India’s children. As National Convenor, Peoples’ Campaign for Common School System (2005-2010) , he led the campaign to demand for common school system in the country as envisaged in the Kothari Commission Report. Ambarish Rai has been the National Convener of Right to Education Forum, since its formation in 2010 onwards. RTE Forum a collective platform of education networks, teachers’ organizations, and prominent educationists, working towards building a people’s movement to achieve the goal of equitable and quality education for all children through the realization of the Right to Education Act, 2009. Previously, as the National Organizer, National Alliance for Fundamental Right to Education and Equity (NAFRE) from 2003, he played a vital role in gathering about 40 thousand people at New Delhi, India in 2001, demanding the Fundamental Right to Education which led to the 86th Constitutional Amendment in 2002 which made education a fundamental right in India. Read More

Anil Agarwal


Brief bio

Shri Anil Kumar Agarwal was the founder of the Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based research institute. In 1987, the United Nations Environment Programme elected him to its Global 500 Roll of Honour for his work in the national and international arena. The Indian Government also honoured him with Padma Shri (1986) and Padma Bhushan (2002) for his work in environment and development. Agarwal has spent considerable time travelling to various parts of rural India to document community-based environmental regeneration efforts in villages. Agarwal’s reports have helped Indian decision-makers to understand the importance of involving people in environmental conservation and natural resource management. His work resulted in a study called Towards Green Villages: A macro-strategy for participatory and environmentally-sound rural development in 1989. The study, based on years of learning from the documentation of micro-experiences, presented a macro-strategy for environmentally-sound rural development. Agarwal has spent a lifetime advocating policies that involve the people in natural resource management and learn from India’s own traditions. He also had a deep interest in the management of pollution, especially air pollution, and the threat that environmental change poses to public health. At the international level, he has argued for equitable arrangements in dealing with the global warming problem. Read More

Arbind Ojha
Brief bio

Shri Arvind Ojha, often referred to as Guruji by his colleagues and staff, dedicated over four decades of his life for the empowerment and sustainable growth of disadvantaged vulnerable groups, women and children in Rajasthan and other parts of the country. A strong advocate of women empowerment, girl child education and aborgation of child marriage in Rajasthan, he was a humanitarian of the highest order. He put in herculean efforts to curb Malaria in Western Rajasthan, encouraged public participation during the famine. Credit goes to him for the continuous efforts and contribution towards common awareness and improvement of rural health, curbing of malnutrition, anemia and TB etc. Created consciousness about the importance of education in every village through Lok Jumbish Project. Declared 155 gram panchayats as female foeticide free gram panchayats. He has also contributed to promote indigenous livelihood of the desert including animal husbandry, agriculture, crafts pastoralism and families engaged in leather work as well as to promote employment of youth, raise awareness of camel milk etc. Everyone aches in his passing owing to COVID-19, his hard earned achievements shall forever be cherished. http://seemant.org/founding-chair/ Read More

Biplab Halim 1947 - 2017


Brief bio

Shri. Biplab Halim, was a champion of the poor and landless peasants. He brought significant change in their lives by promoting land reform and bringing a change in unequal power structure in rural belt. He worked mainly on land rights in selected pockets of eastern India and in mid 80s formed Indian Federation of Toiling Peasants (IFTOP). With few friends he founded Institute for Motivating Self-Employment (IMSE), an organization to mobilize radical youths to reflect on the political and social scenario of the state and to motivate them for joining social work. Mr. Halim also worked among the poor fishers in coastal Odisha, in particular to ensure their livelihood security for long time. He became actively involved in an anti-eviction movement in coastal Odisha, which threatened existence of more than hundred poor villages inhabited by the poor fishers and peasants. Due to intense struggle of people the government had to abandon the eviction plan. Biplab Halim was always very active in policy advocacy and networking with like-minded organizations at regional, national and international levels. Through this work he promoted genuine agrarian reform and a conducive climate for food sovereignty. He was champion of the ideology of food sovereignty. Read More

Brief bio

Shri Om Shrivastava is well for his association with Astha Training Centre. His professional interests have always been Training at all levels on people participation and participatory development, Adult Education, Participatory Training, Evaluation of adult education and development projects, Development of Non-formal Education, Integrated Rural Development, Rural women's education and development and Development of University Adult Education as a discipline. Read More



Brief bio

Shri. Mitraniketan K. Viswanathan was a social reformer, philanthropist and environmentalist in Kerala, India. His core educational principle was that rural communities and society as a whole can best be promoted through the total development of individuals, and all of Mitraniketan’s programs seek to support this vision. He founded Mitraniketan, a non-governmental organization in Vellanadu, Thiruvananthapuram. It works in the fields of innovation, training and extension in community development, environment, science, education and appropriate technology. Dozens of researchers assembled there to insights about development decoupled from economics to rely on universal education and literacy, relative gender equality in a formerly matrilineal society, and collaborative use of simple yet effective technologies. He was a winner of many awards and fellowships, for application of science and technology in rural areas. He was awarded Padmashri by Government of India in 2009. Read More

Kamla Bhasin


Brief bio

Smt. Kamla Bhasin, worked with underprivileged women from tribal and working communities, often using posters, plays and other non-literary methods to get through to communities with low literacy rates. She had always maintained that in order to usher effective change, sloganeering must be accompanied by community mobilization. She was an Indian developmental feminist activist, poet, author and social scientist. Bhasin's work, focused on gender, education, human development and the media. Bhasin rejected the notion that feminism is a western concept. She stressed that Indian feminism has its roots in its own struggles and tribulations. She said that she didn't become a feminist by reading other feminists, she became one as a part of a larger natural evolution from merely a development worker, to a feminist development worker. She said that it is the story of many others. Read More

Martha Farrell


Brief bio

Smt. Martha Farrell was a passionate civil society leader, renowned and respected in India and around the world for her work on women’s rights, gender equality and adult education. She began her career as a literacy worker at Ankur, an NGO working for women’s literacy and empowerment in Delhi. She co-founded Creative Learning for Change, an NGO consisting of development professionals involved in research, training and documentation of learning materials for students, teachers and facilitators in non-formal settings. As Director of PRIA’s program on Gender Mainstreaming in Institutions, she trained thousands of grassroots women leaders and professionals from different walks of life on issues related to citizen engagement in local governance, gender mainstreaming and sexual harassment. Finally, she led PRIA’s work on distance education, founding and developing PRIA International Academy, the academic wing of the organization. Martha’s crusade for gender mainstreaming in organizations began in 1998 when the Vishakha Guidelines for the prevention of sexual harassment at workplaces were formulated by the Supreme Court of India. She was among 14 people killed in a terrorist attack on a guest house in Kabul, Afghanistan on 13 May 2015. She had been leading a gender training workshop with the Aga Khan Foundation in Kabul at the time of the attack. Read More

Mohan singh Mehta


Brief bio

Shri. Mohan Singh Mehta was the Founder President of Vidya Bhawan – a progressive co-education complex; Founder President of Seva Mandir, a Centre for Social Service and Rural Development. Seva Mandir works mainly in natural resource development and sustainability, village development, women empowerment, education and health care, continuing education, and children's welfare. The late Dr. Mehta, was a social worker and an educationist. He had a long career including a decade as India’s Ambassador and six years as Vice Chancellor of the Rajasthan University. He was influenced by the national movement, especially by Madan Mohan Malviya and Dr. H.N. Kunzru, and attracted by the Servants of India Society. He made a start by establishing the Seva Samiti Boy Scout Troop, from where originated the idea of starting Vidya Bhawan School in 1931. At the school, the ideals of character formation, social obligation and a sensitivity to nature and the rural surroundings were focused upon, a spirit of adventure was inculcated and a sense of determination was stimulated to make youth responsible citizens. To Dr. Mehta, Seva Mandir was an extension of these very concerns and the ideas of citizenship into the arena of rural development. This organization now has turned into a museum of social work in India. Read More

Mohan Singh Mehta


Brief bio

Shri. Mohan Singh Mehtawas theFounder President of VidyaBhawan – a progressive co-education complex; Founder President of SevaMandir, a Centre for Social Service and Rural Development.SevaMandir works mainly in natural resource development and sustainability, village development, women empowerment, education and health care, continuing education, and children's welfare. The late Dr. Mehta, was a social worker and an educationist. Hehad a long career including a decade as India’s Ambassador and six years as Vice Chancellor of the Rajasthan University. He was influenced by the national movement, especially by Madan Mohan Malviya and Dr. H.N. Kunzru, and attracted by the Servants of India Society Read More



Brief bio

Smt. Renuka, Renuka worked in the Social sector and left an indelible mark. She was CEO of Pardada Pardadi Educational Society. She was an alumni of Jamia Millia Islamia. Her area of work concentrated in rural development, health, SHGs, Livelihood initiatives and also in school sanitation programme, eliminate child labour etc. Renuka has won various national and international awards. She has many publications to her credit. We lost her Due to COVID -19 on 18th May 2021. Read More

Rippan Kapur


Brief bio

Shri. Rippan Kapur was a champion of children with the unshakeable conviction that Indian children were India’s responsibility. Rippan was 25 and an airline purser, he collected ?7 each from six friends and put in ?8 himself, to make the ?50 he needed to start an NGO called CRY. The ‘office’ was his family home: the dining table was for meetings, and the space under it was used to store greeting cards that were the initial source of revenue. Rippan believed that people who could make a difference existed; they simply needed to be asked. Rippan taught us how to ask for money and receive it with grace, boldness and conviction. Rippan’s approach was simple: “What I can do, I must do.” His allegiance clear: “CRY is my home, family and life.” His heart belonged to children. Just an hour or so before he died, when one of his oldest and dearest colleagues asked him how he was feeling, he said, “I can see the faces of smiling children outside my window.” Read More

Sanjoy Ghosh


Brief bio

Shri. Sanjoy Ghose was an Indian rural development activist known for his pioneering contributions to community health and development media. He set up the URMUL Rural Health and Development Trust — in the desert district of Bikaner in Rajasthan. While working with URMUL, he won the Hubert Humphrey fellowship. After establishing URMUL Rural Health and Development Trust as a mainstream NGO in Rajasthan, he handed over the organisation to a successor, and shifted to Delhi. Recognizing the potential of writing in mainstream media to highlight rural development issues and catalyse change, Sanjoy conceived of CHARKHA. CHARKHA appears to have been initiated to exploit the legitimate opportunities available in the national media for influencing policies related to rural development. Through the sponsorship of Association of Voluntary Agencies for Rurul Development, North East (AVARD-NE) Sanjoy and seven colleagues set up base in Majuli island on the Brahmaputra river. The island faced annual flooding and erosion of land. He and his team mobilised around 30,000 human days of voluntary labour (shram dhan). An experimental stretch of 1.7 kilometres of land was protected from erosion, by building embankments: using only local resources and their knowledge. The following year this protected stretch of the island survived the floods. Sanjoy, in this short time, had also diversified the social activities in Majuli: around health (malaria prevention), livelihoods (design, and manufacturing of bamboo and woven products), and education (village libraries). Read More

Sharad Joshi
Brief bio

Shri Sharad Joshi, a leader of the development sector worked on livelihood security of marginal farmers and organizing communities has been recognized widely and has been accepted as a model. He realized that without having a sustainable development approach, it may be difficult to connect the vulnerable communities with mainstream development. He was passionate about helping in the rehabilitation of these communities, which led to the foundation of CECOEDECON in 1982. He supported more than 60 small organizations by strengthening them for resource mobilization and program development. Sharad Ji always supported the voice of Indian civil society organizations and collectives to present the Indian perspective on a whole range of human rights, livelihood Security, climate change-related agenda and sustainable development both at local and the global level. CECOEDECON under the leadership of Sharad Ji, emerged as one of the recognized resource organizations on the emerging issues such as climate change and Sustainable Development. He was instrumental in ensuring meaningful engagements on these critical subjects by establishing constructive partnership with CSOs, parliamentarians, judiciary policy makers, media, women groups, farmers and youth by organizing their collectives, conducting awareness programs, public hearings; and state and national level consultations. Read More

Thomas Chandy


Brief bio

Shri. Thomas Chandy the founding CEO of Save the Children in India truly believed and lived the organization’s mission to bring immediate and lasting change in the lives of children. He would describe his move from the corporate to the social sector to serve children as follows –“For me this job is a vocation; it is a higher calling. When you are driven by vocation, it is the passion that keeps you going.” Thomas proudly wore the organization’s programmatic and advocacy achievements like feathers on his cap – be it the then J&K Government’s approval of the Juvenile Justice act, successfully amending the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, being the secretariat for the nutrition and reproductive, maternal, new-born and child health (RMNCH) coalition, to setting on ground operations for the most marginalised communities like the Musahar and Rohingyas. A visionary leader, Thomas recognized early the burgeoning issues facing children in urban settings, at a time when most of Save the Children’s work was rural – and he was an early champion of bringing this context into Save the Children’s work. A decade back, despite demographics, urban children did not figure in most of Save the Children’s country or global strategy. Thomas helped to launch Save the Children’s Urban Strategy Initiative and facilitated bringing data to the table on urban children – notably with the report co-produced with PwC India called ‘Forgotten Voices’. His focus on improving the lot of children was relentless and focused. He would say: “How can we allow 2 million children to die? Why should millions of children continue to drop out of schools?” Read More

Vicente Ferrer


Brief bio

Vicente Ferrer born in Barcelona worked all his life in India with the most disadvantaged communities with the philosophy of action as a fundamental pillar. Through his way of thinking and acting, Vicente Ferrer managed to involve people and their communities in improving their living conditions and their own progress. This way of understanding development has been recognised by many people. Vicente started his long-life path to fight for a dignified life for all. He fought against the rigid social hierarchy prevalent at that time and worked to improve the land and water systems and to form grassroots teams. According to him what he was seeing was people suffering not from lack of religion or faith but from the uncertainty of having daily food. “I had two paths to follow: the path of prayer or the path of action”. He had it very clear, and from that day, all his life would be focused on the power of action to eradicate human suffering. In 1969 Vicente Ferrer and Anna Ferrer founded Rural Development Trust, an organisation that has been supporting the empowerment of rural communities in India and supporting them in their struggle to eradicate poverty, suffering and injustice for more than 50 years. Read More