Who We Are

Our Origin

PRADAN was created in 1983 by two young professionals, Deep Joshi and Vijay Mahajan, who were convinced that even the stubborn, endemic poverty of rural India can be solved. They believed that well-educated professionals working within communities can bring both the empathy and knowledge needed to help poor people improve their lives.

Deep and Vijay also believed that grassroots work in the spirit of pradan, or giving back to society, can be a fulfilling and viable vocation for educated men and women. They created Professional Assistance for Development Action (Pradan), to systematically groom and enable professionals with empathy towards the poor to work at the grassroots level.

In 1987 PRADAN began working with the government and over the years we have played a major role in developing such programs as IRDP, SGSY, and the National Rural Livelihood Mission. We continue to work for change that is sustainable and self-perpetuating, bringing skills and systems that help women, families and communities gain confidence and take charge of their own lives.

“As we move forward, society needs to engage with compassion and empathy with those who are left behind, treating them as equals.”

Since the very beginning, Deep has strongly believed that the ‘best and the brightest’ were needed to work with the weakest sections of society to help them discover their strength and voice. A graduate of ..

“Pradan is a deeply held belief for me.”

“I think it is very worrying for a nation when their elite lose touch with the weakest. PRADAN provides a way to bridge this disconnect.”

An alumnus of IIT Delhi and IIM Ahmedabad, Vijay’s first job at an MNC left him wanting to do more for the community. In 1983, Vijay met Deep Joshi and the idea of PRADAN evolved in less than hour. They believed...

“I wanted to change the India I lived in.”

Our Team

We work to strengthen the ability of the rural poor to earn a decent living. We are organized into field-based teams of three-to-five young professionals, under the leadership of a mid-career team coordinator and the guidance of a team of integrators

More than 400 young professionals are working in 7,000 remote villages of India, immersing themselves directly with target communities across seven of the poorest states. They are recruited from universities and hold degrees in subjects like management, engineering, agriculture, and the social sciences. A majority of the 500,000 families we work with belongs to marginalized communities.

Our Board

The governing board provides oversight and counsel to PRADAN. It comprises up to nine independent members with distinguished records of public service and three leaders from PRADAN, including the executive director.

Ms. Anshu Vaish


Retired IAS Officer GOI, New Delhi

Ms. Sushma Iyenger


Development Activist

Mr. Pramath Raj Sinha


Founder, ISB, Ashoka University & Vedica Scholars

Ms. Mirai Chatterjee


Coordinator of Social Security at SEWA

Ms. Smita Mohanty

Staff Member


Mr. Saroj Kumar Mahapatra

Staff Member


Mr. Manas Satpathy

Ex-officio Member-Secretary and Executive Director



In 2016, we created a small team to drive technical and financial resources to India to help us continue to innovate, scale our programs, and expand capacity in research, communications and advocacy. This group also actively shares our mission, values, evidence and results with like-minded organizations that share our passion for social justice.

The priorities of our global team

Connect PRADAN to Like-minded Organizations Outside of India

We believe we have much to learn from organizations who share our vision and values. We also want to share our 35-year track record of impact with partners and build meaningful collaborations when possible.

Strengthen PRADAN’s Internal Systems

Invest in data, information and knowledge management systems to strengthen the quality and consistency of PRADAN’s work, allowing for more rigorous research and enabling further scale.

Drive Evidence-informed Policy and Advocacy in India

Share PRADAN’s development models and outcomes as evidence to influence the perspectives of global development partners, donors and governments on social development.

Develop Strategic Partnerships

Drive financial and technical resources to PRADAN to expand programs in India and advance PRADAN’s vision within the development community.

Expand Capacity for Measurement, Evaluation and Research

Build evidence of PRADAN’s efficacy, refine the model and value proposition, and strengthen institutional research partnerships to expand PRADAN’s influence.

Global Leaders

Julia Lowe


Melissa Ho

Board Chair