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
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“Pradan is a deeply held belief for me.”

Deep Joshi
Co-founder

“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 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 MIT’s School of Engineering and Sloan School of Management, Deep has lived this philosophy.

According to Deep, “Development professionals need both head and heart. If all you have is a bleeding heart, it wouldn’t work. If you only have a strong head, then you are going to dictate solutions which do not touch a human chord.” He believes that PRADAN has institutionalised a way to communicate this belief to young Indians.

But there is still plenty to be done. Given the scale of Indian poverty, what PRADAN does is a drop in the ocean. Deep says, “To fill the ocean is a big challenge as it requires joining hands with people who are different from you.”

“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 Read More...

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

Vijay Mahajan
Co-founder

“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 that the only way to create change at the grassroots was by getting well educated and motivated young people to work with poor communities. Thirty years later, this remains the core philosophy of PRADAN.

Vijay believes that PRADAN’s ethos lies in being where the action is – living with poor communities, interacting with them, contributing to their dreams and making them a reality.

In his view, PRADAN’s contribution goes beyond individual success stories. It is an NGO that creates new models of development, that have been replicated across the country by others. “PRADAN’s effectiveness lies in the fact that its successes go beyond individuals and even beyond PRADAN!”

“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

Chairperson


Retired IAS Officer GOI, New Delhi

Ms. Sushma Iyenger

Vice-chairperson


Development Activist

Mr. Pramath Raj Sinha

Member


Founder, ISB, Ashoka University & Vedica Scholars

Ms. Mirai Chatterjee

Member


Director of Social Security at SEWA
 

Mr. Biswajit Sen

Member


Founder of GDS,
Nalanda and IIMPACT

Ms. Smita Mohanty

Staff Member


PRADAN

Mr. Saroj Kumar Mahapatra

Staff Member


PRADAN

Mr. Narendranath Damodaran

Ex-officio Member-Secretary and Executive Director


PRADAN
 

PRADAN Global

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

Development professional who has worked as a researcher, strategist, and advocate for poverty and social justice issues for more than a decade. She worked closely with PRADAN as their Program Officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and is truly humbled to lead the development of PRADAN-USA. Prior to the Gates Foundation, she managed HIV programs in West Africa and the Caribbean for the Clinton Foundation and did research on how to accelerate social processes of change using low-cost technologies.

Melissa D. Ho is Managing Director, Africa, in the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Department of Compact Operations. Before joining MCC, Dr. Ho served as Senior Advisor and Technical Division Director in the Bureau for Food Security at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and was one of the first members of the Agriculture Development team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Ho has a B.Sc. in Environmental Systems from Cornell University, an M.Sc. in Soil Science from the University of California, Davis, and a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from the Pennsylvania State University.