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 8,641 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 848,408 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.

Retired Senior Rural, Development Specialist, World Bank

Biswajit retired as senior rural development specialist with the World Bank. He has worked with UNICEF, MacArthur Foundation USA and Swiss Development Cooperation. Currently he is a visiting scholar at the Indian Institute of Management, Udaipur. He was one of the initial team members of PRADAN who went on to set up several other rural development organizations such as GDS, Nalanda and IIMPACT. He has a management degree from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He lives in Jaipur with his family.

Director of Social Security at SEWA

Mirai is currently Director of Social Security at Self Employed Women Association (SEWA). She is also Chairperson of the SEWA Cooperative Federation and the National Insurance VimoSEWA Cooperative. She was appointed a member of the National Advisory Council in June 2010. She has a B.A. from Harvard University in History and Science and a Masters from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She lives in Ahmedabad with her family.

Advocate, Supreme Court of India Founder, Enviro Legal Defence Firm

Sanjay is an advocate at the Supreme Court of India. He is also the founder and Managing Director of India's first environmental law firm, the Enviro Legal Defence Firm. He was an India Visiting Fellow at the Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, Global Fellow at Duke Marine Lab, Duke University, USA and a legal intern to the Earth Justice Legal Defense Fund, San Francisco. He lives in New Delhi with his family.

Chief Executive Officer of Pratham Education Foundation

Trained as an economist in India, Rukmini completed a BA at St Stephen’s College and attended Delhi School of Economics. She was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and later earned her Ph. D at the University of Chicago. She returned to India in 1996 and has been with Pratham ever since. Rukmini has extensive experience in the field - working directly with rural and urban communities as well as in designing and implementing large scale partnerships with governments. She led Pratham’s research and assessment efforts including the well-known ASER initiative (Annual Status of Education Report) from 2005 to 2014. Originally from Bihar, Rukmini now is based in Delhi. She enjoys telling and writing stories for children and loves being a grandmother.

Ex-IAS officer

A 1981-batch IAS officer, Mr. S. M. Vijayanand cleared his Civil Services examination securing seventh rank. During his 11 years as Secretary, Local Self-Government, Government of Kerala, Mr. Vijayanand pioneered the People’s Plan movement. Subsequently he has held many important positions in the Government of Kerala, including as the Director, Institute of Management in Government, and as Chairman, KILA.
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Ex-IAS officer

A 1981-batch IAS officer, Mr. S. M. Vijayanand cleared his Civil Services examination securing seventh rank. During his 11 years as Secretary, Local Self-Government, Government of Kerala, Mr. Vijayanand pioneered the People’s Plan movement. Subsequently he has held many important positions in the Government of Kerala, including as the Director, Institute of Management in Government, and as Chairman, KILA. He also conceptualised and operationalised 'Kudumbashree', the women's self-help group movement in Kerala. He became the Chief Secretary in 2016. Post retirement, he has also been active in the academic field as Visiting Professor in Gandhigram Rural University and Expert Faculty of National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (NIRD&PR), Hyderabad. Presently he is the Chairperson of the 6th Finance Commission of Kerala. A passionate crusader on the matter of democratic decentralisation and local self-governance, Mr Vijayanand is constantly pursuing the cause of Panchayats and Panchayati Raj in the country. Mr. Vijayanand lives in Thiruvananthapuram with his family.

PRADAN

Kirtti Bhusan Pani has been with PRADAN since 1997. He is a B.Tech in Agricultural Engineering from Orissa University of Agriculture & Technology, Bhubaneswar. He lives in Bhubaneswar with his family.

PRADAN

Tamali Kundu is a senior grassroots development professional with more than two decades of experience. She spearheaded the use of ICT for streamlining SHG financial management systems. In the past few years, she co-created several community process toolkits which are extensively used in capacity building programs for the marginalized. She is also a skilled trainer of Achievement Motivation and Entrepreneurship, Group Processes, Gender Equality, and Human Process Laboratories.

Tamali possesses a Master's degree in Bio-Physics from the University of Kalyani, West Bengal. She lives in Raipur, Chhattisgarh with her family.

PRADAN

Narendranath has been with PRADAN since 1989. He has served in many senior management positions, including leading the embedded cell with the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM). He received a degree in mechanical engineering from Kerala University and a PGDRM from the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA). He lives in New Delhi with his spouse and daughter.

Our Management Unit Members

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.

Narendranath joined PRADAN in 1989. He has a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Kerala University, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Rural Management from Institute of Rural Management, Anand. The work done by Narendranath in the late-80s paved the way for the emergence of the women’s Self-Help-Group movement. He has extensive experience of implementing large scale livelihood programs in central India. He had been involved in a number of research and documentation efforts to build knowledge. Later he set up the National Resource Centre for Rural Livelihoods that informed the design of the flagship programs such as DAY-NRLM and MGNREGA.

Smita started her career as Assistant Manager (HRD) with Orissa State Oilseeds Growers’ Federation Ltd, a semi-government organisation, in 1989. She joined PRADAN as Executive (HRD), in 1997 looking after its recruitment function. She has been part of PRADAN’s Management Unit since 2015 and has completed her three-year term as a staff member of the Governing Board of PRADAN in March 2019. She’s also part of the Steering Group of PRADAN’s effort of ‘Making PRADAN a better place to work for Women’. She’s a life member of the Institute for Group Facilitation (IGF) and an external member of Internal Complaints Committees (ICC) of Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT). She’s a Management graduate from Xavier Institute of Management (XIMB), Bhubaneswar and holds a Bachelors in Economics (Hons.)

Avijit is a Masters in Economics from Kalyani University, West Bengal. He joined PRADAN in 1997. He has extensive grassroots experience working with women Self Help Groups on Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM), agriculture, forest-based livelihoods and local governance. He has led action research partnerships with international organisations and pioneered new thematic areas in PRADAN like Adult Functional Literacy & Child protection, WATSAN and Nutrition. Currently he leads the Resource Mobilisation, Communications and Partnerships efforts of PRADAN. As Nutrition thematic anchor, he continues to build knowledge, internal human resource, competencies and evidence base for the work.

Yoganand joined PRADAN in 1994. Prior to PRADAN, he worked for 2 Years with Jharkhand Water Resource Department in capacity of a Consultant. He has extensive experience of promoting Livelihoods, TASAR Development, and Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM). In PRADAN, Yoganand successfully pioneered a pilot demonstration with ICRISAT for Pigeon pea (Arhar Daal) cultivation. He also has elaborate Project Management Experience. From 2015 onwards, he has been heading Finance, Accounts & Administration unit at PRADAN’s Corporate/Head Office (the unit comprises Procurement function as well). Additionally, he’s also a member of the Management Unit. He holds a bachelor’s degree in B. Tech. Civil Engineering and PGDM from IIM Ranchi.

Satyabrata, Integrator at PRADAN’s (Professional Assistance for Development Action) Development Engagement Support Unit, has over 30 years of experience in promoting farm-based livelihoods for smallholder farmers across seven states of India; and Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM). He pioneered the TASAR based livelihood activity in PRADAN and has substantial Pre and Post Cocoon stage experience. He holds a Master’s degree in Agriculture from Bidhan Chanda Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Kalyani, West Bengal. He heads the operations of PRADAN and member of the Management Unit. Periodically publishes articles in mainstream journals/magazines, etc.

Manas joined PRADAN in 1990 and led many projects on water resource development to improve the lives of poor tribal farmers in central India. He served as the Executive Director of PRADAN from 2012-2017. Currently, he provides thematic leadership on irrigation and natural resource management. He has made significant contributions to a number of research and evaluation projects on water in association with IWMI and others. He serves on the Board of a few non-profit organizations. He has done his Masters in Technology in Water Resources Development and Management from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and Bachelors in Civil engineering from National Institute of Technology, Rourkela.

Ajaya is a post-graduate in Hydraulics and Irrigation Engineering from Samabalpur University, Odisha. He is also a post graduate in Applied Psychology. He has more than 24 years of Experience in PRADAN. He has worked with communities in tribal areas of Jharkhand and Odisha (Gumla, Lohardaga and Kendujhar) in promoting women's self-help groups, agriculture based livelihoods, land and water development, smallholder poultry farming, and the required community organisations to support these activities, through direct engagement with the villagers and leading multi-disciplinary teams. His work required managing relevant projects, mentoring colleagues, building teams and engaging with stakeholders such as government departments, banks and donors. Since last 10 years he has been part of PRADAN's Human Resources Development unit, and involved in designing and conducting training, and developing systems and processes to facilitate learning and development of our colleagues, which also includes creating a conducive team climate. He is trained in facilitating groups and is a professional member of Institute for Group Facilitation.

He has been with PRADAN since 1997. He is a graduate in Agricultural Engineering from Orissa University of Agriculture & Technology, Bhubaneswar. He has pioneered the Agriculture Production Clusters with small and marginal farmers as an approach for livelihood enhancement of rural poor in India. He served in many senior management positions. Currently he is integrating PRADAN’s operation in South Odisha region, and also a member of Management Committee which oversees the overall management of PRADAN. He is also in the board of PRADAN.

He has been with PRADAN since 1997. He has received a degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s in Professional Studies from Cornell University, USA. He pioneered the lac rearing activity as a potential source of livelihood for rural communities. He has served in many leadership positions. Currently he integrates PRADAN’s operation in South Chottanagpur region in Jharkhand and also a member of Management Committee which oversees the overall management of PRADAN.

She is a senior grassroots development professional with more than two decades of experience. She spearheaded the use of ICT for streamlining SHG financial management systems. She has extensive experience in working with tribal women collectives around their livelihoods and gender aspects. In the past few years, she co-created several community process toolkits which are extensively used in capacity building programs for the marginalized. She is also a skilled trainer of Achievement Motivation and Entrepreneurship, Group Processes, Gender Equality, and Human Process Laboratories. Tamali possesses a Master's degree in Biophysics from the University of Kalyani, West Bengal.