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.

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 is an Integrator in PRADAN, co-leading its development cluster operations in Chhattisgarh, in addition to being a part of the Management Unit of PRADAN. She hails from Kolkata and has a Master’s degree in Bio-Physics.

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.