Empowering villages in Rural India

by Seva Mandir
Ambavi receiving award for her outstanding efforts
Ambavi receiving award for her outstanding efforts

Dear Friend,

The village development institutions created by Seva Mandir have worked tirelessly over the years for development of natural resources. One of these efforts has been development of common pasturelands in the village. Ambavi of Badanga village in southern Rajasthan has done significant work in development and protection of pastureland in her village.

Ambavi, a member of Badanga Village Development Committee, who has crossed almost half a century of her life, was born in a poor tribal family in the economically backward village of Gail. Due to impoverished financial condition and marriage at a very early age, Ambavi was not able to attend school. After few days of her marriage, Ambavi’s husband fell ill and was paralyzed due to which the responsibility of nurturing the family fell on Ambavi tender shoulders. Before marriage, Ambavi was associated with the income generation training program in her maiden village which was started by Seva Mandir as part of a program for empowering women financially. During her association with income generation program, she was exposed to a wide range of knowledge and information which bolstered her confidence. When Seva Mandir started pastureland development program, Ambavi got associated with the program. Activities like plantation, boundary wall construction, soil and water treatment activities, groundwater conservation activities were undertaken in which Ambavi played a significant role in uniting the villagers and create a common asset for the village. As result of Ambavi’s efforts and vision, soon the villagers started getting fodder and firewood in adequate quantity from the developed pasturelands. Now her village is self sufficient and don’t have to buy fodder for cattle from outside.

In the year 2013, the pastureland was encroached upon by two influential families in the village. Under Ambavi’s leadership, the Village Development Committee invited these two families for discussions multiple times but they refused. Ambavi mobilized the women of the village to put social pressure on the two families. After repeated efforts when the encroachers refused to vacate the land, Ambavi mobilized the villagers to break the boundary wall built by the encroachers inside the pastureland area and motivated the villagers to voluntarily participate in the restoration of the pastureland.

Ambavi, a marginalized tribal villager herself, despite her own problems, has not bowed down to pressure and instead chose to face the challenges head on. She had no formal education and learnt to read and write from the village children. She works as a cook in a household and with her meager income takes care of her family. The struggle of Ambavi for protection of environment has set an example for others in the community. She is the perfect example of advocacy and collective strength of action and decision making by the Village Development Committees for better management of common property resources in the village.

With your support Seva Mandir has been successful in creating many such grass root leaders in the tribal communities who are able to stand for the common rights for the benefit of community.

We would love to hear your feedback and comments on our program. Please do reach out to us at atul.lekhra@sevamandir.org

Thank you


Atul Lekhra and Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on: www.facebook.com/sevamandir


Dear Friend,

The Village Institutions Programme of Seva Mandir aims to create and nurture alternative and autonomous platforms through which citizens can become responsible for their own development. These autonomous platforms are called Village Development Committees.

The Village Development Committee of Peepad village in Kherwara block had made a successful proposal under MGNREGA (a government scheme) for pastureland development with Seva Mandir as implementing agency. The owner of a mine had encroachments on the site and had started mining, despite protests from the people. After a meeting attended by most members of the village, it was decided that action would be taken against the mine owner. Villagers blocked the road and did not allow laborers and vehicles for the mine to enter the village. Simultaneously, villagers had various discussions with the Village Governing Body, Rajasthan State Mining and Minerals Ltd., Block Development Officer and the Forest Department, and received confirmation at all levels that mining was illegal in the area. A meeting was then held at Peepad village to which the mine owner was invited. Although initially reluctant, he came after the villagers pressurized him. In the ensuing discussions, he was persuaded to give up his encroachment. In order to prevent further encroachment and develop the pastureland for fodder, the village, with the help of Seva Mandir, has carried out wall repairs and plantation work, and the plantation is secure thanks to the villagers' efforts.

It takes me great pleasure in telling that such institutions were created by your support. Thank you so much for your generous contributions which can make such self governance possible in hundreds of villages in Southern Rajasthan.


Atul Lekhra and Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir  



Seva Mandir believes in the Gandhian principle of strengthening the rural communities. We often say god help those who help themselves and this is what the Village Development committee practices.

Your support has helped us built and strengthens such institutions within the rural setup. One such example is of the Village Development Committee of Dhaulighati which has over the period of time able to eliminate encroachers into the forest land and have also safe guarded their pasture land.

With the money you have contributed, we have been able to have trainings and awareness campaigns of numerous villages to reinforce the believe of togetherness. We look forward to your support and motivation to work together.

Wondering how you can help us?

Global Giving is having its little by little match making challenge from the dawn of 26th October 2015.  Every contribution made by you exceeding £50 will be partly matched by Global Giving Family and together the amount will go to for the cause.

We look forward to your benevolent gesture in making a dream come true.  For any query, feel free to write to me at atul.lekhra@sevamandir.org


Atul Lekhra


A distance of 10 Kilometers being completed in two hours; One bus in a day connecting the village to the nearest town; roads full of potholes yet to be constructed; river flowing above the surface of the road – A few glimpse of what Seva Mandir’s work area looks like. It is in villages like these where Seva Mandir is trying to create self reliant communities.  

I would say that if the village perishes India will perish too. India will be no more India. India Lives in her Seven Hundred Thousand Villages” - Mahatma Gandhi

While the sayings of Gandhi ji is till today discussed and deliberated upon, we at Seva Mandir believe that self governance can bring about tangible solutions to the problems that the people face every day. To enable self governance, Seva Mandir has developed Village Development Institutions and Village Development funds which solves out the various issues that surfaces each day.

Recently, the pasture lands of the remote hamlet of Badanga were encroached upon by people who practicing illegal mining. This affected the common property resources and the feeds of the cattle were threatened. At once, Village Development Committee met and made sure that the boundaries of the pasture land are re enacted and the activities of the miners are stopped at once.

It takes me great pleasure in telling that such institutions were created by your support. However, we are still in need of generous contributions which can make such self governance possible in hundreds of villages in Southern Rajasthan.

Wondering how can you help us? 

Global Giving has come up with this innovative idea of matching donations. From Monday, September 21st through Friday, September 25th, Global Giving will be offering a one-time 100% match on all new recurring donations up to $200 per donor!

So grab the opportunity, be a recurring donor and help us through your contributions. For queries, questions and insights on our work you can reach out to me at atul.lekhra@sevamandir.org

We thank you from the bottom of our heart for joining hands with us. Also we look forward for your continued support in strengthening the roots of India, its villages.


Meeting of villagers for pasture land development
Meeting of villagers for pasture land development

The village institution of Chiria decided that pastureland is very important for the community and needs to be given the top priority. Post initial engagements it was found that a group of villagers has nefarious plan of grabbing the land and therefore, obstructing the course of action.

After tireless efforts of the residents, people gathered under the leadership of Ransa Mukhi, a village elder and decided to start land development work in November. The work started after that.

 However, due to fear mongering of opposing group, only 6 people turned up for work for a fortnight. At the end of the fortnight, people gathered under the encouragement from Ransa Mukhi and decided to resume the work.

Villagers were motivated through personal house visits. As the result of these activities, now there about 55 workers toiling on the site. Ransa Mukhi was not able to do physical work due to his old age but he kept on encouraging. Pastureland work has led to the membership of 16 households and added Rs. 11,411 to the coffers of Village Development Committee.

At present, there are 632 Village development committees working relentlessly to address the issues at a grass root level. This would not have been possible without your faith in us.

I would take this opportunity to share with you that Bonus day is round the corner on 16th September from 9 AM EDT.  The donations made on bonus day will be matched up to 30%. That means we would be able to expand further and hence would appeal to you to support us on 16th September.

We would love to hear from you on your side of thoughts and to know why you would be interested to be associated with our cause of empowering the villages. Please do reach out to me at atul.lekhra@sevamandir.org

Thank you for joining hands with us! I am sure we can really make a difference in these children’s lives by providing them a bright future through quality education.

Warm Regards,

 Atul Lekhra



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Organization Information

Seva Mandir

Location: Udaipur, Rajasthan - India
Website: http:/​/​www.sevamandir.org
Project Leader:
Priyanka Singh
Executive Director
Udaipur, Rajasthan India
$6,762 raised of $50,000 goal
86 donations
$43,238 to go
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