Empowering villages in Rural India

by Seva Mandir
Seva Mandir provided water filters to villagers
Seva Mandir provided water filters to villagers

Dear Friend,

Seva Mandir works to build communities whose members are able to participate actively in the local decision-making which affects their daily lives. Fostering democratic participation in the affairs of the community is the foundation for all of Seva Mandir’s interventions in the region and is a key element of its success in supporting deprived rural communities.

The approach focuses on helping communi­ties in which all members can contribute to the process of designing solutions to local challenges. Once this forum is established, Seva Mandir helps the community to create a village fund, which is managed by a locally elected body.

Through these mechanisms, Seva Mandir encourages the communities in which it is working to take responsibility for, and own­ership of, projects which are implemented for the benefit of the entire community. This approach strengthens the community’s capacity for self-governance which is essential in order to improve daily living conditions and livelihoods on a sustainable basis.

Kaylo ka Guda village is one of Seva Mandir’s working areas. 80 families live in this village. Seva Mandir had started its programme here in the year 1979 with Adult Education Programme and after that Seva Mandir had started its various programmes with the help and participation of the community of the village. Village Institution Program is one of them.

A committee was formed in this village with the help of Seva Mandir and members were elected. After that a group meeting was organized by the committee. All the villagers had participated in the meeting. They discussed about the challenges and problems of the village, and finally come to the conclusion that getting clean drinking water is the main problem of the village.

Previously, villagers used to get drinking water from a common community well, but 4 years back that well had collapsed. So, the villagers specially women faced huge problem in getting water for their families. Everyday they had to walk half a kilometer to get drinking water for their families from a hand pump, but that hand pump was also not working properly.

Keeping this problem in mind the village committee had decided to take the matter to Seva Mandir. The committee had given a proposal to Seva Mandir, they proposed to fix the collapsed well and also to construct a water tank. They also mentioned in the proposal that the villagers will help in doing some labour work and they will also contribute a small amount.

Seva Mandir had immediately started working on this proposal. Renovation and deepening of well was done. Secondly, a water tank was also constructed for the villagers and a motor was also installed near the tank to fill water in the tank.

The committee had also assigned responsibilities to the people of the village, who will take care of the well and water tank.

Today, the villagers are happy that one of their major problem is solved and now they don’t have to walk far to get clean drinking water. Seva Mandir had also provided water filters to all the families of the village.

Thank you so much for all your support to our ‘Empowering villages in Rural India’ project. With your support Seva Mandir has been successful in creating many such communities in the tribal villages of southern Rajasthan, who are now able to stand for their common rights for the benefit of the 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 the Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir

Common community well during renovation
Common community well during renovation


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.



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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
$6,867 raised of $50,000 goal
89 donations
$43,133 to go
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