Empowering villages in Rural India

by Seva Mandir

Wishing you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Thank you for your support to our project ‘Empowering villages in Rural India’.

With your support we began a new year and are excited about the hopes and surprises it will bring. YOUR support is bringing real changes in the lives of villagers in southern Rajasthan.

With your support last year 723 groups were formed with 64,799 members through our Village Institutions Programme. 577 Village Development Committees were also formed. We are able to make this progress only because of the support from YOU.

We request you to sign up to a monthly donation by clicking on recurring donation of an amount that you want to give and help us to make sustainable progress in coming year.

We look forward to your continued support. Please do consider visiting Seva Mandir when possible. Once again, wish you a very Happy New Year to you and your family. 

Best wishes,

Atul Lekhra & Seva Mandir Team 

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir


Seva Mandir is mainly working among the tribal population located in the southern districts of Rajasthan, namely Udaipur and Rajsamand. The Village Institutions Program (VIP) of Seva Mandir aims to create and nurture alternative and autonomous platforms through which communities can take responsibility for their own development; they can solve their issues with their own effort. The structure created on the basis of these principles, seeks to organize the members of the community as the general body of the villagers called the Village Group or Gram Samuh, which is the primary platform for discussion and decision making. The groups are led by democratically elected committees known as the Village Development Committees or Gram Vikas Committees (GVC). Each village also maintains a common village fund called a Gram Vikas Kosh (GVK). Each block is divided into several zones, every zone has one zonal federation committee where their representatives are mainly belong to the existing GVC in the zone.

The zonal federation committee of Magwas and Brahmano ka Kherwara zone have taken important steps, with the help of Seva Mandir, to curb extravagant expenditure on death feast and liquor consumption during a tribal festival called Gavri. Gavri festival is celebrated during monsoon season, where people follow simple lifestyle, they don’t eat spicy and non-vegetarian food, and their consumption of alcohol is prohibited. They lead a lifestyle of austerity for one and half months and when the festival is nearing to end, the community usually celebrate by distributing sweets and clothes. Also men and women consume liquor in high amount. This sudden and high intake of liquor among the community leads to the conflict and tension among the different groups of the community, it sometimes even results in death of the community member. It has repercussions on family members where the probability of gender violence becomes high. Another occasion where people spend large part of their savings is death feast. The aggrieved family invite a large number of people for the dinner.

Virmal from Magwas Zonal federation and Kishan from BKK Zonal federation have taken initiative to check these old practices. With the help of Seva Mandir, both of them called the meeting of the committee members from their respective zones where they proposed that they need to campaign against these old practices where expenses become so high that it puts burden on family’s economy. Both zonal federations contributed the total amount of Rs.5,000 ($75 approx.) from the village fund for campaigning against these old practices. They formed a group of 10 people and visited 8 villages of the two zones and conducted group meeting where they briefed villagers about the consequences of high expenses involved in death feast and Gavri celebration. They also met the head of the village and other members where their efforts were appreciated.

Seva Mandir immediately could not convince community people to cut down their expenses on feasts and consumption of alcohol as it is a part of their custom and it takes time to bring any change in religious and traditional practices. But we saw community considering our suggestion and therefore some positive change can be observed in terms of changing attitude and behaviour of the people towards these old social practices; for example in BKK, the members of the committee of Talai have unanimously accepted that they will monitor the high expenditure involved in death feast. The larger positive impact is yet to take place, as it takes time to change people’s attitude and behaviour.

We thank you for your generous donation and wish you and your family a very HAPPY DIWALI.


Atul Lekhra and Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir 


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  



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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
$7,147 raised of $50,000 goal
94 donations
$42,853 to go
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