I have found IRRAD to be very proactive and introducing new concepts in Sustainable Development in Indian villages. Their emphasis on training, policy and research and development to improve Rural India is commendable. IRRAD is practicing what they preach by applying for LEED Platinum for their building in Gurgaon. I wish the very best to IRRAD in their work in India.
I have been working with Sehgal Foundation since it started working in Mewat area of Haryana. In the year 2003 when I was approached by Sehgal Foundation for the first time for the training of functionaries, I thought it is like any other voluntary organization working for literacy in Mewat. But later on while working with them I realized that it is a NGO with lot of difference. The main outstanding features I observed are: â€¢ It is working in a very difficult area where literacy rate is much below national average, especially for women, who belong to minority community, are deprived and unreached. â€¢ IRRAD first built strong rapport, identified need in collaboration with the community and then started working with the people. This is the reason of their tremendous success as people have accepted them. Otherwise it was not easy to work in such backward area where so many agencies have been unsuccessful as people are always suspicious of any type of development work. â€¢ It’s approach is holistic. â€¢ It does not provide any facility free of cost. Community has to share its cost. This has been a great achievement as this attitude has helped in developing ownership leading to sustenance of development activities taken by the Foundation in collaboration with the people. â€¢ Instead of duplicating the work of the government it works with it and supports it’s projects and activities. Due to this attitude there is no conflict or resistance, duplication or loss of resources. Moreover, Sehgal Foundation supports the local NGOs and vice versa. I have been visiting the project areas (Villages) of the Foundation since it started working there. I observe marked difference there. Now children are cleaner and healthier, women are more confident and vocal. They have started raising questions and their thinking has become more scientific. They are trying to be economically independent. Villages are cleaner. Nearly every house has latrine facility. Drains and roads are cleaner and lighted with solar lamps and most important villages have its own check dams which is source of life in such dry area.
As a student in educational sciences I did my internship at the IRRAD. It was an inspiring time. I had the chance to work together with people who have experience in empowering inhabitants of villages that have few amount of resources. The relationship between the IRRAD and the people in rural areas is emancipatory in a way that it creates space and time for people to be able to take care of themselves. I noticed a great sense of responsibility within the villagers. The programs that IRRAD undertakes, in combination with remote areas they work in, are a unique perspective in development of education in rural areas. It takes educational research back to a matter of physical health and self-sustainability, and thus, survival.
My experience with IRRAD has been one of constant learning and appreciation of the tremendous amount of grassroots work that they have accomplished in the Mewat province of rural Haryana. I have interacted with their trustees and staff on a regular basis over the last couple of years. I have also gone on a field trip to their sites in Mewat, Haryana and spent several days with their staff in Gurgaon near Delhi. IRRAD is one of the most highly organized and profesionally managed non-profit organization serving the rural development community in India.
I got introduced to IRRAD almost three years back, and got involved with them as a print vendor about 6 months back. I had known IRRAD for their dedicated and focused approach towards rural development, while supporting them as an external vendor I also realised their extremely honest and transparent way of functioning. Amongst the pool of corporates clients I am happy to serve this NGO who shines in my portfolio.
The Institute for Rural Research and Development (IRRAD) is an initiative of the Sehgal Foundation, set up to empower rural India. IRRAD’s headquarters are located in Gurgaon, probably the most advanced high tech suburb of India’s capital Delhi. IRRAD just opened its new LEED certified building. This light and air filled workspace, literally constructed using every piece of dirt excavated at the building site, w/o any unsustainable wood, without aluminum, self powered by huge solar panels and rainwater harvesting, puts most buildings in the US to shame. From here a professional and dedicated staff branches out to improve the livelihoods of India’s rural poor. IRRAD’s work rests on three pillars: Capacity building for water management, income enhancement, life skills education, rural health programs and implementation of alternative energy; research, and policy support. IRRAD follows a bottom-up approach, coordinating all efforts based on the needs expressed by local villagers. Though based in the capital, the organization has not to go very far: Only a couple of dozen miles outside Gurgaon, in fact, in the same state, lie some of the most disenfranchised districts of India. Walking through some of the example villages IRRAD has worked with, makes one realize how grateful the villagers are for the excellent work the foundation has established. The initiative is so successful that more and more village leaders from the surrounding areas come to visit the training centers of IRRAD to learn about the possibilities to improve the lives of their own communities. I have been working and interacting with organizations in three dozen countries on four continents, and to me IRRAD is without doubt the best example on how sustainable, participatory development should be done.
I am inspired by IRRAD for a number of reasons. NGO movement of 20th century has done immense good by contributing where government has failed or is not in a position to help the needy or private enterprises are not interested. In developed world NGO movement is often motivated by altruistic ideals. But in developing world like India, NGO movement has provided another venue to earn a livelihood. In fact most NGOs are more interested just like profit oriented corporations to grow big and to collect more funds rather than achieving the mission of starting NGOs in the first place. But IRRD stands for different ideals. They are not interested in growing big. In fact they would rather close down if their mission is accomplished. The supporters of IRRD spend more money in supporting other NGOs and causes than their own creation. They look for ways to go after their mission than worrying about growing big. IRRD is more like a catalyst to help other NGOs to achieve their objectives. Any serious student of NGO movement will not fail to observe this great attribute of IRRD. While most NGOs look to the government to secure help, IIRD looks forward to help the government. They never hesitate to work with the government and provide multiplier impact to the government projects. IRRD believes not just in providing "band aid" type of help. They want to bring about "Systemic Changes" in dysfunctional political-economic system of India by fully absorbing the ideal of "it is better to teach how to fish rather than to give fish". IRRD is interested in developing and implementing a movement to fight corruption and not just talk about that deadly virus which has infected Indian body politic. I wish all the best to IRRD.