History

Seva Mandir is a non-profit organisation based in Udaipur, southern Rajasthan, India. Conceived in the 1930s, the organisation was founded in 1968 by Dr Mohan Singh Mehta, who had been a distinguished Ambassador, administrator and educationalist. Initially, Seva Mandir's work focused on adult education, with the aim of equipping the rural, predominantly tribal citizens of this area with the skills that would enable them to become active agents of their own development. The focus was on preparing leaders to work on development issues in partnership with the government, and many individuals went on to work in bodies such as the panchayats.

Over the years, however, it became clear that this work was not contributing enough to bringing change on the ground due to fragmentation, different frictions and a lack of vision for collective development. Collective leadership built on inclusive and participatory processes was needed to address the challenges. Seva Mandir responded by diversifying its repertoire of activities and became engaged in natural resource development and women's empowerment work.

In subsequent decades, this has expanded to include a wide range of activities: primary education, health, early childhood care and development, all implemented by means of our engagement with the community institutions which form the bedrock of all Seva Mandir's

work, and within a framework based on the Gandhian notion of constructive work. (See Sustainable Development)

In recent years, Seva Mandir has begun extending its approach to development beyond rural areas to include both peri-urban townships and urban slums. Although these areas have distinct social, political and economic realities, the underlying principles that characterise Seva Mandir's work are still of great relevance in bringing about positive social change.

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