Building Self Reliant Rural Communities in India

May 7, 2014

Success Story of Malpur Village... Thank You

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Seva Mandir.

Today I would like to share with you the story of Malpur village where a veterinary hospital was constructed with the help of our village development committee.

The construction of Malpur’s Veterinary hospital:

In Malpur village of Jhadol block, a building for veterinary hospital was approved with the objective of becoming central cattle treatment point for other 4 neighboring villages. The problem started when the Panchayat (Village government body), Sarpanch (Head of the village) and Secretary for these 5 villages took the decision to build the veterinary hospital in Chandwas village instead of in Malpur because of political reasons, as the people were supporters of a different political party. Despite the opposition of the people in Malpur, the veterinary hospital building started to be constructed in Chandwas.

This matter was raised initially at GVC (Village Development Committee) level and was taken to the village meeting. The GVC members along with the villagers went to the panchayat and government officials and placed a complaint application, however, no action was taken and negligence persisted. The GVC and its secretary Nanalal decided to go to the District Collector, to stop the construction work in Chandwas village. After that the panchayat was made liable to pay the amount of the total costs of the construction undertaken so far.

The constant efforts of the GVC in mobilizing the people of the whole village and providing guidance and support to the people of Malpur village contributed ultimately, to have the veterinary hospital being constructed in the right place, in their village. The GVC played a pivotal role in mobilizing the people of Malpur village to fight for their right, for the construction of the veterinary hospital in their village.

In Malpur, the GVC was formed 10 years ago and numerous projects were conducted to improve the village conditions. The GVK (Village Development Fund) has been used for different purposes, such as the construction of a community centre for the villagers, the opening of a Non-formal Education centre (NFE) for children between 6-14 years old, the deepening of water well for the villagers, the supply of good quality seeds, tree plantations (such as goose berries) in the village which helped to generate income between Rs. 40,000-45,000 on a yearly basis. The GVC has also been instrumental in raising the awareness of people on the different government schemes such as widow pension, CM Indira Awas Yojana and MNREGA labour work.

Due to the efforts of the GVC, the village community has become stronger in the last decade and this has overall, enhanced the unity and cooperation among villagers, which now are also more aware of their rights and duties.

Thank you for your support.


Atul Lekhra


Feb 5, 2014

Your Help is Changing Lives

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Seva Mandir

Today I want to share with you two cases. These two cases show the efforts of Seva Mandir in bringing the change in so many lives.


The initiative of GVC (Village Development Committee) against corruption: Kaucha

Kaucha is situated in the Kotra block. Pastureland work is ongoing in Kaucha under MGNREGA (a government scheme). On the first fortnight of May, 22 laborers’ names—12 women and 10 men—were enlisted in the muster rolls for pit digging activity. After completion of the fortnight the measurement was taken by the engineer but the wage rate came to only Rs. 75 per day, which is much less than the stipulated minimum wage. Each laborer’s payment came to Rs. 750. The postmaster of the local post office was authorized to pay the laborers their wage. He gave each laborer Rs. 700 and kept Rs. 50 for himself as his own commission. The postmaster had no right taking a Rs. 50 commission from each laborer’s wage.

When the GVC (Village Development Committee) heard of the matter, they approached Seva Mandir’s Zonal Worker. Together with the Zonal Worker, the GVC leaders approached the postmaster who in the beginning denied having siphoned off Rs. 50 from each labor. Subsequently, the Zonal worker as well as the GVC leaders informed the post master that they would have to take up with matter to higher officials. It was in this instance that the postmaster, perhaps out of fear as well as guilt, owned up to his mistake and returned Rs. 50 to each of the laborers. The laborers were very thankful to the GVC and as a token of their gratitude and as way to reinforce their faith in the institution, decided to contribute Rs. 50 to their village development fund.



Struggle of Gram Samuh (village group) for legal rights: Peepad Village

Village Development Group, Peepad gave proposal for pastureland development by Seva Mandir as an implementing agency in MGNREGA (a government scheme). The work was sanctioned and Seva Mandir became the implementing agency. Previously Village Panchayat (a local government body) and Forest department had done the work of plantation and wall construction on the site. But a mines owner encroached upon the pastureland and started mining activities there. Village people told him to remove the encroachment but he adamantly told denied doing so and started throwing debris in pastureland.

A big meeting held at village in which all people from village participated and they decided to fight with the mines owner. Villagers blocked the road and did not allow labour and vehicle of mining person to enter the village. Simultaneously, villagers had various level of talks with Gram Panchayat, Patwari, Rajasthan State Mining and Minerals Ltd., BDO and Forest department and got clearance at all levels that mining in that area is totally illegal. Then again a big meeting was held at Peepad village and this time they invited mines owner for talk. First he refused to come in the meeting but later attended it when villagers warned to be ready for next action.

Villagers had talk with mines owner and told him to remove encroachment from pastureland which he finally agreed and removed the encroachment from village pastureland.

Presently, wall repairing and plantation work has been done by Seva Mandir. Now pastureland is totally secure and 2 people from village, guard the pastureland and they get paid through villagers’ contribution.


Thank you so much for supporting this program. With your support these communities are raising concerns and dealing with social problems.

We are grateful for your donation and hope to receive a continuous support from you in the future too.

Warm Regards

Atul Lekhra


Nov 6, 2013

Your Contribution Strengthen Women Confidence

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Seva Mandir.

 Today I thought of sharing with you the story of how in the village of Kaloda, the sense of community fostered with the help of Seva Mandir support.

Kaloda village comprises mix caste population. Villagers are in contact with Seva Mandir since last one year and they have proposed Pastureland Development work in village meeting, making Seva Mandir as the implementing agency.

Seva Mandir started the work of pastureland development as an implementing agency under MGNREGA (a government program). Initially there were many encroachments of local villagers in pastureland site so the village group (with the help of Seva Mandir) had several meetings and got the encroachments removed after many efforts. After 2 weeks some villagers again encroached on some part of pastureland. This time village women came forward and fought with the encroachers. The womenfolk of the village not only removed the encroachment but also they got completed MGNREGA work (application, wall construction, plantation etc.) on time with quality. Maximum labour on MGNREGA work on this site were women only.

It was women’s effort that they removed encroachments and completed the pastureland work. Women asked Seva Mandir to start women saving group in their village. On their request, Village Development Group was formed in Kaloda village with a current membership of 85 households. Committee elections will be held in the village once the membership is complete. Through the efforts made by women, the pastureland is now safe and one person from village has been appointed by villagers to guard it. 

As you can see, this has been an incredibly success for the villagers. Every donation helps Seva Mandir provide training and workshops so that these communities can learn how to effectively manage their own development. With your help, these communities are not simply passive recipients of aid; they are taking matters into their own hands.

Thank you so much for your help and support.


Atul Lekhra 


Aug 7, 2013

You helped Laxmi revive her traditional pottery business

Confident Laxmi Bai
Confident Laxmi Bai

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Seva Mandir!

Hope you are well. I would like to introduce myself to you. I am Atul Lekhra. I have joined Seva Mandir early this year and I will now be communicating with you through these project reports. I am glad to be a part of this program and look forward to talking to you about all these wonderful projects you are supporting.

Today I want to share with you a story of Laxmi Bai from Shishvi village.

Shishvi village, situated in the Girwa block, hosts 300 families that are from a multi-caste origin. Seva Mandir has set up a village development fund in the village many years ago. People elect a village development committee, which facilitates the fund and development issues in the village. The interest of the fund is used for different purposes: pastureland, well-deepening, toilets construction and to providing loans to women who are members of Self Help Group (SHG). Laxmi is one such SHG member.

She invested Rs. 10,000 in her traditional family business – pottery. Previously she did not have a regular source of income. She was involved in household work and sometimes had the opportunity to work as laborer in MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act - a Government employment scheme). She always wanted to revive her traditional business but did not have enough money and courage to do so.

When she saw the possibility of taking a bit of credit from her SHG, she spoke to her father in law and explored if they could re-establish the family business which was lost due to lack of funds. Laxmi therefore, took the loan of Rs. 10,000.  She began her partnership with her father in law to make pots. They bought mud and repaired their wheel to start producing clay art. Later, Seva Mandir organized training on producing different types of articles with clay.

Laxmi said “since now in the market people have access to all modern clay art, if we kept producing the traditional pitchers, we only would make business during weddings. Today the customer wants to buy different kinds of items for decoration and household use. The training therefore was timely. We now also have bought an ‘electric wheel’. Now we make an average of Rs. 2,000 per month. Now I don’t have to go for labor work. I can stay home and make an income to lead a dignified life”.

The SHGs have not only given women economic strength, it has also empowered them socially by bringing them together to discuss their socio-development concerns. These women are active in resolving issues such as doctor not showing up in the clinic, what is the minimum wage in government schemes etc. They contact Seva Mandir staff if they have further questions or seek advice how to go about resolving a particular issue. To these women, Seva Mandir is a key partner to foster development in their village Shishvi.

The success of these women is also largely due to your support. We value our partnership with you and hope that some day you will be able to visit some of these strong women like Laxmi in our work area.

Thank you again for your support.

Atul Lekhra.


May 9, 2013

Annual Report: Thank you for helping us reach over 700 villages!

Villagers begin a project with a ritual
Villagers begin a project with a ritual

Dear Friends,

As Seva Mandir has now helped establish over 700 village groups, this is an historical year for us. We thank you dearly for helping us get this far, and hope you will remain by our side as we continue to grow. Below is an update on our Village Institution Program, and the progress we have made in the past year (April 2012 - March 2013).

The Village Institution Program of Seva Mandir aims to create and nurture alternative and autonomous platforms through which the communities can take responsibility for their own development. The need for this program arose as a result of the limited capacity of panchayats (the most local level of the formal government) to effectively respond to community needs, fragmentation of communities over a wide variety of issues, and the lack of a developmental outlook at the village level. This program intends to create an atmosphere where the positive forces of cooperation, transparency, equity, justice, and responsible autonomy within the community can help in leading towards an overall development of their villages.

The Village Institutions Program has three components:

  1. Samuh (the general body of villager-members of the village institution)
  2. Gram Vikas Kosh (GVK or Village Development Fund, built up through community contributions and with support from Seva Mandir, and used to fund local development interventions)
  3. Gram Vikas Committee (GVC or elected Village Development Committee, responsible for leading the local development process)

In brief, here are some of the main highlights from this year:

  • 35 new village groups have been formed this year, bringing our total to 704. These groups are the prerequisites to the formation of the GVK/GKC.
  • The total membership of villagers to this program has increased by 2,181. There are now nearly 58,000 people a part of our program!
  • The total number of GVKs (village funds) stands at 618. Eight communities have withdrawn their funds this year.
  • The total amount of money held by the GVKs has increased by Rs. 2,920,710 ($54,087), at a grand total of $780,644.
  • 13 new GVCs have formed to effectively govern their community funds. The total number of GVCs is 532.
  • 13 GVCs have received management and accounting training this year, bringing the total to 525.
  • Female membership of GVCs has increased by 200.
  • 63 GVCs are now operating with 100% autonomy, without any Seva Mandir support.

As you can see, this has been an incredibly successful year for the program. Every donation helps Seva Mandir provide training and workshops so that these communities can learn how to effectively manage their own development. With your help, these communities are not simply passive recipients of aid; they are taking matters into their own hands.

With regards,



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Seva Mandir

Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

Project Leader

Priyanka Singh

Executive Director
Udaipur, Rajasthan India

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Map of Building Self Reliant Rural Communities in India