Samarthan is a leading non-profit organization with significant presence in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. With a belief that a strong civil society is key to socio-economic development, Samarthan started out in the year 1995 as a support organization building capacities and networks of voluntary organizations working at the grassroots.
We began our work in the Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh, gradually spreading our intervention to other districts. Samarthan’s origin was concurrent to the implementation of 73rd Constitutional Amendment in the state. It gave us the distinct advantage of being a pioneer Civil Society Organisation to work on the issue of deepening democracy in the state. Over the years, we realized that underdevelopment could also be attributed, in large part, to poor governance which affects the implementation of development programmes. We believe that good governance is fundamental to sustained and equitable development and effective participation by all stakeholders, especially the marginalised ,socially excluded and disadvantaged groups, is in turn crucial for promoting good governance. Having gained confidence in our understanding of issues on the ground, we took up the task of strengthening governance by ensuring greater participation of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and by engaging in advocacy with the administration using evidence generated from our work at the grassroots.
We also promote and encourage involvement of local population in planning, execution and monitoring of development projects thereby challenging the mainstream “top-down” development model. In order to enhance public participation in local governance in rural and urban areas, Samarthan has developed vibrant and replicable models through capacity building of elected representatives and empowering Gram Sabha members. The areas of our intervention have ranged from education, employment and social security to water, sanitation and health.
While our work on governance has enhanced our credibility and eminence, we continue to strengthen our civil society partners through training and network building. Over the years, we have also emerged as a knowledge center, producing valuable action research on a range of development issues. Our regular and diverse publications testify to our domain expertise in the subjects of forest rights, gender, decentralization and transparency and accountability. We have harnessed the power of Information Technology for taking our capacity building and outreach efforts to the next level. We have been successfully running e-learning programmes on Social Audit and Decentralized Planning and have a significant presence in the social media.
Social justice is entrenched in our work as we maintain a focus on the deprived and marginalized sections of the society – the SC/ST, women, minorities, the disabled and the destitute. Samarthan proudly shares a healthy relationship with the government and our engagement with it is apolitical and issue-based.