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Anatomy of Voluntarism: The Case of Madhya Pradesh

By Kaval Gulhati and Ravi Gulhati

Slow progress in socio-economic change in the large and backward north Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is a signal for a new look at the old Gandhian model of self-help through voluntary action. The book maps the voluntary sector across the state. It analyses the content of voluntary work in this context, and is based on questionnaires and interviews in four districts. The focus is on organizations working in the fields of education, women’s development, health and family planning. In the attempt to redefine the role of the state in recent years, Panchayati Raj has been reinvigorated but not much attention given to the role of voluntary organizations.

Madhya Pradesh has moved ahead purposefully with Panchayati Raj and with the recognition of its low level of human development, but moves to develop the nonprofit voluntary sector have stalled. The preference for a top-down model of development by many officials and the dependency syndrome of voluntary organizations impairs the effectiveness of the voluntary sector. This book is a clarion call for help in building the capacity of the voluntary sector in Madhya Pradesh. The vision presented by the authors is of village based intermediary organizations with the capacity to train grassroots groups. This strategy requires a major reconceptualisation of mandates and significant support from principal stakeholders, such as the government, multi-lateral and bilateral agencies and foundations.

The multi-diciplinary research team for this book was led by Ravi and Kaval Gulhati. Ravi Gulhati, an economist, had a Prabhakar in Hindi and MA in Economics from Delhi University. A former head of the World Bank’s Development Economics Department in Washington D.C., he had worked in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.