About the theme

There’s an absence of leadership opportunities, especially for marginalised communities, in the development sector. Of the 250 Indian NGOs surveyed, 97 per cent felt that leadership development is critical to organisational success. However, there is inadequate investment in meeting this need.

Concurrently, the space for civil society engagement in processes influencing policy have been shrinking. Over 24,000 NGOs have lost their FCRA registration in the last four years. In order to address this situation, the Tata Trusts have supported fellowships to build leadership in marginalised communities, which has the additional benefit of addressing inclusion as well. Through CORO, the implementation partner, the Trusts launched a Leadership Development Programme especially tapping marginalised communities for potential leaders.

Key impact

  • The Trusts have supported a total of 448 Fellows who work in the low Human Development Index (HDI) regions with some of the most marginalised communities including Dalits, particularly vulnerable tribal groups, manual scavengers and single women. About 70 per cent of all Fellows supported by the Trusts, have established their own organisations.
  • Over 1,000 grassroots leaders have been fostered by the Trusts, impacting 1.6million people in marginalised communities.
  • Fellows from the Dalit Foundation led a protest by 276 families engaged in manual scavenging in the villages of Jalaun district, Uttar Pradesh, which led to promises of action from the office of the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Ministry of Human Resources Development and the National Commission of Safai Karmacharis.
  • An intervention by the Fellows of the Dalit Foundation on the issue of displacement of safai karmachari families at Nakhighat slum at Varanasi resulted in an enquiry commission, with complaints sent to central government authorities and human rights commissions.

For the future

Looking ahead, the Trusts plan to:
  • Organise a convention of existing Fellows
  • Develop best practices/case studies/media stories/policy briefs
  • Develop and implement a plan for new fellowships

Partner Organisations: AF Trust, Ashoka Innovators, Bharat Ratna Ambedkar University, CORO, Dalit Foundation, IRMA, Mitra Technology

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