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About Us

GRASP envisions "Empowered communities managing and governing their natural resources in a scientific and environment friendly manner."

GRASP work towards the mission of :
"Holistic development of men and women in stress prone ecoologies through community action, capacity building, institution development, networking, policy advocacy and action oriented research."

GRASP, in pursuit of its mission, has initiated the following programmes for poverty eradication and vulnerability reduction in sustainable and environment friendly manner:

Community Action Programmes (CAP) as basis of community empowerment for holistic development of the area and the community using scientific and inclusive approach to management of natural resources and climate change adaptation.

Development Support Programme (DSP) to strengthen grassroots action by helping organisations to build skills and capabilities to handle intricacies of development processes. DSP anchors the philosophy of promoting and strengthening locally based organisations to focus on scientific management of natural resources, climate change adptation, rural livelihoods, women's empowerment, micro-finance, education and health in the rural hinterland.

Both CAP and DSP interventions are driven by a strong participatory outlook for climate change adaptation, regeneration of land and water resources to enhance the quality of life of the rural poor. Participatory planning and action methodology, developed and constantly modified by GRASP, is adapted to various situations as an integral part of these interventions. It resulted in large-scale replication of the watershed approach by newly promoted voluntary organisations (VOs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs).

GRASP boasts about its Team for Research, Evaluation and Development (TREAD) to facilitate research, networking and evidence based advocacy for influencing policy in community based natural resources management (CBNRM), water, sanitation and rural livelihoods.

Strengthening the spirit of competitive collaboration among local developmental organisations for the benefit of the society, GRASP promoted a network, Guild for Regional Associates for Community Empowerment (GRACE), which is active since 1999.

GRASP works under overall guidance of Governing Board, which is the executive arm of General Body, comprising professionals from various disciplines. The operational team, headed by the Chief Executive Officer, has competencies and rich experience of various aspects of rural development and community empowerment. They are guided by a strong group of patrons and advisors active in various domains of social life.

  • • Strengthening rural livelihoods
  • • Climate change adaptation and watershed development
  • • Environmental sanitation and drinking water
  • • Empowerment of rural women and adolescent girls, including gender and technology
  • • Capacity building and institutional strengthening of local VOs, CBOs and other development organisations
  • • Action oriented research and policy advocacy
  • • Networking with VOs, Government, resource agencies, training and research institutions, etc.

Governing Board Members

GRASP has demonstrated its commitment to and passion for this mandate in its work for community based natural resources management (CBNRM), mainly, water, sanitation, and rural livelihoods.

Rajinder Singh Nijjar, Chairperson

Founder Director of GRASP and the main catalyst in setting up the organisation, Rajinder has made seminal contribution to the field of rural development and environmental resources management in India focusing on the poor and marginal people. He has spearheaded large scale resource management projects, development programmes and organisations. Beginning his career with PRADAN after doing his graduation and master from IIT-Kharagpur, he has worked as a practitioner, researcher, policy analyst and consultant with various Civil Society Organisations, donors, bilateral and multilateral agencies, corporate agencies, financial institutions and various State Government departments across India. His areas of expertise include environmental resource management, watershed management, water resource management, rural livelihoods, micro-finance, micro-enterprise, institutional analyses, strengthening governance, community empowerment, capability building and social risk management.

Yugnadhar Mandavkar, Vice-Chairperson

With over 35 years of experience, Yugandhar is one of the pioneers in watershed development and natural resources management in India. He was associated with the projects like Adgaon and Kadwanchi and played key role in design of the Indo-German Watershed Development Programme, Kutch Drought Proofing Programme, District Poverty Initiatives Programme (DPIP-MP), PRI and WASH programmes in Himachal Pradesh He has extensively worked on design, development and management of several programmes in natural resources management, rural livelihoods, gender in technology and climate change adaptation, with special emphasis on community empowerment. He has worked with many Civil Society Organisations for organisational development, institutional capacity building and strategic management.

Hemant A Joshi, Treasurer

Noted social entrepreneur, Hemant Anantrao Joshi, has promoted Arya Chanakya Gurukul School at Jatwada, near Aurangabad, about 25 years ago. Concerned with the plight of the poor farmers in drought prone areas of Maharashtra, he worked for their socio-economic development as the Director of Janata Sahakari Bank Ltd, Pune and Chatrapati Sahakari Sakhar Udyag at Chitegoan over the last two decades. He studied for Mechanical Engineering at Government College of Engineering at Aurangabad, and did his masters in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from IIT, Bombay. He successfully blended his entrepreneurial skills in industrial fabrication and civil construction with rural infrasturcure in water supply and sanitation.

Sanjay A Nagesh, Secretary

Sanjay worked with PRADAN in Bihar and Maharashtra after doing his masters in Applied Geology from IIT-Kharagpur. Having strong acumen and long experience in watershed development and soil water conservations, he led three of GRASP's flagship projects in watershed development and aquifer water management. Known for his skills in scaling up of technical interventions for rural development, he has trained several professionals in watershed management. With his sound field experience in geo-hydrological survey and analysis, he contributed to several water resource management projects in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Ujwala Masdekar, Member

Having started her career with Nirmala Nikeran and having worked at the grassroots at various places in Maharashtra for nearly twelve years, Ujwala joined academics as a faculty at the Karve Institute of Social Work, Pune in 1995. A social work educator in gender issues, participatory methodologies, group dynamics, women development and social legislations, she is an accomplished trainer and coach working on capacity building of government officials, NGO staff and grassroots level workers. Her contribution is acknowledged in many fields as master trainer in entrepreneurship development among women, for women's Self Help Groups, micro-finance and empowerment, participatory approaches, gender issues, Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, among others. She has a long experience in the field of social work research, action research, evaluation of government schemes and development programmes.

Sudha Cannan, Member

In her career of over 35 years, Sudha has been a Trainer, Executive Coach, Facilitator and Mentor in the Corporate, Not-for-Profit and Government sectors. She is also the Founder of One Degree Leadership Consulting and Mind Body Wellness India. Her efforts saved hundreds of families overcome the trauma and distress during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. She has helped conduct several Leadership Labs and Trainings to help leaders to grow and succeed in their respective roles. Her passion is Coaching, and she has been a Facilitator and Coach with McKinsey, CCL and CFI. Sudha has been a Meditator for over 25 years now. She is also a Reiki Grandmaster and a certified PsychoDrama practitioner, which she uses in Healing and Coaching.

Pravin Mahajan, Member

Over the last forty years, Pravin demonstrated his multi-faceted talent in the various fields of rural development, agriculture, education, health, value chains and environment. Finalist of the 2007 UNDP-CII Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Pravin is known for many Firsts in rural development. Having studied economics for BA (Hons) at Fergusson College and for MA at Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics in Pune, and having worked with Oxfam and Action Aid for nearly ten years, he established a grass roots action initiative, Janarth, in Aurangabad in 1986. Known widely for his "actual" market intervention by setting up a trading unit in the mainstream Mandi (agricultural market) and setting up a Dal Mill, he started the "mobile sakhar shalas" (sugar schools) for the children of migrant sugarcane cutters in Maharashtra way back in the nineties.

Legal Information

Legal status
Registration: GRASP is registered as a not-for-profit organisation as follows.

  1. Under Societies' Registration Act, 1860. Reg. No: MH/266/93 dated 6-10-1993
  2. Under Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950. Reg. No: F-2782 dated 4-2-1994
  3. Under Sec 12A(a) of Income Tax Act, 1961. Reg. No: 53/95-96 dated 26-2-1996
  4. Under Sec 80G of Income Tax Act, 1961 No: 80G(5)/156/19/2010-11 w.e.f. 15/3/2010
  5. Under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976, with FCRA Registration No: 083750050 dated 23-2-1996. Registration renewed up to 31-10-2021.

Registered Office
L-8, Chetna Nagar, Aurangabad- 431 005

Auditors and Bankers
M/s Rahul Kulkarni & Associates
Aurangabad - 431001

State Bank of India, Dashmesh Nagar Branch, Aurangabad- 431 005