India Programme


This programme supports social development in India through funding to non-governmental organisations. In India we are concerned with seeking to empower vulnerable groups to develop, particularly women and children.

The India programme has expanded significantly over the past few years, and we maintained relationships with 35 different organisations across India in the course of 2008/09 through support to 38 different projects. The projects supported were larger than previous years, with half of them obtaining grants of more than £40,000 and five obtaining more than £100,000.

The supported projects were also spread across the country, with 24 of them based in rural areas. We have traditionally had less focus on southern India, which is better developed, and this has continued in 2008/09 with only one major project, the Independent Commission for People’s Rights and Development (ICPRD) functional in three districts of Karnataka.

Several new relationships have begun in rural Maharashtra, including Social Action for Association and Development (SAAD) in Parbhani and Shashwat Trust and Shishuadhar in Pune. The project with Sathi provides a PHF-supported presence in several towns in eastern Uttar Pradesh. The remote North East continues to be represented for PHF by The Ant (Action Northeast Trust). A shift in focus from the main metropolitan cities to supporting basic services in smaller towns has also begun.

Varied sectors

Our policy of supporting work as per the skills, inclinations and requirements of local NGO partners has given us considerable sectoral variety. Our traditional focus on health, education and disability continues, and there have been several new projects relating to children (Shishuadhar), governance (SWATI), integrated development (Arthik Anusandhan Kendra) and women (ICPRD and SAAD). Some of the supported projects are completely new work, some are continuations at a different scale, and others enable the replication of a model in a different area.

We have also found that we support opposing ideological spectrums. For example, within microfinance we support Samaj Pragati Sahayog’s bank-linkage model alongside Action for Social Advancement’s (ASA) microfinance institution model. This is similar to our support for street children, where with Sathi we support returning them home at the earliest opportunity and with Salaam Baalak Trust and Chetna we support rehabilitating them in Delhi1.

Measuring outcomes and governance

There has been considerable emphasis on project appraisal and monitoring in 2008/09, especially given that our financial commitments to projects have increased. We now focus as much on ensuring that our NGO partners are adequately governed as we do on project monitoring, and we have finalised a set of minimum standards that we expect all NGO partners to adhere to. We are happy to note that most of our NGO partners have internal governance standards that are of far greater rigour2.

We began a system of longer term (six- to seven-year) relationships in 2003. This year saw the first of such relationships (Salaam Baalak Trust and ASA) draw to a close. We need to look to continue to keep such NGO partners within the PHF family (without funding) as the relationships have been intense and we have learnt significantly. More such relationships (Seva Mandir and Chintan) will draw to a close in the coming year.

General elections were held in 2009. The Indian Government’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, whose better implementation we have supported in the states of Gujarat and Chattisgarh, was seen as a critical factor in enabling the current government to continue in power. The issues of pro-poor development and better governance, both of which are close to our heart, are likely to gain political importance and focus in the near future. Challenges for the coming year include setting up a permanent presence in India, for which we have applied for the necessary permissions, and developing an effective programme of support in the poorest eastern parts of the country.

Open Grants scheme

SWATI – Society for Women’s Action and Training Initiatives

Promoting the Right to Information

Rs. 1,519,060 (£20,083)

The Indian Parliament passed the Right to Information (RTI) Act in 2005 to promote transparency in public life. However, political apathy, lack of awareness and bureaucratic resistance have created significant barriers to its effective implementation.

SWATI began an initiative to create awareness of the RTI in Surendranagar district of Gujarat in 2006. Its work training RTI volunteers, setting up help lines and help desks, and creating a forum of NGOs promoting the use of RTI, enabled the RTI movement to spread across the district.

Support from PHF looks to enable SWATI to consolidate by following up on applications that have received an unsatisfactory response from the authorities, by enabling women and marginalised communities to use the RTI, and by focusing the RTI on public causes such as the Employment Guarantee Scheme, the Public Distribution System and the state health services. The support will also enable SWATI to replicate its model in two more districts in Gujarat – Mehsana and Patan.

Empowering poor communities: Even a well-intentioned government scheme can have many gaps that form barriers to access by poor communities. A small and focused NGO intervention can enable much larger schemes to be beneficial to the poor.


Re-integrating runaway children on railway platforms

Rs. 3,750,000 (£49,419)

Sathi has worked with runaway children since 1997. It set up operations in the poorer North Indian states, from where most runaway children in the large cities originate, in 2005. The Foundation’s support began in 2007 for operations in Kanpur Railway Station, and has gradually extended to railway stations in Patna, Moghalsarai, Lucknow and Gorakhpur.

Sathi teams identify runaway children and then house them in temporary shelters where they are counselled while contact is established with their homes. So far, nearly 1,300 children have been returned home, of which 90 per cent stay there. If children have been away for more than six months or are addicted to drugs, they are repatriated after a month-long camp that enables re-integration into society.

Controversy: Mainstream discourse on runaway children is not in favour of immediate repatriation. Sathi’s experience is that most children leave home for trivial reasons and can be easily repatriated. Its data may be able to influence opinion.

Child Survival India

Health programme in Savda Ghevra

Rs. 579,400 (£7,189)

This project is part of an initiative, Growth for All, which looks to apply management skills to development interventions and to bring together local governments, the corporate sector, donor agencies and NGOs to address problems faced by poor communities.

Some years ago, to make land available for the Commonwealth Games (scheduled for 2010), the Delhi Government resettled slum communities on a remote plot of land in North West Delhi. Basic social development services were slow to follow, leading to problems of access to health, education and livelihoods for the 2,500 families here.

Our grant supports part of a larger programme to provide basic health services to the resettled community. Child Survival India runs an emergency service, conducts health camps, and sets up health groups that link the community to the government’s health services.

Collaboration: This project has illustrated the importance of collaboration. The PHF-supported health project is part of a much larger initiative that involves local government, NGOs and other donors and its success is partly determined by work done by others who are not answerable to PHF in any way.

“As with all slum resettlement colonies in the capital, problems are aplenty – no running water, drains that lead nowhere and are not connected to most houses, a very long commute if they want to go to their old places of work, a government dispensary that opens for just three hours a day, a government primary school under tin roofs that get burning hot in summer … As Srikant Sastri of Growth For All took a group of visitors from the Salzburg Global Seminar and the 21st Century Trust around the colony, it was apparent that the NGOs had already instilled in many residents the hope of a better future.”

– Joydeep Gupta, a journalist associated with the 21st Century Trust and the Salzburg Seminar, following a visit to Savda Ghevra


  • 1 Impact for individuals: In this context we are concerned with achieving the best results for the young people concerned. Our support for organisations with different approaches to achieving this allows us to learn which is the most effective
  • 2 Impact for organisations: Partnering with NGOs for several years has shown that an important part of our work in India is capacity-building for some of the organisations we work with