The Governing Board provides guidance and direction for SPWD’s efficient functioning on the basis of periodical review of programs and activities.

Dr. I.P. Abrol

Chairperson of Governing Body of SPWD

Dr. I.P. Abrol is Chairperson, Governing Body of Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development. He is the Ex-DDG (NRM) of IARI and was the Chairman of the Working Group on “Management of Natural Resources & Rainfed Farming” for the Twelfth Five Year Plan. He is also the Director of the Centre for Advancement of Sustainable Agriculture, New Delhi and has been actively supporting farmers in several villages of the Mewat district in Haryana to adopt the improved farming methods. He has served as Facilitator for the Rice-Wheat Consortium for Indo Gangetic Plains, CIMMYT, and ecoregional initiative of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, CGIAR, involving four countries of the region, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan constituted a major effort aimed at introducing systems-based approaches to define and find solutions to sustainability issues relating to one of the most important production systems of the region.
As Director of Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Dr. Abrol led a team of about 50 researchers in the fields of soil, crop and water management, crop improvement and social scientists to understand and find solutions to widespread problems of soil salinity and salt-affected soils limiting the productivity of agricultural production systems. The results of these researches have found wide applicability at the field level and recognition at a global level. He is an agricultural research scientist with a focus on problems of natural resource management. The aim is to contribute towards the emergence of an efficient and effective Agricultural Research System contributing to widening and deepening our knowledge base towards climate-resilient agriculture for achieving sustained productivity increases for food and livelihood security through enhanced institutional linkages and by building partnerships among a range of stakeholders.

Dr. Amrita Patel

Chairman of the National Dairy Development Board

Dr. Amrita Patel was the Chairman of the National Dairy Development Board from 1998 to 2014, the organization which steered India’s cooperative dairy movement and led the country to become the largest milk producer in the world. Dr. Patel played a major role in promoting much greater participation of women in cooperatives and in preparing them for leadership positions. Besides her presence on the Boards and Committees of several national and international bodies, Dr. Patel works closely with both policymakers and civil society organizations on issues relating to conservation of forests, strengthening community institutions, improving rural livelihoods and accessing property rights to community land, to improve the living conditions of the rural poor.
As the Dairy Board’s Managing Director, Dr. Patel was responsible for the implementation of the national dairy program, Operation Flood – the largest program in the world using food aid for development. The program helped to promote, finance and deliver a variety of supporting services to a national cooperative dairy structure that included more than 15 million members from over 150,000 village dairy cooperative societies, affiliated to 183 district and regional unions and 22 state cooperative federations. This movement had a major impact on India’s dairying, resulting in a substantial increase in India’s milk production making it the largest milk producer in the world, and resulting in increasing animal productivity, adoption of better husbandry and feeding practices and increased producer incomes.
The program has helped to promote, finance and deliver a variety of supporting services to a national cooperative dairy structure that presently includes more than 13 million members, mostly small farmers, from nearly 100,000 village dairy cooperative societies, contributing to an increase in per capita availability of milk in India from some 106 grams per day in 1967 to more than 258 grams per day in 2009.
Dr. Patel has been involved in activities ranging from livestock development, disease control, vaccine production, R&D and policy review to banking and finance through her nomination on the Boards of RBI and NABARD.
Dr Patel received several awards at national and international levels. In 2001, she was conferred Padma Bhushan by the Government of India for her contribution to animal husbandry. In 2008, she was awarded the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar, the prestigious national award which recognizes the contribution of the recipient towards creating greater awareness among the people of the country on the need to preserve their natural environment. She received the ‘Dr. Norman Borlaug Award’ for contributions in the field of dairy development and animal husbandry and for the leadership and dynamism shown in creating sustainable peoples’ institutions to meet their needs for fuel and fodder. She was awarded the ‘International Person of the Year’ for the year 1997 by the World Dairy Expo, Inc., Madison, Wisconsin, the USA for commitment to improving India’s rural health and environment and for efforts to foster better animal husbandry and increase producer productivity and incomes.
Under her able guidance, Charutar Arogya Mandal has realized it’s Founder’s vision: to offer comprehensive and personalized healthcare, delivered with commitment, compassion and at the most affordable cost to all those in need of it. It has become a hospital policy not to deny treatment to even a single patient for the scarcity of funds.

Mr. Vijay N. Patil

Mr. M.P. Vasimalai

Founder and Executive Director of DHAN Foundation

Mr. M.P. Vasimalai, Founder and Executive Director of DHAN Foundation, hails from a modest farming family in Madurai district, Tamil Nadu, India. Mr. Vasimalai is a post-graduate in Agricultural Science and subsequently obtained his Masters in Business Administration from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), a premier management institution in India.
Vasimalai was one of the founding leaders of PRADAN, a professional NGO supported and promoted in 1983 by the Ford Foundation to professionalize development work. The Executive Director of PRADAN for six years, “Vasi,” as Mr. Vasimalai is widely known, was instrumental in initiating development experiments across India. To scale up the proven pilots, with the mission of building people and institutions for poverty reduction, in 1997 he founded the DHAN Foundation as a spin-off, in collaboration with 60 professionals. Today there are 400 professionals striving hard at the grassroots to bring changes in the lives of about 1.5 million poor families in 13 Indian states, of which more than 70 percent are women in low-income households, roughly one-fourth of whom reside in urban slums. Vasi was instrumental in designing the Community-Centered Water Conservation and Development and Community Banking for Women Empowerment programs and promoted them as scalable and sustainable models for poverty reduction that have since been replicated by several government and non-government organizations across India.
As one of six members of the National Technical Advisory Group for the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Government of India in 2005, Mr. Vasimalai brought the idea of launching City Technical Advisory Groups and City Volunteer Technical Corps, to engage local citizens more fully in the process of urban renewal. He has designed a number of pilots for housing, sanitation, and skills-building, also to begin to engage poor urban communities in the renewal mission. Vasi has also assisted the Tamil Nadu State Planning Commission in preparing several City Human Development Reports.
Mr. Vasimalai represents DHAN in the higher-level policymaking bodies of both central and state government, where he has the opportunity to advise on the basis of his extensive ground experience in the fields of microfinance, water conservation, agricultural development and poverty alleviation.

Prof. Kanchan Chopra

Former Director of the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi

Prof. Kanchan Chopra is the former Director of the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi where she was on the Faculty since 1980. She received her Ph.D. degree from the University of Delhi. In the last two decades, she has published extensively on issues at the interface of environment and development, in particular, water and forest resource management and common property resources.
Books she has authored or co-authored include “Migration and Common Property Resources: A study in India’s arid and semi-arid regions” and “Operationalising Sustainable Development: ecological-economic Modelling for Developing Countries”.
Currently Fellow of the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, and Member, Scientific Advisory Committee of IUASA, Vienna. She is on the Editorial Board of several international journals including Environment and Development Economics and Ecological Economics. She has been a Senior Associate of the Ecological and Environmental Economics Program hosted by the ICTP, Trieste, Italy. She has been Member, Assessment Panel of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, an assessment supported internationally by UNEP, World Bank, and other international bodies 2001-2005 and Member, Advisory and Management Committee, South Asian Network on Development and Environmental Economics.
In India, she is a member of the lately constituted Expert Committee on Climate Change. She was one of the founders’ members of the Indian Society for Ecological Economics and its First President. She was President for the 64th conference of the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics held in December 2004.
Her latest publication is a co-edited volume entitled ‘Handbook on Environment Economics in India’ published by Oxford University Press in 2009. She has recently been elected President of the Indian Society for Ecological Economics.

Mr. Rajesh Ramakrishna

Volunteer with Isha Yoga Centre, Coimbatore

Mr. Rajesh Ramakrishnan is presently a volunteer with Isha Yoga Centre, Coimbatore. He has 23 years of experience in the development and development-research sectors. He has worked with a national-level support NGO, two premier research and consulting organizations, and a leading social science research institution. His areas of interest and experience are the political economy, decentralized governance, natural resources management, and rural livelihoods.
He graduated from IRMA in 1991 and joined SPWD, where he worked till 1999. His stint in SPWD was a rich learning experience for him, giving him valuable insights into agriculture-based livelihoods in semi-arid and arid regions of western India and the Chhottanagpur plateau. He developed an interest in watershed development and water conservation and management, as well as in community forestry.
From 2000 to 2007, he worked with TARU Leading Edge, a consulting firm in the development sector. The assignments worked on including a research study on Panchayati Raj and Natural Resources Management in three states, impact assessments of the Andhra Pradesh Rural Livelihoods Project and the Poorest Areas Civil Society Programme, and a review of some of the World Bank’s projects on rural water supply in India. He was also associated with SPWD’s Water Governance Project in an advisory capacity. From 2008 to 2009, he served as Academic Secretary at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. Here he contributed to the development of successful proposals to the Ford Foundation and IDRC, and to the organization of several high-profile international conferences.
From late 2009, he has been working as Vice-President of NR Management Consultants, largely in the areas of rural livelihoods, Natural Resources Management and Panchayati Raj. Some of the interesting assignments include the State of Panchayats Report 2010-11 for the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, a study on various approaches to biodiversity governance in India for UNDP (2012), management of the India Biodiversity Awards process for UNDP and MoEF (2012 and 2014), and an impact assessment of Oxfam India’s NRM program in western India (2013).

Ms. Sonali Bishta

Founder and Advisor to the Institute of Himalayan Environmental Research and Education (INHERE)

Ms. Sonali Bisht is a Founder and Advisor to the Institute of Himalayan Environmental Research and Education (INHERE), which works for community-based sustainable development in the central Himalayan region of India. INHERE is a non-political, secular, non-governmental development organization working for the development of the mountain people of the Uttarakhand Himalayas. INHERE engages as a research organization, a support organization and a grassroots facilitating and implementing organization. Sonali Bisht is a member of the Steering Committee of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (EGFAR) and of the Indian government’s Uttarakhand Bio-diversity Board. Sonali is a writer, development worker, and advocate.

Mr. Pramod Tyagi

Executive Director, SPWD


(As on March 31, 2016)

Founder Members 19
Individual Life 63
Individual Ordinary 11
Institutional Life 22
Institutional Ordinary 16
Corporate Life 7
Corporate Ordinary 0
Total 138