Yoga is nothing but practical psychology...Sri Aurobindo Login     Register    Search       

Recent papers in category Integral

Savitri Immersion Workshop by Rod Hemsell in Menorca, Spain (Apr 12-16), 2017

Savitri Immersion Workshop 2017 by Rod Hemsell in Belgium

Savitri Immersion Workshop by Rod Hemsell, Summer 2016


Winter Courses & Seminars 2016

more posts in Integral


Auroville Integral Rural Development Model

Author: Rod Hemsell, Bhavana Dee, Joss Brooks, et al

Last Updated: September 10, 2008

Project Title: Integral Rural Development (IRD)

A Project of Auroville Village Action Trust (AVAT)


  1. Goals and Objectives

The primary goal of this project is to develop an integrated rural development model that is sustainable and replicable. A secondary goal is to reach a common understanding among partners of the principles to be applied throughout the project. For this, a series of seminars will be held in the first year, which will clarify the issues and principles, strengthen the Public-Private Partnerships for implementation of the project, formulate policies and procedures, and produce a detailed Project Implementation Plan.


The objectives of the project will be to develop a participatory approach for empowering the target beneficiaries in the Kaliveli bioregion to: (a) overcome local barriers to socio-economic development through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), using knowledge-based products and services as tools for empowerment; (b) use process oriented and participatory approaches for community building; and (c) build and operate knowledge-based hubs for information transfer which will coordinate programs, activities, facilities and resources in order to address the priority areas summarized below.


  1. Priority areas addressed by the project proposal:
    • Through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), to provide knowledge-based and IT-enabled services to villages for promoting sustainable livelihoods and education, using an integral approach that will focus in six areas comprising (a) Education and Livelihood; (b) Health; (c) Agriculture and Environment; (d) Energy; (e) Shelter; and (f) Advanced Technologies;
    • To adopt process-oriented and participatory approaches for the delivery mechanism of the change management processes, which are humanistic, grounded in scientific management processes, replicable and sustainable over time;
    • To bring about a transformation of consciousness and values towards realization of a meaningful and sustainable future for the rural community.


  1. Funding requested from the Indian Knowledge Commission for this project:

Rs. 49.7 Crore (Rs. 497 million)

  1. Contact Details

Rod Hemsell

Project Coordinator


Tel: +91 (413) 262 2393

Mobile: +91 944 235 5643

Joss Brooks

Pitchandikulum Bio Resource Center (PBRC) Auroville, Tamil Nadu 605101


Mobile: 91 944 336 2246







4.1 Transformation of consciousness and values 7

4.1.2 Impact on stakeholders ..8


5.1 Public-Private Partnerships ...9

5.2 Seminars ..10

5.3 Knowledge-based Technology and Economy 11

5.4 Process Oriented, Participatory Approach ..12

5.5 Examples of IRD Resources ...12

5.6 The Auroville Value-Oriented Integral Development Model .17

5.6.1 Impact on stakeholders 17


6.1 Modular holistic structure of the IRD paradigm ..19

6.2 The IRD Model ...19


7.1 Phase 1 (Two Years) - Community building and testing the IRD Model ..23

7.1.1 The Discovery Seminars (Year One) ...24

7.2 Phase 2 (Three Years): Interim IRD implementation .25

7.2.1 Implementation Methodology ..25

7.2.2 Validation of Methodology ..26

7.3 Phase 3 (Two Years) Multiple Village Implementation and Replication 26


8.1 Policy and Planning Oversight 27

8.2 Project Management ...28

8.3 Tiered Management Structure .28




We believe that the creation of a model of integrated rural development can best be achieved by adopting a holistic, knowledge-based approach for establishing Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). These platforms for PPP will provide (a) rural communities with opportunities for sustainable livelihoods and education with an emphasis on health, shelter and energy security; and (b) enable different stakeholders in society to contribute their talent and energy towards an accelerated and sustainable rural development. Knowledge-based IT-enabled products and services will be the vehicles for achieving these results.


We believe that a judicious conjunction of the three preceding elements, (a) PPP, (b) process oriented, participatory approach, and (c) value-based change, in our target community in the Kaliveli bioregion1 will result in an economically strong rural community that is respectful of its environment and is also morally engaged. The vehicle for achieving this total transformation is the IRD Model, which leverages (a) PPP as a means for rural communities to maximize their creativity and productivity, while minimizing their negative environmental impact, (b) process oriented and participatory approaches for scientific change management, and (c) transformation of consciousness and values of the stakeholders. The IRD Model is therefore both a model and a tool that will be necessary to crystallize the entirely new paradigm for Total Rural Development (TRD)2, which is the goal of this project.


The project shall run for seven years and impact a target population of about 200,000 beneficiaries in the Vanur and Marakkanam Blocks in the Kaliveli Bioregion (see map in Annexure 1). The present value budgetary estimate of the project is Rs. 49.7 Crores. This translates to an allocation of about Rs. 2,500 per beneficiary over the seven-year period, or Rs. 335 per year per beneficiary a small price to pay for the end of rural poverty as we have known it.




The creation of sustainable livelihoods, respectful of all life and informed by the pressing needs of human societies facing serious consequences of over population and global climate changes, are important objectives of the IRD Model. The primary goal of this project is to develop a model that will provide for the (a) socio-economic empowerment, (b) environmental safety and (c) transformation of values of the village inhabitants, which can be replicated throughout India.


A secondary goal is to conduct a series of seminars in the first year, which will help to clarify the issues for the IRD Model, whilst strengthening the Public-Private Partnerships of the ongoing project. This is the research and development aspect of the project which will ensure the formulation of a truly knowledge-based approach and will be dominant in the first phase, but ongoing throughout the duration of the project.


The objectives of the project will be to develop a participatory approach for the rural population in the Kaliveli bioregion, in order to empower the target beneficiaries to:


(a) Overcome local barriers to socio-economic development using a knowledge-based and participatory approach through PPP, with the help of sustainable technologies, products and services as tools for social empowerment;

(b) Use new knowledge-based assets and skills to provide the long-term viability of the IRD Model at the end of the seven-year program duration;

(c) Use process oriented and participatory approaches for community building;

(d) Adopt a replicable and sustainable modular structure for a knowledge-based approach to realizing the change processes which are also object oriented, in the sense that development modules may be replicated across state and national boundaries as the development paradigm is based on universal human needs for sustainable livelihood and universal human values; and

(e) Promote the growth of ethics and morality throughout the program, which is inclusive, in the sense that everyone participates community members (children, women and men), local administration, education and academia, commercial and business interests, media, NGOs, government organizations and the change-agents themselves.




India today is on a trajectory similar to the path that industrialized nations were trending in the last century. Rural populations are migrating to city centers for jobs, and urban education and prosperity are depriving rural regions of vitality, the workforce and the will necessary to keep them vibrant and alive. City centers in India today are overpopulated, polluted, and not designed to cope with the burgeoning immigrant population. Mobility about the city arteries is clogged. The elite in these centers are excited by the economic boom of globalization and the ability to make money; as soon as it can, it will shift to suburbia. But this is a lose/lose scenario: cities becoming unlivable and rural areas abandoned to decay. India will do well to cultivate the rural environment and traditional character of its citizens before it is too late. Cities can only be marginally deconstructed according to ecological principles, while the dynamics of globalization work full speed in the opposite direction. But rural areas may become eco-villages in a natural way through focusing consciousness, energy and technology on developing integrated regional communities.


It is well known that the lack of resources in village-based communities impedes sustainable development. The IRD Model attempts to mitigate this problem by developing an integral solution for this conundrum: in a rapidly developing economy poverty, environmental degradation, ignorance and injustice continue to prevail.


Experience over the past sixty years indicates that generally in India today, and particularly in the Kaliveli bioregion, we already have most of the concepts, technologies, products and processes to alleviate poverty, protect the environment, provide quality education and livelihood opportunity to all, and in short to transform the situation. Thus we see small oases of development created by government, non-governmental (NGO) or industry initiatives in the vast desert of underdevelopment. Simultaneously, there are large governmental efforts that are spread too thinly and lack facilitating mechanisms to enable different stakeholders in rural societies to work together effectively and efficiently.


A careful analysis of the current situation indicates that the constraints or bottlenecks of one type of institutional stakeholder are, in reality, the strengths of another. While the government has the reach and ability to make initial public investments, industry has the products, services and ability to garner private entrepreneurship and investments. NGOs have the capability to mobilize local communities and also to adapt products and services such that they meaningfully reach the last mile. Finally, innovation capacity of the scientific and academic community is essential to foresee and design for current and future needs.


The crux of the problem for sustainable rural development may therefore be summarized as follows:

a) The inability to access resources, to locate and utilize appropriate technologies and to access regenerative sources of information hinders the village-based communitys capacity for mobilizing crucial resources and rising out of poverty;

b) The institutional mechanisms for meaningful cooperation are nonexistent;

c) There is an urgent need to establish platforms for Public-Private Partnerships[4] (PPP) where different stakeholders in society are able to come together and collaborate with their rural development partners, for economic and sustainable development.





This project shall promote an awareness of environmental protection, particularly with respect to the village inhabitants understanding of global warming and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, as climate change is projected to impact tropical countries more negatively than temperate zones. At the same time, knowledge and skills will be imparted that empower individuals and communities to create sustainable alternatives.


For the more than 700 million people in rural India who are dependant on the most climate-sensitive sectors for their livelihoods agriculture, forests and fisheries global warming is predicted to bring declining crop yields, degraded lands, water shortage and ill health3, and all of these factors are of central importance in our proposed integral development paradigm.


We propose that each village and town provide knowledge centers comprised of six core elements, plus extension centers for training and technology in a pattern of accessible locations throughout a district or bioregion: a health center, an education center, a community and business resource center, and centers for specialized training and livelihood development in the areas of energy, shelter, and environment. For smaller villages, these centers will be housed in one building; in larger villages or towns a cluster of buildings or larger campus will house each of the core activity elements. Knowledge-based tools of the twenty-first century, using computer linked networks, instruments, processes and advanced methodologies, will empower this set of core activities. This will enable our youth to learn, to grow and be creative, and to become skilled artisans and entrepreneurs, fostering healthy and productive lifestyles.


The networked resource bank of knowledge centers enables enterprises as well as NGOs to outsource business and services, from city-center to village resource pools. In so doing, urban traffic and over-population will be reduced and efficient rural commerce and social networks will be enabled and enhanced. Well-designed collective interconnections among the villages and towns that surround a city will form a focused city-hive of information technology resource centers. This will gel the urban/rural regions into an interdependent fabric of human potential, where each region lives in harmony and sustainability with its environment and natural resources.


4.1 Transformation of consciousness and values


In its philosophy, as well as in its practical experience, Auroville is a project that embodies the principles of respect for every individual, and for the natural environment, necessary for the changes envisioned in this project. The philosophy of human unity is based on a realization of the necessity for maximum diversity among people and nations and leads to a mobilization of human energies and talents towards the development of the full potentials of all individuals, groups and levels of society. The ancient principle of chaturvarnya as interpreted by Sri Aurobindo for this age of global society implies that prosperity, wealth, knowledge and self-fulfillment should be available to all members of the human family, irrespective of class, creed, religion, or position.


4.1.1 Impact on beneficiary community


The practical result of this philosophical orientation, for the beneficiary community and surrounding villages of Aroville during forty years of development, has been national and international participation in the development of innovative and exemplary environmental, educational, social and economic structures. For example, Aurovilles environmental restoration and reforestation work to transform one of the most severely desertified and economically backward areas of Tamil Nadu has become a model for others throughout Asia. Similarly, Aurovilles outreach to local villages and self-help groups has had a significant impact on the economic development of the region. Tamil Nadu currently enjoys one of the highest per capita income levels in the country, and the average income of the local village population in the Auroville area is now equal to the national average.


The transformation of consciousness and values requires an integral approach to the development that includes physical structures, life values, mental development, and the psycho-spiritual realization of the underlying unity of all aspects of life, as expressed throughout the many schools of spirituality for which Indian culture is best known. Such an integral educational approach to development constitutes the secularization and universalization of an awareness and respect for life that has been the ideal of all the wisdom traditions of the world. The aim of Auroville is to give these ideals a practical, material form. Using the physical base of Auroville as a site for bringing together a wide range of human and material resources in the service of integral rural development, this project hopes to extend the dynamics of development outward to the bioregion and eventually to demonstrate a viable model for sustainable development that can be replicated nationally.


4.1.2 Impact on stakeholders


This project will apply holistic thinking in all facets of its administration and implementation. Training for all project staff members from the village field workers, to supervisors, to administrators and project holders will draw out through their educational experiences the insights that are fundamental to a scientific, process oriented, participatory approach. Local knowledge will be recognized and reinforced, so as to emphasize the natural integrity, sharing and cooperation that is innate to the village community.


At the same time, a code of conduct for self-development, based on global values, will be formulated at the beginning and progressively refined as it is implemented in the form of policies and procedures during the second phase of the project. Specifically, importance and time will be given to refining the communication patterns between the stakeholders of this pilot project including the external partners so that everyone perceives the whole project and appreciates the problems faced by the rest of the participants in this process-oriented and non-hierarchical organizational structure.




A review of the underlying principles, goals and objectives of the IRD Model and the extrinsic and intrinsic problems of development in rural areas results in the following approaches for designing and developing the present IRD Model:

  • Through Public-Private Partnership (PPP), provide knowledge-based services to villages for promoting sustainable livelihoods and education, using a knowledge-based approach that will focus in six areas comprising (a) Education and Livelihood; (b) Health; (c) Agriculture and Environment; (d) Energy; (e) Shelter and (f) Advanced Technologies to meet the villagers needs for holistic development;
  • Adopt a process oriented, participatory approach for the delivery mechanism of the change management processes, which is humanistic, grounded in scientific management processes, replicable and sustainable;
  • Promote transformation in consciousness and values in the target rural community.


5.1 Public-Private Partnerships


To address the extrinsic problems in particular, there is a need to establish platforms for Public-Private Partnerships where different stakeholders in society are able to collaborate in a common endeavor of creating economic and environmental benefits, for themselves as well as the rural community that they serve.


The success of the new paradigm is therefore dependant on continuously actualizing such partnerships and platforms, in order to create facilities, systems and networks for continuous innovation and expansion of effective village-based development strategies. The unique features of this approach are:

  • It aims to develop appropriate technologies to solve the problems of low-income communities;
  • It is committed to providing the information and other support services essential for achieving the goals of sustainable development; and
  • It relies on the active participation of all stakeholders.


These partnerships will be selectively started in Phase 1 and fully implemented through Phase 2. However, new partners will be continuously sought, for which provisions have been made in the budget, beyond which external budgetary supports may be sought as part of the partnership development initiative, or co-opted by the existing partners and supported on a case-by-case basis. A list of prospective partners based on current information is presented on the chart below.


Development Partners

Education/ Livelihood

Environment/ Agriculture





Technology/ Systems

Auroville Units: AVAG, PBRC, CSR, AEI, LAV de AV, UHU, etc.














House o Consultants-















Aravind Eye Hospital-Puducherry



































TN State Administration















5.2 Seminars


A year-long series of seminars will be conducted in Phase 1, which will help clarify the concepts and issues regarding the development and implementation of the project proposal, bringing all stakeholders into a common understanding and strengthening the Public-Private Partnership initiative.


Working groups composed of internal and external experts will be formed through the seminar process to develop exploratory and strategic planning activities and act as a Think Tank for the project. These groups will also develop a strategy for integrating the inputs of all stakeholders and approaches in the first phase of the project for the development and refinement of the second and third phases of the IRD Model.


A project website will be developed as a mother portal within the seminar media budget, as an online approach to: (a) develop a consensus formulation strategy; (b) compile a database of stakeholder inputs to determine priorities; and (c) foster continuity throughout the seven-year program.


There will be a total of seven major seminars and conferences organized within the first six months of the project, to discuss the Integral Rural Development method, with numerous mini conferences for follow-up. The topics will be based on:

  • Seminar 1: Integral Rural Development Model
  • Seminar 2: Education and Livelihoods
  • Seminar 3: Agriculture and Environment
  • Seminar 4: Health
  • Seminar 5: Energy
  • Seminar 6: Shelter
  • Seminar 7: Advanced Technologies


Additional internal seminars will be held to discuss and understand (a) transformation of values, (b) the new paradigm, and (c) team-building methods and goals. At the conclusion of the seminar series, the results of these conferences and seminars will be published in a monograph, and the full proceedings will be disseminated freely on the project website and in hard copy publications. Thereafter, the seminar committee will be responsible for:

  • Maintaining the dialog between the IRD team and the Public-Private Partners for the remaining six months of its tenure;
  • Over the next five months, the seminar committee will be responsible for collating the information collected during the entire year, and generating position papers that will explain the general direction toward the development of the project;
  • A detailed project implementation plan, including policies and procedures for project governance and administration, will be formulated.


5.3 Knowledge-based Technology and Economy


Community and household assets are drivers of sustainable growth and poverty reduction in rural areas. In conjunction with technological and market-based approaches that create opportunities for social development, it is known that the knowledge-based approach is also a profitable delivery channel preferably run by micro-enterprises to develop products that have a high poverty alleviation impact or have ecological advantages, or both, thereby reducing rural poverty sustainably. The objective of a knowledge-based approach is to promote market development, and it combines two aims: (a) to supply useful and affordable products with a high poverty alleviation impact to indigent people, and (b) to create a viable and sustainable business as a private delivery channel run by the primary stakeholders.


It should be emphasized that:

  • Knowledge-based investments for the target community by themselves have limited growth and poverty reduction impact unless they are also based on participatory practices. Education, health services, transportation, and other market-related infrastructure amplify the positive impact of knowledge-based investment interventions on household assets. The structure and framework of the program to develop the knowledge-based approach are reviewed in Section 6.
  • The village inhabitant needs access not only to educational resources for appropriate technologies, environmental programs and capacity building programs, but also access to physical models and infrastructural support that will enable individuals, families and communities to seize on opportunities for sustainable livelihoods.


5.4 Process Oriented, Participatory Approach


The objective of the process oriented approach in rural development is to promote interactive participation between the change agents and the villagers, as the rural poor are considered to be the key actors in improving their own living conditions, as well as in sustainably managing their natural resources. Thus, their participation is essential to the success of the project activities.


Accordingly, the villagers will be trained to carry out specific categories of village-based development activities that are defined by the villagers themselves, which will eventually lead to locally formulated action plans. This will empower the villagers to carry out by themselves various rural development programs and activities such as Participatory Rural Appraisals (PRAs), transects, joint analysis and other relevant community building activities.


A key consideration in this community-driven rural development project is the propagation and institutionalization of the scientific enquiry method and processes. This entails a cyclical procedure with continuous improvement in the design and dissemination of educational and training programs. The scientific action here consists of the typical Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle of four linked phases or feedback loops:

  1. Plan: Participatory design and development of outreach programs;
  2. Do: Outreach networking and priority setting through village organizations; co-ordination of village-based and IT-enabled community centers, offering training and education, and access to a wide range of interconnected activities grouped under the general categories of vocational training, life skills training, teacher training, asset building programs and access to markets;
  3. Check: Monitor progress with village organizations and training centers, learn and adjust activities as necessary; and
  4. Act: Institutionalization of gains through transfers of educational, environmental, and enterprise development skills and opportunities through trainees and expertise to village centered actions and institutions.



5.5 Examples of IRD Resources


The Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG) has developed participatory methods and approaches, which successfully empower local groups to:


(a) Organize themselves through SHGs and leadership councils such as Paalams (which means bridge in Tamil and it is the name given to an organizational village structure that builds bridges for communication and cooperation between traditional and non-traditional leadership groups), which proved to be a successful social rehabilitation tool following the Tsunami experience, and which will now be cultivated among a wider geographical range of villages and socio-economic activities;

(b) Identify common needs, priorities, and development strategies, thus increasing communities capacity to improve their own lives with mutual cooperation and support;

(c) Institutionalize continuous improvement methodologies and systems e.g. through the adoption of Kaizen5 methodologies, continuous improvements will be made and the brightest trainees will be empowered to become teachers and shoulder the responsibility for the continuance of these home-grown and socially relevant education and training programs, which will be made available through the existing network of SHGs;

(d) Promote community ownership of these programs, by ensuring that training needs analysis and decision-making remains the prerogative and responsibility and maintainability at the closure of this project and providing an exit mechanism for the facilitators.


The Pitchandikulam Bio Resource Centre (PBRC), with headquarters in Auroville, has developed over the last thirty years into a Medicinal Plant Conservation Park and Environmental Education Training Centre focusing on the restoration of the Tropical Dry [5]Evergreen Forest. It has an exemplary outreach center in Nadukuppam, which will be the initial development site in the target area. Activities at the Auroville research center include indigenous forest planting programs; indigenous plant nursery development; training in local primary health care traditions; biota and village surveys and ongoing scientific research into the ecosystems of the Coromandel Coast. The center houses a photographic display of 350 of the 400 medicinal plants found in the bioregion, a collection of 250 different medicinal plant seeds, a documentation of the knowledge of local healers and a variety of objects including ropes, baskets, brass pots, parts of water lifting systems, fish traps, and more, representing traditional technologies from villages in the bioregion. There is a Tamil and English reference library and a computer database for research. Facilities and programs already underway at Nadukuppam include a model primary education center, an ecology museum, a growing IT center, a plant nursery operated by the students, and sustainable livelihoods training activities.

The Auroville Earth Institute was previously named the Auroville Building Centre / Earth Unit, which had been founded by HUDCO, Government of India, in 1989. The Auroville Earth Institute is researching, developing, promoting and transferring earth-based technologies, which are cost and energy effective. These technologies are disseminated through training courses, seminars, workshops, manuals and documents. The Institute is also offering various services, and provides consultancy within and outside India. The emphasis is on the research and development of earth based technologies and their dissemination through training courses. The most promoted technology today is Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks (CSEB). The Auroville Earth Institute is today the representative and resource centre for Asia of the UNESCO Chair Earthen Architecture, Constructive Cultures and Sustainable Development.



A wide range of equipment for building with earth has been researched and developed from the very onset. It ranges from presses for compressed earth blocks, quality control devices for block making, handling equipment, hand tools, scaffoldings, and rammed earth equipment. To date, this equipment is sold world wide as the AURAM press 3000 is getting re-known as one of the best press worldwide.

Auram Press 290

Auram Press 3000



The research with this kind of roofing aims to revive and integrate in the 21st century the techniques used the last centuries, like it was developed in ancient Egypt or in the gothic architecture of Europe. This R&D seeks to increase the span of the roof, decrease its thickness and to create new shapes. Note that all vaults and domes are built with compressed stabilised earth blocks, which are laid in free spanning mode that means without formwork. This way is also called the Nubian technique.

Main achievements in this field are:

Domes of the Visitors centre at Auroville 1992 Hassan Fathy International Award for Architecture for the poor

Vault of Deepanam School at Auroville: Segmental vault of 10.35 m span 2.25 m rise 6 m long

Vaults of the Training Centre at Auroville Earth Institute Various vaults built without formwork

Domes & vaults of Vikas apartments at Auroville: Segmental vaults and dome built without formwork

Dome of the Dhyanalingam temple at Poondi, near Coimbatore: Dome of 22.16 m diameter built in 9 weeks

Three points vault at Auroville Earth Institute premises. Vault studied like a catenary vault

Visitors centre

Deepanam School

Training Centre Auroville Earth Institute


5.6 The Auroville Value-Oriented Integral Development Model


It is essential that the communication networks and participatory models that are created by this project communicate and exemplify relevant and meaningful values as well as technologies. The patterns that are communicated must also achieve real developmental results that are both sustainable and representative of a high level of consciousness and human value. The state of national and global society today is full of promise but its fulfillment is also constrained by unprecedented social and environmental problems due primarily to overpopulation combined with destructive patterns of resource consumption. The situation is unsustainable, especially in the centers of urban development; this project must offer a viable and sustainable alternative to the world-threatening scenarios of unrestrained growth, resource depletion, environmental pollution and habitat destruction that are increasing hand-in-hand with exponential economic development in India.


This project aims to create a replicable model of sustainable, value-oriented development through consistent, long-term, multi-level cooperation and the creation of a knowledge society and economy that can erode the boundaries between the public and private, the regional and national, and the global and local that threaten human society today. A ne unification of potentials must be facilitated on the most practical levels of society if a sustainable future is to be realized. Our models should demonstrate the viability and practicality of such a comprehensive and integral paradigm shift.


5.6.1 Impact on stakeholders


A major factor in this project is that all of the participants are learners themselves, as this project will be groundbreaking from the point of view of innovation and discovery. The initial intellectual imbalance of apparently better educated and urban trained professionals coming to help the villagers will, in time, be corrected by a reverse flow of energy from the local knowledge that the implementing team will learn with and through the villagers, and at the conclusion of this project, it is expected that there will be a general unity of understanding.


The M&E process will extend for the entire duration of the project, with participants creating for themselves the systems and codes by which they will be informed and enabled to regulate their collective work programs. Project staff, systems, partnerships, and participant progress will be monitored and assessed from the perspectives of both village development outcomes and organizational structures and processes.


Already, most progressive and successful NGOs employ participatory methods which involve the beneficiary community in programming their goals and organizing themselves towards achieving them. In the present project, not only the villagers but the staff members of the development agency, and participating partners from government, industry and academy will participate in devising a policy-based administrative and organizational program, especially with reference to upholding the principles of an ethical and sustainable development.




From the preceding discussions, it is clear that the new paradigm we seek for Integral Rural Development must be holistic. The village inhabitants need access not only to educational resources for appropriate technologies, environmental programs and capacity building programs, but also access to physical, knowledge-based models and infrastructural support that will enable them to seize on opportunities for sustainable livelihoods and thereby improve the quality of life for their family members and their immediate community, at the least. From a holistic point of view, the village inhabitant needs access to these resources in the following focus areas for IRD and social empowerment:

  • Education and Livelihood: Provide knowledge and information that will (a) bring education both primary and secondary education to the masses; (b) promote awareness of socio-cultural, economic and environmental issues and the skills needed for active involvement in decision making processes ; and (c) empower indigent people to choose their own preferred livelihood options within the constraints of sustainable development;
  • Agriculture and Environment: Provide food security through ecological farming technologies, soil health care, water harvesting and management, conservation of forests and biodiversity; promote awareness of environmental protections and climate change impacts of global warming;
  • Health: Promote preventive health programs, provide primary health care facilities and revive local and traditional health practices;
  • Energy: Provide energy security with the development of eco-friendly, renewable energy technologies and expansion of the economic viability of biomass-based projects;
  • Shelter: Provide shelter security and create public infrastructure through appropriate building technologies and innovative financing arrangements;
  • Advanced Technologies[6]: Create a range of economic activities and processes from agricultural, ICT, education, health, energy, shelter, advanced materials and others that increase security, productivity and enhance the quality of life in the indigent people.


For the design, dissemination, effective control and monitoring of the IRD model, a nodal hub or Knowledge Center (KC), is needed to ensure that these holistic programs are implemented and operated in an integrated manner. We shall use an analogy of the Lonsdaleite hexagonal structure, which has 24 cells in its lattice structure, as the starting point to conceive the structure and framework of this new paradigm for Integral Rural Development. Each unit in this hexagonal figure corresponds to a Community Center that is IT-enabled, which will disseminate knowledge-based products and services, with emphasis on a one or more focus areas that has already been described at the beginning of this section.


6.1 Modular holistic structure of the IRD paradigm


As mentioned at the end of the last section, there will be six village-based community centers called Village Education Centers (VECs) shown below with letters ranging from A to F for each of the primary education and training centers or hubs, called Knowledge Centers (KC), also labeled from Type A to Type F, for each of the six focal areas, distributed within the larger, repeating, hexagonal framework, as follows:


Type A: Education and Livelihood Type B: Agricultural and Environment

Type C: Health Type D: Energy

Type E: Shelter Type F: Advanced Technologies


The 36 VECs are distributed in such a way that the six types are represented within each of six hexagonal areas around a Knowledge Center. The spatial distribution of the KCs and VECs is such that beneficiaries may have easy access to knowledge products and IT-enabled services from all six focus areas, from Type A to Type F.


If the hexagonal IRD Model structure is superimposed over the geographical domain shown in the map of the Kaliveli bioregion in Annexure 1, it will be seen that the average spatial distance between each VEC is about four kilometers. Therefore, the maximum distance that a beneficiary has to travel to access any particular type of knowledge center is about two kilometers, which is considered to be within easy bicycle reach, or even within walking distance.


We may infer that each KC will cater to about 50,000 people. This number will obviously be influenced by the particular intervention strategy and local need, and is not rigid. The model is therefore scalable. The optimal impact of a typical Target Community with six KCs will therefore be about 300,000 people. In our present project, we have a target population of about 200,000 people distributed partly in Vanur and Marakkanam blocks, which is therefore well within the capacity of this framework and structure.


6.2 The IRD Model


The internal components of the implementation model for this rural development paradigm are based on tried and tested methodologies for rural development, combined with the concept of the fundamental values necessary for a meaningful, holistic, and sustainable development of individuals, families and communities as a whole. An integral approach that includes six general areas of basic needs is the culmination of lessons learned and taught by some of the foremost thinkers and grassroots rural development organizations, in India and abroad. The design and implementation of this unified IRD Model is the result of several iterations for developing the present structure of the model. The characteristic elements of the structure are as follows:


  1. The IRD Hub is the first tier and shall administer the total project, including coordination of the design and dissemination of all the change management programs, in order to achieve the overall goals and objectives of the IRD. From geometrical considerations, it should be located at the focal center of gravity of the IRD hexagon, but in practice, it may be strategically located as the focal administrative hub, which in the present case is Auroville, for operational convenience and logistical imperatives.


  1. The IRD Secretariat, which is the second-tier and at the core of the program, interfaces with the external program elements and facilitates transparent Program Governance; Program Planning and Development; Network Mobilization and Management; Funds Mobilization and Management; Information Management and Communications; and Policy Analysis and Advocacy. The IRD Secretariat houses the Training and Education division, which will be responsible for all Capacity Building and Livelihood Skills Development programs. These will focus on programs to (a) alleviate poverty, unemployment, socio-economic inequity, disaffection and disenfranchisement among youth and families in the target area; (b) mitigate against rural and coastal environment degradation; (c) reduce migration from the village to urban centers by enhancing capacity-building mechanisms to strengthen civil society structures; (d) promote community building programs and networking in and between village organizations; (e) provide vocational, leadership and life skills training, environmental awareness programs, teacher training and Training for Trainers programs and support for new economically and environmentally sustainable enterprise development; and (f) facilitate microfinance assistance programs.


  1. The third-tier is compromised of the Knowledge Centers (KCs). It is the level at which a differentiation in program delivery takes place, and has to be located in the beneficiary areas. As shown in Figure 5 (and the map in Annexure 1), there are six types of KCs, marked in green ovals, from A to F, and each focus area has already been defined as Education and Livelihoods, Agricultural and Environment, Health, Energy, Shelter and Advanced Technologies, respectively. Each KC will spread over an area of between three to five acres, and will be (a) constructed according to the knowledge-based approach described in Section 3; (b) specifically equipped to handle the knowledge and information requirements of the target rural community, (c) equipped to lead the process oriented change management practices, and (d) responsible for the design and dissemination of programs in each focus area and community.


  1. The forth-tier comprises the Village Education Center (VEC), which is a microcosm of a KC, complete with the capability to deliver basic IT-enabled services for knowledge and information and for the dissemination of ideas, products and services that are most relevant to the immediate village community. The distributed structure is again based on the hexagonal structure for the KCs the diamond lattice structure in the reference model with six VECs recursively built around each KC, to maximize the dissemination of knowledge services and change management practices. They shall have scaled down classrooms for education and training and dissemination of appropriate technologies to community members in the village, and provide an interface between the rural community members and the host KC.


  1. The fifth-tier, the Information Consultant (IC) functions as the last meter linkage between the IRD Model and the beneficiaries; the village inhabitants. Provisions will be made to empower at least six Information Consultants in each VEC, who will champion the cause of total empowerment through the participatory approach, which will be to vigorously pursue the dissemination of rural ICT in a structured way but with a human face the application of soft technologies.


  1. The sixth and last tier is the Beneficiary Community, the indigenous population, for whom this project has been conceived, and without whom the IRD would not be possible. It is their socioeconomic and spiritual enhancement at the end of the program after seven years that will bear testimony to the success of this new paradigm for Integral Rural Development.

To reiterate, these six tiers are shown above in Figure 1, starting with the IRD Hub at the center. The IRD Secretariat, which is at the core interfaces with the third tier the KCs the circular area outside the IRD Secretariat, which have been divided into six segments, to reflect the hexagonal structure, with each segment reflecting a particular focus area. The VECs lie in the fourth tier; there are six of each type, making a total of 36 within the IRD Model. The fifth tier is comprised of the ICs, who may be as numerous as appropriate for outreach in any particular location. For example in a place where training in organic agriculture and food processing techniques is particularly relevant, there could be a team of consultants covering a sizeable population, while the need for consultants in shelter technologies might be minimal.


The role of Information Consultants: One of the deliverables of IRD is the Information Consultant or IC. These professionals will be community people who are trained in governance policies, technologies and vocational skills for specific business and technology areas. These ICs will act as change agents and the enablers for setting up production, marketing, and service activities in the target region.




7.1 Phase 1 (Two Years) - Community building and testing the IRD Model


The estimated duration of Phase 1 is one year and entails primarily (a) baseline research in the target area, (b) mobilization of the target village community and building communication platforms and resource infrastructure, in order to eventually ensure the communitys acceptance and ownership of the project; and (c) establishing Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) so that different stakeholders in society are able to collaborate in creating appropriate economic and environmental benefits, for themselves as well as the rural community they serve.


The primary goal of Phase 1 is therefore to validate the assumptions that have been made for the realization of the new paradigm for Integral Rural Development. The secondary goal is to start building the Public-Private Partnerships for this project and hence to fine-tune the design and implementation plans of the second phase of this project (Section 7.2). A tertiary goal is to bring about a common understanding of the principles and values of IRD through a year-long series of seminars, which will help to clarify the issues, policies and procedures for strengthening the Public-Private Partnerships.


In Phase 1, only a skeletal implementation of the PPP components of the IRD Model will be taken up, starting with one location as shown in the map in Annexure 1. The IRD Model will be incrementally built up in Phases 1 and 2 and systematically extended to a total of six locations, ensuring sufficient time for testing the methodology.



7.1.1 The Discovery Seminars (Year One)

A series of seminars will be held to identify suitable business units and formulate policies for governance. The participants of the seminars will be Auroville Units, NGOs, Government Agencies, IT solution providers and private firms.


The objectives of the Discovery Seminars will be as follows:

  1. Document Lessons learned: Auroville commercial units and Auroville Village Action Trust have considerable experience providing sustainable livelihoods in the neighboring villages. Likewise there is considerable experience to be leveraged from NGOs, Government Agencies and Private Companies.
  2. Technology Identification: High impact technologies such as renewable energy generation, applications in ICT and transportation will be identified.
  3. Business Area Identification: Appropriate business units/areas will be identified based upon the cumulative knowledge and experience of seminar participants in high impact areas such as education, employment, health, shelter and food. The objective of these services is to provide economic and environmental benefits for the service provider (Business Units) as well as the rural target beneficiaries.
  4. Formulate Policies: After technologies and business areas are identified, the policies will be developed in line with the governance framework discussed in Fig. 7.1 These include a) ownership issues, b) methods and processes for auditable accounting, and c) pricing mechanism for market sustainability. The final outcome of these policies by the end of the project (exit mechanism) will be a full set of governing principles for a self-sustaining, integral and sustainable rural economic development.
  5. Imlementation Plan: Only after the seminars, details will emerge to furnish a complete implementation plan that will detail schedules, resource allocation, deliverables, financial projections, and risk mitigation plans. A minimum of seven seminars will be held over a period of six months. By the end of the year, the Implementation Plan will show a detailed approach for the pilot and regional level implementation of a knowledge based market creation approach in the target rural area through a public-private partnership model. The first test of the model will take place in the initial site of Nadukuppam village where baseline data will be thoroughly documented and asset creation will get underway.


The seven seminars (Section 5.1) that will be held within the first six months will lay the groundwork of the Public-Private Partnerships for the remainder of this project. This exploratory phase will be followed up with hands-on development at Nadukuppam, where development is already underway (see Annexure 2), and on-going monitoring and evaluation, with a closing set of evaluation seminars at the end of Phase 1. This will enable us to finalize the Implementation Plan for Phase 2, in which the knowledge-based approaches will be fully implemented in each of the target villages.


7.2 Phase 2 (Three Years): Interim IRD implementation


In Phase 2, which will have a duration of three years, the assets of the IRD Model will be implemented throughout the target area, based on the experience gained in Phase 1.


The primary goal of Phase 2 is to fully implement the knowledge-based approach so that sustainable livelihoods can begin to be created and the problems discussed in Section 3 can be effectively addressed.


7.2.1 Implementation Methodology

A Governance Framework: The IRD project aims to move away from traditional hierarchical and ad-hoc methods to a model that has a governance structure suited for replication with efficiency and responsibility.


The replication philosophy needs to take into account four important dimensions of replication as shown in fig 7.1


These dimensions will form the common governance framework for all business units. A common framework will allow autonomy, leverage efficiencies and enforce compliance.


  1. Quantifiable: Units need to have metrics to show quantifiable outputs in relation to input of time, money and resources.
  2. Auditable: The units need to maintain standard documentation on accounting and performance yardsticks.
  3. Repeatable: The set of rules embodies in the governance framework should be generic enough to allow replication across geographies.
  4. Ethical: Ethical standards should be clearly outlined to prevent any inappropriate practices in improper handling of land, labor and financial matters.


Knowledge Enabled Business Units: Business Units need to be selected on the basis of the following considerations:

  1. In Demand: The services or products should be in demand in that region.
  2. Resources Available: Material should be locally available. The manpower is readily available. Appropriate facilities are at hand for providing training if needed.
  3. Ecologically Responsible: Long-tern sustainability of natural resources and economic patterns should be taken into account in selecting appropriate business units.
  4. Commercially Viable: Business models should be tested to ensure that the services or products can sustain employment on a long term basis

7.2.2 Validation of Methodology

Once the policies are formulated, appropriate technologies and business areas suitable for the Kalivelli Bioregion are determined, Phase 2 can commence with implementation. Over the next three years a select number of business units will be developed in a single community (the Kaliveli Bioregion).


The primary purpose of this phase is to implement and test the validity of the knowledge based philosophy of IRD for creating sustainable livelihoods and economic development.


A Participatory Approach: During the deployment of services in the target area, IRD will take a participatory approach with all the stakeholders. The key findings in terms of criteria of acceptability will be a major input to the validation and ongoing revision of the governing policies.


1 Business Unit Development: This process will encompass training, construction and procurement of capital equipment. IRD project members will be closely associated with startup, implementation, operations and support of the business units. These units will be in a Public Private Partnership model and will be governed by the policies formulated in Phase 1.

2 Lessons Learned: The validity of policies and governance framework developed in Phase 1 will be tested for operational success. Any changes needed will be tested and documented in this phase. IRD project staff will determine the adjustments needed for multi region expansion

3 Make Improvements: During actual implementation, several areas of inefficiencies will be uncovered. Some hurdles will no doubt need to be surpassed. This phase will work on updating the policies and business models with appropriate solutions.

4 Implementation Plan Update: With this experience of single region implementation in Phase 2, a multi-region replication plan will be incorporated in the Implementation Plan. This will reflect the schedules, resources, finances and risk mitigation plans for a multi-region deployment. This update to the Implementation Plan will prepare IRD for the final phase.


7.3 Phase 3 (Two Years) Multiple Village Implementation and Replication

The objectives of Phase 3 are 1) to complete project implementation in the target area, demonstrating the knowledge-based, process oriented and participatory approach to integral rural development, 2) complete the transfer of control to the local beneficiaries, ensuring that all systems, policies and procedures are well established and integrated, and 3) finalizing all project documentation and evaluation data necessary for establishing the parameters for successful project implementation and replication in other areas.


The main deliverable from Phase 2 is the Implementation Plan for multi-region deployment of the model, including programs and manuals covering all aspects of implementation necessary for replication of the model. The policy framework and model business units, technological assets, economic activities and socio-cultural life patterns should be functioning in an optimal self-sustaining manner out by now. At the culmination of Phase 3 the IRD Model will be ready for testing the governance framework and implementation methodology in the context of a multi-region rollout.


The IRD Regional Implementation Model will also culminate the exit strategy for the IRD project. At this stage the project should demonstrate how target regions can attract private funding and deploy the systems and procedures for functioning in a similarly self sustaining, and sustainable, mode.



IRD will be structured along the lines of a large scale Program Office which will be governed by a Core Group. The Core Group will interface with the Government Planning Commission, Tamil Nadu State Administration, Technology Partners, and Delivery Partners.


8.1 Policy and Planning Oversight


Planning Commission and State Authorities The Auroville Core Group will function as an intermediate Planning and Policy Making authority between official bodies and project management. The IRD project will provide status updates on a regular basis on project milestones to its partners at all levels. The Core Group may also seek help from time to time from State agencies if it encounters issues related to policies, regulations and administration hurdles at Panchayat and District levels.


Technology Partners The IRD Core Group will relate directly to technology partners which include Information Technology providers and Environmentalists. The technology partners will be consulted and recruited for IT, enabling the governance policies, education, communications and core applications in the areas of managing health, education, shelter, energy, and agriculture. The environmentalists will assist IRD with ensuring sustainability.


Delivery Partners Delivery Partners will work in a PPP mode in the IRD project. The Core Group will maintain this relationship structure during all three phases of project delivery. Post Phase 3, delivery partners will work in an autonomous mode but under the governance model developed in Phase 3.


8.2 Project Management


Program Manager The program manager will be accountable for the IRD deployment. The finance and administration function will be a part of the program office. Under the program manager there will be project managers for each major area:

Administration/Policy/Acountability, Business Unit Creation and Marketing, Information Technology, Environment and Agriculture, Education, Social Work, Health, Shelter and Energy.


Policy Formulation Project Manager The policies manager will be responsible for developing, implementing, monitoring and updating the governing policies of the IRD project. The governing policies will encompass the four guiding principles, namely auditability, accountability, repeatability and ethical code of conduct. The policy project office will also take into account environment and sustainability factors.


Business Areas Project Manager The business area manager relates to the commercial units that will deliver products or services in the target areas. The unit may deliver services in any of the six selected areas of education, energy, agriculture, shelter, health or ICT. This project office will be responsible for planning, labor, training and all aspects of the business units.

Target Region Project Manager This office will deal with public relations in the target region. This will include participatory decision making, bioregional awareness and general education, and interfacing with local government and other institutions.

8.3 Tiered Management Structure




IRD Model

Phase 1

(two years)

Phase 2

(three years)

Phase 3

(two years)







KC/VEC Asset Creation


























Note: The original spreadsheet for Total Rural Development, Dec. 1, 2007, had calculated the budget for Phase 1 at Rs. 16.4 crore, with the remaining phases at a lower rate of expenditure. However, this projection was based on the assumption of a more rapid technological asset creation across the target area, and did not take into account the already existing inputs at Nadukuppam as the basis for further development. The overall costs for the IRD Model remain the same overall, but the assumptions for Phase 1 have shifted to a slower, more people centered start-up where the existing inputs provide an example of knowledge-based asset creation approaches that will create interest and confidence among the immediate beneficiaries in the region.

Annexure 1 Target Area










Annexure 2 Nadukuppam: Existing Inputs and Steps Forward (The Initial Phase 1 Site Implementation)






1 See Auroville Bioregional Development Plan for information on the resources available in this area. Auroville Village Action Trust (AVAT and the Pitchandikulam Forest/Bio Resource Centre (PBRC have decades of experience in participatory village-based development work in Auroville and in the Kaliveli bioregion, and serve as project leaders in the target are for the IRD Model.

2 IRD is based on two earlier proposals: Total Rural Development-A New Paradigm for Sustainability: Rural Convergence Program (RCP), 01/12/07; and Toward A Knowledge Society, 24/04/07. Both were submitted to the Indian Knowledge Commission and both were the product of numerous previous concept papers by various persons whose creative participation in this ongoing effort is gratefully acknowledged.

[4] A variation of privatization in which elements of a service previously run solely by the public sector are provided through a partnership between the government and one or more social/NGO or private sector organizations. Unlike a full privatization scheme, in which the new venture is expected to function as a private business, the partnership continues to participate in some way.


4 Malini Mehra (2007), Climate Change Why India needs to take leadership, CSM

5 A Japanese term referring to continual improvement involving everyone at every level in an organization. It is a strategy to improve and maintain all processes through gradual, continuous and incremental improvements of an activity, principally to eliminate waste.

[6] Advanced Technologies in this context relates to rural development, from biotechnology to medical electronics, satellite imagery, hydrogen economy, computer & advanced communication networks, video-conferencing & virtual reality networking for reaching the Global Village, and others.


IRD model.doc