Planting Seeds of Change: The UNDP and India Partnership

30 May 2012


This book provides glimpses of an evolving partnership between UNDP and the Government of India since the early 1950's. It shows how seeds of development within collaborative projects and programmes have been nurtured by the people of India to achieve transformative results and catalyze growth and human development.

The story of the past four decades of rapid, unprecedented growth in lndia is a proud one. It is a story of a country and a people challenging great odds to nurture the seeds of development. And it is a story in which many Indians, of different ethnicities, class, gender and walks of life have seized the reins of development and made it their own - not just changing the face of development in this country, but showing through leadership and example, how development can be made more effective all over the globe.

The country's achievements since 1951 when it first partnered with the UN Special Fund and the Extended Programme of Technical Assistance (EPTA) have been massive. A complex administrative and financial system; dramatically increased food production to feed a growing population; and the establishment of large industries and banks, as well as roads, railways, airports and ports, have all been crucial to the country's growth. High-quality institutions of primary and higher education have grown and developed talent an exemplary electoral system has taken on the mantle of delivering free and fair elections; and a free press and strong civil society movement have strengthened democratic spaces. Still, if there's one thing that the world has learned about development it's that the development ideas that work are those that plant a seed. And that each of these small seeds, over years of diligent care and attention from the people it affects, can grow into something much greater.


The partnership between lndia and the UNDP over the past four decades has shown that in the hands of the Indian people, such seeds can grow not just into something larger, but into something that might have been nearly impossible to foresee. In 1951, just four years after lndependence, the lndian Government began to work with the two organizations that would later be joined into a single UNDP: the UN Special Fund and the Extended Programme of Technical Assistance (EPTA). That partnership led, among other things, to support for the establishment and design of the curriculum of the lndian Institute of Technology (IIT), which was modeled on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The IIT is now made up of fifteen campuses and is considered a major engine of India's technology boom.

In January of 1966, UNDP was formally created by joining the Special Fund together with the EPTA, and it began working in partnership with the lndian government that same year. This book aims to show how a number of transformative shifts in development thinking have evolved over the past four decades of development projects undertaken between the Government of lndia and UNDP - and how the lndian people have taken the seeds of development and nurtured them into something much greater than each initial seed.

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