This email contains graphics, so if you don't see them, View it online
Message from the CEO
Cover Story

S M Sehgal Foundation began the new year with fresh energy for our engagement with a growing number of rural communities to bring about positive social, economic, and environmental change. In 2014 we began our year-long celebration of 15 years of work with the rural communities in India. Visit for details of our work and the events calendar for our 15th anniversary year!

With support from government and private donors, the foundation partners with communities in Mewat district, Haryana, and Alwar district, Rajasthan, on efforts to manage water resources, increase agricultural productivity, and strengthen rural governance. To reach more villagers, foundation teams are studying community development priorities in new districts in Bihar and Rajasthan for which we seek partner-donor support.

In this issue of Connect, you will find inspiring stories of community successes in the areas where Sehgal Foundation is working. Efforts of villagers in both Mewat and Alwar districts are improving the delivery of basic government programs and services to reach all eligible households. Villagers are standing up for their rights and those of their neighbors, and showing the strength to speak out against corruption.

We invite you to join us to help empower rural communities in India! If you are interested in partnering with Sehgal Foundation on our work, please write to me at

Jane Schukoske

Visit our Facebook page:
Follow us on Twitter @sehgalfdn

Villagers get their land after 5 years

Collective action in Raniyala village, Mewat district, Haryana, yielded positive results in a long-pending land dispute. Village women got together to end the struggle of 76 Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.


Biography of our founders:
Seeds for Change–The lives and work of Suri and Edda Sehgal

Seeds for Change documents how Suri and Edda Sehgal, refugees who each escaped dangerous and difficult circumstances as children, came to America as young adults (from India and Germany respectively), met and fell in love, and went on to have more astonishing experiences as talented and visionary business leaders,
generous philanthropists, and proud Americans. As a crop scientist, seedsman, and agricultural visionary, Suri became a respected and pivotal figure in the development of the global hybrid-seed industry. He and Edda have shared their resulting good fortune with those in need around the world.


Community Stories

Our Blog

Education, Child Rights and Development

Developing a Successful Model Village

In light of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, we take this opportunity to take a closer look at children's rights and the importance of education. We also reflect on some of Sehgal Foundation's work, deeply rooted in children's rights. The second Millennium Development Goals of universal primary education promotes the basic education for every child, irrespective of gender. It states that children everywhere, boys and girls alike, should be able to complete their primary education. In India, increasing numbers of children complete primary education, but the school dropout rate among children is still high, especially in the rural parts of the country.


Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojna to develop model villages is an ambitious program launched by Prime Minister Narender Modi. It will be a workable program only if Members of Parliament (MPs) are able to convert it into a people's movement. By incorporating lessons learned from other successful models as well as failures, MPs can benefit without reinventing the wheel. Many opine that the time given to create 800 model villages is too short, and the target number is too insignificant. Our experience of working together with the rural communities has convinced us that, with proper planning and foresight, the target is achievable and significant. The most essential ingredient in this whole recipe is engaging the communities.


Latest at Sehgal Foundation

Mahila sangathans motivate women to work for development

A new program launched at community radio Alfaz-e-Mewat

Mewat district in Haryana, India, has remained undeveloped for a long time. The footsteps of change have set in with the women of village institutions in Mewat forming block-level sangathans (women collectives). They include members of School Management Committee (SMC), Village Health, Sanitation and Nutrition Committee (VHSNC), and panchayats (village councils). The aim of sangathans is to speed up the development process in the local communities.


Following traffic rules helps to keep us safe. Still, we come across alarming numbers of road accidents and instances of reckless driving. To raise public awareness, Alfaz-e-Mewat community radio devoted the first live show in a new radio series, Kanoon Ki Baat (Talk on Law), to the topic of the Motor Vehicle Act and Traffic Rules. The Haryana State Legal Services Authority (HALSA) and three community radios in Mewat and Gurgaon launched the weekly show, Kanoon Ki Baat, on January 7, 2015.


Sehgal Foundation in US

US women support Sehgal Foundation's work in India

Sehgal Foundation's Iowa Chapter Members Meet

US women supported Sehgal Foundation's work in rural India during an appreciation lunch hosted by Nilima Mehra, CEO of GTV, on January 11, 2015. Many of the 40 powerful US women who had "walked the ramp" during a December 6, 2014, fashion event discussed the foundation's community-led developmental work at Bombay Bistro in Fairfax, Virginia. Neena Bhaskar, who travels the world for the World Bank and reports on all South Asian events and programs for Asia TV, participated actively.

Ms. Mehra and Geert Van Brandt, US representative of Sehgal Foundation, presented a Women of Power certificate to each participant. Over 100 women appreciated and supported the December event. See first video below.
The members of Sehgal Foundation's Iowa Chapter organized a successful fundraiser event on November 16, 2014, at Windsor Heights Community Center in Iowa. The purpose of the event was to raise funds for 'water for schools' initiative to provide water for toilets in schools in India.

Over 125 people attended the event and learned about the challenges in quality and availability of water in India. The event raised enough funds to provide water in six schools in rural India. We would like to thank those who donated to make a difference in the lives of schoolchildren in India.

New Year celebrations at South Asian community in DC

Varun's water initiative

Sehgal Foundation was a part of the New Year celebrations of the South Asian community in Washington, DC, USA. Geert Van Brandt, US representative of Sehgal Foundation, attended the event and increased awareness on the Sehgal Foundation's rural development work in India. He spoke about the mission of the foundation: To strengthen community-led development initiatives to achieve positive, social, and environmental change across rural India. Bollywood actor Esha Deol was the guest of honor at the event, which was attended by about 300 South Asians. TV Asia covered the event and interviewed attendees.
Varun Myneni, a resident of the US, thought of doing something about the lack of water in some schools in rural India. He reached out to his family and friends for some help, and donations poured in. In just three weeks, he raised over $3,000 for the school project. With a matching fund from the Sehgal Foundation, US, the total amount raised is over $6,000. The funds will be used in installing rainwater harvesting system, tank, and filters in Nawli Middle school in Firozepur Jhirka block of Mewat, Haryana, India.

On completion, the system will provide clean drinking water and water for the toilet facilities to approximately 300 children.

Development Window


This Girl Said 'No' To Getting Married 2 Weeks Before The Ceremony. You Will Be Glad To Know Why.

Last year, Sujata Behera, 17, a Dalit girl from Dankeni, a remote village in Kandhamal district of Odisha, did the unthinkable. Just two weeks before her upcoming marriage, she told her parents that she had decided not to go ahead with it. The cards had been printed, her clothes had been stitched, and preparations for the ceremonies had nearly been done, so how could she back out? Sujata's father was livid and told her she had no option but to comply, while her mother tried to reason with her to change her mind. But the teenager remained firm: she would only marry after she turned 18 and finished her schooling.

US Women Support Sehgal Foundation's Work in India

Sehgal Foundation Green Building
Community Radio Alfaz-e-Mewat
Events at a Glance

NOV 16: Awareness and fundraising campaign held at Windsor Heights Community and Events Center, Iowa, USA
DEC 07: Sehgal Foundation Des Moines Chapter Members Meet, USA
DEC 18: Village Legal Literacy Camp in Nagina Block of Mewat, Haryana
DEC 23: Village Legal Literacy Camp in Firozepur Jhirka Block of Mewat, Haryana
DEC 23: Celebration of Farmers' Day at Community Radio Alfaz-e-Mewat
JAN 12-13: 11th International Conference on Inspiring Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship for Poverty Eradication and Climate Change Mitigation by India Development Coalition of America in Ahmedabad
FEB 20: Meeting of Mahila Sangathans (Women Collectives) in Mewat, Haryana
FEB 28: Third Anniversary Event of Community Radio Alfaz-e-Mewat

Sehgal Foundation in News
Why good governance may need more than adoption of villages
Interface workshop organized
Legal literacy camp organized in Shikrawa village
Upcoming Events

MAR 13: Fifth Annual Good Governance Conference at Sehgal Foundation
MAR 26: Felicitation of Grassroot Women Leaders at Ghaghas Community Centre, Mewat, Haryana
APR 24: Cultural Event to Celebrate 15 Years of Rural Development Work at Sehgal Foundation

Editors: Pooja O. Murada, Director, Communications; Arti M. Grover, Program Leader, Communications

Acknowledgement: Community and Sehgal Foundation team contributed to this issue.

Our Partners Ensure Value
Grants and donations from the government and from local, regional, national, and international agencies, companies, universities, foundations, research institutes, and individual partners enable us to broaden our reach and strengthen our impact across rural India. Know more about our partners  
To join, change or cancel your subscription to this newsletter,