Photo: National Association of Street Vendors of India


Priority Issues

  • Justice
  • Labor Rights
  • Land Rights
  • LGBTI Rights
  • Women's Rights

Began Program: 2004

India is a massive democracy with 1.65 billion people, twenty-eight states, and fifteen official languages. Despite strong legal protections, justice, equality, and dignity elude millions of people. The struggle for rights and survival takes place in a context where more than a third of the country lives under the poverty line and India’s poorest strive for control over their land and livelihoods and to live free from abuse and exploitation.

The hope for India lies in its extremely vibrant civil society, in which human rights organizations are doing groundbreaking work that is delivering concrete change to the lives of millions.

“The Fund understands that development is a process, and that social change in traditional societies takes time. The Fund’s ongoing support has allowed us to put the priorities of low-income, single women onto India’s national agenda.”
Dr. Ginny Shrivastava, Astha Sansthan, India

Our Strategy

India has a long history of discrimination against Dalits (so-called untouchables), indigenous tribal communities, women, and LGBTI people. Routine oppression makes these populations more likely to be among India’s poorest and thus vulnerable to abuse, violence, and exploitation. Our strategy in India has been to enable these communities to demand their rights. We fund efforts to inspire mass movements for change while using innovative techniques to expose government corruption and police abuse. This has resulted in legal protections for domestic workers, waste pickers, tribal communities, the rural poor, and LGBTI people. We are now partnering with membership groups to ensure those laws translate into real rights on the ground.

Fund grantee Elgar works with poor communities in an incredibly isolated area of India, helping them press for equal access to land, fair wages and labor rights. Powerful and often corrupt people oppose Elgar’s work, and staff members have been arrested on trumped up charges—an all too common scare tactic. To hear from Paromita Goswami, the head of Elgar, about what it is like to work in this environment, please click here.