Udaipur, India

Paths to Progress:  What's Happening in Udaipur?

Community Partner Highlights

enterprise.gifACCESS Development Services organizes marginalized rural farmers into self-help groups and builds these groups into Producer Companies, triggering numerous social and economic benefits.

education.gifJatan Sansthan encourages rural Rajasthani youth to achieve quality literacy, numeracy, and general life skills--and to take action in their communities through participation in local policy formulation, decision making, and advocacy.

microfinance.gifManav Rozgar Kshamta Vikas Sansthan/Human Employment Ability Development Society (HEADS) works with marginalized communities in Southern Rajasthan through capacity-building workshops, skill-building sessions, and other activities that encourage microenterprise. They specialize in guiding women's self-help groups in small business practices.

Introduction to the City of Lakes


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Known as the City of Lakes, Udaipur is set amidst a series of picturesque lakes in the northwest state of Rajasthan. Due to its stunning setting, mythical architecture, and rich history, Udaipur is a popular tourist destination. Unfortunately, the city’s gaping wealth disparity means that the majority of the population suffers from a sever lack of supporting infrastructure. The Indian government is reticent to look to outside sources for economic assistance due to India’s long history of colonization. Solutions, therefore, are most effective from within India’s borders. FSD's community partners work to empower local communities by assisting grassroots organizations to form village level seminars, provide training programs, and organize rallies. These organizations work in the communities to establish local management committees, which generate awareness and encourage political and social change.

Udaipur, Rajasthan

Population: 571,178

Avg. temperature: Low 68ºF / High 93ºF

Local time:

Language: Hindi

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Organization: Prayas Centre
Topic: Human Rights
Intern: Amy Koch

The Prayas Centre for Research and Action proposed a project to stop human trafficking in rural village areas. Intern Amy Koch worked with Prayas to implement concrete solutions to the human rights problem by conducting research with on-the-ground mobile teams, and setting up check posts to further reduce the incidence child trafficking and labor.

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Organization: Inst. Local Self Gov.
Topic: Gender equity
Intern: Michelle Trone

The Institute for Local Self Government promotes good governance models at the village level, providing training programs for elected women representatives. Michelle Trone says of her internship: “I learned how to live in a culture far-removed from Western comforts, and realized that my passion lies in pursuing international affairs both academically and professionally.”

Roma Bhardwaj, Program Director

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An Udaipur native, Roma has built a strong network with the local government and NGOs alike. She previously held a high position at a renowned Indian NGO, Seva Mandir, and recently made her first trip to the United States to visit FSD’s home office and participate in the Global Engagement Summer Institute. Roma is especially passionate about helping her local community and working and building relationships with interns.

A day in the life of an FSD Intern

Worth It

Hanes Motsinger partnered with the Centre for Women's Studies on nutritional initiatives aimed at local women and children.

I have now been here 75 days. For these 75 days I have been working with the Centre for Women’s Studies, a small department of a local university that is working to empower women throughout the tribal blocks of Rajasthan surrounding Udaipur. I have spent 75 days getting up around 7:30 in the morning, having breakfast with my wonderful host mother, and walking out the door by 9 am to ensure that I make it to work by 10 am, the time the Indian work day begins. I walk down the stairs of my apartment complex, wave good morning to the security guard who I’ve become “buddies” with--he also works at the grocery store in the bottom of my apartment building--and mentally prepare myself for the day. A never-ending beeping of motorcycles, government buses, and auto rickshaws whiz through the narrow roads of Udaipur. I take a refreshing walk--mornings here are cool, though days are hot--in the quiet back streets of early-morning Udaipur.

Since undertaking my research on the nutritional status of tribal women and families--and the nutritional divisions between men and women, class and caste--I have started spending every day in the field. The hour-and-a-half haul to Gogunda (the tribal block I am working within) via government bus is absolutely nerve-wracking, but one of those experiences that makes this adventure all the more exciting. We speed through winding, bumping roads and fly off our seats if we are so unlucky as to get stuck in the back of the bus. We clench our teeth and hold on to our seats for dear life as brakes aren’t used here, only blaring horns that say “get out of the way or we will run you over!” We eat lunch with locals, and as I can’t speak the language, the village women and I smile at one another and laugh at our inability to talk. Somehow through the laughter, we begin to understand each other, if only just a little.

My time spent here isn’t about implementing “change” (which just isn’t going to happen in 4 months). I have realized that the most beneficial thing I can give and take from this place are the incredible relationships that I have formed. Although I may not finish surveying 100 women as I had hoped, my time here still will be a success when it ends on December 18th. mandie.jpg I have been given the greatest learning experience about life, work, persistence, and the importance of hope and faith in sustainable development. This work is hard. This work is challenging and often infuriating. This work makes you laugh and it makes you cry. It makes you want to pull your hair out and run into the middle of a forest just to scream at the top of your lungs for 20 minutes. It makes you so incredibly happy and excited, and it builds your patience like nothing else possibly could. It takes you on the greatest ride of your life. This place, this project, and these people I have encountered have been my teachers. They have enhanced my understanding of myself, my life, my world and sustainable development. I suppose in the end, I can laugh, cry, scream, and confidently say, it was all worth it!