S M Sehgal Foundation

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S M Sehgal Foundation (Sehgal Foundation) is an Indian NGO focused on rural development with its head office in Gurugram (formerly Gurgaon),[1] Haryana. It was founded as an Indian public, charitable trust in 1999 by plant geneticist Suri Sehgal (Dr. Surinder M. Sehgal) and his wife Mrs. Edda Sehgal, who together had accumulated wealth through the 1998 sale of their hybrid seed businesses, Proagro Group.[2]

The foundation implements rural development projects in semi-arid areas of districts in eleven states (Haryana, Rajasthan, Bihar, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh) in water security, food security, and social justice, with an emphasis on the empowerment of women and girls. Projects are supported by multiple sources, including individual donors, corporate sponsors, government grants, academic partnerships, and foundation funding. The organization's rural research unit conducts impact assessments and original research on development themes. Other units conduct crop research and adapt rural technologies to meet local needs.[3][4]


In 1998, Suri and Edda Sehgal, American citizens, established Sehgal Family Foundation (later changed to Sehgal Foundation) in Des Moines, Iowa, as a 501(C)(3) nonprofit philanthropic organization advocating biodiversity and conservation.[5][6][7] The Sehgals established S M Sehgal Foundation in India, in 1999, as a public charitable trust. In the first three years, it made grants to other not-for-profit organizations. In 2002, S M Sehgal Foundation began grassroots development implementation with communities in Mewat District, now called Nuh, Haryana, and continued to expand its role.[8][9] As programs evolved, the founders stressed that "Many approaches are needed in order to create an impact."[10] The foundation has been recognized in the past as "IRRAD (Institute for Rural Research and Development) an initiative of S M Sehgal Foundation." Some awards for their development work are presented in that name.[11][12] S M Sehgal Foundation has a consultive status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.[13][14]


S M Sehgal Foundation's programs are interrelated with a focus on gender equality. The organization's tagline, "Together we empower rural India," refers to empowering individuals and members of village-level institutions to participate in projects undertaken on their behalf in order to further their own development.[15][16][17][18]

Water Management[edit]

Foundation staff and volunteers work alongside villagers to obtain and secure adequate local water supplies, improve sanitation, and manage wastewater in their communities. Information and awareness outreach includes door-to-door campaigns and water literacy training. Infrastructure projects include rooftop rainwater harvesting, check dams, water storage tanks, recharge wells and ponds, biosand filters, and wastewater disposal structures.[19][20][21] The foundation supports rejuvenating traditional wells as a more sustainable alternative to tube wells.[22] These interventions help dry villages become water sufficient.[23] In 2014, the foundation won the Millennium Alliance Award for Outstanding Work on Pressurized Recharge Wells for Creating Fresh Water Pockets in Saline Ground Water Areas.[24] The technology was recognized in September 2015 at the United Nations Solutions Summit as one of 14 "innovative" projects profiled that provide "breakthrough solutions" to help meet sustainable global development goals.[25][26] S M Sehgal Foundation engineers designed a biosand filter that was more effective than previous versions in treating water contamination at the household level.[27][28] The filter operates without electricity and is effective against E.coli, total coliforms, turbidity, and iron contamination. The technology integrates germicidal properties of copper with conventional filtration.[29] Sehgal Foundation technical experts collaborate with other NGOs, government bodies, and educational institutions to prepare for monsoon harvesting.[30]

Agriculture Development[edit]

The agricultural development program promotes sustainable farming practices to improve soil health and crop yield, use water efficiently, empower women farmers, and enhance farmers' income. The foundation sponsors demonstration plots and training on a crop-specific package of practices. Exposure tours, farmers’ meetings, and field days showcase methods of composting, vermicomposting, drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, the effective use of microorganisms for quality manure.[31] Information communication technology (ICT) provides voice messages to farmers on crop and livestock management.[32] Partnership projects of differing lengths with farmer groups vary by crop, strategy, location, and beneficiary. Native plants are planted in catchment areas and around check dams, ponds, and school boundaries.

The foundation's crop improvement research unit housed in Hyderabad at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is recognized as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organization by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India.[33] The scientists and researchers work to identify elite germplasm assists scientists in public and private sectors in developing new and improved varieties and hybrids.

Local Participation and Sustainability[edit]

A good rural governance program promoting local participation and sustainability of projects trains citizens and community leaders about their rights, how to access public services, how to participate with government representatives in addressing and solving local community problems, and how to activate and strengthen community panchayats (village councils), education committees, and health, sanitation, and nutrition committees. Legal literacy camps train citizens to use systems to obtain their rightful entitlements.[34][35] A training initiative begun in 2009 in collaboration with Jindal Global Law School, called Good Governance Now! (Sushasan Abhi!), brings justice to marginalized people in India's most "backward" districts. In 2014, the foundation created a telephone hotline for citizens to receive guidance on addressing concerns to government departments and village-level institutions.[36][37] The Sushasan Abhi team works with and educates communities and panchayats to promote sanitation and eliminate open defecation in keeping with Swachh Bharat Mission (clean India campaign).[38] Awareness is raised about government schemes and entitlements so that villagers are empowered to claim their rights.[39]

Community Radio[edit]

In 2012, the foundation launched a community radio station in Ghaghas village in Mewat, Haryana. Alfaz-e-Mewat (Voice of Mewat) FM 107.8 provides call-in programs for discussion of village issues and government programs. Educational and entertainment programs and children's programs are developed and shared in collaboration with other community radio stations. Community members are broadcasters and reporters.[40][41] Informational programs address farm practices, sanitation and health issues, conservation and environmental awareness, rural governance, and the empowerment of women and girls. In areas without radio signals, villagers listen and participate by calling a toll-free number.[42][43] Alfaz-e-Mewat creates programs that address emerging concerns for young people as well as adult villagers, including mental health issues, stress in school, girls being harassed, and information about safety as brought about my the COVID-19 pandemic.[44]

Sustainable "green" building[edit]

The main headquarters building in Gurugram, Haryana, was built in accordance with a platinum (the highest) rating of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council.[45][46] The building, by architect Ashok "Bihari" Lall, contains a solar power generation unit, a rooftop rainwater harvesting system, a 35 KW solar photovoltaic installation on the rooftop that meets 100% of the building's electricity needs, and an indoor climate control mechanism.[47][48] This was the first institutional building in Gurgaon to use materials specifically for the purpose of minimizing its ecological footprint.[49][50][51] The foundation initiated the use of solar lighting as an alternative power source in rural villages to address power blackouts and provide business opportunities to villagers.[52][53]

Grants, endowments, and collaborations[edit]

Sehgal Foundation in the US and S M Sehgal Foundation in India fund organizations and initiatives that promote biodiversity, conservation, and crop improvement.

  • Funding was provided to create the William L. Brown Center for Economic Botany at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.[54][55]
  • An endowment to the Missouri Botanical Garden established the William L. Brown Award for Excellence in Plant Genetic Resources Conservation.[56]
  • Ongoing collaboration with ICRISAT in Hyderabad, India, began in 2001 with a research grant for development of elite sorghum and millet germplasm.[57][58]
  • Seed money was provided for establishing Dharma Vana Arboretum in Andhra Pradesh to assist preservation of endangered species of plants and trees.[59]
  • A grant was given to ATREE (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment) to help protect biodiversity in the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas.[60][61]

Other awards[edit]

  • Starting in 2008, the Water Digest and UNESCO Best Water NGO Award went to Sehgal Foundation for several years in a row.[62][63][64]
  • The foundation's Good Governance Now! program was a finalist for the Global Development Network's Japanese Award for Most Innovative Development Project in 2010.[65]
  • In 2011, American India Foundation (AIF) gave Suri Sehgal a Leadership in Philanthropy Award.[66]
  • In 2013, the foundation's IRRAD project, "Strengthening the Demand and Supply for Better Village Governance" was short-listed for the Rockefeller Foundation's Top 100 Next Century Innovators Awards.[67]
  • Founder Suri Sehgal was presented with the 2013 Global Indian Karmaveer Puraskaar Lifetime Achievement Award for Social Justice and Citizen Action.[68]
  • CEO Jane Schukoske received the 2014 Amity Women's Achievers Award.[69]
  • In 2015, the foundation's radio station, Alfaz-e-Mewat, won the Manthan award for community broadcasting.[70][71]
  • In 2016, Sehgal Foundation won the 9th Global Agriculture Leadership Award from the Indian Council of Food and Agriculture (ICFA) in the Livelhood Leadership category.[72]
  • The Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, recognized the foundation in 2016 for "innovative practices of groundwater augmentation through rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge."[73]
  • In March 2017 Sehgal Foundation was presented with the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Leader Award for progress, innovative solutions, and commitment to serving communities through collaboration and hard work.[74]
  • In November 2018, Jay Sehgal received the University of Iowa's International Impact Award in recognition of "sustained and deep contributions" to "promote global understanding in his work with Sehgal Foundation in the US and in India."[75]
  • In November 2021, S M Sehgal Foundation received the FICCI Sustainable Agriculture Award (second place) in the category of Climate Resistant Agriculture Development.[76][77]
  • In December 2021, S M Sehgal Foundation won the Sabera Award in the category of Special Jury Commendation for Best NGO of the Year. "Sabera’s annual social impact award and summit highlight the best practices & sustainable development initiatives by corporates, nonprofits, and individuals." The award was recognizing that, in addition to being active in 11 states across India with rural development initiatives, S M Sehgal Foundation's work in the past year had supported communities during the COVID-19 pandemic with essential items including oxygen concentrators; PPE kits, gloves, sanitizer, surgical masks, and N95 masks for frontline medical and nursing staff, "which affected the lives of millions of people in India."[78]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Gurgaon District to be renamed Gurugram, Mewat as Nuh: Haryana Government". Express News Service 13, April 2016. 13 April 2016.
  2. ^ Maize Genetics and Breeding in the 20th Century, ed. Peter Peterson and Angelo Bianchi, World Scientific Publishing Company, 1999.
  3. ^ "Giving Back to Society," ICRISAT Happenings, 17 April 2015, No. 1671, p.6.
  4. ^ "Giving Back to Society". Issuu. ICRISAT. 16 April 2015.
  5. ^ "Sehgal Family Foundation". ProPublica Journalism in the Public Interest. 9 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Solid Foundation: Local families may give quietly, but their influence can last for generations". DSM Magazine. 27 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Sehgal Family Foundation". Bloomberg.
  8. ^ "Foundation releases annual report on its projects". The Hindu. 29 March 2004. Archived from the original on 24 November 2016.
  9. ^ Shenoy, Bhamy V. (1 January 2015). "Rural prosperity will propel development". Industrial Economist.
  10. ^ "Giving for a wider meaningful impact". Live Mint, 16 January 2016. 5 January 2016.
  11. ^ "Home". smsfoundation.org.
  12. ^ Raizada, Munish (12 June 2015). "For development to be sustainable, it has to start from the roots: Jane Schukoske, CEO, Sehgal Foundation". Newsgram.
  13. ^ "Statement from S M Sehgal Foundation (India)a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council". United Nations Economic and Social Council, 1 December 2017.
  14. ^ "SM Sehgal Foundation makes presentation at 56th Session of the UN Commission for Social Development". American Bazaar, 6 February 2018. 7 February 2018.
  15. ^ Shukla, Nishtha. "Profile: Village Voice". India EMPIRE.
  16. ^ "S M Sehgal Foundation: Together we empower rural India". CSR Times.
  17. ^ Dhaleta Surender Kuman, "Sehgal Foundation: Bringing winds of change," India Post, 39: 31 December 2004.}}
  18. ^ "Sehgal Foundation: Bringing Winds of Change". indiapost.com. American Bazaar, 6 February 2018.
  19. ^ "Rainwater Harvesting: An Effective Tool for Water Crises & its Management in India Scenario". Research Gate. February 2014.
  20. ^ "Mewat Development Agency, NUH: Soil Conservation and Water Harvesting Works". Mewat Development Agency, c.2010.
  21. ^ Mehra, Preeti (23 October 2015). "Anicut and after..." The Hindu Business Line.
  22. ^ Mehra, Preeti (10 October 2015). "Rajasthan villages drink deep from traditional wells". The Hindu Business Line.
  23. ^ Pareek, Shreya (19 May 2017). "How a Village in Rajasthan Went from Dry to Water Sufficient in Just One Year". "The Better India" 20, May 2017.
  24. ^ "Installation of pressurized recharge wells for creating fresh water pockets in saline ground water areas to make water available for drinking and sanitation purposes in water scarce schools of Mewat Haryana". millenniumalliance.in. Archived from the original on 25 December 2014.
  25. ^ "Solutions Summit 2015". solutions-summit.org.
  26. ^ Smith, Megan (June 2016). "It takes a network: People already have extraordinary solutions in progress to our most complex challenges". medium.com/the-white-house. The Medium Corporation.
  27. ^ Ahmed, Khusnuma Parween, "Germ-free research: JalKalp model to provide safe drinking water," Rural Marketing Magazine, 30 January 2016.
  28. ^ Ahmed, Khusnuma Parween (28 January 2016). "Germ-free research: JalKalp model to provide safe drinking water". ruralmarketing.in. Rural Marketing.
  29. ^ Bhaduri, Amita. "JalKalp: Water sands impurities". "India Water Portal" 13, November 2017.
  30. ^ "Get ready to harvest super monsoon or miss the bus writes Kiran Bedi". Hindustan Times. 23 May 2016.
  31. ^ "Development Cooperation: K=S KALI GmbH participates in a Village Development Project in rural India". K+S KALI GmbH, 4 February 2014.
  32. ^ "Strengthening Rural Livelihoods". Archived from the original on 20 April 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  33. ^ "Directory of Recognised Scientific and Industrial Research" (PDF). Government of India.
  34. ^ "Legal Literacy Projects: Clinical Experience of Empowering the Poor in India", in Frank S. Bloch (ed.), The Global Clinical Movement: Educating Lawyers for Social Justice, New York, 2010.
  35. ^ "Access to justice for all? Now that would be a measurable good thing by Stacey Cram and Vivek Maru". The Guardian, 1.1.16. January 2016.
  36. ^ "A Study of Law-based legal services clinics" (PDF). GoI and UNDP India, 2011.
  37. ^ "Experimenting with Clinical Legal Education to Address the Disconnect Between the Larger Promise of Law and its Grassroots Reality in India, by Ajay Pandey". Maryland Journal of International Law, 17 November 2011.
  38. ^ "Sanitation must go beyond shame and stigma". India Water Portal, 22 April 2016.
  39. ^ "Information helpline improves local governance in Nuh villages". Village Square, 10 August 2018. 10 August 2018.
  40. ^ "All we hear is… Alfaz-e-Mewat | Business Line". thehindubusinessline.com. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  41. ^ "Alfaz-e-Mewat 107.8". communityvoices.in. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  42. ^ "Radio Revolution-A look at the devices's reach in rural Harayana". DNA Daily News and Analysis India, 6 July 2014. 6 July 2014.
  43. ^ "Rural Voices: Unheard to empowered Report of a conference held on 3rd May 2012 by IRRAD, Sesame Workshop India Trust and UNESCO at Gurgaon". India Water Portal, 18 June 2012.
  44. ^ "This Community Radio in Mewat Since 2018 Has Helped Many Through Mental Hardships". YouthKiawaaz,17 January 2022. 17 January 2022.
  45. ^ Krishnamoorthy K, "Gurgaon Gets Green Building," Times of India, 2 December 2008.
  46. ^ "Gurgaon gets green building". The Times of India, timesofindia.indiatimes.com, 2 December 2008.
  47. ^ Lall, Ashok B., "Green IRRAD Building at Gurgaon, Haryana," Akshay Urja Renewable Energy, Vol 4 Issue 5 April 2011, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, GOI p.41-43.
  48. ^ "Green IRRAD building at Gurgaon, Haryana, Leading by Example" (PDF). Akshay Urja via infotech.biz, April 2011.
  49. ^ "Gurgaon realty focuses on developing Green buildings". The Economic Times, 15 June 2012.
  50. ^ "'Green building' to house rural institute in Gurgaon". Tribune India Haryana Plus, 27 November 2008.
  51. ^ "Just add water". Motherland Magazine.
  52. ^ "Mewat village to celebrate festival with solar lanterns". Hindustan Times, 26 October 2011. 26 October 2011.
  53. ^ "A solar lighting initiative in villages". The Hindu. The Hindu, 27 October 2011. 27 October 2011.
  54. ^ Cunningham, Isabel Shipley, "William Lacy Brown: Scientist, Executive, and Mentor: He left a lasting legacy to global agriculture," Diversity, Vol. 8, no 2 1992, pp 15-22.
  55. ^ "William Lacy Brown" (PDF). missouribotanicalgarden.org.
  56. ^ "The William L. Brown Award for Excellence in Plant Genetic Resources Conservation". missouribotanicalgarden.org.
  57. ^ "Icrisat gets $1 m from Sehgal Foundation". Business Standard India. Business Standard, 21 November 2003. 21 November 2003.
  58. ^ "Icrisat gets another $1 m donation from Sehgal Foundation". The Hindu Business Line, 20 November 2003.
  59. ^ "Home". arboretum.org.in.
  60. ^ "Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation". Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  61. ^ "Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam, India" (PDF). United Nations Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
  62. ^ "The Water Digest Water Awards 2015-2016: Winning Expressions". wdwa.co.in. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  63. ^ "The Water Digest Water Awards 2009-2010: The Distinguished" (PDF). epaper.timesofindia.com. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
  64. ^ "Water Digest Water Awards 2009-10". karmayog.org. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
  65. ^ "Government of Japan extends US225,308 Grant Assistance for Four Grassroots Projects". Embassy of Japan in India. 22 March 2013.
  66. ^ "$1.8 Million raised towards innovative education initiative, digital equalizer American Indian Foundation: Celebrating a decade of giving". India Tribune. 23 June 2011.
  67. ^ "Our Commitments". www.rockefellerfoundation.org. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  68. ^ "Global Awards for Social Justice & Citizen Action by the people sector". karmaveerglobalawards.com.
  69. ^ "International Women's Day Celebrations conclude at Amity University". Amity University.
  70. ^ "e-Community Broadcasting Winner 2015: Giving voice to Mewat community via community radio". The Manthan Award Digital Inclusion for Development.
  71. ^ "Awards for Alfaz-e-Mewat and Waqt Ki Awaaz-UNESCO Chair on Community Media". uccommedia.in.
  72. ^ "Sehgal Foundation wins 9th Global Agriculture Leadership Award 2016". American Bazaar. 27 September 2016.
  73. ^ "India: S. M. Sehgal Foundation wins '3rd National Ground Water Augmentation Award-2009'; Humanitarian News". humanitariannews.org. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  74. ^ "Northey Presents Secretary of Agriculture Leader Awards". Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  75. ^ "Sehgal Foundation's Jay Sehgal receives University of Iowa's International Impact Award". American Bazaar. 26 November 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  76. ^ "FICCI Award for SM Sehgal Foundation". The Tribune India. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  77. ^ "S M Sehgal Foundation Wins FICCI Agriculture Award 2021". KJKrishi Jagran Industry News. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  78. ^ "S M sehgal Foundation Wins Sabera Award 2021". KJKrishi Jagran Industry News. Retrieved 11 December 2021.