Development Alternatives (DA), the world's first social enterprise dedicated to sustainable development, is a research and action organisation striving to deliver socially equitable, environmentally sound and economically scalable development outcomes. Our green technology innovations for habitat, water, energy and waste management, which deliver basic needs and generate sustainable livelihoods, have reduced poverty and rejuvenated natural ecosystems in the most backward regions of India.

Our Mission

To create models that generate sustainable livelihoods in large numbers

Our Vision

A world where every citizen can live a secure, healthy and fulfilling life, in harmony with nature

Our History

  1. 1982


    The Development Alternatives Group was the first social enterprise setup to create and deliver sustainable solutions for social and economic development.

    Established in 1982, the Development Alternatives Group pioneered the concept of business-like approaches for eradicating poverty and conserving the natural resource base on which human development depends.


    TARA Balram Mud Block Press launched

    The TARA Balram Mudblock Press addresses the problem of families in India who cannot afford steel and cement for their houses. It compresses ordinary earth into solid building bricks that need no firing. Thus it saves the precious topsoil, needed for agriculture, and scarce forest resources, needed for human survival. TARA Balram can produce upto 600 blocks in one day if the mix is prepared manually. . Since the Balram is manual and highly labour intensive, the money generated through its use largely stays within the community.


    Tara Chulha 101 launched

    A clean, efficient and safe metal cook stove. TARA has introduced its range of fuel-efficient and smoke-reducing Chulhas for rural India.


    First 100% Earth-based urban building - DA Headquarters

    Earth is the oldest building material to be used by man. In the river side of the Mesopotamian, Nile, Chinese and the Indus Valley civilizations, settlers used readily available alluvial soil to make the first mud brick dwellings. Earth has always been the most widely used material for building in India and is a part of its culture. The design for the Development Alternatives headquarters arises out of an organisational desire to make a strong statement in earth architecture.


    Tara loom enters market

    TARA loom - the breakthrough innovation in the field of handloom technology.. It makes it possible for untrained men and women to produce high-quality handloom textiles that are commercially sustainable. Different types of yarns – cotton, wool, silk and synthetic - can be used in the machine.

  2. 1991

    Became founding member of Climate Action Network South Asia, TARA handmade paper launched

    DA believes in the power of multi-stakeholders partnerships and networks for creating large-scale impact on society for sustainable development. In 1991 DA, with about 250 civil society organisations, formed a coalition, Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA). CANSA works in 8 South Asian countries on climate action.


    TARA handmade paper launched

    The TARA handmade paper unit was launched in 1991 in the peri-urban area of Delhi. The key functions of paper manufacturing are performed by women. The women operators have been given on-the-job training. TARA has developed over 100 varieties of handmade paper using a wide choice of waste paper, rags, natural biomass mixtures, and agro-residues in these units.


    Aqua check vial & jal-TARA water testing kit launched

    The TARA Aqua Check vials are a reliable means to test the quality of drinking water. It can detect the presence of pathogenic bacteria in the water that causes common water-borne diseases like diarrhoea/dysentery/ gastroenteritis.

    TARA Aqua Check vials are highly reliable and very simple to use. The salient feature of this kit is that it can test the water quality at the sourceand Point-of-Use.

    Another landmark innovation to prevent waterborne diseases is the Jal-TARA water testing kit. It can be used by any person, even one without a scientific background. The kit can test 16 essential parameters to check if the water is fit for consumption.


    TARAgram Livelihood Resource Center in Bundelkhand

    TARAgram, is a unique concept; a livelihood resource centre demonstrating models of sustainable development, with facilities for training and conferencing. The TARAgram Livelihood Resource Centre is close to the beautiful and historic town of Orchha. It was set up in 1995 as a technology village by Development Alternatives.


    CLEAN-India programme started on 2002

    CLEAN-India (Community Led Environment Action Network) is an initiative of Development Alternatives that aims to harness youth power to bring about a positive change in urban society. It provides a platform for students and young professionals to prevent environmental degradation and develop cleaner towns and cities across India.Through this programme, 4000 students have been trained in environmental assessment and through improvement activities, more than 200 water quality monitoring stations established in India, and Water and Sanitation concerns were addressed in over 2200 schools.


    DESI Power - India’s first biomass gasifier-based power plant set up

    Decentralised Energy Systems India (DESI) power plant was set up at Orchha in 1996 in TARAgram. The technology of the gasification plant was developed by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). In collaboration with Gram Panchayats and other agencies the DESI power, deliver and operate small power plants for rural communities using state-of-the-art integrated energy generation technologies.


    100 check dams in Bundelkhand

    Development Alternatives with the active participation of local communities re-established the age-old water conservation system and constructed 100 check dams in the region in the year 1997.


    Jai-TARA filter invented

    Development Alternatives initiated the research and developed the water purification system ‘Jal-TARA Filter’ in the year 1997 to provide safe drinking water, free from bacterial contamination, at community and household levels. Unlike other water purification systems available in the market that are based on chemical treatment, the Jal-TARA filter is based on natural filtration, the slow sand filtration technique.. It is a modular unit that doesn’t require electricity or chemicals for operation.


    TARA MCR Tech. inaugurated

    The flagship Micro Concrete Roofing (MCR) technology of Development Alternatives Group was inaugurated in 1997. The TARA MCR Technology package consists of a TARA screed vibrator (electrically operated), TARA self-stacking plastic moulds, accessories, alignment tools and bending test equipment. The TARA MCR equipment is tailor-made to produce multiple forms of roofing tiles such as Roman pattern tiles, Pan tiles and ridge tiles. One set of equipment has the capacity to produce 300 tiles per day.


    VSBK-TARA Ecokiln launched

    TARA Eco-Kiln - Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln (VSBK), energy-efficient and environment-friendly technology for firing clay bricks, was launched in 1998. The technology reduces coal usage by 40-50 percent and allows small-scale entrepreneurs to earn carbon revenues by negotiating as a cluster.

  3. 2000

    Pawan-TARA air-monitoring Kit in market

    Pawan-TARA is an easy-to-operate, compact, portable, air quality monitoring kit developed by Development Alternatives. It is a ‘low volume air sampler’. The kit can be used to monitor outdoor and indoor air quality. Pawan-TARA has been designed to be safe and simple to use even by school students. The kit can run on both electricity and batteries.


    PACS-largest civil society support programme implemented

    Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) programme focused on the building capacities of civil society organizations to enable rural communities from the most vulnerable and economically backward regions of India to access their constitutionally mandated rights and entitlements. The uniqueness of the PACS model was that it was not a service delivery program but was focused on community empowerment through women empowerment, local self-governance, and livelihood creation.


    Building Materials & Services Bank, Odisha set up

    The Building Materials and Services Bank ( BMSB ), a unique concept that integrates rural livelihoods with the delivery of rural housing and other habitat-related deliverables for overall habitat security. The primary stakeholders of this initiative are the rural unemployed.


    TARA soil testing kit launched

    TARA soil testing kit was launched in 2002. It is used for assessing the levels of impurities in soil. It can be customised as per lab requirements.


    The United Nations Sasakawa Environment Prize

    The Building Materials and Services Bank ( BMSB ), a unique concept that integrates rural livelihoods with the delivery of rural housing and other habitat-related deliverables for overall habitat security. The primary stakeholders of this initiative are the rural unemployed.


    Dr Ashok Khosla became co-president of the Club of Rome

    In 2007 Dr Ashok Khosla became co-president of the Club of Rome, a platform of diverse thought leaders who identify holistic solutions to complex global issues and promote policy initiatives and action to enable humanity to emerge from multiple planetary emergencies.


    Fly Ash Brick Tech package created

    TARA Fly Ash Brick Technology was introduced in the year 2005. Fly Ash brick is made up of fly ash - very finely ground coal in thermal power plants, sand and cement. The advantages of this technology are - low energy consumption, cost-effective and zero emissions.


    TARA-BrickMek Tech

    The TARA BrickMek has been designed to do homogeneous mixing of soil, and water. It is a versatile machine designed to produce consistent superior quality clay bricks with frogs. It operates under the soft mud moulding technology and produces bricks under soft extrusion. This machine is easy to operate with one skilled machine operator assisted by local manpower (men and women).


    TARA Karigar Mandal launched

    TARA Karigar Mandal (TKM) is an initiative of Development Alternatives to undertake eco-construction work at scale through local masons. The overall objective of this initiative is to improve the livelihoods of building artisans and efficient delivery of ‘green habitat services’ in Bundelkhand. TARAKarigar Mandal is at the forefront of green job creation and also acts as an important tool for climate change mitigation. The Mandal was formally launched at the International Habitat day on October 2, 2007.


    SOE Atlas for india published

    The State of Environment (SOE) Atlas of Indis has been developed jointly by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Development Alternatives in 2006. It is an innovative interactive atlas. The thematic focus of this atlas is on the maps of green, blue and brown environmental issues.

  4. 2007

    New DA green headquarter

    The Development Alternatives World Headquarters, located in New Delhi, was reconstructed in 2007, is one of the first buildings in India that aims at zero emissions. The building is best described as a living ecosystem - a fine balance of natural and manmade processes employing environment-friendly energy, material and water management methods. It is a living testimony to the vision, mission and commitment of Development Alternatives to creating a national future that is based on social justice and a cleaner environment.


    Radio Bundelkhand established

    Radio Bundelkhand 90.4 FM, the community radio is a flagship initiative of Development Alternatives, providing voice to the community in the Bundelkhand region in Central India.

    Established on 23rd October 2008, Radio Bundelkhand is the first Community Radio Station in Madhya Pradesh and second in India. It’s participatory and collaborative approach empowers and builds consensus for change.

    The radio station is situated in Development Alternatives Appropriate Technology Centre at TARAgram Orchha in Madhya Pradesh.


    First TARAgram Yatra

    The first TARAgram Yatra, an annual event organised by Development Alternatives and its partners to deliberate upon germane issues of sustainability, was organised in 2010. With a mix of dialogue and field visits, the Yatra provides a platform for exchanging cutting-edge ideas on how to realise a sustainable future.


    Hamara Gaon - Integrated Village Development programme launched

    Development Alternatives Integrated Village Development Programme – Hamara Gaon (an etymology that emphasises people’s right to decide their development pathway as informed and empowered communities).aunched in 2010, the programme targets issues related to the economy, environment and society systemically, as a whole, helping communities realise the benefit of integrated development.


    Shubh Kal - climate communication action programme initiated

    Shubh Kal is a campaign run by Development Alternatives to inform and educate the rural community of Bundelkhand regarding the risk of climate change and possible adaptation options. This communication model has helped to bridge the communication gap between communities, scientists and government officials.


    200 check dams built in Bundelkhand

    In response to the chronic drought situation in Bundelkhand, Development Alternatives pioneered the establishment of check-dams as a low cost and sustainable technology for realising water security outcomes. With the active participation of local communities, DA constructed 200 check-dams since 1982.


    First trialogue 2047

    trialogue 2047 is a series of discussions organised by Development Alternatives, to explore how India can achieve its vision of becoming a green, inclusive and resilient nation by 2047, i.e. after 100 years as an independent nation. trialogue 2047 brings together distinguished speakers to address issues like poverty alleviation, participatory policymaking, resource efficiency etc. The first trialogue 2047 was held in 2013.


    Started community-based water servics delivery in Bundelkhand

    In 2014 Development Alternatives launched Locally Owned and Community Operated (LOCO) Model to address the issues of drinking water supply in rural India. ‘Locally Owned and Community Operated (LOCO)’ is an enterprise-based model solely managed by a committee led by women.

  5. 2015

    TARA Urja - mini-grids in UP and Bihar launched

    Established in 2015, TARAurja is an operational business unit for the deployment and management of renewable energy-based mini-grids. It enables communities to adopt solar and biomass energy solutions in off-grid villages.


    DA becomes india ountry Member of Green Economy Coalition

    In 2016 Development Alternatives became India country member of the Green Economy Coalition, the world's largest movement for green and fair economies.


    IMEDF became nodal agency for the Ministry of MSME's SFURTI scheme

    Indian Micro Enterprises Development Foundation (IMEDF) is the social enterprise development vehicle of the Development Alternatives Group. It was registered as a nodal agency of the Ministry of MSME, Government of India for the development of clusters under the Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) on 24 October 2017.


    Mou with One UN for partnership in UN programmes in india

    On 18 December 2018, Development Alternatives signed an MoU with United Nations India to enhance work towards achieving the SDGs with a special focus on the environment and climate change. Dr Ashok Khosla, Chairman, DA and Mr Yuri Afanasiev, United Nations Resident Coordinator signed the MoU at the UNDP office, Delhi.


    Bridge2Naukri, youth employment portal inaugurated

    Development Alternatives flagship programme Bridge2Naukri was inaugurated in 2019. The platform aims to facilitate employment and apprenticeship opportunities for youth.


    UdyaME enterprise information network started

    UdyaME is the Digital Platform of Indian Micro Enterprises Development Foundation (IMEDF). The platform is a one-stop solution for micro-entrepreneurs in rural and semi-urban geographies.


    2,50,000 women became literate through TARA Akshar

    The TARA Akshar, the flagship programme of the Society for Development Alternatives, is an ICT-based programme imparting literacy and numeracy to adult illiterate women in India in a span of 56 days. The programme has been able to make 2,50,000 women literate in 1922 villages across eight Indian states.


    First trial of LC3 in west Rajasthan

    First trial of Limestone Calcined Clay Cement (LC3) was held in West Rajasthan in 2021. The LC3 technology promises sustainable growth of economies around the world by reducing CO2 emissions by more than 30% compared to plain Portland cement at lower production costs.


    SAM-Udyam launched at Livelihoods india Summit 2021

    SAM-UDYAM, a national-level collaborative-cum-laboratory was unveiled by Development\ Alternatives along with its partners including Action Aid, on 30th January 2021 at the ACCESS Livelihoods India Summit.


    MoU with JK Cement to decarbonize cement production

    Development Alternatives Group signed a long term MoU with JK Lakshmi Cement Ltd. to decarbonise the cement industry through the production of Limestone Calcined Clay Cement (LC3) and other climate-friendly technologies.


The Governing Council is primarily responsible for an overall policy formulation and ensuring statutory compliance. They bring to the organisation systems thinking, institutional development, planning and management, legal and financial, gender and social issues, natural resources and environment, social enterprise and business expertise and experience.

Dr. Ashok Khosla

Dr. Ashok Khosla
Chairman, Development Alternatives

For nearly five decades, Dr Ashok Khosla has been a pioneer in finding paths for development whose benefits reach everyone and can be sustained by the Earth’s resources. He has been Co-Chair of the UN’s International Resource Panel, President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and President of the Club of Rome. He was a member of the Government of India’s National Security Advisory Board and Scientific Advisory Council to the Cabinet. For his contribution, he was awarded the OBE by the UK Government, the UN Sasakawa Environment Prize, and the Zayed International Environment Prize, among others.

Prof. Ravinder Kaur

Prof. Ravinder Kaur
Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

She serves as a Professor of Sociology and Social Anthropology in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Her core specialisation includes Sociological Theory (Classical and Contemporary), Sociology of Gender, Development, Urban Social Systems, Technology and Society, Kinship, Family, and Marriage studies. She has also worked as a consultant for various national and international organisations such as the World Bank, UNDP, and UNFPA.

Prof. Amitabh Kundu

Prof. Amitabh Kundu
Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Distinguished Fellow at Research and Information System for Developing Countries, he chairs the Standing Committee for the National Survey for the Swatch Bharat Mission at the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. He has chaired Committees on Housing Start up Index at RBI and Committee to Estimate Shortage of Affordable Housing, and Post Sachar Evaluation Committee, Govt of India. He has been Regional Advisor on Poverty at the UN, Professor and Dean at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, and a member of National Statistical Commission, Govt of India. He was the Director at the National Institute of Urban Affairs, Indian Council of Social Science Research, and Gujarat Institute of Development Research.

Ms Gita Sidhartha

Ms Gita Sidhartha
Former Chairperson, Indian Council for Child Welfare

As President and Secretary General of the Indian Council for Child Welfare for nearly 30 years, she has implemented programmes that cover a gamut of concerns in every state of India. She has overseen and promoted programmes covering street and working children, child labour, children of sex workers, malnutrition, among others. She has played a pivotal role in advocating for the rights of children and articulated plans for their welfare and development.

Mr Mathew Cherian

Mr Mathew Cherian
Chairperson, CARE India

A graduate in engineering from the Birla Institute of Technology, Pilani and the Institute of Rural Management, Anand. He has worked for four decades in the social sector. He has served as Director of Oxfam in India, Charities Aid Foundation, and has been Chief Executive of HelpAge. He served on the Board of HelpAge International in London and is a Member of India’s highest body - National Council of Senior Citizens and is the current Chair of Empowered Committee of Government of India on Elderly Start-ups. He is now the Global Ambassador for Ageing with HelpAge International. A speaker at the World Economic Forum (WEF), he is on the Global Council for Ageing and Longevity with WEF. Currently, he officiates as Chairperson of CARE India.

Lt Gen. Arun Kumar S

Lt Gen. Arun Kumar S
Former General Officer Commanding in Chief, Indian Army

A second generation and decorated soldier, he was superannuated as Commander in Chief of an Army Command on India’s Western borders. He was a recipient of the Sword of Honour and President’s Gold Medal on commissioning, for standing first in order of merit. Over a career spanning 40 years, he has served in most of the active and challenging operational environments in India and abroad. Presently ‘pro bono’, he is mentoring startups in the domain of cyber, robotics, and AI and steers an environmental policy group, COR – India. He is a Distinguished Fellow with two premier ‘think tanks’ in Delhi, the USI and CLAWS and on the Board of Governors of the prestigious ‘India Foundation’.

Mr Salman Haidar

Mr Salman Haidar
Former Foreign Secretary, International Relations

He is a former Foreign Secretary and has served as the Indian Ambassador to many countries including the United Kingdom, China, and Bhutan. He has also served as head of the Diplomatic Service, Secretary East, and spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs, and later chief of protocol, among other diplomatic positions. In 1977–80, he was the Minister/Deputy Permanent Representative of India at the UN in New York.

Mr Shrashtant Patara

Mr Shrashtant Patara
Chief Executive Officer, Development Alternatives & Executive Vice President, Development Alternatives Group

Shrashtant Patara is an architect by training. He has been with the Development Alternatives Group since 1988, providing research expertise, management capability, and strategic direction to teams working in the areas of Entrepreneurship Support Systems, Habitat, Renewable Energy and Waste-to-Wealth initiatives. His current work is focussed on systems change, social innovation, and entrepreneurship, resulting in the co-creation of multi-stakeholder-based service delivery models that promote sustainability through local economic development, regeneration of the environment, and greater social equity. Patara is a Fellow of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Global Programme on Social Innovation and has completed a programme on Leadership for System Change conducted by Harvard Kennedy School in conjunction with the Schwab Foundation. He has been instrumental in the establishment of several social businesses within the Development Alternatives Group and currently leads the team that is incubating ‘TARAurja’, a renewable energy-based micro-utility business and the Indian Micro Enterprises Development Foundation.

Mr Lalit Mansingh

Mr Lalit Mansingh
Former Foreign Secretary, International Relations

A former Indian Diplomat, Mansingh has more than 40 years of extensive international experience across Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. He is also a former foreign secretary. He has served as the Indian Ambassador to the United States and the United Arab Emirates and as India’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom and Nigeria. Mansingh has dedicated his career to promoting India and its role in the global marketplace. He is also the chairman of Kalinga International Foundation, a national think tank focusing on India’s relations with Indo-Pacific.

Our Team


Development Alternatives was set up in 1982. The Society for Development Alternatives is registered as a not-for-profit society under the Society Registration Act. XXI of 1860 (Reg. No. 12964). Also, it is registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (FCRA Reg. No. 231650202).