People for Development Design

277 Full-Time Professionals

20 Fellows

659 Community Volunteers

Our Values



Creating opportunities where people are – to live, thrive and belong, not escape for survival



Our work requires genuine compassion for those left behind and a willingness to understand their world. We believe in helping communities reach their own aspirations.



We are ambitious. We are multifaceted. And we are committed for the long-term. We will face failure and rejection. But we will adapt and create new methods to transform rural India.


Our team of practitioners, strategists and specialists are committed to transforming rural India. We work with the government at the central, state and grassroots levels to pilot ideas and design policies for rural development.

Ms. Bharti Gupta Ramola

Ms Bharti Gupta Ramola has supported industries, government and development institutions in various capacities, and is currently focusing on improving productivity and last mile delivery using commercially available technology. A partner at PwC from 1984 to 2017, she was part of the founding team of varied advisory businesses (Corporate Finance and Recovery, Project Finance, Sustainability) for PwC in India. Ms Ramola has worked extensively on Financial Sector policy, the first Public Private Partnerships and the first loan portfolio sales in India. She also led PwC’s work on sustainability, climate change and project finance at different stages of her career. She became PwC’s India Market Leader and joined the management team in August 2011, focusing on building the brand and the institution. During this stint, she led the firm in identifying and seeding investment in technology-led growth areas. In 2015 she took on additional direct responsibility for PwC’s Financial Services practice.

Ms. Ramola co-promoted the Basix Group of Social Enterprises in 1996 in her personal capacity. She serves on the Governing Body of Lady Shriram College, the advisory committee of the Centre of Excellence for Research on Clean Air (CERCA) at IIT Delhi and is a member of the Board of Feedback Infra Pvt Ltd.

Ms. Ramola holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and a Bachelor’s Degree (Hons) in Physics from St Stephen’s College, University of Delhi.

Ms. Ireena Vittal

Ms Ireena Vittal is an independent director on the board of Tata Industries. A former partner with McKinsey & Co., she is a recognized thought partner to consumer-facing companies looking to build large-scale, profitable businesses in emerging markets. She has also served government and public institutions to design and implement solutions core to India’s development, like inclusive urban development and sustainable rural growth.

Ireena was a founding member of the economic-development practice and the global emerging-markets practice at McKinsey & Co. After 25 years in the corporate world, she is currently working in the urban and the agriculture spaces and is also an independent director on the board of select Indian companies, including Axis Bank, Titan Company, Indian Hotels, Godrej Consumer, Tata Global Beverages and Wipro as well as on the global advisory board of, a non-profit dedicated to applying human-centered design to alleviate poverty. Prior to joining McKinsey & Co., Ireena worked with Nestle and with MaxTouch (now Vodafone).

Ireena graduated in electronics and has an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.

Mr. R. Venkatraman

Mr. R. Venkataraman is Advisor to Reliance Industries Limited. He is former Managing Trustee of Tata Trusts and is credited with redefining the Tata Trusts’ philanthropic approach, with a view to making it relevant and responsive to the current needs of society. He personally led Trusts’ major health initiative that focuses on issues related to malnutrition in young children and pregnant mothers.

Venkat has over 20 years’ business experience in the areas of finance, business support and strategy. From early 2007 to the end of 2012, he was Executive Assistant to Mr. Ratan N. Tata, the former Chairman of the Tata Group, until his retirement in December 2012. He continues to support Mr. Tata in the office of the Chairman, Tata Trusts. Prior to his association with Mr. Tata, Venkat was Head of Business Support at Qatar Foundation, a non-profit organization engaged in Education, Science and Community Development, based in Doha.

He has worked in Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited, Mumbai (VSNL), India’s former international, long-distance telecommunications monopoly, now known as Tata Communications, and the Gujarat State Finance Corporation, based in Ahmedabad.

Venkat is a science graduate and has received his MBA from the Sri Satya Sai University. He is also a law graduate from Mumbai University and has completed his Advance Management Program (AMP) from the Harvard Business School. He is a member of the Board of AirAsia India Private Limited and a Trustee of several Tata Trusts and other non- profits.


Dr. Sanjiv Phansalkar
(Founder-Vikas Anvesh Foundation,
Former-Program Leader, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust)

Sanjiv has been engaged in the development sector as thought leader, grant maker, writer, teacher and consultant for the last 30 years. He has worked closely with Dr. Verghese Kurien in his early professional career.

He was Program Director at the Sir Dorabji Tata Trusts and now heads Vikasanvesh Foundation, a research organization supported by the Tata Trusts. He taught at the Institute of Rural Management between 1981 and 1994. He was a freelance consultant during 1994-2005. Sanjiv was Team Leader of the IWMI-Tata Water Policy Program (ITP) from 2005 to 2007.

Sanjiv has authored 7 books, over 20 research papers in national and international journals on small industry, water, livelihoods, civil society and the co-operative sector, and a large volume of teaching material on these subjects. He contributes a regular column in the<a href=”” target=”_blank”></a> and is a visiting faculty at IIM Udaipur.

Sanjiv is a Fellow of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, from where he also completed his PGP in business management.


Ms. Rashmi Shukla Sharma

Ms Rashmi Shukla Sharma joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1984. She is an alumnus of Delhi and Princeton universities from where she earned M.Phil. (Psychology) and a Master’s degree in Public Administration, respectively. She has held senior positions in the Union Government and Government of Madhya Pradesh, apart from various field-level posts in the early part of her career. Rashmi is known for thought and research leadership in education and local government. She is the author (with Vimala Ramachandran) of The Elementary Education System in India: A Field Based Investigation of Institutional Structures, Processes and Dynamics (2009), Routledge Press and Local Government in India: Policy and Practice (2009), Manohar Publications, besides many papers on related subjects in the Economic and Political Weekly and other reputed journals. She is deeply engaged with research and teaching in areas related to governance and public policy.

Mr. Ashish Deshpande
(Secretary & Chief Financial Officer - Tata Trusts)

Mr. Ashish Deshpande is Chief Finance Officer at Sir Ratan Tata Trusts and is primarily responsible for supporting the programme team in the overall management of grants. He has more than 24 years of experience in building and leading finance teams with significant operating scale and complexity.

Before joining Tata Trusts, Ashish worked in different capacities at Tata Communications, the erstwhile Videsh Sanchar Nigam (VSNL). He served as Head of Finance at Tata Communications Lanka (TCLL) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. At TCLL his key priorities included supporting the company’s growth, managing critical finance functions and adhering to regulatory and compliance requirements. He led various projects in implementing automation systems and financial restructuring.

Originally from Nagpur, India, Mr Deshpande is an alumnus of the University of Nagpur.

Ms. Roda Mehta
(Ex-Director, Ogilvy & Mather India)

Ms. Roda Mehta, a doyen of Indian advertising, played a legendary and pioneering role in establishing scientific media planning and buying in India, for which she has been presented Lifetime Achievement Awards at many forums, including the national Advertising Agencies Association of India. Roda joined Hindustan Thompson Associates (now JWT) in 1971 as the first MBA and first woman in the media function of an advertising agency in India. 4 years later, she was invited by Ogilvy Benson & Mather (now Ogilvy & Mather) as Media Group Head and was nominated to the Indian Board of the company within 7 years, at the age of 32 years. Her portfolio expanded to conceive and introduce new business units within the agency, including the pioneering Rural Network for delivering advertising communication to rural consumers. She was charged with running Ogilvy offices in the South (Bangalore & Madras) and in Delhi. And was chosen by International Client Service for the Worldwide agency’s multinational clients entering India. 

Roda withdrew from her corporate career in 1998 at the age of 48 years, and embarked upon serving in the social and development sector, after a 3-month sabbatical at Harvard Business School to attend the Advanced Managment Program. She worked in agricultural produce export development, leveraging internet technology to generate worldwide donations for Indian NGOs, and, among other assignments was one the Board of the Denver-based International Development Enterprises that used market forces to deliver low-cost technology products in Bangladesh to small fragmented land holdings that were reliant on a single rain-fed crop. 

She was Founder Member of the Market Research Society of India (MRSI) and Founder Member and Chairperson of the Media Research Users Council (MRUC), was invited as faculty member for the agency’s training programs in Asia Pacific, served on many industry committees and was a frequent speaker at industry forums.

Currently she also serves as a Board Trustee with the Lila Poonawalla Foundation, is a civic activist and group administrator of over 20 active WhatsApp groups in her Municipal Ward, consisting of nearly 1000 residents.

Mr. Anirban Ghose

Anirban Ghose is part of the lead-team at Transform Rural India. He has also been on the leadership team at India’s leading non-profit PRADAN, working on rural transformation.

Anirban joined PRADAN in 1995 and led field-based teams in Lohardaga and Khunti districts of Jharkhand. He was Director, Operations, in PRADAN and was responsible for integration of all activities across the organization, involving planning and implementing programs, monitoring progress, setting systems in place, design of strategies, staff development and managing key grants. His role included raising funds and building linkages with multiple stakeholders. As part of PRADAN’s Leadership Group, he was responsible for institution building and positioning PRADAN with stakeholders.

Anirban is recognized as the pioneer of automated book-keeping systems in women’s Self-Help Groups and numerous technologies for development programmes.
Anirban graduated in Business Studies from the University of Delhi.

Mr. Anish Kumar

Anish Kumar is part of the lead team at Transform Rural India. He has also been on the leadership team at India’s leading non-profit PRADAN, working on rural transformation.

Anish joined PRADAN in 1994. He has been part of the senior management team, looking at overall organization strategy and institution-building. He integrated the finance function, involving raising resources, statutory compliance, and building and managing linkages with stakeholders.

His areas of expertise include creating business organizations run by poor communities and facilitating participation of small-holder farmers in modern value chains. Anish developed and piloted the small-holder poultry prototype. He was the CEO of the first poultry co-operative and then scaled up the model across new geographies. He is a Board member of the National Smallholder Poultry Development Trust, an advisory and policy advocacy body.

Anish has been a member of the Planning Commission Working Group on disadvantaged farmers and has been involved in designing policies for producer collectives.

Anish has a postgraduate degree in Forest Management from the Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal.