Dr. Mihir Shah
Tel. No.: (Off.) 23096756,
Dr. Mihir Shah is Co-Founder, Samaj Pragati Sahayog (SPS), one of India's largest grass-roots initiatives for water and livelihood security, working with its 122 partners on a million acres of land across 72 districts in 12 states. The work of SPS shows that farmer-driven, location-specific watershed development combined with bio-diverse agriculture, other nature-based livelihoods and micro-finance, can result in sustained higher incomes and empowered communities, providing an enduring panacea to India's suicide-ridden drylands.
A Ph.D. in Economics from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Dr. Shah co-authored India's Drylands, a study for the UNDP, which was published and released worldwide by the Oxford University Press in 1998. The study brings out the macro-economic significance of watershed programmes for food security and employment guarantee in India.
Dr. Shah was Adviser to the Commissioner appointed by the Supreme Court of India in the Right to Food case from 2002-2009. As Honorary Adviser to the Technical Committee on Watershed Programmes set up by the Government of India in 2006, he was largely responsible for drafting its landmark report that argues for radical reforms in India's watershed sector. In 2007 he co-founded the National Consortium of Civil Society Organisations that works to support Panchayat Raj Institutions for more effective implementation of NREGA. He was a member of 3 Working Groups set up by the Government of India for the 11th Five Year Plan related to rural science and technology and rainfed areas. He was also part of the Hameed Committee set up by the Prime Minister in 2007 to suggest a completely new structure for CAPART.
Dr. Shah graduated in Economics from St.Stephen's College, Delhi (where he won the KC Nag Economics Prize) and did his post-graduation from the Delhi School of Economics (where he was Merit Scholar) in the 1970s, before going on to complete a much-acclaimed doctoral dissertation at the Centre for Development Studies, Kerala. After teaching for some years at the Centre, he resigned to explore fresh terrain beyond the ivory towers of conventional academia. During this time, he travelled extensively in rural, tribal India in pursuit of a fresh understanding, necessary for the formulation of an alternative Indian vision of development. These travels culminated in 1990 in the formation of Samaj Pragati Sahayog.
Dr. Shah has combined 20 years of living and working at the grass-roots with academic research and policy advocacy, deeply informed by his endeavours in the field. He has received national and international recognition for his work, including the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the American India Foundation and the Doreen Mashler Award of ICRISAT.
He writes regularly for the Economic and Political Weekly and The Hindu.