About Tata-Dhan Academy

The Tata-Dhan Academy was created in December 2000 to build the capacity of the development sector by providing human resources development and by improving the sector's knowledge base. The Academy's short-term interactive programs for current practitioners cover areas such as microfinance, micro insurance, and leadership; these programmes help NGOs to become more professional, efficient, and effective. The two-year Programme in Development Management (PDM) is designed to train young graduates for a career in grassroots development work by teaching them varied skills including leadership, research, communication, and management. In all programmes, the sharing of practical experiences helps to identify alternative approaches for development work.


The PDM curriculum is equally divided between classroom learning and field practice. During the field practice, students experience project design and implementation and demonstrate their understanding of the theories and management skills learned during the classroom segments. The classroom curriculum comprises 33 core courses covering topics such as development theories, community organizing, contextualized development, communication, research, management, and leadership; elective courses are offered to enable specialization according to students' interest. The learning needs of all students are met by using diverse teaching methods including the case method, which builds the analytical and critical abilities of the students and promotes using a multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving.

Selection Process

To ensure that all PDM students receive the highest quality education available, the Academy has set 25 participants as the target batch size. The selection of students is a rigorous multi-stage application process that includes a written exam (testing proficiency in English, quantitative analysis, and analytical reasoning), a group discussion (to observe leadership traits and interpersonal behaviour), and a personal interview (to identify motivation and commitment to development). Because youth are more flexible in learning and more adaptable to diverse situations, the upper age limit for applicants is 26. First-time graduates from families and candidates already working in development organizations are encouraged to apply.


Despite efforts by rural development institutions and social science institutions to train professionals for the development sector, many grassroots NGOs still have a shortage of adequately skilled human resources and suffer from high rates of employee turnover. The Academy believes that offering a full fellowship can help to staff such NGOs with professionals who have not only the required skills, but also the motivation to treat grassroots development as a career.

The fellowship can be seen from several perspectives. First, it ensures that potential students are not burdened by education loans which might hinder or block their commitment to serving the society. Second, graduates of the Academy are placed in carefully selected leading NGOs which might not otherwise be able to finance ongoing training for their employees. Third, since the Academy estimates that each of its graduates can improve the lives of at least 3,000 households within 5 years of graduating from the PDM, the fellowship is an investment in India's development; one batch of 25 students has the potential to reach over 15,000 households each year. The Rs. 2.4 lakh fellowship covers tuition fees, course materials, accommodation, boarding, computer lab, library, student activities, field visits, medical care, mess maintenance, the alumni association, and PDM administration.


The Academy's graduates are placed in India's leading NGOs. The Academy maintains a list of designated NGOs which work at the grassroots level, offer a challenging and professional work environment, and provide remuneration at par with the best in the sector. This list of designated NGOs is regularly revised since the Academy views placements as another point in the continuum between selecting a candidate and that candidate dedicating their work to the development sector. Proper placement not only ensures that the graduates are motivated and inspired once they start working (thus, more likely to remain in the sector); it also ensures that the fellowship these graduates received for their training has served its intended purpose.

As on May 2009, eight batches of students (110 students overall), representing 14 Indian states, have graduated from the Academy. These alumni have been placed in NGOs such as Aka Khan Rural Support Projects (AKRSP), Foundation for Ecological Sustainability (FES), DHAN Foundation, Children in Need Institute (CINI), Tribal Health Initiative (THI), and Prathmam.

The relationship between the Academy and the designated organizations extends beyond placement. Through feedback from alumni and stated needs of NGOs, the Academy is able to revise its curriculum to guarantee that students get an education relevant to the type of work they will be expected to do.

Experience Sharing

Janakiraman N, Senior Project Executive, DHAN Foundation

The course at TDA is a sort of rebirth of my mind, attitude, and behaviour. It envisioned my way of lfie and belief systems. It catalysed a vigorous change reaction in my thought process. The novel pedagogy and learner-focused curriculum brought lots of changes in me. I was a bit confused when joining the Academy about the suitability of my pharmacy background, but in course of time I was able to manage and dissolve myself into the curriculum.

Jyoti Prakash Ratha, Project Officer, Foundation for Ecological Security

I am privileged to study at Tata-Dhan Academy because it shaped my ideology and showed me a purpose of my life. The course gave me a free hand to explore the community in all contexts across the country. The best part of the course is its emphasis on the exposure to the field and not restricting discussions within the four walls of a classroom. The approach of learning has enabled me in getting closer to the community and made me more effective in interacting with them. The Academy has equipped me with all the professional skills that are required for the development sector and shown me a way in dealing the social issues.

Murugan K, Programme Manager, Tribal Health Initiative

The Academy gave me space to understand the poor and their suffering. Now I am happily sharing with others. I am a student of Tata-Dhan Academy, which gives me enthusiasm to work with the downtrodden people as a development professional shaped with necessary attitude, skills and knowledge. The faculties treat us like their own children and nurture every student for a specific cause. Whatever I learned from the Academy is now helping me perform better in the field as a great development professional.

Frederic Sebastian, Project Executive, DHAN Foundation

If you are ready to prepare yourself for a world in which problems are complex and solutions are "shades of gray," you can opt for the PDM—a course designed to bring the best out of students. It forces us to think beyond the obvious, and stimulates our minds to expand and discover our untapped capacities. This course transforms the individuals to think laterally for the benefit of the community at large. Apart from being taught in a rigorous schedule, we have the opportunity of interacting with leaders in the development sector, industry, polity, and bureaucracy. Above all, through numerous seminars, guest lectures, short- and medium-term field works, vibrant classroom debates, and the exchange of ideas and experience across a wide spectrum of issues, the course is exhilarating and stimulating. It definitely adds value to your thought process and enhances your confidence in handling development projects. The program broadened my knowledge horizon and analytical ability to a great extent.

K Malarvizhy, Project Executive, DHAN Foundation

It is my great pleasure to share about my experiences in the Academy. TDA gave me pride that we are living in a country of unity in diversity by making me understand the different contexts by studying with people from different states. The words "development" and "management" entered my life spontaneously when I underwent the learning process in PDM. In simple words, I can say that the TDA is a fertile land which nurtures young seeds with rich knowledge and attitude to grow and enrich the lives of others.

Mohd. Rashid, Deputy Manager, NDDB, Anand

The world is full of many opportunities, but how many of us are ready to take those opportunities and challenges? TDA is the place where a number of opportunities are available for the students who want to take great challenges for better learning. I feel comfortable and enthusiastic in my work because I have obtained good skills from TDA. The classroom sessions helped me to become a manager and the fieldwork transformed me into a professional. This is best combination ever to make a development professional. The fieldwork segments boosted my confidence to work with people, whether they are professionals from other organizations or people from the community.


Sir Ratan Tata Trust

Sir Ratan Tata Trust, established in 1919, a year after the untimely demise of Sir Ratan Tata is one of the oldest philanthropic institutions in India and has played a pioneering role in changing the traditional ideas of charity and introducing the concept of philanthropy. The Trust supports efforts in the development of society through institutional grants in areas of rural livelihoods and communities, education, enhancing civil society and governance, health, and arts culture.

DHAN Foundation

DHAN Foundation runs several innovative field programmes and activities to improve the lives of the poor. DHAN's programmes build on the concepts of self-help and collective action. DHAN employs high-quality human resources for creating access to microfinance services (including savings, credit, and insurance), rebuilding small-scale water reservoirs throughout the country, experimenting with making rainfed agriculture more remunerative, bringing information technology to the poor, and democratizing Panchayats through local action. DHAN collaborates with individuals and organisations including the Government and philanthropies.

How can you help?

You can support one or more students by providing fellowship support at the rate of Rs. 2.40 lakhs per student. This amount covers the entire two-year programme for one student.

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