Our Advisory Council Members

Mr. Vijay Mahajan began work in rural development since 1981. He founded PRADAN, a livelihood promotion NGO, (www.pradan.net ). In 1996, he set up Basix (www.basixindia.com), which has since then supported the livelihoods of over two million poor households.


Mr. Mahajan has served on a number of Government of India forums such as the Planning Commission Working Groups, the Rangarajan Committee on Financial Inclusion, the Raghuram Rajan Committee on Financial Sector Reforms and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (2005-10). He was elected to the Board of the World Bank hosted Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) from 2006 to 2013, and chaired it in the final three years.


He was named among “the 60 outstanding social entrepreneurs of the world” at the World Economic Forum, Davos in 2003, among “the 50 most influential Indians” by Business Week, Asia in 2009, and among “the twenty Indians who will lead India’s reforms this decade”, by the Financial Express in 2011.



Dr. Shyam N. Nigam is a renowned groundnut scientist with distinction of having released more than 125 groundnut cultivars jointly with National Agricultural Research System (NARS) in 35 countries in Asia and Africa. He worked with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in different positions during 1974-2012 in Asia and Africa. He retired from active service in June 2012. Currently, he free lances as ‘Expert – Agriculture for Development’ and serves on various committees of State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in India and University of Georgia, USA.


Dr. Nigam is honoured with several international awards, notables among them are: Medal for Agriculture and Rural Development from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Government of Vietnam; Distinguished Carrier Achievements Recognition by the Peanut Genome Consortium International Peanut Genome Initiative, USA; Doreen Mashler Award – 2009 by ICRISAT; Distinguished Scientific Achievement for long standing partnership by Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC), Bangladesh; Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Nepal; Department of Agriculture, Sri Lanka; and Cagayan Valley Integrated Agricultural Research Centre (DA-CVIARC), the Philippines.



Mr. V. S. Gurumani (Guru), till recently Country Director, India with Project Concern International, has over four decades of experience in industry, consulting and social development. In addition to social development, he has worked in banking, manufacturing, consumer products, hotels and oil exploration and refining, holding increasing responsibilities. He has acquired Masters Qualifications in Management Science, Commerce and Systems Management.


An award winning manager and a Rotary International Fellow, Mr. Gurumani’s work includes both line and staff management. Passionate about helping people, systems and organizations perform better; Mr. Gurumani is also an internationally certified Workshop Leader in the celebrated Heal Your Life process of Louise Hay.



Sanjay Upadhyay, Advocate, Supreme Court of India, is the founder and managing partner of the India’s first environmental law firm, Enviro Legal Defence Firm. Sanjay has been practicing environment and development law since 1993. An India Visiting Fellow at the Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley (Fall 1996) and a legal intern to the Earth Justice Legal Defense Fund, San Francisco, he started his professional career at the World Wide Fund for Nature– India at the Centre for Environmental Law.


Sanjay has served as an environmental and development law expert to most well known International, Multilateral, national and state Institutions.