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Heifer's Work in India

Country Overview

The Republic of India is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with more than 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world. Home to the ancient Indus Valley civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified by its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. Four of the world’s major religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism—originated here, while Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam arrived in the first millennium and shaped the region’s diverse culture. Gradually annexed by the British East India Company from the early 18th century and colonized by the United Kingdom from the mid-19th century, India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle for independence, marked by a non-violent resistance led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

Shitalpur Village, East Champaram District, India
Shitalpur Village, East Champaram District, India.

Poverty in India is a major issue. Rural Indians depend on unpredictable agriculture incomes, while urban Indians rely on jobs that are, at best, scarce. Since its independence, the issue of poverty within India has remained a prevalent concern. More than 75 percent of poor people reside in villages.

India continues to face severe poverty, illiteracy, corruption and public health related challenges. More than 68 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day.

A major issue affecting poverty in India is the country’s long history with social division. This is a major weakness in the economy, that growth is not perceived as being sufficiently inclusive for many groups, especially Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and minorities. Additionally, gender inequality remains a pervasive problem and some of the structural changes taking place have an adverse effect on women. 

India is among the world’s most disaster prone areas with a population of more than one billion. The geographical statistics of India show that almost 57 percent of the land is vulnerable to earthquakes; 28 percent to drought; 8 percent to cyclones and 12 percent to floods.

Heifer India

Heifer International India focuses their charity work in India within communities in Orissa, Bihar, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu (where they work in tsunami affected communities). In these four states, projects are implemented with the support of ten local NGO partners.

Participants have also built their capacity through participating in various trainings, such as Cornerstones, Self-Help Group (SHG) management, kitchen gardening, gender justice and improved animal management. All these trainings have empowered the participants, promoted community development and increased their leadership qualities.