Shripad Dabholkar at seminar on
“Ideas that have worked”, New Delhi,
Shripad A. Dabholkar (1924 – May 2001) was an Indian
intellectual and activist. He was the founder of a non-structured
methodology of grassroot networking for nature-friendly
neighbourhood development called Prayog Pariwar (Experimenting
Communities). His contributions were recognized by many
awards including the 1985 Jamnalal Bajaj Award.
Prayog Pariwar received considerable attention from some of the
influential educational thinkers including Paolo Freire (author of
`Pedagogy of the Oppressed’) and Ivan Illich (author
of`Deschooling Society’). Illich invited Dabholkar to Centro
Intercultural de Documentación in Cuernavaca in 1970. Kassel
University in Germany organized in 1973 ‘‘Science for Rural
Development: a workshop with Shripad Dabholkar and Paolo
Freire’’. The theme of the workshop was to juxtapose the`Critical
pedagogy’ of Freire for raising political awareness
(conscientization) and the pedagogical methods of Prayog Pariwar
to develop resource literacy.
Shripad A. Dabholkar was an educationist who aimed to shape education as a tool for total change in the
life situation of an average worker in rural areas. Dabholkar worked as a professor of mathematics for 25
years at a rural university Mauni Vidyapeeth which was founded by J. P. Naik as a pilot project with the
motto “Development through Education” and with funding from the Central Government.
Dabholkar grew dissatisfied with the formal schooling which often did not connect with the real-life
situations, and with the limitations of conventional academic system which tended to exclude many capable
individuals with a stamp of failure. He left the university to undertake the task of educating farmers through
demystification of science, adopting non-formal methods of knowledge communication.
Dabholkar started his work in Tasgaon, a village in Sangli district in Maharashtra, with a core group of
farmers including Mhetre, Arve, Patil. The successes of this group with their innovative approach helped in
creating mass awareness and interest in many other small farmers,. They formed their own study groups
and turned to grape cultivation against the advice of conventional agricultural experts and even though it
was not a traditional crop in the region.
Dabholkar translated the classic monograph ‘’General Viticulture’’  by Winkler et al into Marathi for the
farmers which was mastered and assimilated by their study groups. This network-building for using
advanced science to address real-life situations resulted in a new sociology of science and education.
The productivity in the district rose to world standards and grape production became a highly productive
activity, inducing more farmers to turn to it. These farmers in Maharashtra without formal agricultural
education became India's leading grape cultivators with a turnover of over $100 million. Dabholkar then
successfully extended the applied research to other crops as well. 
He is the father of Atish Dabholkar and elder brother of Narendra Dabholkar.
Prayog Pariwar methodology is about networking of self-experiment ventures for nature friendly prosperity.
The central thesis is that without depending on foreign aid or imported technology, economic development
can be achieved by experimenting farmers and by common individuals in their own neighborhoods by
assimilating latest science. It evolved from the initiatives by Dabholkar in Maharashtra, India, in the mid-
1960s. The network was then called Swashraya Vikas Mandal, meaning self-help and self-reliance for
building new possibilities by working in one's own real-life situation.
This network of farmers soon began to implement latest scientific methods in their real-life situations,
developed their own research methods and grape varieties better suited for local conditions. These groups
also pioneered collaborative networking practices and an Internet-type information exchange using
Dabholkar described the Prayog Pariwar methodology in the book Plenty for all  where he defines and
establishes a non structured approach for development in the neighborhood through:
demystification of latest science, knowledge and new thoughts to generate and propagate
people's own techno-scientific ventures
Prayog Pariwar has proven successful even in the absence of Dabholkar. A network involving thousands of
small farmers remains active even today, for example, in the area near Nasik. Adherents have shown that
quarter of an acre of land and waste water can produce sufficient food to feed a family of five at a "middle-
This eco-friendly and grassroots approach to farming based on implementing latest science in the context of
local neighborhoods is referred to "Natu-eco farming" to distinguish it from "natural farming"
championed by Masanobu Fukuoka and Organic farming with which it shares some common traits.
Prayog Pariwar network website (http://prayogpariwar.com)
An article on Shripad A. Dabholkar (http://arunshourie.bharatvani.org/articles/19970705.htm)
Plenty for All ; Prayog Pariwar Methodology (https://www.amazon.com/dp/8171617492),
Shripad A. Dabholkar, Mehta Publishing House, 1998, ISBN 8171617492
General Viticulture (https://www.amazon.com/General-Viticulture-J-Winkler/dp/0520025911/r
neral+viticu%2Caps%2C517&sr=8-1), A. J. Winkler, J. Cook, M. Kliewer,L. Lider, L. Cerruti,
1974, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0520025912
Prosperity with Equity (http://www.natuecofarmingscience.com/articles.htm) 'Ideas That Have
Worked' Seminar, New Delhi, 2001.
1. Disenchanting India: Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India. Johannes
Quack. Oxford University Press, 22 Nov 2011
2. Information Technology For Common Man. Utpal Kumar Banerjee. Concept Publishing
Company, 1 Jan 1992
3. "Jamnalal Bajaj Award" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhCyAZR6TN8). Jamnalal
Bajaj Foundation. 2015. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
4. Plenty for all, Mehta Publishing House, 2007 ISBN 8171617492
5. "Article on Dabholkar by Arun Shourie" (http://arunshourie.bharatvani.org/articles/19970705.
6. General Viticulture, Winkler et Al, University of California Press (1974) ISBN 978-
7. "Article in Outlook on Dabholkar" (https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/naturally-mr-
8. Unleashing India's Innovation: Toward Sustainable and Inclusive Growth. Mark Andrew
Dutz, World Bank. World Bank Publications, 2007
9. Encyclopaedia Of Economic Development, Volume 3. P. K. Jalan. Sarup & Sons, 1 Jan 2005
10. Agricultural Innovation in Rural India: The Paradox of Farmer Nonadoption in Bajwada,
Madhya Pradesh. Natasha Malpani. Universal-Publishers, 19 Aug 2011
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