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Social Worker+ Innovator+ Director

Hello, I’m Pradip Kumar Sarmah. I have 27 years of experience in development sector especially in the areas of rural development, poverty reduction, working with NGOs, programme designing & implementation, management, monitoring and evaluation.

Member to the Governing Council of India Centre for Migration the think tank of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Government of India.

Bank of ideas (An Article from HarmonyIndia.org)

He is most widely known for his Dipbahan Rickshaw Bank but Dr Pradip Kumar Sarmah's tireless quest for unique solutions to everyday challenges has raised the lives of entire communities in Assam and other parts of India

It is unusual for a social entrepreneur to make a difference in so many walks of life. And yet Dr Pradip Kumar Sarmah makes it all seem so easy. That's probably because for him, problems don't exist; only solutions. It is this very philosophy that powers Dr Sarmah's dream to create alternative sustainable livelihoods for socially challenged communities across India. And if he is most widely recognised for setting up the hugely successful Dipbahan Rickshaw Bank for Assam's rickshaw-pullers, his body of work is so varied it's difficult to know where to begin. After earning a degree in veterinary medicine, Dr Sarmah went on to revolutionise animal husbandry in the Northeast and has initiated projects ranging from fish and cattle breeding to handicrafts, in addition to promoting the application of simple science to everyday life.

Seated in his modest home in NOIDA, Dr Sarmah says that although his work takes him to desperate communities who live deep in the hinterland, he made the National Capital Region his base to coordinate his myriad projects. "Being in Delhi helps me work better with international organisations and government agencies," says the Ashoka Lemelson Fellow (for social innovators) with a charming simplicity.

But the journey hasn't been without personal sacrifices. Ironically, Dr Sarmah's desire to generate employment for socially challenged communities meant his family had to make some tough choices. "Pradip could have retired with government perks but he was driven to help people instead," says his wife Anita, a former teacher. "It's a decision our son and daughter and I support wholeheartedly even if it means we don't eat out, take vacations or go to the movies. We take great pride in the good work he's doing and I believe he was chosen to do this."

Dr Sarmah's journey into social activism began when he was still a student in Assam in the late 1970s, when Northeast India was a hotbed of student activism and political violence. He was only 17 then but his social conscience was already aroused, and he actively engaged in protests, dharna and demonstrations that marked daily life in the region.

Next, he joined the Guwahati-based Student Science Society (SSS), which was founded by his classmates Prof Dinesh Baishya and Mowsam Hazarika. SSS is a voluntary organisation that aims to keep students engaged in academics while teaching them practical and technical skills. "At a time when newspapers were warning people not to watch the solar eclipse, we set up a telescope on top of a college hostel. The next day, we supplied the photos to the newspapers to raise awareness about the eclipse," reminisces Dr Sarmah with a smile.

Describing him as a man "who can see the future", friend and former colleague Pankaj Neog says, "I have known Pradip-da since we were both students and part of the SSS. He was always good at foreseeing the future and planned activities accordingly. Under the SSS, he started free computer education classes as he believed computers would play an important role in the future."

Dr Sarmah was yet to earn the labels that now so aptly describe him—social innovator, problem solver, inspirational thinker and even 'saviour'—but he left a mark on everyone even in his early years. "Pradip always put the needs of others before his own," says Prof Baishya. "Once, his father wanted to buy him a colour TV but he asked his father to use the money to buy a cow instead as that would serve the family better."

Dr Sarmah has a natural ease and connect with people and his deep sense of compassion is matched by an unusual determination to reach out to those who needed him. This inevitably meant fighting 'the system'. Thus, along with his SSS colleagues, he spearheaded an agitation against the government-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL), whose open-cast mining in the Patkai hills was destroying the flora, fauna and cultivable land. It was the 1980s and the young activist was seized by the fire in his belly to save villagers who faced disease and starvation. SSS eventually got the issue tabled in Parliament and a standing committee was appointed to visit the area. Finally, CIL had to halt its mining activities in the area.

Our student activist-cum-social worker was never wanting for causes; it seems they always found him. When not bringing about change, he, as a member of the National Social Service Scheme, also participated in various rescue missions including earthquake and flood evacuations, always keeping his focus on the human element.





Director of CRD & An Ashoka Fellow

I was elected as an Ashoka Fellow in 2001 for my pioneering work as a veterinarian in Assam. However, my life has changed dramatically in 2002 when i had a conversation with a rickshaw puller while riding a rickshaw. The Puller’s answers to my questions intrigued me, leading me to engage in a much grander study about the lives of rickshaw pullers. What i found deeply: The vast majority of India’s estimated 8 million rickshaw pullers don’t own their own rickshaws, rather, they are caught in a cycle of debt and looked down upon by society. They do not have health or accident insurance.

  • Date Of Birth: 01 Jan 1963
  • Phone: +91 -9818863727
  • Landline: + 91 120 4258944
  • Fax: + 91 120 4320703
  • Email: crd4ev@yahoo.com, pradipsarmah@hotmail.com
  • Address: D-41 (FF), Sector-27, Noida 201 301, India
  • Skype: pradip1963
  • Website: http://www.pradipsarmah.com

Key qualifications  :

  • 27 years of experience in development sector especially in the areas of rural development, poverty reduction, working with NGOs, programme designing & implementation, management, monitoring and evaluation.
  • Member to the Governing Council of India Centre for Migration the think tank of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Government of India.
  • Speakers at INFOCOM 2014 during 4-7 December, 2014 in Kolkata at ITC Sonar organized by the ABP Groups on Ideas to Entrepreneurship.
  • Speaker at the National Social Innovation Seminar held at Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA) on 17th November, 2014 and speak on the Session 1:संवेदना Samvedna Empathetic Models of Social Innovation: Filling the gaps organized by National Innovation Foundation.
  • Speaker at the 57th Summit of Calcutta Management Association on August 4, 2014 at Williamson Magor Hall, 6 NS Road, Kolkata.
  • Expert Group Member appointed by the HUPA Ministry, Government of India, to look into the issues of livelihood concerns of rickshaw pullers and other people earning a living out of Non-Motorised Vehicles (NMVs) in urban areas in 2013.
  • The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee calling on me at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on August 14, 2012, to discuss the Rickshaw Pullers issues.
  • A research study was conducted for UNDP, New Delhi in three states of India viz. Assam, Rajasthan & Jharkhand title “A research study on Financial Inclusion related aspects of Rickshaw Pullers" during November-December 2012.
  • Attended the Global Social Entrepreneurship programme at Yale University during October 17-25, 2011.
  • Attended the Velo-city Global Summit at Seville, Spain during March 23-26, 2011 as a panel Speaker of the plenary Economy and Employment: The Bicycle as a Livelihood.
  • Attended the D-Lab & International Development Initiative of MIT Boston as a Visiting Practitioner during October 18 to November 8, 2010.
  • Attended the Velo-City Global Conference’ in Copenhagen from June 22-25, 2010. Velo-City is widely considered as the premier international cycling planning Summit in the World. It is also the largest bicycle conference ever organised.
  • A new initiative “Design and Entrepreneurship” between Boston based Olin College of Engineering, Babson College, and Guwahati based Guwahati Medical College that enables students to address the well-being of people living in low-income and resource poor situations through business and technical innovation.
  • Attended as a Panel Speaker at the 2009 India Conference at the Harvard Business School, Boston titled “The Indian Growth Story: Sleeping Elephant or Roaring Tiger” was held on March 15th.
  • Attended as a speaker at the 2008 COMMACT International Conference held in Brisbane, Australia on 28-30 October 2008. COMMACT comprises representatives from non-profit, non-government and social enterprise community organizations from a number of countries and supports people-centered development organizations and projects.
  • Attended as an Indian delegate for the India Scotland Business Forum at Edinburgh during June 11-13, 2008 organized by FICCI.
  • Attended the ‘Conference on Globalization & Developing Economies- Concerns of Inclusion’, on June 16, 2008 at Oxford University.
  • Attended the TOT programme on Microfinance and Disaster Management during June 5-7, 2006 at Ahmadabad organized by The FDC and Citigroup Foundation.
  • Attended the Conference on Market-based Strategies that Benefit Low-Income Communities during April 5-6, 2006 at Washington DC.
  • Attended the Urban Governance conference in Dhaka during January 29 to February 5th, 2006 organized by CARE-UK.
  • Attended a Microfinance Incubation Programme organized by Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB) and sponsored by SIDBI during November 20 to December 18, 2005.
  • Attended the 27th Seminar on “Fostering Private Sector Development & Leadership” held at Geneva during June 15-24, 2005 organized by the Centre for Applied Studies in International Negotiation (CASIN) with a full fellowship from Swiss Development Cooperation.
  • Selected as a member for the dialogue between Grameen Bank, Bangladesh and Ashoka Innovators for the Public held at Dhaka during 12th to 23rd October 2003 in connection to sustainable Micro Credit activities.
  • Conducted 5 days training of trainers to the senior staff of Navajyoti Delhi Police Foundation, during June 19-24, 2004.
  • Conducted training programme for the staff/volunteers of the All India Centre for Urban & Rural Development, New Delhi.
  • Attended as a Resource person to a Consultation workshop with Leading Livelihood Professionals organized by the Christian Children’s Fund (CCF) on May 31, 2004.
  • Guest Faculty to the V. Giri National Labour Institute, Birla Institute of Management & Technology (BIMTECH), Amity University etc. Noida on the various subject like NGO management, SHG management etc.
  • Experience in grants making, strategic planning, and community development.
  • Promotion, Capacity building & networking of NGOs for organizational effectiveness, through participatory approach.
  • Ability to conduct & organize training programme.
  • Strong skills in multi-sectoral project management, doing studies, coordination and networking.
  • Very good event management capacity.


ASSAM AGRICULTURAL UNIVERSITY Bachelor of Veterinary Science & Animal Husbandry
TATA INSTITUTE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES Post Graduate Certificate in Social Welfare Administration


Book Reading


April 1998 – till date Executive Director, Centre for Rural Development (CRD), Guwahati

Centre for Rural Development (CRD) is a voluntary organization established in the year 1994 and has been involved with livelihood generation through animal husbandry, agriculture, & fishery. It also worked as a District Nodal NGO for last four years under ARIASP; a World Bank funded project. Now also act as a District Nodal agency for AACP another project of World Bank. We are also running a project on asset based Micro finance called Rickshaw Bank.

Being the Founder and Executive Director of CRD, I look after the management of the Society, monitoring the existing programme, Promotion of Self Help Groups, Project proposal preparation, Fund raising, HRD, Agenda preparation for Board Meeting, Accounts Keeping, Annual Report preparation, Income tax file return etc.

August 1996 - March 1998 Free lancing, Guwahati

During this period I have done freelancing at Guwahati. Prepared the project, making study, doing pre & post evaluation of the projects. I have also involved in different training activity on the SHG management, NGO management, Networking etc.

February 1995 – July 1996 Area Supervisor, Credit & Savings Programme, Rashtryia Gramin Vikas Nidhi, Matia, Goalpara, Assam

Credit & Savings Programme is a programme of Rashtriya Gramin Vikas Nidhi under the sponsorship of SIDBI. This is the programme of micro-credit for livelihood generation.

Here I have taken the whole responsibility of the programme from site selection, planning, manpower recruitment, orientation, promotion of SHGs up to sanctioning & disbursement of the loans to the SHGs. Leading, coordinating and monitoring all the activities of the programme and also conduct different capacity building up Programmes for the members of SHGs. Developing and monitoring the staff in accordance with their working profile.

April 1992 - January 1995 Senior Project Executive, Rashtryia Gramin Vikas Nidhi, Guwahati

Rashtriya Gramin Vikas Nidhi (RGVN) is an Indian grant-making organisation with its head quarters at Guwahati. It provides returnable & non-returnable grant to NGOs for promoting sustainable livelihoods among the rural and urban poor. Presently it operates in 14 states of the Country viz. seven states of the northeastern region, Sikkim, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chattishgarh, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh.

Leading the Staff for managing the day to day activities, monitoring and reviewing of ongoing projects, organizing training programme and building the capacity of the partner NGOs and SHGs, preparing and designing the projects, appraisal of the project, promoting & mobilising local level institutions to gear up the rural economy.

November 1991 – March 1992 Coordinator, Rashtryia Gramin Vikas Nidhi, Guwahati

Having joined as a Coordinator, engaged myself in promotion and mobilization of NGOs, pre-funding, screening and monitoring of NGOs for RGVN’s support programme.

August 1989 - October 1991 Veterinary Assistant Surgeon (VAS), Hahim & (VAS) Information (attached) dual charge, Directorate of Animal Husbandry & Veterinary, Govt. of Assam, Hahim & Guwahati

Joined the Hahim State Veterinary Dispensary, Govt. of Assam and managing the centre, coordinating with department, managing the staff. Organizing various extension, vaccination & treatment camps in the operational areas. Involved in identifying the beneficiaries of DRDA sponsored project. I have also work as a member of the purchasing committee of the DRDA’s scheme.

Also take the responsibility of another charge of information and documentation of Department of Animal Husbandry & Veterinary, Govt. of Assam.

Other Public service activities and projects where I have involved:

I have involved myself in a number of Public service activities and projects as under

  • Marketing link up projects for Farmers in Char (River Island) Areas of Assam.
  • Income Generation Programme for villagers in Matia Block of Goalpara under Credit & Savings Programme.
  • To give a boost to the rural economy, I have developed various projects on Animal Husbandry for different Organisations, such as -- Society for Appropriate Technology, Khetri; Arunodoi Vikas Samity, Morigaon; Roilang Farmers Society, Umden etc.
  • In association with Tata Tea Limited a project named Tea Estate Areas Community Upliftment Programme (TEACUP) has been completed.
  • Organised various Animal Health & Vaccination Camps; Environment Awareness Campaign; Flood Relief Camps etc. in different parts of the North Eastern states.
  • Lead the students’ community of Assam Agricultural University as General Secretary of the Students’ Union.


Membership in Professional, Public Service Organisations.

  • Life member as Ashoka fellow with Ashoka Innovators for the Public.
  • Member, Assam Veterinary Council (AVC) of Indian veterinary Council.
  • Treasurer, Kennel Club of Assam (KCA).
  • Panel Monitor for CAPART, Govt. of India.
  • Honorary Member to the Committee(s) of Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra        (SSK).
  • Member to the Governing Board of Society For Appropriate Technology (SAT).
  • Life member to Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
  • Chief Advisor, Barnarddi Grammya Unnayan Samity (BGUS)
  • Life Member of Students’ Science Society, Assam (SSSA).
  • Life Member Bharat Jana Vigyan Jatha (BJVJ).
  • Secretary, Regional Network of Voluntary Organisations of Assam (RENOVA).
  • Founder of M/s. Pet & Vet (a house of Veterinary Concern – deals with treatment, medicine, vaccine, AI and all related activities of Animal Husbandry & Veterinary) www.petandvet.org



  • In depth knowledge of development sector.
  • Quite familiar with grass root level challenges and prospects.
  • Creative and innovative in planning and development.
  • Dynamic and cheerful in nature.
  • Good listening and learning capacity.
  • Strong verbal and writing communication skill.
  • Adapt in planning, designing and implementation of the programme and Project.
  • Expertise in Participatory Training skill.
  • Ability to lead a team professionally.
  • Dedication, sincerity to proceed to the organizational goals.
  • Strong financial management capacity.
  • Knowledge in Book Keeping & Accounts.
  • Proficiency in computer skill (MS- Office, Power point, Tally Packages)

Awards & Honors

26 Jan 2001 Ashoka Fellowship
On 26th January, 2001 received the Ashoka Fellowship in India at Nehru Centre , Mumbai as best Social Entrepreneur.
13th Sep 2003 Citizen Base Investment Award
On September 13th, 2003 received the Citizen Base Investment Award at the Bombay Stock Exchange, Mumbai.
Nov-Dec 2005 Microfinance Incubation Programme
IIM, Bangalore selected Rickshaw Bank project under their Microfinance Incubation Programme, during November – December, 2005.
5th April 2006 Global Change Makers Award
On April 5th, 2006 received the Global Change makers Award for Market-based Strategies that Benefit Low-Income Communities at National Press Club, Washington DC.
7th April 2006 Microfinance Process Excellency Award
On April 7th, 2006 received the Microfinance Process Excellency Award at the Garden of Five Senses, Said-ul-Ajaib, New Delhi.
25 April 2007 Microfinance Business Plan
Srijan 2007 Microfinance Business Plan Competition 3rd Prize at Hyderabad on April 25, 2007.
27 July 2007 Micro Insurance Award
One of the finalists of the Micro Insurance Awards, 2007 at Hyderabad on July 27, 2007.
13th Nov 2007 Asian Innovation Award
Asian Innovation Awards, 2007 at Singapore on 13th November, 2007.
15th Aug 2008 Best Community Action Development Award
Best Community Action Development Award 2008 on the Independence Day of India by the Chief Minister of Assam.
2008 India NGO Award
India NGO Awards, 2008 in the Medium Category from Eastern Region and Rickshaw Bank got special recognition as one of the best innovative project.
4th Sep 2010 Outlook Business
India’s 25 Good Business by the Outlook Business in September 4, 2010. http://business.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?266834.
2010 Yale School of Management
Yale School of Management, USA selected us as one of their Social Enterprises under the Global Social Entrepreneurship Program.
20th Oct 2011 Flextronics Economic Development Tech Laureate Awards
On 20th of October, 2011 received the Flextronics Economic Development Tech Laureate Awards at San Jose, USA given by Tech Museum & Applied Materials.
5th Jan 2013 Livelihood Promotion Award
Received the Livelihood Promotion Awards from Dr. C Rangarajan, Hon’ble Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India on the Financial Inclusion day 5th January, 2013 at New Delhi.
28th Jan 2013 Financial Inclusion of the Urban Poor
Received the Recognition awards at the AIF's Annual National Seminar "Financial Inclusion of the Urban Poor" on 28th January, 2013 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi from Dr. K.C. Chakrabarty, Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India.
14th May 2014 Pradip Sarmah: Reinventing the Rickshaw to Drive Social Change
The video on “Pradip Sarmah: Reinventing the Rickshaw to Drive Social Change”  featuring Rickshaw Bank has emerged as a finalist for the Professional Category of the Good story competition 2104, organised by Our Better World (OBW) a digital initiative of the Singapore International Foundation and awarded on May 14, 2014 at The National Museum of Singapore.
3rd Sep 2014 NICT Perfect 10 Award
Received the NICT Perfect 10 Awards 2014 from the Assam Agriculture Minister Nilamani Sen Deka on 3rd September, 2014 in presence of Mr. D.D. Purkayastha, ABP Pvt Ltd CEO and managing director and NICT chairman, Atul Bhatnagar, Chief Operating Officer, National Skill Development Corporation. The award is given by the Telegraph.
2014 Volvo Sustainable Mobility Award
Received the Volvo Sustainable Mobility Award, 2014 ( as a Runner up) by the Ambassador of Sweden to India Mr. Harald Sandberg and Senior Vice-President of Volvo Buses Mr. Akash Passey.
18th Sep 2015 True Legend of the North East award
Received the True Legend of the North East award on 18th September, 2015 at Guwahati given by The Telegraph http://epaper.telegraphindia.com/details/188472-141827563.html


  • D-41 (FF), Sector-27, Noida 201 301
  • Phone: +91 -9818863727
  • Email: crd4ev@gmail.com
  • Website: http://www.pradipsarmah.com/