Collaboration Between NALSAR and Kshetra Foundation Aims to Foster Sustainable Community Growth

Hyderabad, India

NALSAR University and Kshetra Foundation for Dialogue today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to undertake a 5-year collaborative project on “Building Community Capacity and Ecosystemic Support for Conflict Transformation, Collaborative Problem-solving and Self-governance”.

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The collaboration stems from the shared belief that systemic change can no longer be achieved through isolated approaches. By bringing together society, governance institutions, and business institutions, the partnership aims to create communities of change through dialogue.

Speaking about the collaboration NALSAR University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Sri Krishna Deva Rao said, “NALSAR’s partnership with Kshetra empowers students and local communities through dialogue, fostering changemakers who drive grassroots development. This redefines legal education and creates a brighter future for all. Resolving conflicts that arise at community level associated with ecologically sensitive resources is very crucial for wellbeing and harmony. This is in tune with the Gandhian Vision of peace which gives premium to the capacity of resolving disputes peacefully. Building capacities within the community, to settle disputes, protect environment, and strengthen human rights, will be immensely helpful to the community in general and to the vulnerable people in that atmosphere, in particular. Participatory dispute resolution processes gradually also help in spreading the consciousness of constitutional rights in the long run. By integrating the above values and processes into the curriculum so as to understand and foster community engagement in conflict transformation will go a long way in honing students’ skills to work at the grassroots level. NALSAR believes in empowering future leaders with tools to navigate complexity and drive change. This partnership with Kshetra reinforces that commitment.”

Dr. Krishna Udayasankar, CEO of Kshetra said, “Our partnership with NALSAR aims to empower community changemakers with the essential skills of dialogue, while also fostering a generation that can transform conflict into collaboration and create lasting change. Changemakers such as Paralegal volunteers and Anganwadi teachers often deal with community conflicts, both formally and informally. Through this project we aim to equip these key changemakers with the Dialogic Method, so that they can better fulfil that role. We have conducted two pilot workshops in Telangana in the last year before commencing this project and found both Paralegal volunteers and Anganwadi teachers eager to adopt these skills, and to use dialogue to drive sustainable solutions that create value for all. As these changemakers go about using dialogic approaches in their work, the positive outcomes that are created would urge community members also to adopt similar approaches in their own lives, serving as a seed for a larger change in society’s approach to disputes and disagreements. Such social change, however, requires an ecosystem of support to come through. We are honoured to be working with NALSAR University and through the University’s student body, we hope to create a support structure for community leaders and members to effectively use dialogue to transform conflict into collaboration.”

Driving systemic change in today’s dynamic environment requires a thorough, multi-sector approach. This collaboration between NALSAR and Kshetra seeks to impact local community welfare tangibly, build capacity for engagement and growth, and create a replicable model of society, governance institutions, and business involvement in social transformation. The initiative focuses on empowering Paralegal Volunteers, Anganwadi teachers, self-help groups (SHGs), and community leaders through NALSAR’s academic support and Kshetra’s expertise in the Dialogic Method.

Ms. Natasha Joshi, Associate Director of Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, which supports Kshetra in this project, said, “We are excited about the partnership between NALSAR and Kshetra. Building an appreciation for, and understanding of, the value of dialogue feels important today. In particular, rooting this capacity in young people stands to foster a generation of empowered citizens, who can advocate for their needs, resolve conflicts peacefully, and drive sustainable development in their communities. This collaboration is also a wonderful example of how academia, civil society, and the government can work together to empower individuals, build resilient communities, and create lasting impact.”

The MoU marks a significant step towards building a sustainable model for community development, leveraging the strengths of both institutions to foster change across sectors. The project takes a multi-stakeholder approach towards local community development, and places Paralegal volunteers, Anganwadi teachers, Self-Help Group members and community leaders at the centre of the model. It features a series of workshops, mentorships and action research initiatives that focus on enhancing the local community’s capacity to use dialogue skills to transform community conflicts and bring together community members to collectively solve their problems and increase self-governance.

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