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The Small Society in Action


Being rich is not about having more but appreciating more of what you already have: the ‘Small Society’ in action

As part of the London Academy’s mission to identify innovative aspects of community and economic development around the world, two directors of the London Academy – Vijay Amin and Colin Gilfillan – recently visited India.

They visited Pune in the central Indian state of Maharashtra.  Pune is an economic powerhouse and an example of the explosive growth experienced in many parts of urban India.  With a similar population to London, and an economy which at one point in the last decade was growing at an estimated 40% per year,  Pune continues to attract inward investment on a massive scale.   However, in common with much of India, one consequence of this rapid economic development is de-population of the countryside, with many communities drawn to the opportunities in urban India and away from the land.

Just a few miles from Pune’s massive urban development, the Academy directors visited a small scale rural development project – a farm with a difference- which provides a fantastic example of how sustainable development can really work.  The initiative aims to re-create lost employment opportunities in a rural area, revitalizing and capitalising on the skills and traditions of the local community, and opening up traditional and sustainable rural life for people living in urban areas.

The local community manages the farm along sustainable development lines.   City dwellers are encouraged to visit the centre for picnics, daytrips or to stay overnight either on the land or in buildings on the farm.      The farm is being developed by Sanjay Dalmia, the owner of a leading software company and now a social entrepreneur focused on sustainable development.  Sanjay is using ‘green’ skills and sustainable development approaches which he learned during a year-long study of sustainable rural development in Bali.  The farm uses state of the art, low tech, green approaches, from vermi-composting  to water harvesting.

Overnight visitors have different options depending upon how close to nature they want to be.  They  can stay in cement houses on the farm or share with local villagers in their houses, or stay in tents under thatched roofs.  Visitors can cook their own food, eat with local villagers or visit a local hotel for food.

We are currently putting together an itinerary for a larger scale study visit to provide the opportunity for people to have a closer look at some of the exciting new ideas emerging out of India.  Please get in touch with us at the Academy if you are interested.

Colin Gilfillan

Posted by Colin Gilfillan

India – Is it a land of opportunities for British companies?


We are pleased to announce that the London Academy 1st visit to India will take place between 22nd November to 29th November 2010.

We will be visiting Mumbai and Pune to explore joint ventures and collaborations with education and training institutes, not for profit agencies operating in the healthy and well being sectors, film & television and commercial opportunities for Academy UK clients.

In our opinion we, in the UK, are missing out or too slow to take advantage of economic opportunities in India. The country’s economy is growing at 8% p.a and with that comes significant commercial and consumer opportunities for us, particularly our small enterprises and voluntary and not for profit organisations.

However, we in the UK are still lagging behind our European competitors when it comes to trading and doing business in India or with Indian partners. We have over 200 years historical and cultural links with India. We should be ahead of our competitors who have little or no historical links with India but who have in recent years established strong trading links there.

The London Academy is finalising its Indian visit itinerary. If you are interested in joining us or want more information please contact me, Vijay Amin, at:

“Relations between India and the UK are multi-dimensional, based on shared values, history and cooperative relationships”

Posted by Vijay Amin