Mewat is a distinct socio-cultural and ethnological region named after its predominant inhabitant's viz. the Meos. They claim to be 'Rajputs' originally, and trace their descent to the Aryans, who invaded India. They call themselves 'chhatris'. They also make the proud claim of being one of the rare segments of the invading population that has not lost its original ethnic purity, unlike many other Rajputs. It is believed that they embraced the Islam religion during the reign of Tuglak I during the 14th century. A large number of Meos live in other Indian states also, like Madhya Pradesh. The region, however, popularly known 'Mewat' is spread over the contiguous parts of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. In fact, in present day usage, Mewat has come to mean "where the Meos live" because the extent and area is coterminous with the settlement of the Meos. The cultural world of the Meos was, as may be expected, more than a matter of geographical space or numbers.
The Mewat portion of Haryana has recently been declared on 4th April, 2005 as a separate district with its name as 'Mewat district' with its head quarters at Nuh. The people of Mewat are full of bravery and patriotism. Mewat, is a peaceful belt, with simple, peace- loving people, no violence, no communal problems, but is totally backward. Though, the contribution of its population towards the freedom struggle was significant, this contribution in the struggle for emancipation from British rule is yet to be recognized and appreciated fully. Unfortunately, the region has remained economically backward and deprived even after independence. Poverty and unemployment of the youth are rampant in Mewat even today. Thus, Mewat is important historically and culturally but backward educationally and economically. The studies conducted on this region indicate that Mewat is a land where only poverty and ignorance thrive. Physiographically, the region is divided by the Aravalli range into two tracts, i.e. upland (locally known as Pahad Ooper) and lowland (locally known as Pahad Neechee). The geomorphological conditions of the region resemble that of tribal regions, since the former tract is undulating and rocky while the latter is alluvial plain with patches of hills in the south-west and comparatively flat alluvial plains in the north-east. Even today, after about six decades after the independence, Mewat seems totally cut off, so much so that most of its villages are without minimum infrastructure facilities such as enough safe drinking water, forget to talk about rail transportation and there are a few dispensaries with the barest minimum medical facilities. Malnutrition, tuberculosis and polio are wide spread amidst all this poverty in the area. Some villages do have \\\'dead\\\' dispensary buildings, as these exist without a doctor or nurse and people are subjected to go to quacks. With poverty come curses like - ignorance, blind beliefs, child marriages, demand of dowry, living in closed shells, simply cut-off from the developmental work, so much so that many villagers are not even aware of the projects and schemes operating in or around their villages. Poor natural resources, such as poor soil conditions, inadequate irrigational facilities coupled with brackish water, widespread illiteracy and natural calamities in the region account for its slow economic development. Beside these factors, social, political and cultural factors too have impeded the developmental efforts in this region. No concrete steps were honestly and dedicatedly taken for the development of this region even after independence. Consequently, the development of Mewat has not kept pace with the overall development of other areas.
The group of individuals was highly pained to see the economic and social plight of the people of Mewat. They had a deep urge to take some concrete steps to improve the quality of life of the people of this area. And the path chosen by them was through awareness generation towards social evils prevalent in the area like dowry, child marriage, constitutional rights and duties, government’s development schemes, importance of education, family planning, ecological balance, etc. to educate these rural people about healthcare and hygiene, they were mobilized to organize themselves to undertake sanitary work, availability of drinking water and other preventive activities. Local people were helped to organize medical check-up and eye camps. The pace of the process initiated by these volunteers, though crated greater awareness, expectations of the members of beneficiary committees also increased. The services offered were felt to be inadequate to meet the expectations of the individuals. It was felt in this context, that there is a dire need of people’s participation in development efforts, which required by all those who realized the concerned about the upliftment of the rural poor of the similar backward areas of this country. Further, in the year 1984, a few individuals working for some joint sponsored projects related to rural and artisan development implemented in Mewat region of Haryana jointly by the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS), a constituent establishment of CSIR, New Delhi and the Mewat Development Board (MDB), Haryana started understanding the problems scientifically and developed moral, social and emotional as well as ethical relationship with masses of the region. They also realized that the contribution of people of Mewat region to struggle for emancipation from British rule in India is yet to be recognized and appreciated fully. Unfortunately, after independence, the region has remained. educationally backward, socially neglected, economically marginalized and deprived. Poverty and unemployment of the youth are still rampant.
Even today the area lacks in basic development infrastructure facilities like quality education, means of irrigation and rail transportation. The exploitation of common man of the region by local vested interested persons who are playing with their ethnic and religious feelings and emotions through the middleman (tout) known as thondas as their informers is increasing. Since the very style of functioning of MDB/MDA showed a routine type of government department and in many cases much worse than a government department, particularly total absence of local peoples participation, particularly of those for which the MDB/MDA is constituted, and these volunteers have also felt an urgent need to bring the people not only of Mewat, but the Indian masses closer to the developmental efforts and activities and to provide to them opportunities for raising their socio economic status and therefore joined hands to integrate the ongoing developmental activities and to initiate new activities through awarenes s creation/generation and mobilization of local resources, they decided to work for the improvement of quality of life among people, particularly the rural masses, with a holistic view of development. Another basic fear of working in projects, which always remains is the discontinuation of their paid jobs after some period, since all externally funded projects are time bound in nature. They thought to create a platform by which they can collectively and continuously work may be as an NGO with or without government support even after the completion of the on going project. In this way, it was thought by them that they might remain engaged in constructive work and contribute to the development of masses in more notable way. Consequently, a group of selfless but dedicated volunteers working in diverse fields thought to join hands to integrate the ongoing developmental activities in the region and to initiate new activities through formulizing their collectiveness. This group of individuals was highly pained to see the economic and social plight of the people of Mewat. They had a deep urge to take some concrete steps to improve the quality of life of the people of this region. The path chosen by them was through awareness generation towards social evils prevalent in the region like dowry, child marriage, constitutional rights and duties, government\\\'s development schemes, importance of education, family planning, ecological balance, etc. To educate the rural people of Mewat about healthcare and hygiene, these were mobilized to organize them to undertake sanitary work, availability of drinking water and other preventive activities. Local people were helped to organize medical check-up and eye camps. The pace of the process initiated by these volunteers, though created greater awareness, expectations of the members of beneficiary communities also increased. The services offered were, however, felt to be inadequate to meet the expectations of the individuals.
The genesis of MDS dates back to 1972, when a few individuals joined hands to work for the welfare of the people of Mewat, particularly the rural masses, with a holistic view of development. These individuals through their organized efforts started initiating and integrating developmental activities in diverse fields through awareness generation, mobilization, conducting surveys and implementing action programmes, etc. With the passage of time more and more people joined in this noble cause and led to the formation of a cooperation action group. All these activities were going on under the banner of an unregistered organization namely Mewat Students and Youth Organization, shortly named as MYSO, which took birth in early seventies amidst rampant poverty, corruption, unemployment, social evils, and politico-economic backwardness and exploitation of people by thondas, the local touts and did commendable work in these areas. Hardly any problem of Mewat is left untouched, voice for which is not raised by this organization. In fact this was the only most popular student & youth mass movement in the area after independence. One of the out put of well thought and consistent academic and public opinion pressure put by this organization is in the form of creation of state level Mewat Development Board (MDB) on 16-1-1980 by the Govt of Haryana as a high power policy making instrument under the chairmanship of Chief Minister, Haryana with its State Implementation Committee (SIC) under the chairmanship of Joint Secretary (Revenue) of the State and a field level agency namely Mewat Development Agency (MDA) under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Gurgaon with a sole stated objective of ameliorating the conditions of poverty, unemployment and economic and social backwardness and to raise the standard of living of the people of this area, which had shown few signs of upward trend despite the development programmes undertaken during successive Five Year Plans.
A lot of programmes have been launched under the aegis of Mewat Development Board (MDB) and its other arms in the subsequent years, however, a lot has been remain to reach to the expectation of the people. Though the main focus of the schemes launched by MDB/MDA for development of Mewat claimed to be remained on agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, education, health, housing, industries, technical education, and science and technology, however, major part of the area still lies barren, not even one major canal could be dug up and there is no well-equipped hospital, and though most of the people of the area are employed in agriculture and cattle, no dairy, which does not even require much input, could be promoted. In the Mewat region most of the programmes ultimately flop as these are generally introduced routinely and without sensing their suitability and identifying needs of the people. The expectations of the people from the activities of the MDB/MDA could not be fulfilled to the desired level of satisfaction. Public participation in the programmes has also been minimal. Thus, it remained paradoxical that on one side, Government of Haryana claimed its determination to spend money and also created policymaking and administrative machinery for development of this region while on the other people showed their indifference.
They thus formed Mewat Development Society (MDS) and got it registered on 18-1-1988 with the Registrar of Societies; Haryana under the Societies’ Registration Act XXI of 1860. The focus of MDS initially remained mainly on formulating and implementing programmes aimed at social and economic development of common people. Subsequently, the activities of MDS have been extended to areas beyond the Mewat region also. Several projects have been carried out by MDS in different states of India. The main focus of MDS is on improving the ‘quality’ of life of the local people following an action research approach. Further, they undertook various awareness generation programmes to fight against inequality and injustice, for resolutely exposing the cause of the exploited and under privileged, thus significantly contributing to social change. They also saw the possibility of bringing about reconciliation among the conflicting social groups and realized the need for working for human dignity and social harmony, thus finding a possibility of their significant contribution in bringing out a positive social change. Since they believed in the voice of people and thus becoming interested in gauging public opinion on issues of local, regional, state and national importance.
They also become interested to understand the nature, quality and in particular management of political parties and issues undertaken by them, as well as the conduct of their members and the stand and role of individual party on a particular social issue as the members elected for legislative assemblies and parliament in Mewat like other democratic system are supposed to be their representative. The MDS gradually took shape and dedicated itself to providing rural development and spatial information solutions to clients. Later on, in order to broaden the horizon of their activities in form and substance and to accelerate the pace of social change process, these volunteers, who by this time have had enough experience and insight, decided to extend their operations under the banner of Mewat Development Society (MDS). The society then got registered under Foreign Contribution and Regulation Act (FCRA), 1976 on 31-8-1992 and its FCRA Registration No. is 172270009. The MDS also got registered under section 12AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961 and its registration no. is CIT/FBD/Tech/04-05/45 dated 22-6-2004. In this way, after its registration, the society has diversified its areas of interest and collaborated with Government agencies in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of various developmental schemes. It has extended its area of operation to entire country and managed its activities through opening branch offices, project offices and appointing state coordinators etc. MDS has applied for membership of (i) India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi, and (ii) Confederation of NGOs of Rural India (CNRI), New Delhi
The MDS carries out its projects and activities through networking. For this it has established a network which includes research and academic institutions, besides local, national and international agencies and NGOs. The MDS prefers to work jointly with other agencies, particularly NGOs, so as to synergize activities and initiatives for development of rural people. Major agencies, which have sponsored/collaborated with MDS in various projects and activities in the past, include the following:
- American International Tires Inc., USA
- Aravali Education Society (AES), New Delhi
- AZ Infosys, New Delhi
- AZI Computer Design and Technology Academy, Delhi
- Centre for Disaster Management Studies (CDMS), Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU), Delhi
- Centre of Science for Villages (CSV), Wardha (Maharashtra)
- Chaitanya, Pune (Maharashtra)
- Co-ordinates, New Delhi
- En-Geo Consultancy & Research Centre-The Geomatics People, Guwahati (Assam)
- Foresight Society of Human Resources & Development ,New Delhi,
- Geo Solutions, Gurgaon (Haryana)
- Haryana Institute of Rural Development (HIRD), Nilokheri (Karnal) (Haryana)
- Haryana Prathmik Shiksha Pariyojna Parishad (HPSPP), Chandigarh
- Haryana State Remote Sensing Applications Centre (HARSAC), Hisar, Haryana
- Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi
- Indo-German Social Welfare Society (IGSWS), New Delhi
- Islamic Academy of Social and Natural Sciences, New Delhi
- JUSWANT-Justice, Social Welfare and Technologies , New Delhi
- Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon (Haryana)
- Marie Stopes (Parivar Sewa Sanstha), New Delhi
- Matsya-Mewat Shiksha Evam Vikas Sansthan, Alwar (Rajasthan)
- Mewat Development Agency (MDA), Govt. of Haryana, Nuh, district Mewat (Haryana)
- Mewat Education & Development Society (MEDS), Punhana, Mewat (Haryana)
- Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR), Govt. of India
- Ministry of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India
- Mufakkam Jah Village Development Society (MJVDS), Hyderabad (A.P.)
- Nagaland University, Lumami, Mokokchung (Nagaland).
- National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt of India.
- National Institute of Educational Planning & Administration (NIEPA)/ National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), New Delhi
- National Institute of Science, Technology & Development Studies (NISTADS), CSIR, New Delhi
- National Wasteland Development Board (NWDB)/National Afforestation and Eco-development Board (NAEB), Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India
- Natural Resources Data Management System (NRDMS), Ministry of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India
- Osmania University, Hyderabad (A.P.)
- Parvasi Bihari Mahasangh (PBM), New Delhi
- Professional Assistance for Development Action Network (PRADAN), New Delhi
- Remote Sensing Instruments, Hyderabad (A.P.)
- Science Technology and Public Affairs Foundation (STAPF), New Delhi
- Society For Educational and Rural Development (SERD), Gurgaon (Haryana),
- United Nation Development Programme (UNDP)
- Youth Hostels Association of India, Haryana State Branch, Faridabad