Social Planning is an organised process for investigating and responding to the needs and aspirations of people and communities. It is an interactional process combining investigation, discussion, and agreement by a number of people in the preparation and carrying out of a program to ameliorate conditions of need or social pathology in the community. It is founded on the principles of social justice such as equity, access, participation and rights and aims to enhance community well being and effectiveness. It involves planning for the needs and aspirations of people and communities through strategic policy and action, integrated with urban, rural, regional and other planning activities and usually involves the action of a formal political, legal, or recognized voluntary body. In practice, it is based on a set of values, techniques and skills that contribute to better communities and quality of life and plays a pivotal role in creating livable communities, vibrant economies, sustainable places, diverse cultural expression and social cohesion.

We in Shodhana Consultancy sum up Social Planning under a very simple and powerful sentence: “Social justice is in everyone’s interest that promotes growth and is a catalyst of a movement for social change in search of the common good.” And are tirelessly engaged in such efforts in collaboration with various Govt., non- govt. as well as UN agencies.

policy is typically described as a principle or rule to guide decisions and achieve rational outcome(s). A Policy can be considered as a “Statement of Intent” or a “Commitment” to people. Policies can be understood as political, management, financial, and administrative mechanisms arranged to reach explicit goals.

Social Policy is the study and appraisal of social milieu in of a society and the welfare state. In general terms, it looks at the idea of the welfare state, and its relationship to politics and society. More specifically, it also considers detailed issues in policy and administration of social sectors such as health care, housing, education, poverty, old age, and social exclusion. In brief social policy primarily refers to guidelines, principles, legislation and activities that affect the living conditions conducive to human dignity. Thus, social policy is that part of public policy that has to do with social justice and the process of empowerment.

We at Shodhana Consultancy have been working mostly on policy formulation and analysis in the areas of education, disability, livelihoods and water & sanitation for various state governments as well as GOI.

As the name suggests, Social research refers to research conducted by social scientists. In contemporary usage, “social research” is a relatively autonomous term, encompassing the work of social scientists from various disciplines. Social scientists employ a range of methods in order to analyze a vast breadth of social phenomena; from census survey data derived from millions of individuals, to the in-depth analysis of a single agents’ social experiences; from monitoring what is happening on contemporary streets, to the investigation of ancient historical documents. Social research methods may be divided into two broad schools. Quantitative approach social phenomena through quantifiable evidence, and often rely on statistical analysis of many cases to create valid and reliable general claims whereas Qualitative approach emphasizes understanding of social phenomena through direct observation, communication with participants, or analysis of texts, and may stress contextual and subjective accuracy over generality.

Social research thus attempts to create or validate theories through data -collection and data analysis. It’s goal is exploration, description and explanation. Social Research generally aims to find social patterns of regularity in social life and usually deals with social groups, especially but not necessarily, the under privileged. Social Research can also be divided into pure and applied wherein Pure research has no application on real life, whereas applied research attempts to influence the real world.

Simply put social science research has long been used to gather crucial information to improve our way of life and influence our view of the world and we at Shodhana Consultancy have been involved in such efforts for very long. Our expertise is in Evidence based and exploratory research. We also undertake long term action and participatory research on various themes of social development.

Project appraisal is a generic term that refers to the process of assessing, in a structured way, the case for proceeding with a project or proposal. In short, project appraisal is the effort of calculating a project’s viability.

The terms assessment and evaluation are often used interchangeably. Assessment provides evidence that things are working or not whereas Evaluation may be defined as “the systematic investigation of the merit or worth of an object” and is often used in the context of“what value has been added through this project, and how do you know?” Project evaluation is often used to demonstrate accountability – e.g. have the project goals been met?

Evaluation is a methodological area that is closely related to, but distinguishable from more traditional social research. Evaluation utilizes many of the same methodologies used in traditional social research, but because evaluation takes place within a political and organizational context, it requires group skills, management ability, political dexterity, sensitivity to multiple stakeholders and other skills that social research in general does not rely on as much.

Shodhana has expertise in Program and project appraisal, assessment and evaluation for many years. In addition, Shodhana Team members are well versed with different community based approaches and their application; especially appraisal, assessment and evaluation of Community Based Rehabilitation Projects for Persons with Disabilities and have been undertaking the same for various govt. Non – govt. agencies .

Training is an educational process. People can learn new information, re-learn and reinforce existing knowledge and skills, and most importantly have time to think and consider what new options can help them improve their effectiveness at work. Effective trainings convey relevant and useful information that inform participants and develop skills and behaviors that can be transferred back to the workplace. The goal of training is to create an impact that lasts beyond the end time of the training itself. The focus is on creating specific action steps and commitments that focus people’s attention on incorporating their new skills and ideas back at work. Training can be offered as skill development for individuals and groups. In general, trainings involve presentation and learning of content as a means for enhancing skill development and improving workplace behaviors.

Capacity building also referred to as Capacity Development is a conceptual approach to development that focuses on understanding the obstacles that inhibit people, governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations from realizing their developmental goals and thereby enhancing the abilities that will allow them to achieve measurable and sustainable results. It is considered as a wise investment for sustainable future. Capacity building often refers to strengthening the skills, competencies and abilities of people and communities in developing societies so they can overcome the causes of their exclusion and suffering.

Shodhana has been engaged in individual, institutional as well as organizational capacity development programs for various govt. non- govt. and UN agencies in the following areas -Engaging stakeholders on capacity development, Assessing capacity needs and assets, Formulating a capacity development response, Implementing a capacity development response, and Evaluating capacity development. The areas of capacity building have been varied. The range of capacity development programs undertaken by Shodhana is vast- soft skills development to social research methodologies to NGO management techniques to documentation to core technical issues related to various themes of social themes such as disability, livelihoods, water & sanitation and so on.

Documentation is a general term for a multiplicity of documents in a chosen mix of media and with a certain collection. Purpose of documentation is the use to support a tool or a process. The procedures of documentation vary from one sector, or one type, to another. In general, these may involve document drafting, formatting, submitting, reviewing, approving, distributing, reposting and tracking, etc.

In the context of social development programs, documentation of processes helps in creating systematic information to articulate the intervention strategies and develop the flow chart of a program. This helps the project or organization to find out more about the needed field intervention methods, coordination, management requirements, financial management, and human resource development policies etc. Not only the project conducting process documentation take benefit from this but also other similar projects and agencies can use the outcome as a model in their formulation and implementation methods.

There are various methods and types of documentation and each requires a specific set of skills. The documentation of conference proceedings is more of reporting and is very different from documenting success stories. Process documentation is a method of concisely capturing and sharing critical project concepts, plans and information as they are develop, so that impacted parties can share this information, make informed decisions, and keep the project moving forward without having to revisit old discussions. It requires a very different skill set. On the other hand documenting best practices might involve a lot of people skills, interviewing skills along with capturing the essence of what works and what does not in a given situation for people and organizations. We at Shodhana have been successfully undertaking such varied documentation assignments for various govt. non-govt. agencies.