We want Grassroots People to own their Knowledge and use it to shape their destinies

Atta Deep means self-enlightenment. The words Atta Deep Bhava or Be your own light are believed to be the parting words of the Buddha to his disciples. The Atta Deep Academy is CORO’s attempt to shine a light on grassroots knowledge by giving the grassroots people greater control over it.

Atta Deep Academy does this by building and presenting grassroots knowledge through the lens of the people instead of being reinterpreted in a more theoretical and formal manner by academicians. It seeks to take lessons from the grassroots to the classrooms and not the other way around.


The Atta Deep Academy is a knowledge centre set up by CORO India in order to acknowledge grassroots people as owners of their knowledge, and stand for their ‘right to knowledge-building’. The Academy believes that grassroots knowledge built and developed by these people themselves will be more authentic and accurate. Also, acknowledging the grassroots people as the owners of their knowledge, will give them a greater say in conversations about their development.
CORO INDIA is a 34-year-old, Mumbai-based organisation that works with people marginalised on the basis of gender, caste, region, or religion. CORO India seeks to make people aware of their rights, and give them the skills required to overcome discrimination, and move forward towards an equal and just society.


Atta Deep Academy is founded on the premise that experiential knowledge (lived experiences) and practical knowledge (doing), and ways of knowing and reflecting of grassroots people are key to understanding the factors that control and drive their lives. This must be acknowledged, and respected. This grassroots knowledge is essential to design policies and strategies that support these communities develop in a holistic and sustainable manner.
But at the moment, the grassroots people who hold this knowledge, have no role to play in developing it. Academicians talk to grassroots communities and collect their insights, but interpret it using their own understanding of the world. Because academicians typically come from a privileged background of caste, gender, education and wealth, their understanding of the grassroots is not entirely accurate. Atta Deep Academy seeks to remedy this situation.

The Vision

We at CORO do not believe that grassroots knowledge should remain a mere statistical input. Atta Deep Academy, therefore, is conceptualised as a platform that recognises, respects, and celebrates grassroots actors as knowledge-holders and knowledge-builders, and stands for their ‘right to knowledge-building’. It seeks to challenge the ‘politics of exclusion’ in research and academia to make these domains equitable, just, and democratic.

The Objective

The Academy aims at building, imparting (through curriculum), and widely disseminating grassroots knowledge, to increase social inclusion and cohesion. The knowledge thus institutionalised will provide insights and wherewithal to interventions and social-change processes done by the grassroots (from within), with the grassroots (co-creation), and for the grassroots (welfare approach-based support).


The Atta Deep Academy will,

Locate, track, and document (in various forms) ways of knowing, ways of analysing, ways of expressing, ways of reflecting, ways of acting and negotiating at the grassroots within the realm of knowledge.

Undertake participatory, collaborative research led/co-led by the grassroots leaders and shift the centre of knowledge-building towards the margins (grassroots).

Facilitate dialogue and collaborate with policymakers, philanthropists and foundations, and research and academia for inclusive development by integrating grassroots wisdom/knowledge into their projects.

Establish grassroots knowledge and wisdom by knowledge building, knowledge imparting (through curriculum) and dissemination (through publications, broad-based/public dissemination programmes/events/conferences/seminars etc.)


The AGL conceptualises five designated verticals for actualising the vision:
Natural Resources
Human Rights (e.g. caste/ethnicity/religion related)
Cultural contexts
These five verticals are mutually connected by constitutional values as their foundation. The academy encourages, facilitates and hand holds grassroots individuals and organisations by providing them with institutionalised support to analyse and interpret their lived experiences and draw lessons from them.


The Atta Deep Academy is being registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013. It will operate in consultation with the executive and advisory board being constituted with experts from various domains in the development sector.

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