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With advent of community development programme in the country there was an urgent need of creating an infrastructure for replenishing and updating the knowledge and skills of the personnel working for swift change in rural development. An orientation center for central India was established at Jabalpur in 1953. CP and Berar was one of the well organized and administered state, Jabalpur being strategically located almost near the center point was found to be most appropriate place for this purpose. The administrative control was of the central government.

Later on in 1976-77 this Orientation center was handed over to the Government of Madhya Pradesh. That was the time when Panchayat Rural Development and social welfare were administratively part of one department, training being part of welfare therefore, state government put this institute under the administrative control of social welfare department. Mandate was give to institute to train panchayata representatives and officials of the department.

There was a shift in the approach and structure the rural development programme . The beneficiary oriented approach paved way for adoption of new strategies in rural development training. Government of India Ministry of Rural Development created an apex training institute in every state for catering training need of new approaches in Rural Development sector. The main aim of the Institute was to develop the level of knowledge, skills and also bring change in the attitude of the personnel, working in the state for rural development action.

Thus the state Institute of Rural Development ( SIRD) came in to existence in 1987. In Madhya Pradesh the old panchayat raj institute of Jabalpur, was reorganized and taken over by the Rural Development Department from Department of Social Welfare. A set of new training institutions were also established at the regional level knows as Extension Training Centers later known as Regional Rural Development Training Center.

On the occasion of 125th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi the name of Institute was renamed as Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Rural Development. The institute was declared Autonomous by the Central Government in the year June 1996. Autonomy brought new epoch in SIRD and sits satellite training centers. Board of Governor under the guidance of the Minister Rural Development & Panchayat, recast the design and role of the institute. Since than institute is functioning in mission mode. As an autonomous self reliant institute, it has has a role to fulfill i.e. to analyze, design and cater to all emerging training needs of Rural Development department as well as the elected representatives of panchayat raj. The RRDTCs are located at Indore, Ujjain, Bhopal, Gwalior, Multai (Betul) and Naogaon (Chhatarpur), the role designated for these centers are to function in the defined catchments as a branch of MGSIRD and cater for the training needs of the specific area, particularly, where MGSIRD does not have direct outreach.

 
Activities
As an apex organization for Rural development and Panchayat MGSIRD is functioning as a training institute, evaluating and monitoring on going projects and schemes. Doing research in concerned areas and feeding analytical reports beck to the department. Thus Institute is working as an academic arm of the department, fulfilling role of a think tank. Training of Panchayat Raj, Gram Shabha, Water Shied, SHG, SwaShakti, SGSY and various other scheme's of Rural Development is conducted by this Institution.