Despite rapid economic growth, a large portion of India's population remains impoverished and in need of basic human necessities. 70% of the population still has limited access to housing and clean water. With an estimated 6 doctors for every 10,000 people, the people of India also continue to face severe public health challenges on a daily basis -- not to mention issues with women's rights, education, and small business development.

Right now, you could volunteer in India to help underprivileged populations gain access to better education, healthcare, human rights, and infrastructure. Volunteer programs are located in metropolitan areas such as Mumbai and Bangalore, as well as rural villages in states including Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan. These volunteer projects, when done responsibly and with the engagement of local communities, are important aspects of India's overall development.

Whatever area of volunteering you’d like to be a part of, chances are that India will offer it. Depending on which sectors can make use of your specific skill sets, you could be working in urbanized areas such as Mumbai or Bangalore, or the rural peace of somewhere like Tamil Nadu or Rajasthan. Here’s a snapshot of the types of volunteer projects in India:

Health

Few countries have such a polarized healthcare system as India. The rich enjoy world-class treatment while poorer inhabitants often have no access to health basics. India is home to the highest amount of AIDS and HIV cases in the world too. As a volunteer you can work in an HIV clinic and help spread awareness. Medical and dental students can also gain first-hand experience in clinics and hospitals.

Gender Equality

Many women in India fall victim to emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Fortunately, there are a number of NGOs that have now been established to counteract such atrocities, and they’re always on the lookout for volunteers.

Youth Development and Education

There are about 100 million street children in India and to counteract this, a large number of orphanages and shelter homes have been set up across the country. You could also help promote education by working in a primary or secondary school, teaching basic English.

Community Development

Only 75.3% of men and 53.7% of women in India are literate. Working as part of a community development program, you can help people discover their potential and make a better go of their lives.

Environmental Conservation

India’s rapidly-increasing population means there has been much damage to natural surroundings by way of plastics, chemical pesticides and general high productivity. There are a number of projects in India where you can help promote sustainable farming and environmental conservation.

What kind of Volunteer support exists in India?

Any good organization will look after its volunteers, and always be on hand to answer questions and provide help whenever required. Your embassies will be based in New Delhi, while dozens of consulates are located in towns and cities across India. About.com: India Travel also has tons of relevant resources for anyone traveling to India.

What NGOs and non profits work in India?

Unsurprisingly, India is a popular destination for NGOs and charities of all missions and sizes. NGOs India has a full list of NGOs in India.

Will I need to learn the language to volunteer in India?

The only country in the world with more English-speaking inhabitants that India is the U.S. Around 11% of all Indians speak English and you will find that especially amongst young people in urbanized areas, English is widely used.

As with every new culture, you should still make a point of learning the basics of the native language, which in India could be Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Kannada, Punjabi, Tulu, Urdu, or any one of India's many official languages.

Where are the best places to volunteer in India?

Mumbai, Jaipur (Rajasthan), Delhi, and Bangalore are good starting points but India has no end of great volunteering locations. What’s most important is that the program is right for you.

Often, the type of project you want to work on will dictate where you go.

What kind of visa will I need?

Visitors from the U.S., UK, Canada and Australia require an Indian visa. A tourist visa lasts up to 6 months. Allow yourself plenty of time to apply for your visa and ensure that your passport has remaining validity on it (6 months is usually needed). Visit your own government’s official travel site for more details on obtaining a visa or visit VISA HQ.

You’ll need to be up to date with a number of vaccines for India. These include typhoid, hepatitis A and diphtheria. Depending on the areas you plan to visit, you may also require jabs for tuberculosis, hepatitis B, rabies, cholera, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis. These latter vaccinations often apply to more rural areas.

Tap water is generally unsafe for drinking, so stick to the bottled stuff. Also check to make sure that water bottles are properly sealed, as some scammers will refill water bottles with unclean water and resell them.

As for safety, India is not without its problems and wherever you are in the country, you should keep your wits about you and be aware of dangers such as theft and reckless driving.

There are certain areas of India which you are advised against traveling to altogether. These include the rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir (other than Ladakh) the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan (other than at Wagah) and all travel in Manipur.

More in-depth advice can be found on the U.S. Department of State and Foreign and Commonwealth Office websites.

Most visitors to India experience little or no trouble (other than a bit of traveler's tummy...), and your volunteer agency will also be looking out for you.

Contributed by Will Noble

Volunteer Programs in India

Volunteering is a great way to make your travel experience more meaningful
Displaying 1 - 15 of 238 programs
Volunteering With India
Volunteer Work With Elephants
India
9.57 •35 reviews

Volunteer Work With Elephants. Volunteers required to do care and help...

iSPiiCE
Affordable Volunteer Programs in India
India
9.77 •44 reviews

iSpiice (Integrated Social Programs in Indian Child Education) is a...

Volunteering With India
Street Children Volunteer India
India
9.82 •22 reviews

Would you like to do Volunteer Work With Children in India? If yes...

Sadhana Forest
Reforestation Volunteer Program in Southern India
India
10 •20 reviews

Our main project is the reforestation of 70 acres of severely eroded...

Volunteering With India
Women Empowerment Program | Volunteer India
India
9.82 •11 reviews

Our Women Empowerment Volunteer Program in India helps you to support...

VESL
Volunteer and Teach English in South East Asia
Multiple Countries
9.91 •11 reviews

Looking for a great opportunity to develop your C.V whilst having the...

iSPiiCE
Teach English in the Himalayan Foothills of India
India
9.35 •23 reviews

Poor education standards, illiteracy and high student dropout rates...

Uplift Humanity India
Uplift Humanity India Summer Volunteer Program
India
9.94 •16 reviews

Our mission is to empower juveniles in India to break the cycle of...

Rekha & Sudhir Puranik Foudation
Cultural Immersion Program: Impact India
India
10 •1 review

A cultural immersion program designed to positively impact High School...

iSPiiCE
iSpiice - Integrated Social Programs in Indian Child Education
India
9.46 •13 reviews

The iSpiice (Integrated Social Programs in Indian Child Education)...

Volunteering Journeys
Volunteer in India with Volunteering Journeys
India
8.58 •12 reviews

India is one of the most diverse and culturally enriching countries...

Aim Abroad
Volunteering Experience for a Life Time
India
9.67 •3 reviews

Aimabroad offers volunteer opportunity for international volunteers at...

Volunteering With India
Teaching Volunteer Project India
India
10 •5 reviews

Join one of the Teaching Volunteer Program in India. In our teaching...

Active Internationals, India
Volunteer Abroad - Volunteer in India
India
9.91 •11 reviews

Active Internationals offers volunteering program in Rural & Semi...

Volunteering With India
Orphanage Volunteer Work India
India
9.86 •7 reviews

Would you like to volunteer your time with Orphanage Kids in India? If...

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where can I volunteer in Delhi?

    There are dozens of volunteer program options in Delhi, India that can be found on Go Overseas. In order to decide on a program that will best work for you, you'll want to think about the type of work you want to be doing: teaching/education, building projects, female empowerment, healthcare, etc. Opportunities are located all over the city.

  • Where can I volunteer in India?

    India is a large country with many heavily populous cities. You can find volunteer opportunities in most of them, including: Jaipur, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Delhi, and many others. You can also find opportunities that serve a rural population, and these will generally be outside of the large urban centers. Some of these options might take you to the Himalayan region or the forests in the south.

  • How can I volunteer for free in India?

    There are a number of global work exchange programs that allow you to volunteer and in return receive room and board. Organizations like WWOOF and Workaway offer opportunities like this in India. But there are also a number of affordable alternatives listed on Go Overseas that, while not free, provide structure and security for a small fee.

What People Are Saying

I recommend Carpe Diem to anyone interested in taking a Gap Year. The organization was so supportive my whole trip, and my time in India was amazing. The semester was fun and challenging in all the...

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I came back from India a more confident, compassionate human being. I made friendships that will last a life time and had leaders who widened my perspective tremendously. Carpe Diem had a miraculous...

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