The Council for Social Development came into existence in the year 1962 as an informal study group of social workers and social scientists having a common interest in working towards a just social order in India. Between 1963 and 1969, a number of consultations and seminars on pressing social and developmental issues were organised by this group of eminent scholars under the leadership of Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh, the eminent sociologist and social worker.
In 1964, a formal status was given to the Council as an affiliate study group of the India International Centre, and in April 1970, it was registered under the Societies Registration Act of 1860 with Dr. C.D. Deshmukh as President and Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh as Executive Chairman.
CSD is today one of the leading institutions working in the area of development research in India. Apart from carrying out pioneering research on developmental issues and concerns, CSD has played an influential role in voicing social concerns among planners and policy-makers through-out the fifty years of its existence.
The main objectives of the Council are to undertake and promote the study of social development through studies on the national and regional policies of development, on the process of planning, and on the interaction of social and economic development with various stages of national growth in developing countries. CSD's long-term goal is to assist in integrating the needs of social development with those of economic development especially with respect to the needs of the underprivileged sections of society. CSD works collaboratively with a wide range of non-governmental agencies, universities, research institutions, governmental departments and international aid agencies, to this end. CSD researchers work on a wide range of subjects including gender issues, child welfare, forests and biodiversity conservation, sustainable development, poverty alleviation, urban planning, agricultural and sustainable rural development, tribal welfare, health, governance, caste-based discrimination and education. Council also conducts training courses on social science research methods as well as imparts training for short term diploma courses in sustainable development.
CSD Delhi is housed in its own building, located in the institutional area of Lodi Estate in central Delhi, next to the picturesque Lodi Gardens. CSD has a research staff of 24, supported by 26 administrative staff.
CSD also has a regional office in Hyderabad. The Southern Regional Office was established at Hyderabad to enable more comprehensive coverage of the Council's activities in the South. There are ten research staff based in Hyderabad, supported by twelve administrative and other staff. An Integrated Micro-Project Applied Research and Training (IMPART) Centre was established in 1985 as an integral part of the Southern Regional Office of the CSD at Hyderabad. The main functions of the Centre are to conduct applied micro-level research and training.