The Council for Social Development was established in 1962 under the leadership of Dr C.D. Deshmukh, former Finance Minister of Government of India, and Dr Durgabai Deshmukh, an eminent sociologist, legislator, social worker, expert in social development and member of the Planning Commission. It was initially conceptualised as an informal study group of social scientists and activists working towards a just social order in the country. It was formally registered under the Societies Registration Act of 1860 in 1970.

Over the years, CSD has been headed by eminent educationists, social sector experts, and academicians. Presently, Prof. Muchkund Dubey, is the President of CSD. A former Foreign Secretary to the Government of India and Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, he has also served in the Executive Board of the UNESCO.

CSD has a Regional Centre at Hyderabad that was established in 1967. The Regional Centre is supported by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) and the Government of Telangana. The eminent scientist, Dr Pushpa Mitra Bhargava is the Chairperson of the Managing Committee of the Regional Centre.

CSD has made its mark as a leading social science research institution working in the area of social development with a focus on education, health and nutrition, rural development, poverty, gender and social discrimination and deprivation, especially with reference to the marginalised communities. For nearly 50 years. CSD has been bringing out a quarterly journal, Social Change, which focuses on empirically grounded, analytical papers, essays and policy discussions, and is published by SAGE Publications.

The CSD also brings out India: Social Development Report, a bi-annual report published by the Oxford University Press. The Report presents an up-to-date picture of the social situation in India and contains well researched, mostly empirical, papers on different aspects of the theme chosen for detailed analysis. In addition, it contains a chapter ranking States of the Union according to a Social Development Index developed by CSD. The Index, which is in the process of continuing refinement, is currently based on indicators from the realms of demography, health, education and basic amenities.

Over the past six decades, CSD has carried out a number of research projects; published books; and working and occasional papers based thereon. It has published over 250 books under its aegis.

Presently, CSD’s research projects cover a gamut of critical issues from health to food security, education, gender, social inclusion and civil and political rights supported by various National and International agencies such as UNICEF, Oxfam, ICSSR, NABARD, MoRD and state governments.

CSD also houses the Right to Education Forum (RTE), a collective of national education networks, teachers’ organisations and educationists working towards systemic reform in education. As part of its advocacy efforts to promote and highlight issues of critical concern, CSD has organised several important conferences, seminars and workshops. Some of the recent events have covered subjects like National Food Security Act; Challenges in Securing Right to Food for the People; Challenges of Land Governance in India; Consultation on Disabilities Legislation; Agrarian Crisis in India; and Transforming the Global and Political Order, Private Sector Participation in Public Services; the Bandung Legacy and the Global Future and Social Development in India; Sustainable Development Goals and Democracy and Minority Rights

A leading research and advocacy institution that puts equality and justice at the core of social development