The National Council of Rural Institutes was established by the Government of India in 1995. NCRI has been functioning as a catalyst organisation, helping rural institutions, Gandhian organisations, NGOs, universities and state government agencies in various projects connected with the promotion of rural higher education. Its participation in rural higher education had the larger objective of enhancing support mechanisms for rural development. More specifically, its objectives focus on promoting institutions engaged in programmes of Nai Talim (Gandhian basic education) and strengthen teacher training facilities for this purpose; support extension services to the community through micro-level planning, and design of appr priate courses for emerging rural occupations; encourage field oriented courses of rural institutes; strengthen the content of all these institutions with emphasis on science and technology; promote research as a tool for social and rural development; and advise the Government of India on all such matters pertaining to rural institutes.
Over the years, a number of eminent personalities have been associated with the NCRI. Prominent among them are Dr. M. Aram (former MP, Rajya Sabha) and Dr. L. C. Jain, (former member of the Planning Commission /High commissioner to South Africa), who functioned as the honorary chairman at different periods. Prof.Ramakrishna Ramaswamy is its present Chairman.
The resource group of NCRI comprises of members drawn from different fields including academics, administration, management and information technology. Led by the Chairman, who is assisted by the Member Secretary, the members of the group are Coordinators of different centres, Project Coordinator, Project Officers, Research Analysts, members of Publications team, and Project Evaluation & Monitoring team. Close interaction and collaboration with several agencies working in the area of human resource development, particularly directed towards integrated development of rural areas, has been the core functional areas of the NCRI.