True to his words and thinking, Gonda Gramodaya Project was inaugurated in 1978. This was a unique experiment in integrated rural development to achieve total transformation through holistic development with people initiative and participation. The objectives proclaimed and set for the rural development programme by Nanaji in the year of 1978.
- To develop the modern science and technology, in accordance with Indian conditions to increase agricultural and industrial production .
- To bridge Economic and Social Disparities to build self-sufficient and prosperous rural communities and popularizing cottage industries.
In his inaugural speech on 25th Nov.1978 the then President of India Dr. Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy prophetically remarked
The whole country will look at Gramodaya Project of Gonda with keen interest. I shall watch this experiment with keen interest and am hopeful of its success. I am confident that devoted, selfless workers under the stewardship of a well experienced, enthusiastic and dedicated soul, Nanaji Deshmukh, will succeed in bringing a new era of peace and prosperity in Gonda district. I have no doubt that this movement will be carried to other parts of the country and there also a new sun of peace and prosperity will dawn.
The success of this project attracted the attention of several inquisitive minds from within and outside India.
Shri Prembhai, convener of the committee appointed by the People's Action for Development India (PAm), ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India, writes in his report in 1981, "I submit that the members of the visiting team unanimously agree that very good work has been done in the Gonda project area. This project is a successful example of what can be achieved with official and non-official collaboration in a short time for the reduction of poverty from a backward : rural area by increasing irrigation and the productivity of agriculture. PADI's own financial involvement has been only marginal, to facilitate the implementation; of a large, minor irrigation project which used institutional finances to the tune of about 12 crores of rupees, for boring of over 27,000 tube-wells for the irrigation of nearly 2,50,000 acres of land belonging to about 95,000 farmers scattered in 2,008 villages of 25 blocks in Gonda district, in a time frame of two years. By any standard, this seems to be the most remarkable achievement by a voluntary organization in collaboration with the Government and the banks. It must be further studied to "find out its multiplicability for the development of other backward rural areas." The Economist, London, observed in its issue, dated 22nd May 1982: "The initial successes of Gonda Gramodaya project in the field of irrigation have attracted the worldwide attention particularly to the "use of bamboo in place of iron pipes for tube-wells thus reducing the costs to less than one-third and to the device of balloon driven water pump, which is eco-friendly at reduced costs when compared to the electric power and the diesel.
Besides, the DRl has launched several rural development programmes like tree plantation to the tune of two lakhs, gau (cow) vikas centers, milk cooperatives (more than hundred in number) etc. These success stories led to the establishment of Lal Bahadur Sastri Krishi Yigyan Kendra (KYK) at Gopal Gram Centre (Gonda Distt.) with the help of ICAR, Govt. of India, in the year 1989. The DRI also established a Jana Sikshan Sansthan at Gonda in December 2000 with the aid of Government of India where hundreds of rural youth undergo training every year in different trades to make them self-reliant.
Enthused by the initial success of Gonda Gramodaya Project, people from various districts started extending their invitation to start the establishment of similar projects at their places also. Although D.R.I. was not inclined to divert its attention elsewhere, but it could not avoid undertaking the responsibility of guiding such efforts in the tribal majority districts of Singhbhoom of Jharkhand(erstwhile Bihar) and Sundergarh ( Odissa).An intensive Rural Eye Care Programme was launched in these districts with fully equipped mobile medical van. Hundreds of eye operations were performed in these camps with cent percent success.
The Dadabhai Nauroji Rural Industrial Training cum Research Center at Birsagram,Singhbhoom was established with the aim to provide vocational trainings to local tribal youths to make them self employed and self reliant.