The founder of Mitraniketan, K.Viswanathan, was born on 8 February 1928 in the village of Vellanad, Thiruvananthapuram District, Kerala, India. He did his schooling in Thiruvananthapuram and joined the Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan founded by Rabindranath Tagore. He graduated in 1953. Later he continued his studies in the US, the UK and in Scandinavia. During his stay in the US he came in touch with Arthur E. Morgan, an eminent scholar and educationalist who had an important influence on his future.
In Denmark, Viswanathan came in touch with the Danish Folk High Schools which is based on the ideas of Grundtvig (1783-1872). Grundtvig wanted to educate the rural population in order to enable people to participate in the democratic process at all levels. His aim was most of all to raise the cultural level of the farming population and subsequently to teach them skills (“awaken them first and then teach them skills”).
On his return to India Viswanathan founded Mitraniketan, the Home of Friends, in 1956. Mitraniketan´s main objectives are: Education, the development of sustainable agriculture, the development of rural technology and the empowerment of women. Over the years the organisation has grown to cover 50 acres of land housing a Residential School for tribal children, Mitraniketan People´s College, Krishi Vigyan Kendra ( Farm Science Centre), Rural Technology Centre, Training cum Production Centers (TPCs), bakery, fruit processing centre, bakery, pottery and coconut fibre activities, which aim to add value.
It is our constant ambition to preserve the vision of Viswanathan and at the same time adapt to the changes of rural life and modern India in general.