The Centre was started in 1961 in memory of Yusuf Meherally, and was formally inaugurated in 1965, by Dr. Zakir Husain, the then Vice-President. The initial objectives were promoting national integration and studying the problems of urbanisation. After 1967,the transformation of urban resources through men, money and material, and with the participation of local people got added as an objective. During 1962-67, cultural and intellectual activities dominated its programme. The Centre was the first to organise an exhibition of Laxman`s cartoons. It helped Bangladesh refugees and organised famine relief whenever necessary. Later, rural development became its main activity and a large number of activities were taken up in diverse fields at Tara and around.
On the basis of the experience gained over two decades,
a new dimension was added to its activities. Since the early nineties
it is actively engaged in presenting to the nation a replicable model
of rural development. This model is based on its definiton of rural
development as micro-watershed development plus organic farming,
including vermiculture, and vermi compost plus non-conventional energy plus village industries and marketing their products in urban and semi-urban areas, in addition to the surrounding villages.