Darshan Shankar started his professional career in 1973 at the University of Bombay as the coordinator of an inter-disciplinary center for development research. At this center he conceived, designed and implemented a pioneering action-research programme, which provided graduates of any discipline a 2-year fellowship to live in a rural community and apply their formal learning to a real-life situation. This programme won a “Commonwealth Award” in 1976 being adjudged as the best project in the Commonwealth for linking university education to community needs.
Between 1980 and 1992 he lived and worked in a tribal area in Maharashtra. In 1993, he founded the Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions. In 1998, he was awarded “Norman Borlaug Award” for his contributions to promoting conservation of medicinal plants, and in 2002, FRLHT was awarded the “Equator Initiative Prize” by the United Nations. In 2003, the Columbia University’s Centre for Complementary & Alternative Medicines gave its first International Award to Darshan Shankar & FRLHT, in recognition of FRLHT’s outstanding contributions to the revitalization of traditional systems of health-care in India.