Santhigrams origins date back to the early 1980s, when a group of dynamic youngsters in and around Chappath, a tiny village inthe district of Thiruvananthapuram, came together with the idea of doing something beautiful and useful for the local people. On 16th December 1987 it was registered under the Travancore- Cochin Literary and Charitable Societies Registration Act 1955, thus becoming a formal voluntary development organization.

The leader of Santhigram was L. Pankajakshan. All the youngsters had completed their high school studies. Pankajakshan had the advantage of getting trained under renowned Gandhian social activist, Sri. K. Viswanathan, founder-director of Mitraniketan. Pankajakshans one year experience at Mitraniketan proved to be a milestone in his search for meaningful social reconstruction interventions.

The nascent youth organization was known as Navabhavana Arts and Sports Club. True to its name, its agenda revolved round mainly arts and sports activities. However, the youth were given to reflecting on the emerging socio-environmental and scenario. They had their periodic meetings of sharing and discussion. Reflecting on the deteriorating social and environmental situation in their area, the visionary youth started dreaming of well-planned involvement in development issues. Realizing that their identity as a sports and arts club would stand in the way of their newly identified mission as social change agents, they decided to register another organization under the Charitable Societies Registration Act. After prolonged pondering and deliberation, they christened the new organization Santhigram. The new organization was registered under the Travancore- Cochin Literary and Charitable Societies Registration Act 1955 on 16th December 1987.

Santhi, incidentally, is perhaps the best linguistic expression for fullness of existence. Santhi, according to Indian thought, is the sum-total of human felicity- of all that is good, noble, beautiful, desirable, creative and fulfilling. Santhi stands for the all-embracing plenitude of existence and being. Gram is village or the local community.
Santhigram happens to be the closest verbal equivalent of the concept of holistic rural development. It is a happy coincidence that the title of the organization aptly reflects its nature.