The Marga Institute was incorporated in April 1972. It started as a civil society initiative in the early seventies and developed over a span of four decades. The ideas leading to the establishment of the Marga Institute took shape in the late nineteen sixties, among a group of public officers, academics and professionals.
The principal activity of the Marga Institute is the study and critical evaluation of past and on-going development processes in Sri Lanka. It approaches and analyses development as a process and as a condition in which economic growth, social equity, political freedom and participation are integrally linked and must reinforce one another. Its programme of research therefore covers three main areas of development-economic, social and political. Consequently, it draws on a wide range of social science disciplines and brings a multi-disciplinary approach to its work.
The Institute's outlook and conceptual framework have been non-partisan and ideologically open. This has enabled it to provide a forum in which groups with different ideological and political orientations have engaged in a rational and constructive dialogue on highly controversial national issues.
Since its inception, the Institute has been recognised the need to consider national issues in the wider context of regional concerns and global changes. As a result, over the years, Marga has established strong links with like minded individuals and institutions both in the Asian region and at the international level.
During the last 40 years, The Marga Institute, has gained wide acceptance and recognition, both locally as well as internationally. Today, it is recognized and known as one of the premier Centres for Development Studies in Sri Lanka. It has contributed positively to the formulation of development policy, both at the national and global level.