Role of NGOs in India
NGOs can and should play the “game changer” to pro-poor development through leadership on participatory research, community empowerment and search for development alternatives
In a democratic society, it is the state that has the ultimate responsibility for ushering development to its citizens. In India, through the progressive interpretation of the Constitution and its laws and policies, the scope of development has been significantly broadened to include not just economic progress for citizens, but also promotion of social justice, gender equity, inclusion, citizen’s awareness, empowerment and improved quality of life. To achieve this holistic vision of development, the state requires the constructive and collaborative engagement of the civil society in its various developmental activities and programs. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as the operational arm of the civil society therefore have an important role in the development processes.
Defining Non-Government Organisations
In its most general usage, civil society refers to all voluntarily constituted social relations, institutions, and organisations that are not reducible to the administrative grasp of the state. NGOs are organisations within the civil society that work on the “not-for-profit” approach in the space which exists between the family (household), market and state. It is made up of several types of formal voluntary organisations, where people based on community, neighbourhood, workplace and other connections form their association to participate in actions for their own collective interests or for larger social good. Those NGOs which are working at the global arena, across several countries are termed as international NGOs.
Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in its concept papers on civil society and good governance has defined civil society as “an intermediate realm situated between state and household, populated by organized groups or associations, which are separate from the state, enjoy some autonomy in relations with the state, and are formed voluntarily by members of society to protect or extend their interests, values or identities”. For the purpose of this paper we understand NGOs as “formally registered not-for profit association of groups of individuals founded on the principles of equality, altruism and voluntary work spirit to promote human development (including environment and biodiversity) and nation building”
Indian State and NGOs
In India the state policies have significantly influenced the formation of NGOs and their activities. The government sponsored and aided programmes provided financial assistance to NGOs either as grants or as matching grants to support the implementation of social development projects. In the Sixth Five Year Plan (1980-1985), the government identified new areas in which NGOs as new actors could participate in development. The Seventh Five Year Plan (1985-1990), envisioned a more active role for NGOs as primary actors in the efforts towards self-reliant communities. This was in tune with the participatory and empowerment ideologies, which was gaining currency in the developmental discourse at that time. Government support and encouragement for NGOs continued in the Eighth Five-year plan, where a nation-wide network of NGOs was sought to be created. The Ninth Five-year plan proposed that NGOs should play a role in development on the public-private partnership model. Also, the agricultural development policies of the government and its implementation mechanisms provide scope and space for NGOs. A case in point is the watershed development program, which has led to the growth of NGOs working for rural development. This has also been acknowledged in the Tenth Five-year Plan Document. Such proactive state support to NGOs has also brought in the element of reporting and regulations. This is being done through a series of legislative and administrative measures,...
References: Singh Kumar Ravi, Role of NGOs in Developing Countries, 2003,Deep and Deep publishers New Dehli, India.
Edward Michael and flower “Introduction: Changing challenges for NGDOs management” The earthscan readerson NGOs Management, 2002,edited by Michael Edward and Alan Flower, London. |
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