What is civil Society?
- The society considered as a community of citizens linked by common interests and collective activity is a civil society.
- It is the aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens.
- It is referred to as the third sector of the society distinct from government and business.
What is the need for civil society?
- The modern democratic state with the technologies of surveillance and control possesses such power that has never been seen in the history. Yet, there are citizens that are vulnerable and helpless despite the rights they possess, if the democratic state decides to terrorise, kill and drill fear in them.
- The market in present times lacks moral sense. It is supremely indifferent to human suffering. It has neither sympathy nor room for citizens exploited by the state, and by its own need for resources, labour, and profit.
- Such a scenario calls for the intervention of civil society to protect the interest of the citizens. As it is the only sphere that stands between the individual and the state.
- Associations have the capacity to challenge the violent power of the state through petitions, protests, dharnas and ultimately judicial activism.
- When the political parties are unresponsive, citizens can access centres of power and privilege only through a vibrant civil society.
What has been the role of Civil Society in India?
- The human rights groups have become the custodian of the Fundamental Rights chapter of the Indian Constitution.
- They have investigated cases of arbitrary imprisonment, custodial deaths, deadly encounters and coercion of any citizen who dares to speak up against the state or dominant groups.
- These organisations have carefully documented the causes and the triggers of communal and caste violence, and established an excellent archive on the abuse of power by governments.
- They have protected the rights of vulnerable sections of our own people, the Adivasis, the Dalits and Muslims. They have shouldered the fight for the rights of the oppressed.
- Not all civil society groups are involved in protecting the moral conscience of our society. Some are in the sole business of getting funds from the state or others.
- Some sections of media are often cowered down by their corporate bosses, and the temptation of fame.
- Few sections are involved in excessive protests, eventually hampering national interests.
- Too often, even progressive global civil society organisations do not meet the standards of accountability and transparency that they demand of others.
- Unhappily, the majority of Indians keep quiet when their own fellow citizens are tortured by the police, stripped of access to resources and livelihoods, lynched, exploited by corporate India, and neglected by the mainstream media.