Need to strengthen Civil Society – UPSC GS2

Civil Society in India:
India’s civil society consists of
  1. Grassroots organisations that connect to the last mile and provide essential services
  2. Think tanks and academic institutions that produce new policy ideas and generate evidence.
  3. Advocacy organisations that build support for causes
  4. Large impact funds and philanthropists who decide how these organisations get funded.
What are the issues with the functioning of Civil society organisations in India?
  • Successive governments in India have significantly curtailed the kind of activities that civil society actors can engage in. For instance,
    • Philanthropists and donor organisations often find themselves unable to support initiatives that strengthen India’s democracy and its accountability mechanisms, for fear of retribution.
  • Many civil society actors focus on engaging with narrow policy problems by ignoring the politics around policy and focussing disproportionately on technocratic solutions. For instance,
    • A report by McKinsey and Company estimated that close to 90 percent of total donor interest in India was targeted towards primary education, primary healthcare, rural infrastructure, and disaster relief.
  • Whereas, areas such as human rights and governance are left with minimal funding.
What needs to be done?
  • Need to re-examine parliamentary rules that are heavily tilted in favour of the ruling government.
  • Need to strengthen the judiciary, bolster federalism and the independent media.
  • Further, need to create transparency in decision-making within the executive.
  • Philanthropists need to fund initiatives that empower citizens, build fair processes, call for responsive policy, strengthen information and communication networks, and bolster social cohesion.
  • Civil society organisations too, need to broaden their agenda. It should include issues that strengthen India’s institutions by demanding more transparency and accountability in all areas and levels of policymaking.

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