Role of NGOs in India – UPSC GS2

  • 31 lakh NGOs in India
  • 3000 NGO got Rs 22,000 Cr donation
  • Only 10% filed annual returns
What is the role of NGOs in Indian Democracy?
  • Bridging the Gap:
    • NGOs endeavour to plug gaps in the government’s programmes and reach out to sections of people often left untouched by state projects. For example, providing aid to migrant workers in Covid-19 crisis.
    • These NGOs also look into accelerating activities like Issues dealing with poverty alleviation, water, environment, women’s rights and literacy.
  • Role of an Enabler:
    • Community-level outfits and self-help groups are critical for bringing any change in the ground.
    • In the past, such grass roots organisations have been enabled by collaborations with bigger NGOs and research agencies that have access to foreign funding.
  • Acting as a Pressure Group:
    • There are political NGOs that mobilise public opinion against government’s policies and actions.
    • To the extent such NGOs are able to educate the public and put pressure on public policy, they act as important pressure groups in a democracy.
  • Role in Participative Governance:
    • Many civil society initiatives have contributed to some of the path-breaking laws in the country, including the Environmental Protection Act-1986, Right to Education Act-2009, Forests Rights Act-2006 and Right to Information Act-2005, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), Juvenile Justice , Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS).
    • NGOs also partnered with the government to successfully implement major campaigns like Swachh Bharat Abiyaan and Sarva Siksha Abiyaan.
  • Acting as a Social Mediator:
    • In Indian context wherein people are still steeped in superstition, faith, belief and custom, NGOs act as catalysts and create awareness among people.
What are the issues from NGOs?
  • Lack of Credibility:
    • During the last few years, numerous organisations have mushroomed which claim to work for the cause of helping the poor.
    • Under the garb of being an NGO, these NGOs often mint money from donors and are also involved in money laundering activities.
  • Lack of Transparency:
    • India’s disproportionate number of NGOs and the sector’s lack of transparency and accountability is clearly an issue that needs reforms.
    • Further the allegations of corruption against NGOs are ignored. In the past many NGOs were blacklisted after being found to have indulged in misappropriation of funds.
What are the main challenges NGOs Face?
  • Lack of Funds:
    • Many NGOs find it difficult to garner sufficient and continuous funding for their work. Gaining access to appropriate donors is a major component of this challenge.
    • Earlier, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) cancelled the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010 registration of various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
    • Suspension of FCRA licence means that the NGO can no longer receive fresh foreign funds from donors pending a probe by the Home Ministry. The FCRA is mandatory for associations and NGOs to receive foreign funds.
  • Absence of Strategic Planning:
    • Many NGOs suffer from the lack of a cohesive, strategic plan that would facilitate success in their activities and mission, rendering them unable to effectively raise and capitalize on financial support.
  • Poor Governance and Networking:
    • Many NGOs have a deficit of understanding as to why they must have a Board and how to set one up.
    • Poor or disorganized networking is another major challenge, as it can cause duplicated efforts, time inefficiencies, conflicting strategies and an inability to learn from experience.
    • Many NGOs do not maximize the use of current technologies that could facilitate better communication and networking.
  • Limited Capacity:
    • NGOs often lack the technical and organizational capacity to implement and fulfill their mission, and few are willing or able to invest in training for capacity building.
    • Weak capacity affects fundraising ability, governance, leadership and technical areas.
  • Development Approaches:
    • Many NGOs favor a “hardware” approach to development through building infrastructure and providing services instead of empowering people and institutions locally.
Way Forward:
  • India is committed to SDGs till 2030 and a long-term strategy is important to keep the focus while also pursuing sustainable growth and development.
  • It is, however, important to note that success of a long-term strategy depends not only on the lessons learnt from implementing the short- or medium-term development strategies, but also cooperation and coordination from various sectors — the government, India Inc and NGOs.
  • Capacity building and training can help to provide crucial new skills. NGOs can then more readily train staff and cultivate the necessary skills within the organization to address challenges going forward.
  • It is necessary to regulate corrupt NGOs, however excessive regulation on foreign contribution may affect working of the NGOs which are helpful in implementing government schemes at the grassroots.
Scroll to Top