Online Quiz Test

Future of India’s Civil Society Organisations

GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions

In Context

  • In recent times, civil society organizations (CSO) in India have been confronted with numerous problems and obstacles.

About the Civil Society Organizations in India:


  • India has a lengthy history of a civil society based on the principles of daana and seva.
  • Civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are non-profit, non-profitable organizations that have been active in cultural promotion, education, health care, and natural disaster relief.

Data on NGOs

  • Approximately 1.5 million NGOs (nonprofit, voluntary citizens’ groups organized on a local, national, or international level) are active in India today.
  • According to a survey conducted by Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), 26.5% of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are involved in religious activities.
  • While 21.3% of the population is employed in community and/or social service.
  • Roughly one-fifth of NGOs are involved in education, while 17.9% are involved in athletics and culture.
  • Only 6.6% of the population is employed in the health sector.

Changing Regulations for CSOs:

FCRA regulations for Civil Society Organizations in India:

Tighter control

  •  The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act was amended by the current government in 2020, granting the government stricter oversight and control over the receipt and use of foreign funds by non-governmental organizations.

Designated FCRA account

  • All NGOs seeking foreign donations must establish a designated FCRA account at the SBI branch.
  •  Existing FCRA accounts can be maintained at other banks, but they must be linked to the SBI branch in New Delhi.

Only banking channels allowed

  • Foreign contributions must be received exclusively through banking channels and must be accounted for in accordance with the regulations.


  •  Donations made in Indian rupees by any foreign source, including Indian-origin expatriates holding OCI or PIO cards, should also be considered foreign contributions.

Sovereignty and integrity

  • It requires NGOs to certify that the acceptance of foreign funds will not jeopardize India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, harm cordial relations with any foreign state, or disrupt communal harmony.

No depiction of vulnerable children

  • The government has recently cautioned CSOs against utilizing representative visuals in fundraising campaigns for development issues such as malnutrition.
  • The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) issued a directive to non-profit organizations prohibiting them from depicting vulnerable children.
  • Therefore, each new directive represents a new challenge for civil society.

Issues of the move:

Shrinking voice of CSOs

  •  It is widely believed that the capacity of civil society to influence policy and public discourse has diminished significantly. Due to the perception that civil society is the new frontier for war and foreign interference

Financial crunch

  •  Due to financial and structural restraints, CSOs and movements lack conscientious young people, who need financial support.
  • As a result of the prohibition on sub-granting, tens of thousands of people employed in the social sector, particularly in grassroots organizations, have already lost their jobs.

No possibility of tangible contribution

  • Without enduring support, CSOs are unable to positively shape public discourse or have a measurable effect on the nation as a whole.
  • Governments’ ability to shape policy is diminished as a result of their deliberate avoidance of CSOs and movements (which has a negative impact on organizational morale).

The net result

  • Faced with a drastically reduced spectrum of options, some progressives will migrate to safer avenues; others may restrict the scope of their work.
  • As a result, civil society will be unable to speak truth to power, amplify the voices of the most vulnerable, enrich policies/legislation through constructive feedback, or advance the common good.



For government

  • Governments should also recognize that if the foundations of civil society are solid, some of its most prominent acts and laws, such as the Right to Information Act, The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, and the National Food Security Act, among others, will remain pertinent.
  • Any attempt to disrupt civil society would be equivalent to weakening these laws.
  • Any stringent measures would also have a negative impact on the monitoring of the implementation of various government schemes, including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, etc.

For NGOs:

Alternate ways of funding:

  •  As a result of the new FCRA regulations, many organizations have already begun to focus on local resource mobilisation (LRM) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) funding.

Charitable funding:

  • Civil society should investigate ways to increase collective giving, a form of charitable giving in which groups pool their donations to generate larger funds to address problems.

Utilizing technology:

  •  It is becoming increasingly apparent that increased use of data and digital technology can make charitable organizations stronger and more effective.

For young activists:

  • Young activists could be inducted into political parties, either within the party organization or in an affiliated body.
  • This could create an institutionalized moral force within the parties (which could balance electoral imperatives with ethical/human rights concerns).
  • This would enable parties to take a multilayered systemic approach to difficult issues.

Way ahead

  • CSOs frequently encounter misconceptions regarding their function in society. They are targets of political interference and manipulation, which can restrict their operational capacity.
  • But inaction today will contribute directly to the extinction of civil society, arguably the fifth pillar of Indian democracy.


Daily Mains Question

[Q] In recent times, civil society organizations (CSO) in India face a variety of issues and obstacles. Analyse. What effect does it have on policymaking? Provide suggestions for how CSOs can effectively address these challenges.