It is crucial for civil society to reemerge.
GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions
- It is necessary to emphasize again the vital, vital, and life-giving nature of civil society.
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 (CSO) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are organizations with a spirit of voluntarism and no profit motive; they have been active in cultural promotion, education, health, and 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 the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), 26.5% of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are involved in religious activities, while 21.3% are involved 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.
Role of civil society
- Civil society provides the necessary foundation for involvement in formal political institutions because it upholds principles such as political engagement and governmental accountability.
- Associational organizations make up civil society institutions. It supports diversity and opposes authoritarianism.
- The civil society must oppose the authority of the state when it transforms into an authoritarian political institution.
- Individuals have legal rights to freedom of expression, association, opinion formation, and dissent within the civil society. A crucial prerequisite for democracy is the existence of civil society.
- While civil society organizations’ impact is growing throughout the world, their credibility appears to be eroding.
- One of the 2018 independent assessments placed emphasis on a few major findings, the most significant of which were:
- That civil society organizations don’t represent the will of the people since they are self-appointed rather than elected.
- That civil society organizations that receive foreign funds promote foreign rather than local goals and are answerable to external rather than domestic constituencies.
- Civil society organizations are elitist actors who do not adequately reflect the people they purport to speak for.
- Citing civic activists’ wealthy wages, international travel, and foreign school backgrounds, detractors try to show that they are disconnected from the issues facing regular people and are primarily concerned with maintaining their own affluent lifestyles.
Issues faced by the civil society:
Shrinking voice of CSOs
- It is widely believed that civil society’s influence on public policy and discourse has significantly decreased. Because the new battlefield for conflict and foreign meddling is civic society
- Conscientious youth, who naturally require some financial support, are lacking in CSOs/movements as a result of the institutional and financial restrictions placed on them.
- Since the ban on sub-granting has left these organizations resource-starved, thousands of people in the social sector, notably in grassroots organizations, have already lost their jobs.
No possibility of tangible contribution
- CSOs cannot favorably influence public discourse or have a significant impact on the entire country without consistent backing.
- Governments’ capacity to influence policy is reduced as a result of their deliberate avoidance of CSOs and movements (which has a negative effect on organizational morale).
The net result
- The end result will be that 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.
- Faced with a drastically reduced spectrum of options, some progressives will migrate to safer avenues; others may limit the scope of their work.
- The governments should also be aware that certain of its well-known acts or laws, such the National Food Security Act, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, and the Right to Information Act, among others, will continue to be applicable if the civil society is well-established.
- Stringent measures would also negatively affect the monitoring of the implementation of various government programs, such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, etc.
- Any attempt to disrupt civil society will amount to weakening these laws.
Alternate ways of funding
- In light of the recent changes to the FCRA, many organizations have already begun to consider local resource mobilization (LRM) and are primarily concentrating on corporate giving through corporate social responsibility (CSR).
- Civil society should look for ways to promote more collective giving, a type of charity giving in which groups combine their contributions to raise more money to address issues.
- There is growing recognition that enhanced use of data and digital technologies may strengthen and improve the work of charity.
For young activists
- The only scenario that could materialize is that young activists could be incorporated into political parties, either within the party structure or in a body that is aligned, which could establish an institutionalized moral force within the parties (which could balance electoral imperatives with ethical/human rights considerations).
- This would allow parties to address complex problems from multiple angles.
- Civil society, which offers alternatives to the ritualistic game of electoralism, is what keeps India pluralistic. It offers a compost pile of concepts that turns democracy into a never-ending drama of experiments.
- In order to think more creatively on a local level, civil society must develop a new understanding of the commons, rethink the rights of nature, and develop a new method of constitutional thought.
Daily Mains Question
[Q] What function do civic societies serve in a democracy? What general critiques do civic society organizations encounter? Give advice on how CSOs can overcome these difficulties.