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Mains Answer Writing


Q1) Evaluate the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in improving the governance process in India. What are the challenges in utilizing CSOs as a model for public services delivery?

(250 Words/15Marks)


Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are non-profit, non-government umbrella groups representing a wide range of interests of their members.

The role of CSOs in improving development indicators can be evaluated as:

  1. CSOs, with their ears to the ground, can play a vital role in actualizing a framework for evidence-based policy making.

E.g., collection and dissemination of development data of the vulnerable population.

  1. CSOs play an important role in management of crisis.

E.g., during pandemic, CSOs provided shelter to homeless, daily wage workers, and urban poor families.

  1. CSOs cater to the unserved and unheard sections.

E.g., welfare of elderly, persons with disabilities, children, transgender persons.

  1. Expansion of human rights.

E.g., CSOs like Ritinjali, have been working towards providing inmates with legal counselling, income generation opportunities etc.

  1. Drug rehabilitation: Indian red cross society, have been working actively towards drug rehabilitation activities. They have dedicated volunteers for social counselling, state of the art rehabilitation centers to help the drug addicts.

Though effective, the work of CSOs is limited by several factors:

  1. Lack of permanent cadre, dedicated staff, secretarial infrastructure etc., bring an ad-hocism in functioning of small CSOs.
  2. Constraints of fundings limits the ability of CSOs to expand their socio-economic impacts. As per experts, post FCRA (Amendment) Act, 2020 the challenges of funding have further exacerbated especially for small NGOs.
  3. Bureaucratic apathy and red tapism is also cited as the reason for lack of effectiveness of CSOs.
  4. Increasing distrust between the government and the CSOs have also became in impediment.

E.g., critics cite the FCRA (Amendment) Act as detrimental for voluntary organizations.

  1. Poor interoperability between local and global CSOs (working in same field) limit the possibilities for inculcating global best practices and compromise the ability of global CSOs to understand local needs.

 The challenges seen with employing CSOs as model for public service delivery can be seen from:

  1. CSOs have seen to be stalling socio-economic developmental activities of the state by channeling foreign funds to create local unrest.

For example, CSOs protesting against use of genetic engineering in agriculture, or against nuclear power plants (Kudankulam) etc.

  1. NGOs have been found to be engaging in anti-national activities detrimental to national security.

For example, ED have attached assets worth over 17 crores of Amnesty International (India) for involvement in money laundering activities.

  1. CSOs like Greenpeace sparking protests against the coal fired plants, directly hinder the welfare objectives of the government. The energy produced from such plants is a direct enabler to uplift millions from poverty.
  2. According to an affidavit filed by CBI in the SC only 10% of all NGOs file annual income and expenditure statement. Many NGOs like Caruna Bal Vikas of Tamil Nadu, SCPPL etc., have been booked for violation of FCRA act.
  3. According to an IB report the obstruction of government initiatives for socio-economic development by CSOs such as ActionAid, Cordaid etc., have negatively impacted the GDP growth by 2-3%.

Recently the NSA of India raised security concerns emanating from the CSOs. Therefore, there is a need to take steps to bridge the trust deficit between the CSOs and the government, and to align the goal of CSOs with objectives of national interests

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