- Civil Society refers to refers to a wide array of organizations, community groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labour unions, indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations and foundations – World Bank.
- Globally, the term ‘Civil Society’ became popular in 1980s, when it started to be identified with non-state movements defying authoritarian regime, especially in Eastern Europe and Latin America.
- Civil Society should not be equated to non-governmental organisations (NGOs). NGOs are a part of civil society though the play an important and sometimes leading role in activating citizen participation in socio- economic development and politics and in shaping or influencing policy.
- Civil Society is a broader concept, encompassing all organisations and associations that exist outside the state and the market.
|Examples of well-known civil society organizations|
- Amnesty International,
- International Trade Union Confederation
- World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
- The Danish Refugee Council (DRC),
- Reporter without boarder
|Civil Society in India|
- The third sector / civil society organisations promote cooperation between two or more individuals through mutual cohesion, common approach and networking. Democracies inherently encourage such cooperative behaviour.
- The Indian Constitution too explicitly recognizes “right to freedom of speech and expression and to form associations or unions” as one of the core rights of its citizens under Article 19(1) and hence encourages formation of civil society groups and community organisations.
- In the current model of economic growth, the voluntary/ civil society sector has been recognized as a key player in achieving equitable, sustainable and inclusive development goals.
- Both the State as well as the market-led models of development have been found to be inadequate and there is an increasing realisation that active involvement of the voluntary sector is needed in the process of nation building.
- They are now viewed as partners in progress. Civil society organisations function outside the conventional space of both State and Market, but they have the potential to negotiate, persuade and pressurise both these institutions to make them more responsive to the needs and rights of the citizens.
- Civil Society plays a crucial role in the good governance. As India is not a participative democracy but a representative democracy, government takes all major decisions by itself. Civil Society act as interface of interaction between the government and the governed.
|Gandhian tradition of Volunteerism|
Civil society derives its strength from the Gandhian tradition of volunteerism, but today, it expresses itself in many different forms of activism. In independent India, the initial role played by the voluntary organizations started by Gandhi and his disciples was to fill in the gaps left by the government in the development process.
|Difference between Civil Society and NGOs:|
|Civil Society is a broader concept, encompassing all organisations and associations that exist outside the state and the market.|
|NGOs are a part of civil society though the play an important and sometimes leading role in activating citizen participation in socio- economic development and politics and in shaping or influencing policy.|
|Civil society is the set of association which is neither state nor family but play a positive and active role in social economic and cultural activities.||NGO is a non-profit, voluntary citizens group which is organized on local, national or international level.|
|Civil society is older concept||NGO is a new concept.|
|Civil society is the third sector of society along with government and business.||NGO is considered the third executive arm of the government.|
|Civil society perform advocacy role|
|NGO perform both the advocacy and service role.|
|Civil society is realm of associations, business, interest group, classes, family and so on.||NGO is non-profit voluntary citizens group.|
|Various functional contribution to good governance by Civil society|
- Civil Society has been widely recognised as an essential “third sector”.
- Its strength can have a positive influence on the state and the market.
- Civil society is therefore seen as an increasingly important agent for promoting good governance like:
- Responsiveness and
Civil society acts through ‘social capital’— the capacity of people to act together willingly in their common long-term interest. Social capital is strong in a homogeneous, egalitarian society.
|Civil Society can further Good Governance:|
- By policy analysis and advocacy;
- By regulation and monitoring of state performance and the action and behaviour of public officials;
- By building social capital and enabling citizens to identify and articulate their values, beliefs, civic norms and democratic practices;
- By mobilizing particular constituencies, particularly the vulnerable and marginalized sectors of masses to participate more fully in politics and public affairs; and
- By development work to improve the well-being of their own and other communities.
- Educator of citizens on their rights, entitlements and responsibilities and the government about the pulse of the people.
- Service provider to areas and people not reached by official efforts or as government’s agent.
|Types of Civil societies in India:|
Classified into following broad categories (as given in 2nd ARC):
- Registered Societies formed for specific purposes
- Charitable organisations and Trusts
- Local Stakeholders Groups, Microcredit and Thrift Enterprises, SHGs
- Professional Self-Regulatory Bodies
- Bodies without having any formal organisational structure
- Government promoted Third Sector organisations
Broader classification of all non-government and not-for-profit organizations:
- Civil rights advocacy organizations
- Civil liberties advocacy organizations
- Community based organizations, citizen’s groups, farmers’ cooperatives
- Business and industry chambers of commerce
- Labour unions
- International peace and human rights organizations
- Media, communication organization
- National resources conservation and protection organizations
- Private and public foundations.
|National Policy on Voluntary Sector, 2007|
- National Policy on Voluntary Sector 2007 is a commitment to encourage, enable and empower an independent, creative and effective voluntary sector, so that it can contribute to the social, cultural and economic advancement of the people of India.
- The voluntary sector has contributed significantly to finding innovative solutions to poverty, deprivation, discrimination and exclusion, through means such as awareness raising, social mobilization, service delivery, training, research, and advocacy.
- The voluntary sector has been serving as an effective non-political link between the people and the Government. This policy recognizes the important role that the voluntary sector has to play in various areas and affirms the growing need for collaboration with the voluntary sector by the Government, as well as by the private sector, at the local, provincial and national levels.
|Objectives of the Policy|
- To create an enabling environment for VOs that stimulates their enterprise and effectiveness, and safeguards their autonomy;
- To enable VOs to legitimately mobilize necessary financial resources from India and abroad;
- To identify systems by which the Government may work together with VOs, on the basis of the principles of mutual trust and respect, and with shared responsibility; and,
- To encourage VOs to adopt transparent and accountable systems of governance and management.
|Partnership with Voluntary Organisations in development:|
- The voluntary sector can play an important role in the development process, particularly through community participation.
- VOs can offer alternative perspectives; committed expertise; an understanding of the local opportunities and constraints; and perhaps most importantly, the capacity to conduct a meaningful dialogue with communities, particularly those that are disadvantaged.
- It is therefore essential that the Government and the Voluntary Sector work together. Where feasible, such partnership may also include other entities such as panchayati raj institutions, municipalities, academic institutions, and private sector organizations.
- Partnership between Government and VOs implies identifying shared goals and defining complementary roles. It must be based on the basic principles of mutual trust and respect, with shared responsibility and authority.
- This Policy recognizes three instruments of partnership, viz.
- Consultation, through a formal process of interaction at the Centre, State and District level;
- Strategic collaboration to tackle complex interventions where sustained social mobilization is critical over the long term; and
- Project funding through standard schemes.
|Strengthening the Voluntary Sector: Recommendations of Planning Commission|
- The Indian society has a well-established tradition of philanthropy. While a regime of tax concessions facilitates donations to charitable organizations, there is considerable untapped potential to channelise private wealth for public service. The Government will support and encourage existing, as well new, independent philanthropic institutions and private foundations to provide financial assistance to deserving VOs. It will also promote a dialogue among public and private grant makers so that they may take advantage of the best practices in grant making and fund-raising strategies.
- Accountability to all stakeholders and transparency in functioning are key issues in good governance. The voluntary sector is expected to set its own benchmarks in these areas. Since VOs vary in their objectives and activities, it would be impractical to expect uniform norms for accountability and transparency. The Government will encourage support organizations, and VO networks & federations to facilitate discussion and consensus building on these issues. It will also encourage such agencies to advise and assist VOs to adopt norms that they find acceptable and useful. The Government will recognize excellence in governance among VOs by publicizing best practices.
- Training is a crucial requirement for people working in the voluntary sector. However, this is often neglected on account of limited availability of good quality training courses that are reasonably priced. The Government will support and encourage organizations that train aspirants to enter the voluntary sector, as well as those already working in the sector. It will make available physical facilities currently available with its training institutes as a measure of such support.
- Innovation in institutional, technical and social approaches to development problems is an essential ingredient of voluntary action. The Government will encourage and recognize innovative & pioneering work.
- Databases of VOs working in different fields and at different levels are useful for communication within the voluntary sector, as well as between the voluntary sector and the public & private sector. The Government will commission suitable agencies to prepare and update such databases.
- Information on Government policies and programmes is often difficult for VOs to access. The websites of various Government agencies will be re-designed to provide links to key documents and databases, including those related to project funding schemes.
- The Government will encourage involvement of volunteers in public services, such as, at family welfare centres, primary health centres, hospitals, schools, vocational training centres, sanitation campaigns, etc.
|2nd ARC 9th Report : Social Capital|
New Legal Framework for Charities in India:
- The Union Government should draft a comprehensive model legislation covering both Trusts and Societies in lieu of the existing laws on Societies, Trusts, Endowments and Charitable Institutions etc.
- The proposed model legislation should indicate a cut off limit with regard to the annual revenue of a Charity. Organisations having an annual income below this Threshold will have lighter compliance requirements with respect to submission of returns / reports / permission etc. However, if irregularities are detected in their functioning, the organisations will be liable for legal and penal action.
- The government should set up an Inclusive Committee which will comprehensively examine the issue of defining ‘Charity’ and ‘Charitable Purpose and suggest measures to “soften” charities-government relationship. particularly in tax matters.
Accreditation of Voluntary Organisations:
- There should be a system of accreditation / certification of voluntary organisations which seek funding from government agencies.
- Government should take initiative to enact a law to set up an independent Body – National Accreditation Council – to take up this work.
|2nd ARC 9th Report : Social Capital|