[Answered]Discuss the importance of NGOs in India’s development process. Do you think present legal and regulatory mechanisms are adequate for efficient working of NGOs?

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual Introduction.

Body. Role of NGOs in development. Various regulations related to NGOs in India. Issues related to NGOs.

Conclusion. Way forward.

NGOs are voluntary organizations, that work toward a social cause and social justice. They have assumed a significant space in civil society. NGOs with the support given by the government has been accelerating its development activities by taking up specific issues like poverty alleviation, casteism and discrimination, women rights, child labour, rural development, environmental issues etc. In the last two decades the role of NGOs have become significant in the social sector development-education, health etc.

Role of NGOs in Development:

  1. Social development: NGOs have played an immense role in bringing social change and development. NGOs ensure development which essentially involves the equal participation of the people. They play an important role in educating and motivating people to fight for their rights.
  2. Education: The NGOs actively work for promoting education, particularly among weaker sections of the population. The education of girls, and other deprived people, particularly the SCs and STs, has been their target objective.
  3. Women empowerment: Women are the other vulnerable section of society. More and more women are working for their rights and involving themselves actively in the social sphere. Important in this process has been the role of NGOs. Sewa, Sathin, Eklavya, Disha etc. are some of the thousands of NGOs known for their role in development by creating awareness among people and interventions regarding women.
  4. Environmental awareness: Human life is facing a threat due to environmental pollution and the depletion of natural resources. Here, the role of NGOs work is noticeable and praiseworthy. Thousands of voluntary organisations work to awaken people and governments against environmental degradation and depletion of resources e.g. Vanashakti NGO.
  5. Rehabilitation: The projects like the construction of dams, road highways and railways have often led to displacement of some sections of people, particularly in rural areas without being properly compensated. The NGOs have a major role to play towards the cause of people’s resettlement and are also performing commendable jobs in this direction.
  6. Protecting dignity: NGOs are also rendering great service in restoring dignity of the deprived and discriminated sections. For example, protecting dignity of women by protecting women suffering from gender discrimination, racial and religious discriminations.
  7. Human rights protection: The contribution of NGOs to human rights and public awareness is significant in India. The recognition of the rights of homosexuals and transgender people, for instance, would have been unimaginable without the sustained effort of civil society organisations.

Legislations and constitutional provisions regarding the NGOs:

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010The act ensures that the recipients of foreign contributions adhere to the stated purpose for which such contribution has been obtained.
Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999It aims to facilitate external trade and payments and promote the orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India.
Constitutional Provisions for NGOs in India●        Article 19(1)(c) on the right to form associations

●        Article 43 which highlights the State’s having an endeavor to promote cooperatives in rural areas

●        Concurrent List in Entry 28 mentions Charities and charitable institutions, charitable and religious endowments and religious institutions.

Issue and challenges that remained in spite of these legislations that impact efficiencies of NGOs:

  1. Difficulties to get funds: The majority of NGOs have experienced difficulties in getting enough, and continuous funding in order to do their work. Getting donors is a hard task, and sometimes dealing with some specific donor’s funding conditions can be an enormous challenge for NGOs.
  2. Over-regulations: Government regulations are misused to curb voice and work of NGOs that impact vote bank of politicians. Politicians threaten NGOs of removing funds or removing their certification. Over-regulation of NGOs hinder their work and efficiency.
  3. Cultural hurdles: NGOs are often seen as encroaching on centuries-old tradition and culture of the people, and lead to mass protest at times. Ban of Jallikattu after a Public interest litigation filed by PETA is one such example.
  4. Lack of proper networking: For some NGOs, it is difficult to develop networks. Having a poor network leads to lack of communication. Poor networks lead to loss of opportunity to work with community and their participation and impact NGOs effectiveness.
  5. Lack of governance: Many NGOs do not have a Board for governance. One of the main reasons for that is the difficulty to attract board members without paying them or providing them some benefits. Often lack of board leads to poor direction and inefficiencies in NGO working.

Way forward:

  1. Monitoring: There should be better coordination between Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance in terms of monitoring and regulating illicit and unaccounted funds. NGOs are vehicles of development especially in rural areas.
  2. Participation: Citizens today are keen to play an active role in processes that shape their lives. It is important that their participation in democracy go beyond the voting and should include promotion of social justice, gender equity, inclusion etc. while working with NGOs.
  3. Improving governance: Having a Board for governing NGO is one of the best ways to achieve good levels of governance. Capacity building and training can help to provide crucial new skills. NGOs can more readily train staff and cultivate the necessary skills within the organisation to address challenges going forward.
  4. Funding: Maintaining a good relationship with partners will be helpful in growing as an organisation. NGOs with assets can use any surplus to help generate income. Renting out buildings, offering training, providing consultancy, creating and selling products and trading on their name.
  5. Cultural awareness: NGO should try to know local cultures and should work in harmony with the communities. They must make people aware of any discriminatory community practices and work with them, rather than going against the people.

Non-governmental organisations face multiple challenges. One of the most important steps to overcome these obstacles is identifying what are various challenges that an organisation is facing, and the areas where there is a room to improve. After identifying these key areas organisations can design a plan to improve and overcome the obstacles they are facing.

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