NGOs vs. GoI: The Conflicts and Scrutinies

[op-ed snap] Why 2005 declaration on synergy between government and NGOs is still relevant


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : NGO - reforms needed


The idea of NGOs started in the 90s. It held that apart from the government agencies, corporates, the cooperative sector, and other citizens could get together for common developmental causes. This is loosely called the Fifth Estate.

Role of NGOs

  • The development required technology, capital, and other resources. 
  • But above all, the motivation and capability of the concerned people to utilise their resources in an efficient, equitable, and sustainable manner. 
  • The decade of the 90s saw sweeping changes in the way rural development — particularly matters relating to natural resources. 
  • Rural communities were required to prepare and implement micro plans appropriate to local conditions and needs. Joint Forest Management (1990), watershed development (1995), participatory irrigation management (1997) and Swajaldhara (2003) are good examples.
  • Those working for participatory management of natural resources were hoping to strengthen and carry forward the participatory approach in 2000-2001 at the time of the formulation of the Tenth Plan. 
  • The trends in the 10th Five Year Plan point to distortions and reversals of the healthy trends of the 90s. 

The decision at Bhopal – 8 principles

  • The problems called for a national-level meeting in 2005 at Bhopal. It was attended by leaders from NGO community, academics and policymakers from various parts of India. 
  • It prepared eight declarations based on eight principles:
    • The centrality of community-based organisations (CBOs)
    • Equity
    • Decentralisation.
    • Need of a facilitating agency
    • Monitoring and evaluation
    • Training and software
    • Sustained momentum of development 
    • Organisational restructuring

Challenges facing NGOs

  • There were conflicts with government and corporate entities — all those who had “sanctioned budgets”. 
  • There was corruption and no one to lead the well meaning when problems arose. 

Way ahead

If we decide to plan again with the large number of new schemes that were declared after planning was abolished, we must reinvent these principles.

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