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World NGO Day

  • 28 Feb 2022
  • 9 min read

For Prelims: World NGO Day, Non-Governmental Organisations.

For Mains: Role of Non-Governmental Organisations in the Indian Democracy, Issues associated with NGOs, Challenges faced by NGOs and way ahead

Why in News?

Every year, 27th February is observed as the World NGO day all over the world.

  • India has over three million Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) that work across a range of arenas and play important roles of facilitator, catalyst or partner in bringing social transformation.

What is the History of World NGO Day?

  • The day assumed its official status when 12-member countries of the IX Baltic Sea NGO Forum on 17th April 2010 formally recognised it.
    • In 2012, the forum's Final Statement Resolution adopted the day.
  • Although the day was recognised officially in 2010, it was only in 2014, that for the first time World NGO Day was observed by the United Nations.
  • The main man behind this day was Marcis Liors Skadmanis, an UK-based social entrepreneur, who inaugurated the 2014 World NGO Day.
  • The day was conceived to spread awareness of the tremendous contributions of NGOs all around the world and honour the relentless efforts of the social workers both in the public and private sectors.

What is the Role of NGOs in Indian Democracy?

  • Bridging the Gap:
    • NGOs endeavour to plug gaps in the government’s programmes and reach out to sections of people often left untouched by state projects. For example, providing aid to migrant workers in Covid-19 crisis.
    • In the present scenario, when India is still combating Covid-19, non-profits have been on the ground, working tirelessly to directly supplement the government’s efforts to bring relief and actively engage in vaccination drives to the most vulnerable communities.
    • These NGOs also look into accelerating activities like
      • Issues dealing with poverty alleviation, water, environment, women’s rights and literacy.
      • They have been dynamic in almost all sectors: Health, education, livelihood in rural and urban areas etc.
  • Role of an Enabler:
    • Community-level outfits and self-help groups are critical for bringing any change in the ground.
    • In the past, such grass roots organisations have been enabled by collaborations with bigger NGOs and research agencies that have access to foreign funding.
  • Acting as a Pressure Group:
    • There are political NGOs that mobilise public opinion against government’s policies and actions.
      • To the extent such NGOs are able to educate the public and put pressure on public policy, they act as important pressure groups in a democracy.
  • Role in Participative Governance:
  • Acting as a Social Mediator:
    • Social inter-mediation is an intervention of different levels of society by various agents to change social and behavioural attitudes within the prevailing social environment for achieving desired results of change in society.
      • In Indian context wherein people are still steeped in superstition, faith, belief and custom, NGOs act as catalysts and create awareness among people.

What are the issues Emanating from NGOs?

  • Lack of Credibility:
    • During the last few years, numerous organisations have mushroomed which claim to work for the cause of helping the poor.
      • Under the garb of being an NGO, these NGOs often mint money from donors and are also involved in money laundering activities.
  • Lack of Transparency:
    • India’s disproportionate number of NGOs and the sector’s lack of transparency and accountability is clearly an issue that needs reforms.
      • Further the allegations of corruption against NGOs are ignored. In the past many NGOs were blacklisted after being found to have indulged in misappropriation of funds.

What are the main Challenges NGOs Face?

  • Lack of Funds:
    • Many NGOs find it difficult to garner sufficient and continuous funding for their work. Gaining access to appropriate donors is a major component of this challenge.
    • Earlier, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) cancelled the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010 registration of various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
      • Suspension of FCRA licence means that the NGO can no longer receive fresh foreign funds from donors pending a probe by the Home Ministry. The FCRA is mandatory for associations and NGOs to receive foreign funds.
  • Absence of Strategic Planning:
    • Many NGOs suffer from the lack of a cohesive, strategic plan that would facilitate success in their activities and mission, rendering them unable to effectively raise and capitalize on financial support.
  • Poor Governance and Networking:
    • Many NGOs have a deficit of understanding as to why they must have a Board and how to set one up.
    • Poor or disorganized networking is another major challenge, as it can cause duplicated efforts, time inefficiencies, conflicting strategies and an inability to learn from experience.
    • Many NGOs do not maximize the use of current technologies that could facilitate better communication and networking.
  • Limited Capacity:
    • NGOs often lack the technical and organizational capacity to implement and fulfill their mission, and few are willing or able to invest in training for capacity building.
    • Weak capacity affects fundraising ability, governance, leadership and technical areas.
  • Development Approaches:
    • Many NGOs favor a “hardware” approach to development through building infrastructure and providing services instead of empowering people and institutions locally.

Way Forward

  • India is committed to SDGs till 2030 and a long-term strategy is important to keep the focus while also pursuing sustainable growth and development.
  • It is, however, important to note that success of a long-term strategy depends not only on the lessons learnt from implementing the short- or medium-term development strategies, but also cooperation and coordination from various sectors — the government, India Inc and NGOs.
  • Capacity building and training can help to provide crucial new skills. NGOs can then more readily train staff and cultivate the necessary skills within the organization to address challenges going forward.
  • It is necessary to regulate corrupt NGOs, however excessive regulation on foreign contribution may affect working of the NGOs which are helpful in implementing government schemes at the grassroots.

Source: DTE

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