Development processes – the role of civil society, NGOs and other stakeholders

Civil society is the “third sector” of society, along with government and business. It comprises civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations. The UN recognizes the importance of partnering with civil society, because it advances the Organization’s ideals, and helps support its work. Here are some useful websites for members of civil society and also for those interested in the work of the UN.
The Indian national movement popularized the ideas of a representative democracy and civil liberties amongst the masses in order to prevent the colonial rulers from limiting the space from which the national leaders could organize these activities and in this way not only generated awareness amongst the masses about these ideas but also ensured from their actions that these ideas would have a firm foot-hold even in post-colonial India
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. The volunteers organized handloom weavers in village to form cooperatives through which they could market their products directly in the cities, and thus get a better price. Similar cooperatives were later set up in areas like marketing of dairy products and fish.
Since 1970s a number of social movements emphasising on a range of basic issues have come to animate the sphere of civil society. They are ‘new’ in contrast to the old trade union and working class movements, which were political in the sense of having an alternate political vision of the state itself with revolutionary ideals. But the people’s movements, as they are called, are the result of broader-based people’s responses to ecological or gender or caste conflicts.
Different types of Civil Societies are:-
humanitarian, (short-term relief to prevent death)
development, (long-term efforts to improve quality of life in economic, political and social sectors)
human rights (efforts to create supportive political environment)
peacebuilding (works specifically to address conflict)
Mains importance of the Civil Societies/NGO are:-
i) People’s participation
ii) Technnical excellence
iii) Cost-effectiveness
iv) Equity-concern for the deprived, and for women
v) Institutional, financial, and environmental sustainability
vi) Accountability

A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any form of government. The term originated from the United Nations (UN), and is normally used to refer to organizations that are not a part of the government and are not conventional for-profit business. In the cases in which NGOs are funded totally or partially by governments, the NGO maintains its non-governmental status by excluding government representatives from membership in the organization. The term is usually applied only to organizations that pursue wider social aims that have political aspects, but are not openly political organizations such as political parties.
NGOs in India are legally registered under the society Registration Act 1860, Indian Trust Act 1882, the Co- Operative Societies Act, 1904, the Joint Stock Companies Act, 1956 in order to meet the judicial requirements. To avail the foreign contribution, they need to register under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976.

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