“The dream of new India cannot be fulfilled without a vibrant civil society and hence all of us should try to protect the civil societies for a brighter tomorrow.”
India is a country that has historic past, eventful present and an aspiring future. The futuristic idea of new India is being marketed by the present government with a hope for better living standard, prosperous economy, powerful defence settlement, harmonious society in the years to come. The budget has been allocated, schemes have been launched and advertisements, awareness campaigns have been started to achieve the objective of new India. However, this seems to be inadequate as far as creating a newer version of India is concerned without the active participation of the civil society.It is because in a large developing countries like India, there are numerous gaps left by the government in the developing process. These are the gaps that Civil societies try to fill in the modern times . It supplements the govt efforts to provide health care & education to citizens & by raising awareness in society about various issues. If anyone needs a crash course in the critical role played by civil society organizations, COVID-19 is providing it—from increased need for the services they provide to those less fortunate, to the strain they are experiencing from lack of supplies and the need to “social distance,” to government having to act too quickly without civil society input. Civil Society means the entire range of organized groups & institutions that are independent of the state, voluntary & at least to some extent self generating & self reliant .This includes NGO’s , think tanks & social & religious groups. Civil Society forms the backbone of democracy & derives its strength from the Gandhian tradition of volunteerism but today it expresses in many different forms of activism. Democracy does not just revolve around what happens once in five years (elections) but how rights of the citizens are protected and are allowed to hold power holders accountable. India is a representative rather than a participatory democracy. Once the elections are over, the politicians who run the federal & state governments do not really need to go back to the electorate for every major decisions – there is not the tradition of referendum in India, as in Switzerland or Denmark. So in the five years between one election & another, the Civil Society are often the only means available to the citizens to voice their opinion on any decision taken by the government. A strong & vigilant civil society can be a check on corruption & form the basis for countervailing. A well-functioning civil society is a boon for today’s multi-stakeholder-led paradigm of good governance.Good governance refers to inclusive, consensus-oriented, rule-bound administration that is responsive to citizens’ pressing needs. By virtue of its expertise and goodwill, Civil society can help government improve quality of governance. Civil society groups perform advocacy role by highlighting specific demands of the interest groups they represent.Lobbying with government and legislators on such issues increases the chances of their concerns finding place in upcoming laws and executive decisions.
The dream of new India cannot be fulfilled without a vibrant civil society and hence all of us should try to protect the civil societies for a brighter future tomorrow.
Civil Society Safapora : Safapora which has a block & Niabat status is beautiful place situated on the bank of Manasbal lake ,at a junction between the twin districts of Bandipora & Ganderbal . In Safapora people from all walks & interests such as Traders, activists, academicians, writers, environmentalists , lawyers & doctors etc have come together on a single platform & have created a vibrant organization with the name ‘Civil Society Safapora ‘ which has become arena for expression of diverse interests & is supplementing government efforts & contributing to governance by being watchdog – against corruption & governance deficit, Advocate – of weaker section’s point of view, Agitator – on behalf of aggrieved citizens of Safapora , Educator – of citizens of Safapora on their rights, entitlements & responsibilities, Service provider – to areas & people not reached by Official efforts & also Mobiliser – of public opinion .Civil Society Safapora has also been meeting the various ministers , government officials from time to time to lobby for the interests & concerns of their area . This development is bringing a tangible change in the socio-economic & educational spheres of Safapora & is leading it to become a model village
Conclusion: Civil society organizations play multiple roles. They are an important source of information for both citizens and government. They monitor government policies and actions and hold government accountable. They engage in advocacy and offer alternative policies for government, the private sector, and other institutions. They deliver services, especially to the poor and underserved. They defend citizen rights and work to change and uphold social norms and behaviors. India needs the effective role of civil society in the making of new India. All the new initiatives of the government require the participation and awareness of people and there is no better organisation than the civil society to achieve this objective. The dream of new India cannot be fulfilled without a vibrant civil society and hence all of us should try to protect the civil societies for a brighter future tomorrow.
(The author is associated with J&K RTI movement . Views are his own)