A non-governmental organization (NGO) is an organization that is not part of a government and was not founded by states. NGOs are therefore typically independent of governments. Although the definition can technically include for-profit corporations, the term is generally restricted to social, cultural, legal, and environmental advocacy groups having goals that are noncommercial, primarily. NGOs are usually non-profit organizations that gain at least a portion of their funding from private sources. Current usage of the term is generally associated with the United Nations and authentic NGOs are those that are so designated by the UN. Because the label “NGO” is considered too broad by some, as it might cover anything that is non-governmental, many NGOs now prefer the term private voluntary organization (PVO).
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A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government and a term usually used by governments to refer to entities that have no government status. 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 some wider social aim that has political aspects, but that are not overtly political organizations such as political parties. Unlike the term “intergovernmental organization”, the term “non-governmental organization” has no generally agreed legal definition. In many jurisdictions, these types of organization are called “civil society organizations” or referred to by other names.
The term non-governmental organization or NGO was not in general currency before the UN was formed. When 132 international NGOs decided to co-operate with each other in 1910, they did so under the label, the Union of International Associations. The League of Nations officially referred to its “liaison with private organizations”, while many of these bodies at that time called themselves international institutes, international unions or simply international organizations. The first draft of the UN Charter did not make any mention of maintaining co-operation with private bodies. A variety of groups, mainly but not solely from the USA, lobbied to rectify this at the San Francisco conference, which established the UN in 1945. Not only did they succeed in introducing a provision for strengthening and formalizing the relations with private organizations previously maintained by the League, they also greatly enhanced the UN’s role in economic and social issues and upgraded the status of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to a “principal organ” of the UN. To clarify matters, new terminology was introduced to cover ECOSOC’s relationship with two types of international organizations. Under Article 70, “specialized agencies, established by intergovernmental agreement” could “participate without a vote in its deliberations”, while under Article 71 “non-governmental organizations” could have “suitable arrangements for consultation”. Thus, “specialized agencies” and “NGOs” became technical UN jargon. Unlike much UN jargon, the term, NGO, passed into popular usage, particularly from the early 1970s onwards.
Many diverse types of bodies are now described as being NGOs. There is no generally accepted definition of an NGO and the term carries different connotations in different circumstances. Nevertheless, there are some fundamental features. Clearly an NGO must be independent from the direct control of any government. In addition, there are three other generally accepted characteristics that exclude particular types of bodies from consideration. An NGO will not be constituted as a political party; it will be non-profit-making and it will be not be a criminal group, in particular it will be non-violent. These characteristics apply in general usage, because they match the conditions for recognition by the United Nations. The boundaries can sometimes be blurred: some NGOs may in practice be closely identified with a political party; many NGOs generate income from commercial activities, notably consultancy contracts or sales of publications; and a small number of NGOs may be associated with violent political protests. Nevertheless, an NGO is never constituted as a government bureaucracy, a party, a company, a criminal organization or a guerrilla group. Thus, for this article, an NGO is defined as an independent voluntary association of people acting together on a continuous basis, for some common purpose, other than achieving government office, making money or illegal activities. This basic approach will be elaborated and modified below.
A 1995 UN report on global governance estimated that there are nearly 29,000 international NGOs. National numbers are even higher: The United States has an estimated 2 million NGOs, most of them formed in the past 30 years. Russia has 65,000 NGOs. Dozens are created daily. In Kenya alone, some 240 NGOs come into existence every year. The number of internationally operating NGOs is estimated at 40,000 National numbers are even higher: Russia has 277,000 NGOs; India is estimated to have around 3.3 million NGOs.
NGOs are defined by the World Bank as “private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development”.
Common usage varies between countries – for example NGO is commonly used for domestic organizations in Australia that would be referred to as non-profit organizations in the United States. Such organizations that operate on the international level are fairly consistently referred to as “non-governmental organizations”, in the United States and elsewhere.
There is a growing movement within the non-profit organization/non-government sector to define itself in a more constructive, accurate way. The “non-profit” designation is seen to be particularly dysfunctional because of at least three reasons: 1) It says nothing about the purpose of the organization, only what it is not; 2) It focuses the mind on “profit” as being the opposite of the organization’s purpose; 3) It implies that the organization has few financial resources, which increases the likelihood that it will. Instead of being defined by “non-” words, organizations are suggesting new terminology to describe the sector. The term “social benefit organization” (SBO) is being adopted by some organizations. This defines them in terms of their positive mission. The term “civil society organization” (CSO) has also been used by a growing number of organizations, such as the Center for the Study of Global Governance. The term “citizen sector organization” (CSO) has also been advocated to describe the sector – as one of citizens, for citizens. These labels, SBO and CSO, position the sector as its own entity, without relying on language used for the government or business sectors. However, some have argued that CSO is not particularly helpful, given that most NGOs are in fact funded by governments and business and that some NGOs are clearly hostile to independently organized people’s organizations. The term “social benefit organization” seems to avoid that problem, since it does not assume any particular structure, but rather focuses on the organization’s mission.
HISTORY OF NGOs
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) as we know them today are generally thought to have come into existence around the mid-nineteenth century. It was only about a century later that the importance of NGOs was officially recognized by the United Nations. At the UN Congress in San Francisco in 1968, a provision was made in Article 71 of the Charter of the United Nations framework that qualified NGOs in the field of economic and social development to receive consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.
The development of modern NGOs has largely mirrored that of general world history, particularly after the Industrial Revolution. NGOs have existed in some form or another as far back as 25,000 years ago. Since 1850, more than 100,000 private, not-for-profit organizations with an international focus have been founded. The growth of NGOs really took off after the Second World War, with about 90 international NGOs founded each year, compared with about 10 each year in the 1890s. Only about 30 percent of early international NGOs have survived, although those organizations founded after the wars have had a better survival rate. Many more NGOs with a local, national or regional focus have been created, though like their international counterparts, not all have survived or have been successful.
International non-governmental organizations have a history dating back to at least 1839. It has been estimated that by 1914 there were 1083 NGOs. International NGOs were important in the anti-slavery movement and the movement for women’s suffrage, and reached a peak at the time of the World Disarmament Conference. However, the phrase “non-governmental organization” only came into popular use with the establishment of the United Nations Organization in 1945 with provisions in Article 71 of Chapter 10 of the United Nations Charter for a consultative role for organizations which are neither governments nor member states-see Consultative Status. The definition of “international NGO” (INGO) is first given in resolution 288 (X) of ECOSOC on February 27, 1950: it is defined as “any international organization that is not founded by an international treaty”. The vital role of NGOs and other “major groups” in sustainable development was recognized in Chapter 27 of Agenda 21, leading to intense arrangements for a consultative relationship between the United Nations and non-governmental organizations.
Rapid development of the non-governmental sector occurred in western countries as a result of the processes of restructuring of the welfare state. Further globalization of that process occurred after the fall of the communist system and was an important part of the Washington consensus.
Globalization during the 20th century gave rise to the importance of NGOs. Many problems could not be solved within a nation. International treaties and international organizations such as the World Trade Organization were perceived as being too centred on the interests of capitalist enterprises. Some argued that in an attempt to counterbalance this trend, NGOs have developed to emphasize humanitarian issues, developmental aid and sustainable development. A prominent example of this is the World Social Forum, which is a rival convention to the World Economic Forum held annually in January in Davos, Switzerland. The fifth World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in January 2005 was attended by representatives from more than 1,000 NGOs. Some have argued that in forums like these, NGOs take the place of what should belong to popular movements of the poor. Others argue that NGOs are often imperialist in nature, that they sometimes operate in a racialized manner in third world countries, and that they fulfill a similar function to that of the clergy during the high colonial era. The philosopher Peter Hallward argues that they are an aristocratic form of politics. Whatever the case, NGO transnational networking is now extensive.
HISTORY OF NGOs IN INDIA
Stepping carefully around the pits and mounds, four men approached the only source of light to be seen – a small kerosene lantern burning inside a mud and grass hut. There were four residents inside – a couple and their two children, 10 and eight. They dug the pits, cut the rock and hauled it to the trucks, all without salary. They were bonded labourers, bonded for life and for generations to the owner of the pit because some ancestor sometime had borrowed money and had been unable to pay it back. Two of the four men who visited the hut that night in 1985 were from a nongovernmental organization called Bandhua Mukti Morcha (Bonded Labour Liberation Front). The other two were journalists brought by the NGO to prove that bonded labour – a form of slavery – did exist right in the nation’s capital. After the visit, the men from the NGO went to the police station to lodge a complaint, because bonded labour is illegal in India, and so is child labour in a profession as hazardous as this. The complaints, and the articles written by the journalists after the visit, were part of the NGO campaign to make the government implement the law. Every day, different NGOs all over India are doing things like this. Sometime it may be taking a sample of water from a well that has been polluted by a nearby factory, getting the water analysed and then filing a “public interest petition” in a court to force the factory to follow anti-pollution laws. Another time, it may be a heated debate with a bureaucrat on why all citizens should have the right to be informed about all government decisions that affect their lives. Though the term NGO became popular in India only in the 1980s, the voluntary sector has an older tradition. Since independence from the British in 1947, the voluntary sector had a lot of respect in the minds of people – first, because the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi was an active participant; and second because India has always had the tradition of honouring those who have made some sacrifice to help others. 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 villages 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. In almost all these cases, the volunteers helped in other areas of development – running literacy classes for adults at night, for example. In the 1980s, however, the groups who were now known as NGOs became more specialized, and the voluntary movement was, in a way, fragmented into three major groups. There were those considered the traditional development NGOs, who went into a village or a group of villages and ran literacy programmes, creches for children and clinics, encouraged farmers to experiment with new crops and livestock breeds that would bring more money, helped the weavers and other village artisans market their products and so on – in short became almost a part of the community in their chosen area (usually in rural India) and tried to fill all the gaps left in the development process by the government. There are many examples of voluntary organizations of this kind running very successfully in India for the last five decades. Perhaps the most celebrated example would be the treatment centre for leprosy patients run by Baba Amte in central India.
The second group of NGOs were those who researched a particular subject in depth, and then lobbied with the government or with industry or petitioned the courts for improvements in the lives of the citizens, as far as that particular subject was concerned. A well-known example of an NGO of this type is the Centre for Science and Environment. It was a CSE who picked up that sample of well water and then submitted the results of the chemical analysis to a court because the organization had not been able to get the factory to change its polluting practices in any other way. In the third group were those volunteers who saw themselves more as activists than other NGOs did. Of course, all NGOs undertook a certain amount of activism to get their points across – they petitioned the bureaucrats, they alerted the media whenever they found something wrong and so on. But this third group of NGOs saw activism as their primary means of reaching their goals, because they did not believe they could get the authorities to move in any other way. Perhaps the best-known example of an NGO in this category is the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save Narmada Campaign), an organisation that opposed the construction of a series of large dams in a large river valley of central India. The members of this NGO believe that large dams worsen water scarcity for the majority of the people in the long run rather than solve the problem, and they oppose the displacement it entails upstream of the dam. When the NBA found that it could not persuade the planners in India to agree to its point of view, the NBA members put up pickets, held demonstrations and tried every other way they could think of to oppose the construction of the first of the big dams. Most of the NBA member went to jail a number of times as a result. Right now, some of them – including celebrated novelist Arundhati Roy – face the prospect of being jailed again, because they criticized the Supreme Court of India when the court’s decision on dam construction did not go in their favour. There is no strict boundary between these three groups of NGOs – in fact, Baba Amte is now an important member of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. And whatever be the category a particular NGO falls into, all of them play an important role in modern India – they hold the politicians accountable to the people. India is a representative rather than a participatory democracy. Once the elections are over, the politicians who run the federal and state governments do not really need to go back to the electorate for every major decision – there is no tradition of referendums in India, as there is in Switzerland or Denmark. So, in the five years between on election and another, the NGOs – and parts of the media, to some extent – are often the only means available to the citizens to voice their opinions on any decision taken by a government. In a large developing country like India, there are numerous gaps left by the government in the development process – sometimes by intention, sometimes due to lack of funds, sometimes due to lack of awareness. These are the gaps that many NGOs try to fill in modern India. Some of them may work in areas that the government does not want to get into – like fighting discrimination on the basis of caste. Most Indian politicians do not really want to upset the existing caste hierarchy in his or her constituency, because the politician is dependent for votes on the dominant castes of that particular constituency. In the process, laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of caste are often ignored unless there is an NGO working in the area that is willing to take up the cause of those being discriminated against.
PURPOSES OF NGOs
NGOs exist for a variety of purposes, usually to further the political or social goals of their members. Examples include improving the state of the natural environment, encouraging the observance of human rights, improving the welfare of the disadvantaged, or representing a corporate agenda. However, there are a huge number of such organizations and their goals cover a broad range of political and philosophical positions. This can also easily be applied to private schools and athletic organizations.
TYPES OF NGOs
There are numerous possibilities to classify NGOs. The following is the typology the World Bank uses
Their primary purpose is the design and implementation of development-related projects. One categorization that is frequently used is the division into relief-oriented or development-oriented organizations; they can also be classified according to whether they stress service delivery or participation; or whether they are religious and secular; and whether they are more public or private-oriented. Operational NGOs can be community-based, national or international. Operational NGOs have to mobilize resources, in the form of financial donations, materials or volunteer labor, in order to sustain their projects and programs. This process may require quite complex organization. Charity shops, staffed by volunteers, in premises provided at nominal rents and selling donated goods, end up providing finance to the national headquarters. Students in their vacations or during a break in their education provide labor for projects. Finance obtained from grants or contracts, from governments, foundations or companies, require time and expertise spent on planning, preparing applications, budgeting, accounting and reporting. Major fund-raising events require skills in advertising, media relations and motivating supporters. Thus, operational NGOs need to possess an efficient headquarters bureaucracy, in addition to the operational staff in the field.
Advocacy NGOs (sometimes called militant NGOs):
Their primary purpose is to defend or promote a specific cause. As opposed to operational project management, these organizations typically try to raise awareness, acceptance and knowledge by lobbying, press work and activist events.
NGO type can be understood by orientation and level of co-operation.
NGO types by orientation:
Charitable Orientation often involves a top-down paternalistic effort with little participation by the “beneficiaries”. It includes NGOs with activities directed toward meeting the needs of the poor -distribution of food, clothing or medicine; provision of housing, transport, schools etc. Such NGOs may also undertake relief activities during a natural or man-made disaster.
Service Orientation includes NGOs with activities such as the provision of health, family planning or education services in which the programme is designed by the NGO and people are expected to participate in its implementation and in receiving the service.
Participatory Orientation is characterized by self-help projects where local people are involved particularly in the implementation of a project by contributing cash, tools, land, materials, labour etc. In the classical community development project, participation begins with the need definition and continues into the planning and implementation stages. Cooperatives often have a participatory orientation.
Empowering Orientation is where the aim is to help poor people develop a clearer understanding of the social, political and economic factors affecting their lives, and to strengthen their awareness of their own potential power to control their lives. Sometimes, these groups develop spontaneously around a problem or an issue, at other times outside workers from NGOs play a facilitating role in their development. In any case, there is maximum involvement of the people with NGOs acting as facilitators.
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NGO Types by level of operation:
Community-based Organizations (CBOs) arise out of people’s own initiatives. These can include sports clubs, women’s organizations, and neighbourhood organizations, religious or educational organizations. There are a large variety of these, some supported by NGOs, national or international NGOs, or bilateral or international agencies, and others independent of outside help. Some are devoted to raising the consciousness of the urban poor or helping them to understand their rights in gaining access to needed services while others are involved in providing such services.
Citywide Organizations include organizations such as the Rotary or lion’s Club, chambers of commerce and industry, coalitions of business, ethnic or educational groups and associations of community organizations. Some exist for other purposes, and become involved in helping the poor as one of many activities, while others are created for the specific purpose of helping the poor.
National NGOs include organizations such as the Red Cross, YMCAs/YWCAs, professional organizations etc. Some of these have state branches and assist local NGOs.
International NGOs range from secular agencies such as REDDA BARNA and Save the Children organizations, OXFAM, CARE, UNDP, UNICEF, Ford and Rockefeller Foundations to religiously motivated groups. Their activities vary from mainly funding local NGOs, institutions and projects, to implementing the projects themselves.
Apart from “NGO”, often alternative terms are used as for example: independent sector, volunteer sector, civil society, grassroots organizations, transnational social movement organizations, private voluntary organizations, self-help organizations and non-state actors (NSA’s).
ROLES OF NGOs
Roles of NGO according to the expectation of people:
NGOs play a critical role in all areas of development. People and policy makers are agree on one thing that NGOs play a very important role in development. Role of NGOs vary over the years as the policy of government changes. NGOs are almost dependent on polices of government. Socio economic development is a shared responsibility of both i.e. government and NGOs. Role of NGOs are complementary but vary according to polices of government. If we closely pursue the voluminous literature on NGOs many roles can be found according to the expectations of people. The major development roles ascribed to NGOs are to act as:
- Planner and implementer of development programmers,
- Mobiliser of local resources and initiative,
- Catalyst, enabler and innovator,
- Builder of self reliant sustainable society,
- Mediator of people and government,
- Supporter and partner of government programme in activating delivery system implementing rural development programmes, etc.,
- Agents of information,
- Factor of improvement of the poor, and
- Facilitator of development education, training, professionalisation, etc.
Basically NGOs role is to prepare people for change. They empower the people to overcome psychological problem and opposition of oppress. Its role cannot be denied
The Role Of NGOs and Communities:
Some NGOs see themselves as champions of the poor, lobbying government to give them a better deal. Others play a watchdog role, ensuring that governments and utilities remain honest, focused on serving the people. A third variety prefer to focus at ground level, finding ways to bring communities together to provide basic services to those in most need. Many look to combine these roles within one organisation.
Partnerships can struggle to accommodate these different visions, making it hard to harness the skills, abilities and local contacts that NGOs offer to best effect. NGOs themselves can be torn between engaging other stakeholders in order to provoke change from the inside and maintaining their independence from the outside. Equally, how partnerships can engage and relate to poor communities is not straightforward. In some cases Community-Based Organisations are preferred to NGOs as partners.
The Role of NGOs in Rural Transformation:
Ninety percent of the world’s population lives below the poverty line. This is more prominent in developing countries. There are a lot of schemes that are designed by the Government to enrich the lives of the unfortunate and the underprivileged. As much as the Government of Nations are assisting the down trodden and the underprivileged, an equal measure is contributed by Non Governmental Organizations.
Non governmental organizations are funded by private donors and are also funded by Government Initiatives. Non Governmental organizations function in the following areas of uplifting the lives of the underprivileged.
- Health, Housing and Food – Providing for basic facilities
- Gender Inequality Issues in Developing countries
- Care for HIV -AIDS affected children and adults
- Elder Care – A large proportion of elders are being neglected and many NGOs and private donors have built orphanages for elders and senior citizens
- Providing for education and vocational training such as Computer Typing etc
The quantity and the quality of social reforms that are undertaken by this section of workers is phenomenal. There are also concerns about fraud and pilferage of funds that have been expressed. For the first time, similar to Manufacturing and other institutions that are being audited for compliance using standards such as ISO, social institutions are also audited by a social standard that has been developed in the United Kingdom. Every fortunate citizen of the world should think calmly about charity and upliftment of the downtrodden in some aspect or the other. It may not be necessary to own a champion NGO, but just a thought to donate money, medicines and other assets to the poor is sufficient.
Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are mainly for the betterment of the people and society, it’s their duty also. There are different types of NGOs which have specific area of focus and it works according to their interest area. In wikipedia it is mentioned that there may be 3.3 million NGOs in India. But the other truth also that many NGOs fails in playing their roles and it collapse and there may also be several reason behind it. If all the NGOs truly realize its responsibilities and play their role perfectly then it is sure that the conditions of individual as well as the society will change and it also helps in nation building.
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