General Studies Paper 2 (Indian Governance): NGOs


IAS Junior Mains Answer Writing June-Sep 2019 Schedule (Click Here)


Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2 (Indian Governance)


NGOs can only play a supplementary role to the state in the development process. Elucidate.



NGOs are voluntary organization s (VOs). These are popularly known as NGOs because they are free from governmental control in their functioning and are generally considered to be nonstate, nonprofit oriented groups who pursue purposes of public interest.


Role of NGOs in Development

The role of any NGO is to contribute to development of the nation through involving in various issues like- Education, Health, Livelihood, and Micro -finance, Human rights and many more. NGOs have immense role in bringing about social change and development and it is being experienced from different parts of the country.

  • They act as service contractors, able to work more efficiently and more effectively than government agencies thereby playing an important role in the socio-economic transformation.
    • The NGOs are active to promote education, particularly among that section of population, which has remained un-benefited or less benefited by the measures adopted by the government. The education of girls, and other deprived people, particularly the SCs and STs, has been their target objective.
  • Role of NGO in controlling environmental pollution:
    • The threat to the human life developed due to environmental pollution and imbalance and the depletion of natural resources as a consequence of the nature of devel­opment.
    • Here, the role of NGOs is really noticeable and praiseworthy. Thousands of voluntary organizations are at work to awaken people and governments against environ­mental degradation and depletion of resources.
  • Restoring Dignity to the deprived:
    • NGOs are also rendering great service in restoring dignity to the deprived and discriminated sections of the people in the society like women suffering from gender discrimination, lower caste people suffering from caste segregation and the status of untouchable, racial and religious discriminations.
    • Since the second half of the preceding century started the change in the status of women with their active partici­pation in political, social and economic activities, which gained acceleration since the last quarter of the preceding century. More and more women started moving out of the four walls of their houses and involving themselves actively in the social sphere outside their homes. Important in this process has been the role of academicians and NGOs.
  • Conflict Resolution: NGOs help in constructive conflict resolution. In the international arena Track II diplomacy (involving non-governmental bodies) plays a crucial role in creating an environment of trust and confidence.
  • Building Community Participation: 
    • The non-profit organisations offer alternative perspectives; and most importantly, the capacity to conduct a meaningful dialogue with communities, particularly those that are disadvantaged.
    • They foster pluralism, diversity and freedom. Many NGOs work to preserve and promote India’s diverse culture. For example SPIC MACAY is a society for promoting Indian classical music and culture amongst youth.
  • It brings in accountability and transparency to governance.


Why NGOs can only play a supplementary role?

In the new governance paradigm, NGOs have come to play a prominent role in development process. However, owing to inherent limitations and nature of development processes their role is essentially supplementary.

  • In a democracy, only an elected government can set the agenda for development. NGOs are motivated by individual opinion while government function based on popular consensus.
  • Policies of the NGOs are also at times guided and framed by state policies.
  • Development involves a compromise between individual rights and wider social needs. Only the state has a prerogative to take a call on that. Further unlike NGOs, the government is accountable to people for choices it makes in this context.
  • Developmental projects involve substantial monetary outlays and dedicated personnel, such resources can only be made available by the state. In fact, many NGOs are themselves funded by the state. Further, implementation require public authority and coercion which are vested only with the state.
  • The NGOs have limited experience and expertise in social sectors as compared to dedicated institutions of government.
  • Due to concerns of national security, economic warfare and international relations that may emerge due to ill intended NGO activism, the legal system of the country itself limits the role of NGOs to a supplementary one.



Despite of all these limitations, the NGOs have played some leading roles. For instance, International NGOs like WEF, WWF, IUCN has played exemplary role in innovation, economic co-operation, environmental conservation etc. At home organizations like PUCL, ADR etc. have spearheaded the fight for political rights of voters. NGOs are important stakeholders in the development process. But they can’t not play the role of state. It is the duty of state to maintain welfare Their role though supplementary, is of great significance.


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