Legal AdviceNGO

Civil Society And NGOs

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play an important role in the development of the country as they are the operational arm of civil society. Furthermore, civil society contributes to the development of innovative solutions to poverty and inequality.

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An NGO is a non-profit, voluntary organisation of people, organised at the local, regional or international level. They are groups that function independently of the government. Furthermore, they are defined as “non-state, non-profit-oriented entities that pursue public interest.” 

NGOs are primarily concerned with social justice, development, and human rights. Governments generally fund non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in whole or in part, and they retain their non-governmental status by barring government officials from membership in the group. 

They play an important role in a country’s social development and offer several opportunities for people in need. They have emerged as a viable institutional framework to function as a catalyst for betterment as most of them aim at building self-reliant and sustainable development. 

Civil Society 

According to the World Health Organisation, civil society is not the same as a profit-making enterprise. Charities, development organisation’s, community groups, women’s organisations, faith-based organisations, professional associations, trade unions, social movements, coalitions, and advocacy groups are all examples of civil societies

Link Between NGOs and Civil Society 

Progressive interpretation of the Constitution, its laws and policies in India broadens the scope for development to include not only economic progress for citizens, but also the promotion of social justice, gender equity, inclusion, citizen awareness, empowerment, and improved quality of life. 

To realise this holistic vision of development, the state needs the positive and collaborative participation of civil society in its many developmental projects and programmes. As the operational arm of civil society, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play a significant role in the development process.


Connection Between the Indian State and NGOs

In India, state policies have had a significant impact on the development and activity of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The government has sponsored and aided initiatives that provide financial assistance to NGOs in the form of grants or matching grants to support the implementation of social development projects.

 Several official panels have highlighted the need for involving non-profit groups in social projects.

Balwant Rai Mehta Committee, 1957

As discussed in the committee, today there is a growing emphasis on NGOs’ role in executing various community development programmes, as well as on the notion that all work should eventually be taken up by people’s own local organisations.

Rural-Urban Relationship Committee, 1966

The committee believed that local volunteer groups can be of tremendous value in organising public support and people’s participation in municipal government initiatives. Through NGOs, it is possible to maintain frequent and intimate contact with the citizens of a country.

Significance of Civil Society

  • Civil society organisations, through social trust, shared strategy, and networking, facilitate collaboration between two or more individuals. Democracies inherently require such cooperative conduct. 
  • Since civil society organisations operate outside of the traditional spaces of the state and the market, they can negotiate, persuade, and force these institutions to become more sensitive to citizens’ demands and rights.
  • Civil societies are acknowledged as crucial stakeholders in achieving equitable, sustainable, and inclusive development goals in the present economic growth paradigm.
  • Through methods such as raising awareness, social mobilisation, service delivery, training, research, and advocacy, the voluntary sector has made a significant contribution to finding innovative solutions to poverty, deprivation, prejudice, and exclusion.
  • Furthermore, the voluntary sector has provided an honest, non-political link between the people and the government.

Different Types of Civil Society Organisations

  • Civil rights advocacy organisations: Promote human rights of specific social groups, such as women, migrants, people with disabilities, HIV victims, sex workers, Dalit members, tribal people, and alike.
  • Civil liberties advocacy organisations: Promote equal civil liberties and human rights for all instead of concentrating on a particular social class.
  • Community-based organisations, citizens groups, farmers’ cooperatives: Promote citizen engagement in public policy problems to enhance the quality of life in the society.
  • International peace and human rights organisations: Foster peace and human rights on an international level.


There is a tiny distinction between civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) since they operate in different ways. Their goal, however, is the same: to preserve human rights. Civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) both contribute to society’s safety and progress. They both advocate for individuals’ human rights, protection, and safety. 


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