NGOs are voluntary organization’s. These are popularly known as NGOs because they are free from governmental control in their functioning. They are democratic and open to all those wishing to become member of the organization voluntarily and serve the society.
NGO have a long history in India. In the past, people in this country have been found to have provided help to others in trouble. Since centuries there exists the tradition of voluntary service to the needy and helpless in the country. In the beginning, these services were rendered by people motivated by their religious feelings.
NGOs have immense role in bringing about social change and development and it is being experienced from different parts of the country. Development, as we have read earlier, is a multi- faceted process, which essentially involves the aggressive participation of the people that would not be possible unless they are educated, awakened and motivated. NGOs are taking up this job sportingly and successfully.
The areas in which we witness active and appreciative role of NGOs are as follows:
- 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.
- Women are the other vulnerable section of society. Gender discrimination is a ubiquitous cultural reality. Girls are discriminated in the upbringing pattern in the family. Larger numbers of the undernourished are from amongst the girls. Retention of girls in schools is much less as compared to boys. Women are forced to work as housewife and denied participation in gainful economic activities outside homes. About three-fourths of the work done by women is un-monetized.
- 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. The book Women’s Role in Economic Development by Easter Boserup (1970) is the pioneering work in this direction. After a gap of few years, by 1978, a large number of works were published, particularly on the status of women in the Third World – where their position has been more vulnerable.
The role of women voluntary organizations towards this cause has been marvelous. Sewa, Sathin, Eklavya, Disha, Environmental Action Group and Agrani Foundation etc. are some of the thousands of NGOs known for their role in development by creating awareness among people and interventions, if required.
- The approach to development has been almost uniform world over at least in terms of the use of technology, magnitude of production, pattern of consumption and achievement of wealth. Both state and people were unaware or lackadaisical about the backwash of the nature of development pursued.
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.
- It is not that the development process has unleashed only environmental threats to the human existence but also many people are displaced due to developmental projects and are quite often not properly compensated and rehabilitated.
The NGOs have a major role to play towards the cause of people’s resettlement and are also performing commendable job in this direction. The projects like the construction of dams, road highways and railways have often made some sections of people, particularly in rural areas, vulnerable and are displaced without being properly compensated.
- 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.
Voluntary organizations, working at both national and international levels, have earned praise for their services in societal development. These organizations are busy in creating awareness and zeal for participation in development projects. Ensuring humanism by fighting against human rights violations, social exclusions, domestic violence and others have been common objectives of the NGOs. Of late, these organizations are also entering the sector of economic well-being and standard of living. In the state of Uttar Pradesh, Agrani Foundation’s Jan Suraksha Kranti (JSK) scheme of savings and life insurance is indeed a commendable effort in this direction
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