Answer Synopsis 01/12/2020

Question : In contrast to state agencies, non-state actors have certain characteristics that make them better suited to developmental activities. Discuss. Also, highlight the problems that NGOs have been facing in India and give remedial measures to deal with them. (10 marks, 150 words)

Structure of the answer

  • Firstly, describe the unique ways in which non-state actors (NGOs, Civil society, SHGs) are better suited for developmental activities.
  • Focus on how these key characteristics help them in reaching people in a more effective manner. Give examples to show how NGOs have helped government in implementing their schemes.
  • In the second part of the answer, mention the problems faced by NGOs.
  • Finally, give some suggestions to improve the condition of NGOs.


State agencies are often too large and spread widely to solve problems and satisfy needs of the local community at the grassroots level. This gap is often filled by non-state actors such as NGOs, Civil society organizations and SHGs.

Characteristics that make NGO better suited for developmental activities

  • Due to their non-state nature, they are capable of experimenting freely with innovative approaches.
  • They are generally not bound by strict procedures.
  • They are able to render micro-assistance to very poor people.
  • Moreover, they are very specialized in nature, such as some Bachpan Bachao Aandolan (rescuing children from labour), Akshay Patra (providing nutritional food), Goonj (channelling donations effectively), etc.
  • SHGs have helped their members to overcome poverty by pooling resources. Such advantages enable them to reach people and communities far more effectively than government departments or programmes.
  • Even the government directs its agencies to involve NGOs in the implementation of projects. For instance, state governments partner with NGOs like the Akshaya Patra Foundation to implement the Mid-Day Meal Programme in order to increase the number of children they reach out to.

Problems faced by NGO’s

  • NGOs face tough internal challenges -from weak leadership to organizational irrelevance, inadequate funding and an inability to market themselves to their target audience.
  • Many NGOs suffer from paucity of funds. Yet, a large number of them have made fortunes by managing grants from the government or foreign agencies.
  • Also, many have been used as a propaganda tool by vested interests to halt development activities.
  • It has been observed that there is a growing tendency towards monopolization and interlocking of leadership at the top level of voluntary organizations- the same person being the president in one organization, secretary in the other, and treasurer in the third.

Suggested remedies to the problems of the NGOs in India

  • The government should liberalize the rules and regulations of grants-in-aid and sanction more funds.
  • At the same time, the misuse of funds should be checked through statutory disclosures and enquiry commissions.
  • NGOs should bring out transparency in their internal functioning, especially in the matters of funding and appointments.
  • Efforts should be made to avoid politicization of NGOs.

NGOs are popular agents of development. It is important for them to improve their internal functioning. The government must create an environment for these grassroots agencies to bloom to their potential and work as agents of last mile delivery of government services.

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