Giving Compass’ Take:
• Apoorva Oza uses three examples of successful government programs rooted in civil society innovations to demonstrate how the social sector has made a lasting impact on India.
• How can civil society continue to drive innovation and progress in India?
People hear the word civil society and react differently; and it depends on where they come from. For the business leader, social and environmental concerns are impediments to business. “Environment ke liye poora project band hojata hai, what about growth, what about the economy?” (Entire projects have to be shut down for the sake of the environment).
I’ve also been in conversations with some government officers who say, “woh kaam chhota karte hain aur credit bahut le lete hain. Kaam toh hum karte hain paisa toh hamara hai.” (The nonprofits hardly do any work but take all the credit. We are the ones who do the work, the ones who put in the money).
But nothing is farther from the truth. When we look at rural India, and look at some of the things we take for granted today—be it women self-help groups (SHGs), ASHA workers, biogas plants, RTI applications, and so on—there is a common thread to all of them. Every single one. They all originated as innovations in civil society.
- National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) and Self Help Groups (SHGs): One of the largest programmes of the government—the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM)—is based on women self help groups (SHGs). And the concept of an SHG was developed by Aloysius Fernandes and his team at MYRADA.
- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA): India’s most talked about government programme MGNREGA came about because Jean Drèze and others in civil society drafted it, and advocated for it.
- Integrated Water Management Programme (IWMP): The early work around watershed management was done in Sukhomajri in Haryana. A more integrated approach was later piloted at Ralegan Siddhi by Anna Hazare. This, and the Hiware Bazar model by Popatrao Pawar became models to emulate, and the IWMP guidelines that are in place today are a result of contributions from many nonprofits.
Read the full article about civil society in India by Apoorva Oza at India Development Review.
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