Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)


To prepare for GOVERNANCE for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs). It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the Governance syllabus (GS-II.). Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs) terms are important from Governance perspectives in the UPSC exam. IAS aspirants should thoroughly understand their meaning and application, as questions can be asked from this static portion of the IAS Syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and the UPSC Mains exams. Even these topics are also highly linked with current affairs. Almost every question asked from them is related to current events. So, apart from standard textbooks, you should rely on newspapers and news analyses as well for these sections.


  • A non-governmental organisation (NGO) is an organization that is neither a part of a government nor a conventional for-profit business. Usually set up by ordinary citizens, NGOs may be funded by governments, foundations, businesses, or private persons.
  • NGO activities include, but are not limited to, environmental, social, advocacy and human rights work. They can work to promote social or political change on a broad scale or very locally.
  • NGOs play a critical part in developing society, improving communities, and promoting citizen participation.


Indian NGOs mainly comes under three segments –
Societies: Societies have to register under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
Trusts: Private trusts are registered under the central government’s Indian Trusts Act, 1882, and public ones are registered under the state legislation concerned.
Charitable Companies: They are set up according to section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013. For charitable companies, the compliance requirements are high, as loans and advances are easily available to them compared to a trust or a society. They have to even pay Income tax under the IT act 1961.


Prominent NGOs:
  • Akshaya Patra (TAPF): NGO in India, Feeds Mid-Day
  • Meals to Children
  • Smile Foundation
  • Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation
  • ASER
  • CRY: Child Rights and You
  • HelpAge India


Roles of Non-Governmental Organizations:

In developing countries India, there are numerous gaps left by the government in the development process. These gaps are filled by NGOs:

  • Work where the state is unwilling to work
  • Work where state resources are inadequate
  • Fighting social evils
  • Right to Shelter: NGOs such as YUVA and SPARC in cities like Mumbai
  • Right to Information: It is because of the efforts of NGOs that RTI has become reality in India.
  • Tribal Rights: As witnessed in the Vedanta vs. Posco case
  • Implementation of welfare schemes
  • Development and Operation of Infrastructure e.g. NGOs did a remarkable job post-2004 Tsunami. Besides helping in rescue operations, NGOs also set up vocational training centres
  • Supporting Innovation, Demonstration and Pilot Projects
  • Facilitating Communication
  • Technical Assistance and Training
  • Research, Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Advocacy for and with the Poor – In some cases, NGOs become spokespersons or ombudsman for the poor and attempt to influence government policies and programmes on their behalf.


Laws and Legislations Regulating the Finances of NGOs:


Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010

· Foreign funding of voluntary organizations in India is regulated under FCRA act and is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

· The acts ensure that the recipients of foreign contributions adhere to the stated purpose for which such contribution has been obtained.

· Under the act organisations require to register themselves every five years.




Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999

· Foreign Exchange Management Act (1999) aims to consolidate and amend the law relating to foreign exchange with the objective of facilitating external trade and payments and for promoting the orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India.

· A transaction under FEMA is called a fee or a salary while the same under FCRA is called a grant or a contribution.

· In 2016, the powers of the Ministry of Finance to monitor NGOs were placed under the FEMA.

Facts about NGOs

  • Only about 10 per cent of the over 22 lakh NGOs file their annual income and expenditure statements, revealed by CBI.
  • IB report stated that the working of few NGOs in the name of protests against the government activities have become detrimental to the nation development. It led to loss of 2-3% of country’s GDP.


Role of NGOs in Protection of Environment:
  • The rapid growing and unsustainable economic development is leading to number of environmental issues in India.
  • They play a crucial role in helping to plug gaps by conducting research to facilitate policy development, building institutional capacity, and facilitating independent dialogue with civil society to help people live more sustainable lifestyles.
  • The issues like the future of environmental protection, sustainable development and zero population growth is some of the major concerns of environmental NGOs.
  • The NGO’s constitute a world-wide network interacting with Governments and Internal intergovernmental organization in shaping international environmental policies:
  • Creating awareness among the public on current environmental issues and solutions.
  • Facilitating the participation of various categories of stakeholders in the discussion on environmental issues.
  • Conducting participatory rural appraisal.
  • Being involved in the protection of human rights to have a clean environment.
  • Protecting the natural resources and entrusting the equitable use of resources.
  • Data generation on natural resources, timeline history of villages.
  • Analysis and monitoring of environmental quality.
  • Transferring information through newsletters, brochures, articles, audiovisuals, etc.
  • Organizing seminars, lectures and group discussion for the promotion of environmental awareness.
  • Helping the villages’ administrative officials in preparation, application and execution of projects on environmental protection.


NGOs in India that work in the field of the environment:
  • Assam Science Society
  • Bombay Natural History Society
  • Centre for Environmental Education
  • Centre for Science and Environment
  • Kalpavriksha
  • Narmada Bachao Andolan


Advantages and Disadvantages of NGO:




· Ability to experiment freely

· Flexible in adapting to local situations

· Enjoy good rapport with people

· Ability to communicate at all levels

· Able to recruit both experts and highly motivated staff




· Interference in local government:

· Paternalistic attitudes

· Restricted/constrained ways of approach

· Reduced replicability of an idea

· Territorial possessiveness”

· No rules or regulations


Challenges faced by NGOs:
  • Asymmetry of power: Some NGOs have acquired character of MNCs because of large scale funding from foreign governments, companies. On the other hand large chunk of NGOs lacking even operational funding.
  • Siphoning of funds: NGOs are becoming safe heavens to channelise the black money, tax evasion. Such NGOs are causing loss to exchequer by helping others to evade taxes.
  • NGOs for namesake: It is estimated that only about 1.5 percent of NGOs actually undertake developmental work.
  • Political Activism: Some NGOs are involved in political activism with foreign funds. A large proportion of NGOs have actively taken part in political campaigns, including working as proxies for certain political parties.
  • Obnoxious agenda: Claiming involvement in human rights initiatives or social empowerment, these organisations are allegedly fronts for foreign supported extremist and secessionist groups. A large part of these funds is also being used for religious conversions, which is forbidden under the FCRA.
  • Absence of Strategic Planning: Many NGOs suffer from the lack of a cohesive, strategic plan that would facilitate success in their activities and mission. This renders them unable to effectively raise and capitalize on financial support.
  • Poor Governance and Networking: A lack of effective governance is all too common in NGOs. Many have a deficit of understanding as to why they must have a Board and how to set one up. A founder may be too focused on running the NGO for their own purposes; however, governance is foundational to transparency.
  • Lack of Volunteerism/Social work among Youth due to less attractive career opportunities and pay scales. Even parents also discourage their children from social activities.
  • Centralisation in Urban and metropolitan areas.


Suggestions to Improve the Working of NGOs
  • Capacity Building: Capacity building and training can help to provide crucial new skills. NGOs can then more readily train staff and cultivate the necessary skills within the organization to address challenges going forward.
  • On-Demand Advice From Experts: The ability to reach out for needed advice and guidance whenever required during a project or to optimize NGO operations is extremely valuable. Access to qualified experts will inspire confidence in donors and contribute to the project’s success. NGOs will naturally become more efficient, streamlined and effective.
  • Information, Communication and Technology: All NGOs should be using a minimum of Internet, email, a basic website and relevant social medial platforms.
  • Timely filing of annual income and expenditure: This will help in improving image of NGOs in the eyes of government. NGOs also need to ensure that laws, rules and regulations should be followed in letter and spirit.
  • Democratisation of leadership: NGOs face many challenges in their journey. Such challenges can be effectively tackled by rotating leadership among its members.
  • Disclosing foreign funding: Globalisation has blurred the boundaries of countries. Global challenges like climate change, human development, poverty alleviation are some of the pressing problems. And NGOs have also became globalised to deal with these challenges. Thus maintaining records of such foreign fundings will ensure transparency in their functioning and will create deterrence for laws.
  • Inculcate the Essence of Voluntarism: NSS and NCC should encourage students to participate in voluntarism from childhood days onwards. Universities, colleges and schools have to collaborate with NGOs and conduct campus interviews for the young graduates who are interested in voluntarism.
  • Increased Role in Rural Areas: In India, 65% of populations belong to rural areas. NGOs, therefore, need to operate in rural areas on a bigger scale to enlist the cooperation of village people in making their lives better. At the same time, these NGOs have to encourage the educated young graduates of rural areas to participate in voluntarism.



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     PWOnlyIAS is NOW at three new locations Mukherjee Nagar ,Lucknow and Patna , Explore all centers     Download UPSC Mains 2023 Question Papers PDF  Free Initiative links -1) Download Prahaar 3.0 for Mains Current Affairs PDF both in English and Hindi 2) Daily Main Answer Writing  , 3) Daily Current Affairs , Editorial Analysis and quiz ,  4) PDF Downloads  UPSC 2022 Final Result🔥5 out of Top 10 from PW OnlyIAS Community. UPSC Prelims 2023 Trend Analysis cut-off and answer key

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