Participatory development with NGOs contributing will bring change in Bihar
Avanish Kumar | October 16, 2015
India is witnessing a relay race at the sub-national electoral process to form government through representative democracy. Bihar election is an ongoing testimony of this battle between the political parties to win at any cost and for political leaders to establish supremacy within their party. Instead of representing people or problems of their constituency, representative form of democracy has created caste and religion as political constituency. Votes at local level do not really support the need to thrust selection or rejection based on development performance, though governance and development pitch remains an overt political slogan during the election. Once a seat is won, ruling parties or government as an agency of the State need not go back to the electorate for a review of development performance as there is hardly a tangible transformation in the lives of the poor.
Repeated election and politics of caste and religion has unturned approximately 600 million people in India living in conditions that vary from the sub-human to the abysmal. Around 300 million do not have proper homes or safe drinking water. This situation is more visible in poor states like Bihar.
Bihar is the most densely populated state (Census, 2011) with approximately 83 million population, which accounts for one-seventh of the below poverty line (BPL) population of India. With 9 out of every 10 person in Bihar living in villages, poverty in Bihar is significantly a rural phenomenon. According to the World Bank report titled - Bihar Towards a Development Strategy, the challenge of development in Bihar are persistent poverty, rigid social stratification, poor infrastructure and weak governance. The crux of the problem is identified as service delivery, particularly those affecting the poor and where the role of the government is crucial (World Bank, 2005).
To win elections, the political mathematics of caste and religion remains the primary agenda of the parties. The election will be fought on the poverty and marginalisation of caste and religious minorities. The chemistry of poverty and politics remains unaltered despite an estimated 250 government schemes under operation. Poverty alleviation, upliftment and welfare of the marginalised with limited livelihood options including the women, children, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, backward classes, landless labourers, artisans, small farmers etc are the major concerns.
Among the greatest challenge before the state today is the rise of young population without skills and jobs. Government or business alone cannot meet the aspirations of this class. The development initiatives need to be efficient and effective through participatory accountability.
In large states like Bihar, there are gaps left by the government in the developmental process, some intentional, some due to lack of funds but mostly due to lack of transparency and accountability. Civil society organisations or NGOs, media and the judiciary are often the means available to the citizens to voice their opinions and enforce accountability.
NGOs bridge the information gap between the government and the society. Few NGOs are engaged in the process of negotiation and debating about the character of the rules, policies, programmes – in the process of expressing the voice of the marginalised.
An apt example is the success of government of Bihar initiative on rural livelihoods programme. The programme, JEEViKA is implemented by Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (BRLP) registered under the Society Act and by adopting management strategy of NGO. The BRLP model reinforces the idea that the NGOs are required as a part of governance by government institutions suggesting a need for change in structure and function of the government. The model of change is to widen its reach, remain closer to ground realities and approach target groups directly and emphatically, thereby creating ability to contextualise local problems and create possible solutions.
Overall in India rough estimate of registered NGOs estimates over 2 million. The number may double with unregistered NGOs. This size of the voluntary sector can play a vital role in the shaping and implementation of government policies. NGOs have failed to change the discourse of power and politics despite their strength and wider reach.
The political powers manage to develop confidence and forge contacts with the marginalised on the hope to exploit their vulnerability for electoral gain. Often rallying of unemployed youth behind politicians in elections is achieved by showing them a glimmer of hope for their future. A critical factor that hampers their progress in achieving their goals is a lack of coordination and networking amongst NGOs to achieve a common goal.
There is a rise of unregulated flyby NGOs, often act as a termite to the trust of the community. NGOs are often born out of an individual’s commitment and motivation leading to the development of individual centric institutions that lack accountability to the government or to the community they work for. A sizeable number of NGOs remain unaudited. Baring few, most of the businessmen and politicians formed NGOs are to get grants from the government, tax exceptions and make grey profits.
The problem lies in the lack of comprehensive regulatory framework and prevailing draconian laws. Though the political economy of India has changed drastically, the societies, associations, organisations or trusts are still being registered by the societies’ registration Act of 1860, the Indian Trust Act of 1882, and the Charitable & Religious Trust Act of 1920. The laws and regulations related to NGOs vary across states. Another critical policy limitation in this sphere is due to the FCRA. The foreign contribution regulation act prohibits any political and religious activities for the NGOs. Religious and political activities are considered anti-national activities.
Government’s inability to design regulatory framework affects millions of people who are born and who die without access to entitlements. Lack of credible NGOs impede the objective of participatory democracy by not promoting scrutiny of candidate in election. Otherwise, electoral politics will continue to encourage of caste and religious divide even after elections without making politicians and public servants accountable of their action. In order to create a constructive space to bridge the gap between the government and society for reduction of social and economic exclusion based on caste and religion, the government must create a comprehensive regulatory framework and ensure consistency of NGOs regulations across States.
As the Covid-19 situation continues to improve in India, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) has decided to continue the Guidelines for Reopening, which have already done away with nearly all of Lockdown restrictions in areas outside the containment zones. The MHA issued an order Monday and e
After a scare in September with the number of daily fresh cases inching above 90,000, India seems to have gone down the peak, with several key parameters giving cause for relief just in time for the annual festive season. The new confirmed cases in the 24 hours to Tuesday morning have fallen below 36,500 (
The annual festive season has brought good news for India: the country’s case fatality ratio has gone down to touch 1.5 percent, and the number of deaths per day has dipped below 500 in the 24 hours to Monday morning – bringing the situation closer to the number before the lockdown was imposed
Basking in the success of the new web series, ‘Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story ’,on SonyLIV, the OTT platform from Sony stable where the lead actors are new faces, NP Singh, MD and CEO of Sony Pictures Networks, has said that the script is the new hero. He credited the s
India’s trend of steadily decreasing active cases continues unabated. The number of Active Cases has remained below 10% of the total cases for the last three days, suggesting only one in 10 cases is active Covid-19 patient. The active cases comprise merely 9.29% of the total positive c
The union cabinet chaired by prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday gave its approval to pay productivity linked bonus (PLB) for 2019-20 to 16.97 lakh non-gazetted employees of commercial establishments like Railways, Posts, Defence, EPFO, and ESIC, with a financial implication of Rs.2,791 crore.