NGOs and the Social Work

H C Katoch
Social work is most abused word used by many institutions/organisations and individuals. Who does social work and with what motives? All those who claim to do social work are in fact doing it for themselves. In our political set up, all are paid salaries and enjoy many other privileges. Did anybody follow the example set by our Prime Minister to honour the Safai Karamcharies and wash their feet treating them as most revered persons serving the society? Did any Corporator /Mayor or any other functionary directly dealing with this category of individuals serving the society embraced them for their work not to speak of cleaning their feet? We still believe and practise feudal system. It is NGO that mixes up and uproots the age old conventions
Even those who are serving the society through dissemination of knowledge by sitting on high pedestal of spiritual thrones ever remained without accepting huge donations to be spent on their luxuries.
Corporate Sector, too, spends funds through their own standards and guidelines that hardly reach to that section of the society which deserves the most. Further , it is alleged that these corporate have their own Trusts to use mandatory CSR savings of 2 percent. Everywhere there is motive of own comforts and name and fame in the society.
The Democracy of India rests on following estates out of which three are constitutional estates i) Legislative ii) Bureaucracy and iii) Judiciary. Free Press and Media has been recognised as fourth estate. The contribution of NGO sector is immense for national building and as such it becomes the fifth estate. All three estates debit their expenses to state exchequer. The fourth estates have their own strength to manage the finances. The fifth estate is funded by both Govt and donor organisations and individuals.
The fifth Estate that is the NGO sector if handled properly by the donor agencies, organisation and the Government can do wonders. This sector has the flexibility of implementing the welfare schemes timely and with goal oriented approach. NITI AYOG has registered NGOs without assessment of the profile of the Founder Member. In fact it is the founder Member whose profile shows the capacity, credibility and vision to successfully lead to the desired goals and achievements of the objectives of the scheme. Any one completing the procedural formalities gets the organisation registered who has no vision and capacity to handle the welfare measures.
Further the NGO is considered to be a subsidiary organisation and the workforce or the Head has no comparison to the Government machinery. The funding pattern is so tight that it has no match to the similar schemes implemented by the Government machinery. It could be gauged from the results if the same pattern of funding is made to the NGO as is given to the Government Department and results are measured as per the targets fixed. It will show the capacity capability and strength of the NGO for better than the Government Department. NGOs working in the field know the emotions of the public and more effective than the Government machinery that is governed by rules regulations and procedures causing hurdles and delays
Just the Government spending is outsourced for different sectors say Roads, Power or other schemes, let small schemes of social upliftment/community involvement be given to NGOs on the same pattern depending upon their capacity for which norms can be laid. Let this fifth estate be tried and tested. The recent approach of the Government machinery “Back to Village” is an excellent endeavour that will certainly help the officers and other field staff to feel the pulse of the people. However the templates used suffer from measurable parameters and secondly, the process of coding is absent that will hinder the consolidation of reports for each district, Division or the State as a whole. Thus the purpose achieved is in isolation and has little use. There is a need to redraft the templates with specific measurable parameters and their compilation and tabulation with the technique of codification for preparation of results of the exercise conducted with this manpower. It will then ensure formulation of strategy for taking appropriate time bound action.
The Government machinery have limitations, whereas the NGO is not bound by time/stay in the villages. They become the part and attend their ceremonies also. Strengthen the NGO sector to strengthen the love bonds between the government and the people. It will solve the problem of alienation of the people. It is not the sermons, but it is the affectionate approach that will lead to peaceful living.
Lastly, let the Government create Apex body or any forum that involves representatives of the NGOs of three rergions that have Founder members with sound and credible profile and chalk out strategy to involve NGOs where there are no administrative hassles.
(The author is Director Planning (Retd)