By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 13th, 2023

The World Bank says, “A Non-governmental Organization (NGO) is a private organization that pursues activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development”. Any kind of private organization, independent from government control, can be classified as NGO, provided it is not for profit. Traditionally, NGO’s have 3 important roles,

  • As an implementer
  • A catalyst
  • A partner and facilitator


The ultimate goal of an NGO is primarily to complement the work as a bridge of the government, serve the people aligning with goals of NGO projects and helping in the overall development, (human development and social progress indices, both).

In the past couple of decades, the NGOs have developed as a new force playing a vital role in shaping and implementation of participatory and their credibility is dependent on their constructive role. During the nineties, the emergence of welfare, empowerment and a nonprofit-oriented organization was the cult. The emerging NGO or voluntary sector is also known as the third sector.

The national policy on the voluntary sector, adopted in 2007 seeks to establish a new working relationship between the government and the voluntary sector. The role of the voluntary sector and NGOs can expand only when there lies a well thought out framework, functional autonomy and policy guidance that supports them. But again, there has to be a double-sided effort on part of the NGOs themselves to evaluate and monitor their own performance.

International non-governmental organizations date back to 1839.however, it was only with the formation of the United Nations that the number of NGOs increased proliferated. The major driving factors behind this rapid growth in the number of NGOs can be attributed to the end of cold war, growing demands with a better economic scenario, globalization and dominance of unipolar world order post the demise of USSR.

The concept and practice of NGOs date back to the era of nationalist and social-political movements. Early examples of such attempts are Friend-in-Need Society (1858), Prathana Samaj (1864), Satya Shodhan Samaj (1873), Arya Samaj (1875), the National Council for Women in India (1875), the Indian National Conference (1887) etc. The Society’s Registration Act (SRA) was approved in 1860 to confirm the legal status of the growing body of non-governmental organizations.

As time passed, the NGOs became more specialized and developed three major strands.

  1. Traditional development NGOs which majorly became a part of the community they were catering to. They went from village to village to run a literary program and encouraged local artisans and farmers. E.g. Baba Amte leprosy patient oragnisation in India
  2. The second group comprised of those NGOs which lobbied with the government and petitioned in the court for improving the lives of the citizen. E.g. Center For Science And Environment.
  3. The third strand had more of an activist outlook than having a pacific outlook. E.g. Narmada Bachao Aandolan.

The PDF below will give you a better insight into the topic. Click here to access the pdf. 


We will be uploading the Hindi version soon. 


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