Study Stock: Role of civil society in the development process; Download PDF here!

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 13th, 2023

Dear gradians,

The topic, Development processes and the development industry- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders often keeps recurring in the UPSC Main Examination. It is often noted that aspirants neglect this section considering the role of civil society and NGOs not very important to the development process and society as a whole. It is often assumed that it is only the government and the corporates are the only two major players in driving a country and its economy. This week’s study stock comes to shed light on this aspect. We have compiled various articles from the newspapers and e-papers to give you the best insight into this important topic. 

Often referred to as the third section of the society, the term ‘civil society’ has been first used by social philosophers like Locke and Rousseau to describe civil government differentiated from that of the state of nature. Civil society ranges from a large scale charity to NGO’s, trusts, foundations, advocacy groups, virtual associations with no identifiable locations, from anti globalization groups to pro humanitarian assistance groups, from democratically run organizations to autocratic sects, from philanthropic foundations to saving clubs among migrant communities spread across the globe.

Civil society varies greatly in their focus and organization, thus cannot be treated as a homogenous group.  Their membership may be local, regional or global. The organizational structure of the civil society also varies. It ranges from unitary to hierarchical; such as the church and the trade union, centralized associations like the Greenpeace to confederations like World Council of Churches and informal associations that are based on egalitarian principals like the women’s organizations. The process involves the involvement of society in the political and social affairs and if analyzed, is a powerful tool in a democracy. Researchers say that in countries where people and civil society at large have been respected, in maintaining fundamental rights and legal freedoms, the rate of development is more with respect to countries which haven’t respected this otherwise.

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