NEW DELHI: After having gone after Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) affiliated to the left of the centre ideology for the last two and a half years, the Narendra Modi government in an apparent U-turn has begun reaching out to the civil society to enlist them to achieve better delivery of the social sector schemes. While the NITI Aayog has asked the NGOs to become part of the social sector schemes' delivery on the ground, sources said the move is aimed to cultivate the NGOs, which are not funded by foreign donations, to become auxiliary wings of the Central scheme implementation on the ground.
The NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagaria has held a brainstorming session with the civil society organizations (CSOs), besides asking them to help the government achieve the delivery of services at the district and block levels across the country. The think-tank panel discussed with over 17 leading voluntary organizations in a marathon deliberations, which was also attended by senior officials of 15 central ministries. “The voluntary organizations from all over the country, working across the spectrum of social sector services from education, health, geriatric care, women’s empowerment, rural development to handlooms, interacted with senior officials from Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Food and Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI), Ministry of Minority Affairs,” said a senior official.
Incidentally, the change of heart within the Modi government has come after a recent Ministry of Home Affair’s (MHA) clampdown on more than 11,000 CSOs by cancelling their FCRA registration under a number of pretexts. The clampdown was also spearheaded on apparent grounds that such CSOs had been taking part in anti-government activities in various parts of the country. However, the NITI Aayog of late has formed the views that the state governments were not taking enough steps to implement various Centrally sponsored schemes in the social sector. The move is also in contrast to the Modi government seeking to charter different course of actions as had been seen during the UPA government when the National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had given an open access to scores of NGOs in the functioning and formulation of the Central schemes.
The NITI Aayog, however, now recognises the important role played by CSOs in effective implementation of government policies and schemes, added the official. The think tank panel is now pinning hope on the CSOs to help fill the gaps in the last mile connectivity in the implementation of the Centrally sponsored schemes in the social sector. “Since India is committed to the fulfilment of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) as adopted by the United Nations, it’s pertinent that more energy be infused in the implementation of the social sector schemes which could be achieved through the involvement of the CSOs,” added the official. Panagariya told the representatives of the CSOs during the interaction that an effective partnership between the government and the civil society would go a long way in efficient utilisation of government resources, especially in the social sector.
“The meeting identified effective ways of strengthening partnership between CSOs and the government at the national, state, district and block level for enhancing service delivery of major Central schemes,” said the official, while adding that the CSOs could play significant roles in service delivery from allocation of funds to monitoring and evaluation processes.
The CSOs Pratham, Help Age India, Sulabh International, Pradhan, Akshaya Patra and Prayas were among others who took part in the deliberations.