Non Governmental Organizations - Introduction to the Non-Profit Sector

The decades starting with the 1990s witnessed the proliferation of a new kind of sector among the various agencies and governmental departments engaged in public service. This sector was the Non-Profit or the NGO (Non Governmental Organizations) that mushroomed all over the world to fill the gap between the governmental agencies and the public.

The intention behind the creation of the NGO’s was that in places where the government was either doing a bad job of service delivery or the government could not reach for whatever reason, the NGO’s could step in and act as the medium between the official sector or the governmental sector and the people. Hence, the term Non Governmental Organizations was coined to describe these entities. Further, the fact that the increasing complexity and the multiplicity of problems that confronted the world meant that there was need for a quasi-official entity to step in and help both the government and the society.

The rise of the NGO’s coincided with the awareness among governmental and multilateral bodies like the United Nations that the problems of the 21st century were too complex and too diverse for the government to handle them alone. Hence, there was a need for an intermediary, which would be focused on a specific aspect of the gamut of issues and hence would be able to concentrate its energies solely on the issue rather than being general like the government. The point here is that the NGO’s comprise of experts in particular fields and hence, they can devote their expertise and energies to solve the intractable problems, which the government cannot because of the red tape as well as the fact that many government officials are administrators first, and experts next. This was the reason for the NGO’s attaining a prominent place in the pantheon of agencies that were tasked with solving the problems of the world.

Further, the NGO sector is useful to act as a watchdog to oversee the governmental programs and assess how much the government is effective in addressing them. Moreover, the NGO’s can also be focus groups who do not venture into on the groundwork but are advisory in nature. These are the public think tanks and advisory councils that routinely come up with policy suggestions and whitepapers that are used by the government and other agencies as inputs to their policymaking apparatus. Apart from this, the NGO’s can also check the leakage that is inherent in governmental programs because of bribery and corruption and hence can be the conscience of the people who would report any irregularities in the delivery of public services.

Finally, the NGO sector also comprises of volunteers who are committed and dedicated and can to the rescue of victims of natural disasters like Earthquakes and Tsunamis where the governmental and other agencies are overwhelmed and understaffed to deal with the situation adequately. These are some of the ways in which the NGO sector acts as the bridge between the government and the people. In subsequent articles, we would explore the many facets and details of the NGO phenomenon in detail and would analyze the positive as well as the negative aspects of the rise of the NGO’s.


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