NGOs and rural development in Manipur

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Dr NC Shanta
Non – Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are non profit voluntary organizations formed by a group of people with an objective to render certain services to the people. A very popular definition is also given by Willets (2006) which defines an NGO as “an independent voluntary association of people acting together on a continuous basis, for some common purpose, other than achieving government office, making illegal money or illegal activities”. Similarly, NGO Global Network defines a non-governmental organisation as “any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a local, national or international level. Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions, bring citizen concerns to Governments, advocate and monitor policies and encourage political participation through provision of information. Some are organized around specific issues, such as human rights, environment or health”.

It is concluded that NGOs should have certain basic characteristics, viz. (1) they must be voluntary and non profit making bodies, (2) they are free from the control of government, and (3) their main aim is to provide certain services to the people. Similarly the Planning Commission of India (2007:2) in its policy on NGOs said that:
1. They are private, i.e. separate from government,
2. They do not return profits generated to their owners or directors,
3. They are self governing, i.e. not controlled by government, and
4. They are registered organizations or informal groups with defined aims and objectives.

As also given in the definition about the term of NGOs, their activities are also to provide different developmental services through varieties of programmes under the funding of local, national and international level. As a body and registered under the Society Registration Act and Foreign Contribution and Regulation Act, NGO contributes various developmental aspects from social activities to economic activities including different awareness programmes.

The main social activities included education, health, social welfare and such other social issues. On the other hand, the economic activities included income earning and employment generation activities, such as livestock rearing, agriculture, household industries, forestation, etc with trainings, workshops and awareness facilities. One of the most important activities generally provided by many NGOs are the provision of loan and grant facilities to their beneficiaries. But, such loans and grants are given to those who are under privilege groups or poor or marginal section or families. Not only such financial facilities, NGOs also provided non financial materials or in kinds, such as embroidery machines, loom machines, raw materials, agricultural materials, saplings, piglets, etc to their beneficiaries for the livelihood of the poor and under privileged groups.

Providing all these facilities to their beneficiaries, NGOs also make different local area groups as so call as village development committee or local development committee and other self help groups. Through these groups different provisions are made and availed in time with the help of trainings, workshops and other awareness programmes for the successful programmes. In addition, NGOs also provide these facilities of development directly to the beneficiaries instead of groups or self help groups. With all these provisions under the NGOs, the beneficiaries can earn their livelihood, increase their living standard, increase their employment power, increase their income, etc.

As the activities of NGOs increasing day by day numbers of NGOs are also raising. The numbers of NGOs has been touched at 18255 in the year 2010-11 including the State level NGOs at 2512. It means the activities and role play by the NGOs in the State become a raising phenomena. The raising numbers of NGOs in the State are due to the significance of the different activities of NGOs in rural and marginal sections or groups. With the help of the Government to encourage these activities of NGOs by providing monetary and non-monetary provisions in addition to the foreign fund, NGOs can provide and serve these activities.

Thus, NGOs are serving for the rural masses and grass root areas particularly for the poor people. The rural masses are characterised by the uneducated, unaware of new policies and modernity, undeveloped, delinked from the Governmental programmes and facilities and preserving the old and traditional customs without changing any developmental values. These characterisations are discovered and aware to the masses through various programmes and training by the NGOs in the State.

One of the successful developmental programmes and activities of NGOs in the State was those of Citizen Volunteers Training Centre (CVTC) when it was active for the rural development as pioneer NGO in Imphal east district inhabited by the schedule caste groups. These areas are none but Andro villages which have only 25 kms from Imphal. When, as a scholar, I visited the areas and collected the valuable data about the activities of CVTC through local people, it was found that people knows H. Surendra (chief functionary) and CVTC and not Government. And I asked why? They replied all the works and developmental activities were provided by and under the undertaking programmes of CVTC. It was also found that from the social activities up to the economic activities without political field the villages of Andro becoming a developing areas in Imphal east through CVTC under the leadership of H. Surendra. It also has a true and lovely story for about football to rural development, when Surendra and his team members visited and proposed different times for the development of Andro but not agreed to accept the proposed. At last, with the help of football and volleyball with net approached the young boys who enthusiastically played the games made started the activities of CVTC for rural development in the areas.

Many things it has to explain but with a little activities from the paddy fields to the ponds, from the drinking water to the irrigation facilities and up to the present Santhei (Lok / Dam) National Park are the gift of NGO. It is thus clear that the rural development can easily be moved with or without Governmental activities since such activities of NGO provided for the rural development. Manipur is a hilly State and bordered by the Myanmar and economically a backward in its character but financially sound through the central government in all field except developmental characters. Now in modern developmental stages we have the third sector to mobilise our socio-economic values through a series of foreign fundings with or without national security or our developmental character should go forward. Here, the role of NGOs is indispensably imparted through a national character.

(The writer can be reached at [email protected])

Source: The Sangai Express

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