The Role Of NGOs
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The Role Of NGOs
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Veera Vaishnava

“...Although this science will be diligently studied, it will be rigidly confined to the governing class. The populace will not be allowed to know how its convictions were generated. When the technique has been perfected, every Government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen.”
Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society, 1952

1. Introduction
Many social policies espoused by NGOs reflect sensibilities, feelings of guilt, morals, concerns, preferences and values. They are further armed with a gloomy view of a ‘Hindu India’ and, not surprisingly, this set of sensibilities is the exact reflection of a cadre of ‘civil society’ protagonists—extremely well-funded internationalists, social/political activists, missionaries, Islamists, intellectual crooks/pimps, academic entrepreneurs, politicians and wealthy foundations of affluent countries.

* This essay in its original form appeared in Social-Movements-to-Totalitarianism: Readers are reminded, quite emphatically, that not all NGOs are out to deceive people, or are part of any revolution or participate in social movements that are subversive. It is our great nation’s fortune that there are millions of altruistic individuals and Hindus who quietly serve humanity, diligently avoiding any fortune or fame. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of wellwishing groups and NGOs that volunteer and do phenomenal humanitarian and noble work, but they scarcely get any attention or mention in the mainstream media. This article is about the NGOs that by words and deeds have—so far—not been truthful, nor accountable for their actions.

The Economist’s ‘The World In 2002’ author, John Grimond, says of ‘Civil Society’:

It is universally talked about in tones that suggest it is a Great Good, but for some people it presents a problem: what on earth is it? Unless you know,…it how can you tell if you would want to join it?1

These self-appointed guardians of such undefined civil society have been allowed, in India, to define and impose the criteria by which Indian society (only Hindus) needs to be transformed. These activist groups would like to determine and decide which of our society’s goals (political, economic, moral, ethical and practical) are important, and insist that other immediate priorities of our society and our nation be ignored and discarded.

James Petras, the sociologist, in his article ‘NGOs - In the service of imperialism’ writes:

Throughout history ruling classes, representing small minorities, have always depended on the coercive state apparatus and social institutions to defend their power, profits and privileges. In the past, particularly in the Third World, imperial-ruling classes financed and supported overseas and domestic religious institutions to control exploited people and deflect their discontent into religious communal rivalries and conflicts.

While these practices continue today, in more recent decades a new social institution emerged that provide the same function of control and ideological mystification the self-described Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

Today [1999] there are at least 50,000 NGOs in the Third World receiving over $10 billion in funding from international financial institutions, Euro-US-Japanese governmental agencies and local governments. The managers of the biggest NGOs manage million dollar budgets with salaries and perks that are comparable to CEOs. They jet to international conferences, confer with top corporate and financial directors and make policy decisions that affect in the great majority of cases adversely millions of people especially the poor, women and informal sector working people.2

Many NGOs indulge in similar rhetoric, packaged to appeal to all segments of the citizenry—as they seem very noble—and some of the key issues are ‘Peace’, ‘Empowerment’, ‘Sustainable Development’, ‘Displacement’, ‘Forest Land and Tribals’, ‘Child Rights’, ‘Women Empowerment’, ‘Right to Food’, ‘Animal Rights’, ‘Human Rights’, ‘Environment’, and ‘Capacity Building’ (phew!).

Much of their utopian idealism is very evident in their mission statement, mass campaigns, speeches, writings and fundraisers, but sans an enforceable code of ethics (in addition to ‘Transparency, Accountability and Accuracy’) for these groups. It is impossible to hold them accountable for their actions and consequences on society, particularly in a nation whose nationhood is continuously under attack both from within and without, by the same NGOs or their sponsors or allies (home-grown or foreign).