Recognizing the role of Civil Societies

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By: Tajamul Naseem Lone

Civil society is a vast and diverse group encompassing various organizations within it. It plays significant role in representing the interests of depressed and oppressed classes, mobilization of resources, policy advocacy regulating and monitoring state action as well as identifying long term goals and objectives for the overall development of a given society.

Historically, civil societies have played vital role in ensuring good governance and the overall development identifying the marginalized and advocating rationalization of developmental schemes, budgets etc. It is one of the key instruments of ensuring good governance worldwide and nearly all countries have such bodies that are keenly engaged in this work.

Prof. John Keane-founder of the ‘Centre for the Study of Democracy in London’, a British theorist, states that the emerging consensus that civil society is a realm of freedom correctly highlights its basic value, as a condition of democracy. Where there is no civil society there cannot be citizens with capacities. It enables the citizens in choosing their identities, entitlements, and duties within a political-legal framework.

Civil society is an essential building block of development and national cohesion. In a country blessed with peace and stability, civil society fills the space untouched by government and the private sector. In a fragile and conflict-ridden country, it plays an even more important role of providing services normally the responsibility of the state and businesses and can lay the foundation for reconciliation.

Civil society may comprise of organizations that are not associated with government—including schools and universities, advocacy groups, professional associations, religious institutions and cultural institutions and some business. Civil society organizations play multiple roles and are an important source of information for both citizens and government. While on one hand, they monitor government policies and actions and hold government accountable, on the other hand they provide the most vital inputs for policy framework and highlight neglected areas.

Civil societies engage in advocacy and offer alternative policies for government, the private sector, and other institutions and deliver services, especially to the poor and marginalized. They defend citizen rights and work to change and uphold social norms and behaviors.

But what has traditionally been happening is repeated overtime as these  organizations have been facing issues like inadequate finances, untrained and unskilled staff, lack of accountability and strife with the government that ultimately leads to a very peripheral achievement of laid down goals. Having a platform for discourse and dialogue between the CSOs and government, skill development and capacity building through various programs, and also by having a provision of social and performance audit of the Organizations can resolve such issues.

There is a need to establish civil societies at various levels. The people from varied backgrounds must come forward to play their part and contribute. A civil society will be successful if the intentions of all the members are pure, merely taking part to call oneself a member may not be enough. The government at various levels feels happy to see people working for the welfare of common people.

I have analyzed, in my area of Rafiabad various civil societies working at par with the government and there is a good response from the government as well. Civil society may prove as a ‘Voice of Voiceless’ till the intentions are pure and criticism at any level if any is constructive. My request to the civil societies is to maintain the pace and earn good rewards both here and in the world hereafter. But be sure that the intentions must be clear and clean.

The writer is a Teacher at HSS Dangiwacha Rafiabad


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