Civilizing Civil Society - Daily Current Affair Article

Context:

While addressing the passing out parade of the 73rd batch of IPS probationers at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad, NSA Ajit Doval said that civil society, the new frontiers of war, and can be manipulated to hurt a nation’s interests.

Introduction

According to the World Bank: “Civil society refers to a wide array of organizations: community groups, non-governmental organizations [NGOs], labor unions, indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, and foundations.”

When mobilized, civil society sometimes called the “third sector” (after government and commerce) -has the power to influence the actions of elected policy-makers and businesses. But the nature of civil society - what it is and what it does - is evolving, in response to both technological developments and more nuanced changes within societies.

Role of Civil Society in Transforming Nations

  • Civil society organizations give voice to the disorganized, voiceless segments of society. They raise awareness of social and environmental issues and advocate for change, empowering local communities to develop new programs to meet their own needs.
  • Involvement of civil society in the Swachha Bharat Mission has made it a huge success. Role of Swacchagrahis has a visible impact in changing the behavior of people to stop open defecation practices in rural areas. Similarly, Swachha iconic places and Swachhata Pakwada are the instances of roles of civil society in bringing out transformation the society.
  • The various NGOs are working for the conservation of nature and biodiversity which are quite essential for a clean and healthy environment. The civil society movements like the Chipko, Apiko movements of the past for the protection of tree to the present day Aravali Bachao and Narmada Bachao Abhiyan try to achieve a similar objective
  • Civil society in Israel is promoting or inhibiting democratic consolidation. Mobilization is broad, but it is more ritualistic than real. Civil society does not play a significant role in enhancing tolerance and mutual respect. Challenging of the authorities is limited. It is the “bad” civil society, allied with the government coalition and mainstream ideology that gains visibility, significance, and influence in public life.
  • Civil society in Japan provide social services directly in the community, they cooperate with local government through both subcontracting and unpaid collaboration, they encourage political participation by demand articulation as well as endorsements and campaigning.
  • Indonesia has been a crucial example for exhibiting role of civil society in strengthening democracy through overthrowing a 32-year authoritarian regime. It shows how a civil society may render an authoritarian regime irrelevant and promote democracy for just and more accountable governance

Developing Positive Attitude and Integrity in Civil society

  • Due to the influence of society, we all develop positive, negative, and neutral attitudes towards many things. If our negative or neutral attitude is undesirable in modern society, it should be changed to a positive attitude.
  • Advertisement can change attitude of a person to make him like/buy your product.
  • Information-education-communication (IEC) components must be included in all Government schemes and policies for changing attitude of people.
  • By developing ‘tolerant/inclusive’ attitude towards other castes and religions.

Civil Society Represents the National Conscience and Character

  • The high point of connection between civil society and democracy included the emergence in the 1970s in western Europe of sustained social movements rooted in civil society, and in the 1980s in the east the dissident networks building up to the 'Velvet Revolution' of Wenceslas Square in Prague and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
  • A common feature of both these contexts was a conception of civil society not simply as a 'sphere' but as a source of power for democratic change. There are signs that we are seeing a revival - in new, more international forms - of this awareness of civil society as a source of power, including power to bring about political change.
  • Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations and private individuals, and which ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without discrimination or repression.

Civil Society is lynchpin In a Democracy (Must be aware, agile and alert)

  • One of the important contributions of civil society in the arena of democracy is its mass awareness activity. An effective democracy requires informed citizens to be aware about their governance system.
  • A civil society organization is capable of conscientizing masses through various means like publication of handbooks, information booklets, organizing seminar and workshops, spreading information through curricular materials in educational institutions, advocating certain policy issues through mass media, and so on.
  • The Civil society educates the people about their rights and responsibilities, consequences of certain policies on their lives, and strategy of government authorities behind any agreement or treaty.
  • It also plays a role of making the elite and general masses more committed to democracy through disseminating democratic principles and ideas.
  • They encourage masses to involve them in political affairs through exercise of their franchise and associational activities.

Manipulation of Civil Society through Radicalization, Fake Propaganda etc

  • Manipulation is the exercise of harmful influence over others. The person manipulating called the manipulator seeks to create an imbalance of power, and take advantage of a victim to get power, control, benefits, and/or privileges at the expense of the victim.
  • Socio-economic factors like poverty, social exclusion, marginalization and discrimination, limited education and employment etc. is a cause of growing radicalization. The poor and illiterate provides a fertile ground for radical agencies for recruitment.
  • Social media provides virtual participation and a platform for like-minded extremist views, accelerating the process of radicalization through fake news.
  • Rising religious intolerance, hate crimes, mob lynching and further leading to radicalization. Feeling hatred and intolerance, against a section of people are turning them towards radicalization
  • Some political parties for their interest manipulate certain section of society to fulfill their interest.

Civil society need to be carefully maneuvered in the age social media revolution.

The Social Media Ethics are-

In relation to news coverage it includes issues such as impartiality, objectivity, balance, bias, privacy, and the public interest. More generally, it also includes stereotyping, taste and decency, obscenity, freedom of speech, advertising practices such as product placement, and legal issues such as defamation.

They need to be channelized through

  • Better Education help to develop the personality of students and act as a mentor to them to influence their personal development and behavior.
  • Skill development activities like critical thinking, creative art & craft work, decision-making, problem-solving, an ability to collaborate & communicate along with a sense of responsibility towards personal as well as society at large, to contribute good citizenship comes under Life Skill. Scheme like UDAAN and NAI MANZIL must be inclusive in nature and drag youth from all sections.
  • Enough number of job opportunities should be provided to people to decrease their chances of joining any radical organization.
  • Moral values should be imbedded to the people for the good of country.

Constitutional obligation and SDGs.

  • Civil Society Institutions should be a defined term in the Constitution, as was done for Cooperative Societies under Part IX-B inserted by the Constitution (97th Amendment) Act, 2011, Not-for-profit educational, healthcare, cultural, sports, and media institutions, as well as not-for-profit social enterprises must be brought into the ambit of CSIs.
  • Make the Directive Principles a conjoint responsibility of the state and CSIs, by amending Articles 38 to 51 (except article 50). Article 38(1) to read as follows: ‘The State shall strive, directly as well as by involving and enabling civil society institutions, to promote the welfare of the people…’
  • Add a new Article 43(C) as follows: ‘The State shall Endeavour to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of civil society institutions, and establish mechanisms to consult them, fund them, and collaborate with CSIs.’
  • Amend Part IV A on Fundamental Duties as follows: Article 51-A: ‘It shall be the duty of every citizen of India, individually as well as a member of various civil society institutions.’
  • Establish a National Commission on Civil Society Institutions answerable to the Parliament.

In 2015, world leaders agreed to 17 Global Goals (officially known as the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs).These goals have the power to create a better world by 2030, by ending poverty, fighting inequality and addressing the urgency of climate change. Guided by the goals, it is now up to all of us, governments, businesses, civil society and the general public to work together to build a better future for everyone.

India ranks 117 this year in Sustainable Development Goals : Daily ...

SDG 17 calls for a global partnership for sustainable development. The goal highlights the importance of global macroeconomic stability and the need to mobilize financial resources for developing countries from international sources, as well as through strengthened domestic capacities for revenue collection.

Transparency international highlights how corruption obstructs development and how effectively countries are tackling this issue, it also underlining how important is to include civil society in efforts to address corruption and ensure peaceful, just and inclusive society.

Suggestions

Civil society that can be subverted, suborned, divided, manipulated to hurt the interests of a nation. So there is need to civilize civil society in the promotion of “good governance” civil society can play an important role in reforming the state in the badly governed countries and through interrogation and collaboration can help promote democracy, rule of law and social justice.

Source: Indian express times of India, weforum.org.

General Studies Paper 2
  • Civil Society