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Plan Panel working on a watchdog body for civil society groups
New Delhi | Friday, Mar 27 2009 IST
 
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The Planning Commission is working on an autonomous watchdog body for civil society groups to govern their growth, the role they play, transparency in funding these bodies and how they can become more effective instruments of development and serving the children of the lesser God. This has been done on a Cabinet directive and the Commission is looking at various successful regulatory bodies, such as the 'Charity Commission of the United Kingdom.' While being a regulator, the Plan Panel would want that they remain independent of the government and in this regard is holding regular meetings with various stake holders, including the representatives of the NGO sector. This emerged at an informal meeting with select journalists of some NGO's dedicated to improving transparency of civil society groups. These included 'CSO Partners' Soumitra Ghosh, Financial Management Service Foundation (FMSF) Executive Director Sanjay Patra, Murray Culshaw Consulting Group Head Murray Culshaw and Credibility Alliance Deputy Director Vijay Nadkarni.

They said for some reason or another, the image of the NGO community has not always been positive in public perception. They admitted that sometimes this is well founded, but more often than not they are painted with the same brush. But the one answer to this gnawing problem is better transparency in their operations, and a key instrument in this regard is the Annual Reports. They said foreseeing the growing need to tackle the harsh realities of the poor, the scum of society and the victims of history, a new awakening is dawning upon civil society groups that they need to reassert themselves to become prominent players in the development challenge which confronts the nation. There is considerable soul searching among them as to how to become more acceptable to the public at large. While the voluntary sector is not homogeneous, be it the size, resources, the purpose or the methods they deploy, there is a growing consensus among them that they need to take the public with them. They said considerable doubts remain in some quarters about their functioning and an easier presentation of the Annual Reports with better quality will travel a long distance to bringing in transparency.

There are 1.2 million NGOs in the country with nearly 50 per cent of them being registered as Societies, public charitable trusts and as companies. Almost 80 per cent of them are either societies or charitable trusts. The efforts at bringing out better Annual reports is to forge strong partnership between different stakeholders in development, public and private sector organisations and NGOs in addressing problems of the people, who are normally ignored in the macro-planning process. In this regard a function has been organised in the capital to give awards to The Outstanding Annual Reports. The awards are the first of its kind effort and are to be given by Central Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah.

This year, entries were received from as many as 207 organisations from across India. Competing organisations represent cross-section of the sector and include those engaged in addressing issues relating to problem and poor children, women, elderly, homeless, terminally ill, physically and mentally challenged and destitute. NGOs engaged in the field of environment, arts and animal care and upkeep also participated in the competition. In the large NGOs category, Udaipur-based 'Seva Mandir' won the CSOP award for best annual report. Runners up in this category were Mysore-based 'Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement '(SVYM), 'Dalit Foundation' based in New Delhi and 'Foundation for Ecological Security' (FES) in Vadod, Gujarat. In the medium category, ''The Akanksha Foundation' based in Mumbai bagged the CSOP award. 'Udayan Care' (New Delhi) and 'Shree Navchetan Andhjan Mandal (Madhapur,' Gujarat) were the runners up. Amongst the small NGOs, Pune-based' 'Borderless World Foundation' (BWF) has bagged the award. 'Dream A Dream' (Bangalore) and 'Gram Evam Nagar Vikas Parishad' based in Patna were adjudged the runners up in this category.

-- (UNI) -- 27DI44.xml

 

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