This commentary is based on my field visits, and
interaction with over four hundred NGO's representatives,
staff and functionaries in Bihar. I also got an
opportunity to see some of their work in the field
and interact with their staff and communities.
There is lot to share and I know many of NGOs
and readers of this article may not agree with
my views and the way I see NGOs and its emergence
in Bihar and their work. The observations, comments
and examples mentioned in the paper are my own
views and perception, and not against any particular
organisation or individual.
are several issues and concerns which questions the
credibility of NGOs in Bihar. In last ten years and
particularly after nineties, the number of NGOs registered
in Bihar has outnumbered the other states. Although
we do not have exact numbers, according to estimates,
presently there are more than thirty thousands NGOs
in Bihar. According to official sources nearly 10,000
NGOs exist only on paper .
are several reasons for the increase in this number.
Registration of trusts and societies have become hotbeds
of corruption. It is interesting to note that many people
are registering or have registered NGOs as property
value which gives good return after three years or even
before that. One can buy an NGO in Bihar in ten to fifteen
thousand and if the NGO is more than three years old
with FCRA one has to pay even more (Fifteen to thirteen
thousand). NGOs complain that officials in Bihar charge
up to Rs 10,000 for registering a society or trust;
clearance under section 80G of the Income Tax Act can
cost Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000; acceptance of audited accounts
can cost even more .
are families, who have more than five NGOs within the
family and all the family members are part of it. So
with time, these NGOs have also emerged as family business.
In fact, some of the families with their sister organisations
have emerged as very influential in lobbying with donors
and bilateral agencies. However, in most of the NGOs
in Bihar, it is difficult to find second line of leadership
and even if it exists, it is confined within the close
the family, caste has also played a very important role
in the emergence of NGOs in Bihar. Although there is
no data available, it is believed that before nineties
most of these NGOs were headed by upper caste and especially
the Bhumihars, Rajputs and Brahmins or caste elites.
After the nineties, there was change and it also spread
to other caste groups. Primarily there are two reasons
for this spread. First, by that time lot of funding
agencies were approaching the state and secondly because
of change in government which was pro-poor in principle.
The other caste groups also became aware of the NGOs
(easy money making business with no accountability towards
people) with political, bureaucratic connections and
the beginning, many NGOs were established in Bihar in
late seventies and early eighties by sarvodayis or socialists
or youth who had been a part of the J. P. movement.
It may be noted that it is not uncommon for activists
from emergency days (part of J P movement) to be part
of NGOs in bihar. A large section of youth was mobilized
during this movement, lot of them had left their studies
and jobs, later, a number of these activists, became
part of NGOs . Most of these people were political activists
and believed in socialist ideology guided by Jay Prakash
Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia. They believed in social
change and some of them really did good work and were
able to mobilise people for volunteerism and community
development. Initially there were no outside funding
support and resources were mobilised locally from the
community and there was full community support and participation.
It was during this period that many of Ashrams were
established for social development.
the same time, many of caste elites also opened voluntary
organisations and NGOs in their villages but they were
not able to succeed because of the ownership and hierarchy.
Later they moved to cities like Patna, Ranchi and other
urban centres because it was easy to lobby with government
departments and donors. In fact many bureaucrats and
politicians also associated themselves with these NGOs.
This nexus has in fact further facilitated the spread
of corruption. The functioning of a large number of
fake non-government organisations (NGOs) in different
parts of the state has proved beyond doubt that it has
a well-knit group of highly-placed officials for running
it smoothly. Investigations have revealed that close
relatives of a large number of politicians, bureaucrats
and academics are engaged in running such NGOs, each
one of them claiming to change the face of the society
. In many of these NGOS, most of the chief functionaries
are family members, no matter whether they have an understanding
of NGO or development or not. There are couples, who
have separate NGOs, where husband has a mother NGO for
RCH programme and field activities are run by the wife's
organisation. In principle there is nothing wrong in
it but the dynamics and inter-relationship is important
because the work done by both the organisations is in
question and they are ultimately accountable to the
people for whom they are working.
During the last fifteen years, NGOs in Bihar have increased
in number, size, and scope and have established themselves
to be perceived in pivotal positions capable of bringing
about social, economic, and political change. In this
context, it is imperative to understand the dynamics,
work and political economy of NGOs and to evaluate their
social roles. A study led by Elmer H Lighid, of the
International Council on Management of Population Programmes
(ICOMP), Malaysia reports that though the number of
voluntary organisations working in a district varies,
out of every 1,000 such organisations, there are only
20 "real" ones. It stresses that the voluntary
organisations in Bihar are fragmented and work in isolation
due to caste, religious and ideological factors. It
maintains that the voluntary organisations lack the
requisite technical skills, qualified staff and exposure
question is "what is credibility" and what
constitutes credibility for an NGO. One can define credibility
as quality of being trustworthy which means, whether
or not the NGO (the aims and vision with which it is
established) is to be believed or trusted. We know that
many a times, NGOs are not considered credible because
they have a personal, monetary, political or other interest
which is often in contradiction with the interest of
the community or people whom they claim to serve..
Credibility is one of the most critical factors, which
has affected the peoples perception of NGOs in Bihar.
Now people and communities have started demanding money
for participation in NGOs programme as they believe
that NGOs are getting money in their name. The question
here is, 'how can an NGO build its credibility?' Before
answering this question, however it is important to
focus on why NGOs have lost their credibility.
NGOs have lost their credibility in people because they
are not consistent, transparent, honest and accountable
to their work being done. Despite the recent cancellation
of the registration of hundreds of "fake"
non-government organisations (NGOs) in Bihar, a large
number of people, including those belonging to Naxalite
outfits, have made a beeline for getting their new organisations
registered. Interestingly, people belonging to various
Naxalite outfits and women activists top the list of
those who have set up their NGOs in different parts
of the state . Transparency and sharing information
and knowledge is a best way to build credibility which
helps in building the intellectual base of the NGO,
and its ability to articulate the views of the people
it is speaking for. There is no fix set of guidelines
for NGOs, which we have for other sectors like government,
corporate and other institutions. Although several activists,
networks and Alliances (Like credibility alliance) are
raising theses issues and have developed norms and good
practices for governance and public disclosure, we have
not achieved and provided rights to people working in
development sectors (Its not true for all organizations
but applies to many voluntary organizations and NGOs).
is need to debate, raise and discuss the issues which
hampers NGOs credibility directly besides other factors.
*Dr. Anant Kumar is faculty in
Department of Rural Development at Xavier Institute
of Social Service (XISS), Ranchi, Jharkhand.
Really nice article. You have stated the truth very clearly. It's not mere an issue of Bihar, it's common to the whole nation. I have work exposures with many NGO's, both in South India and North India. From my experience I felt 90% of total NGOs are working with profit motive. Most of them are misusing their funds and currepted than our politicians. It's truth. Nobody can hide this by stating fake ethics and philosophies. Today none of the NGO can mobilize government funds without political influence.
Likewise it's similar to chanalizing public tenders of works, NGOs are paying certain portion of the fund from top level to lower level of the concerned department to saction the projects. After that a large portion to be distribute among it's board of directiors or executive committee. Finaly meager portion of the funds are reaching to the beneficieries.
So a drastic change is essential in social sector. An effective law is to be emerged to control the robbery in sake of socail development.
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
dear mr anant kumar
what you have observed about an n.g.o in bihar that is your perception that may be right but you have mentioned the reason behind the honesty of a n.g.o is cast factor.i am not agree with your opinion.dishonesty can be anywhere and its no matter which cast it is….
Prabhat kumat pushp
Dear Mr. Anant Kumar,
With due respect to your research work on NGOs working in Bihar I, to a great extent, agree with Mr A B Sharma of India hope (Pune). Your findings may be right but your article is too negative. In past 2 years I met head of few NGO working in Bihar to understand their vision and mission and to know how they mobilize fund and work in the field. I was surprised to know that they did not have a clear vision and probably the mission was fractured.
In my opinion, an scholar citizen like you should find out a way to enlighten them with clarity and try to educate them to know the value of quality in real sense and the power of commitment.
Dear Mr. Ananat Kumar,
Too negative article based on the limited exposure to NGO sector. Why don't you send some one in South India and find out that Bihar NGO's are working much better than elsewhere despite the odds. The biggest enemy of Bihar, the people of Bihar origin settled out side largely belong to middle and upper middle class. Why don't you send some researcher to DELHI and PUNE and find out that are studying here from Bihar, From where this lakhs of Rs. coming to give donation and a filthy rich life style.
Kindly be reasonable to Bihar NGO all of them are not bad. as you portrayed.
A B Sharma
us initiate a step for Bihar NGOs. Lets appeal to the
PM OFFICE RTI CELL. ALL TRUSTS, SOCIETIES AND COOPERATIVES
BE MANDATORYLY COVERED UNDER RTI ACT IMMEDIATELY IN
namaskar. This is very good article and reality of ngo
RTI must be mandatory for ngo also. you can see our
2004 bihar flood appeal as below:
from Bihar Jan Pahal and Lok Shakti Sangathan (A mass
movement organization) appeal to all International Donor
agencies/ Ngos who is working in Bihar for flood relief
and Rehabilation to be more transparent. Transparency
is not to say only but it must be appear on working
place. For transparency and to avoid duplicacy, Donor
Agencies or Ngo should fix a sine board on relief and
rehabilation working place in Hindi or Regional language.This
is first step of Right to Information and transparency.
As for our information near about 20 International Doner
Agencies working in Bihar Flood Relief and Rehabilation.
TDH raised 76 lakhs to work through six ngo partner
but only one ngo partner Kisan Vikas Trust displayed
the board on working place in Khagaria district. Similarly
Swiss Red Cross raised one crore and thirty lakhs to
work through three partner, but only one partner Samajik
Shaikshanik Vikas Kendre (ssvk) in Jhanjharpur sub division
(Madhubani District) with full detailed displayed a
board of 8/4 Feet on the road side of working place
and organization,s campus also.ssvk printed materials
name and quantity on beneficiary coupons. Ssvk received
a tune of Rupees 51,19,225.00. from swiss red cross.
Ssvk constituted a 65 members monitoring committee from
its target groups. Relief has been operated through
its target community members and local workers. ssvk
sent the copy of approved budget for flood relief to
all concern govt. officials. On the occasion of relief
distribution 21st of September 2004 in ssvk Jhanjharpur
campus, Darbhanga commissioner Mr. K.P.Ramayya instructed
his govt. official as well as panchayats to fix the
board on working place like SSVK. Actionaid raised one
crore rupees and working through one partner in champaran
and in Darbhanga Actionaid is working Directly through
NAPM Convenor and its staff. But there is not any fix
board or any sign of transparency on working place.
Oxfam GB also could not fix the board in madhubani district.
Flood effected people do not know how much resources
coming for him. For example one ngo of Bhusara (Gaighat)
Muzaffarpur is claiming flood relief with four donor
agencies like swiss red cross 38 Lakhs, care, plan international
and the hunger project in Gaighat block and another
ngo is also claiming of flood relief in Gaighat block
with the help of Oxfam Hongkong. Peoples of Gaighat
do not know how much resources coming for him .Without
putting village list, material list and Donors name
in the Fix Board, how can any ngo claim that there is
no duplicacy there and they are transparent. How they
can question to the representative of panchayats and
the government officials morally. We expect to positive
step as early as possible that Doner Agencis and its
partners ngo will come foreward in the larger interest
of flood effected people,s of north bihar. Lok Shakti
Sangathan Bihar has written a letter to the chief secretary
of bihar ( Chief Secretary is coordinating relief operation
in bihar) and requested him to instruct the govt. officials,
Ngos/ Donor agencies as well as panchayats representative
to fix the board with full detail in working place to
maintain transparency and right to information in the
larger interest of people.
Shakti Sangathan Bihar is planning to launch the right
to information campaign in the state regarding relief
and other developmental programme.
of International Donor Agencies working in North Bihar
Flood Relief and Rehabilation:
Oxfam G B
Indian Red Cross Society
World Vision India
Swiss Red Cross
The Discipleship Centre
tere desh homes (TDH)
Medicines Senf (MSS)