Arguably, this is the hottest political summer for Delhi. Reason: friction between anti-corruption activists and the Union government over the anti-graft Lokpal Bill. It has been more than three months, but there is no sign of ebb in the confrontation. Rather, it has metamorphosed into an all-out war between the government and non- government groups. The polarisation is getting sharper. Most political parties have joined hands with the ruling alliance to oppose the “legitimacy” of non- government groups in taking part in legislative affairs. The confrontation has left many questions in its trail.
Does this reset the relationship between government and non-government organisations? Is it a battle for space between government and non-government? Why is the government adopting such an aggressive approach towards the other side? Or, have the non-government organisations strayed into the political arena?
There are no yeses or noes. The crisis is an outcome of a post-liberalisation churning taking place. In the past 20 years, the state has undergone changes and comfortably settled its relationship with the market. Government is shrinking its role in development works leaving space for non-government players. The private, for-profit companies are entering the health and education sectors through private-public partnerships. Non-government not-for-profit organisations are also rediscovering their roles.
Subjects that NGOs dealt with as “social contractors” have now gone to the Panchayati raj institutions. That is why NGOs have started reinventing themselves into groups advocating for rights and empowering legislation. But elected representatives see this as a threat to their mandate.
Richard Mahapatra, Arnab Dutta and Ruhi Kandhari analyse this transformation as India marks 20 years of liberalisation