Civil Society : An overview

This article explores the ideology of the Civil Society by tracing the trajectories of the Indian civil society in the pre-independence and post-independence era followed by its relevance in the post globalized, Neo-liberal regime and duly acknowledges the future potential of the Indian Civil Society



Civil Society : An overview
Civil Society : An overview


Civil society is an amalgamation of social life consisting of voluntary associations, charitable groups, clubs, market exchanges, publishing houses, etc. which are distinct from the state and its institutions. The philosophy of ‘Learn, Earn, and Return’ forms the basis of civil society everywhere. 

This society is a plethora of dynamic and plural non-governmental institutions that are self-reflexive, self-organizing, and non-violent and proudly practice and propagate the act of philanthropy across cultures and generations throughout history.


During the pre-independence era i.e. the colonial times, the civil society organizations emerged due to resistance to British rulers and as the existence of conditions that are incompatible with modern education and liberal ideologies. 


It was during this time that the civil society acquired political content and the colonial state began to be viewed as an obstacle in the process of achieving swaraj and the ultimate social transformation. The organizations were mostly led by the modernists and the extremist leaders of the freedom struggle and the members of the Indian National Congress. So, before independence, the INC and its institutions had created hegemony in the arena of civil society.



Civil society organizations took a backseat during the post-independence phase due to the legitimacy of the political leadership. The leaders of many civil rights movements by default became the architects of modern Indian institutions and everyone got involved in the construction of the united Indian nation-state.


However, the Indian Civil society in Post-Globalized, Neo-Liberal Regime began as micro-movements in the 1970s and started depoliticizing development and reinvented participatory democracy in the post-globalized era. 

These micro-movements wanted the marginalized people at the grassroots level to get their rightful place as citizens of the polity and as producers in the economy. They wanted to keep the debate on development alive by countering the national and global structures of power. 


Civil society in India is a strong social entity and needs to be upgraded with the dynamics of the contemporary global scenario by providing legal and ethical access to social goods and services with regards to its advocacy and mobilizing role in the public domain. 

The civil society has to continue to defend the constitutional rights of its citizens and stakeholders. 

Government accountability needs to be undertaken by Indian civil society organizations. 

These organizations have to champion and advocate the cause of the marginalized section of the society. 


Along with that, engaging ethically with different stakeholders in the country for example media, middle class, corporate, and other global organizations.

With this means the civil society will be able to establish a link with like-minded organizations to fulfill its given role in the country under a given jurisprudence


In a nutshell, India being a democratic country should allow its citizens to participate in the political processes and exhibit their political competence. 

The denial of this participation in the political discourse and decision-making would mean a violation of their basic rights.

 Civil society organizations should not be allowed to be tamed and limited by what is feasible and permissible politically. 





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