By Tadrash Shah:
The government is to be ideally held responsible for the legal and constitutional matters. Now whether the Indian government can be held responsible for the same is a question. Who, then, should take care of the concerns that arise out of compassion and social responsibilities? Compassion triggers actions which, usually, are beyond constitutional matters but the good news is that the constitution does pay due respect to them and aids them within its own vista.
Our country is flooded with a number of NGOs and identifying the credible ones is really a tough task. There are reports of NGOs that are just set up to take over the government’s treasury in the veil of social service. I have tried to curate a list of the NGOs which are time, ethics and effort tested, by and large.
This list is not a ranking, the NGOs have been listed in no particular order.
1) PRS Legislative Research: PRS aims to deepen and broaden the legislative process by providing MPs with the necessary data and analysis for debates in parliament and for deliberations in committee meetings. This is done by synthesising feedback from a range of stakeholders to provide MPs with comprehensive information on an issue. The aim is to complement the knowledge base and expertise that already exists in the government, citizen’s groups, businesses, and other research institutions.
2) Save Life Foundation: Focused on enabling bystander care or community-driven emergency medical response for road accident victims, they have been training more than 3000 police personnel in the states of Delhi, UP and Maharashtra for the casualty and trauma care for road accidents. They have also been working on a supportive legal framework for bystanders to help the victims of road accidents. Usually people do not indulge in these cases fearing the formalities and police issues. Hence such an organization is much needed to nurture the kindness which is killed by our legal and formal procedures.
3) CGNet Swara: A voice portal that enables ordinary citizens to report and discuss issues of local interest. To use it, they call a phone number using any mobile (or fixed line) phone. Callers are prompted to press ‘1’ to record a new message, and ‘2’ to listen to messages that have already been recorded. Once a message has been recorded from the field, professional, trained journalists, who access the system using a web-based interface, review and verify the report. Approved reports are then made available for playback over the phone. The reports also can be accessed on the CGNet Swara website. This kindles the local intervention in dissemination of information of local interest and prompts them to use the technology which they, otherwise, would be reluctant to use.
4) Video Volunteers: An international community media organization equips women and men in underdeveloped areas with critical thinking, creative, activist and video journalism skills, enabling entire communities to expose underreported stories from their communities and take action to right the wrongs of poverty, injustice and inequality. Thus, it encourages community producers to have a voice and be recognized. And it would be redundant to mention that videos are the best source of being virally known over the media.
5) Chetna: Childhood Enhancement through Training and Action. CHETNA is an NGO working towards the empowerment of street and working children in a participatory approach. They are given a chance to develop some understanding of their situation, their rights and opportunities. CHETNA provides education, counselling, recreational activities, and a framework to get organized.
6) Breakthrough: This is an initiative that has primary focus on human rights activities. They devise innovative strategies, customized for each issue this country witnesses, to engage youth participation rather than just documentation and conventional rallies. They engage in partnerships, develop grassroots actions, audit the impact and share lessons with all the stakeholders to direct further actions, train leaders and use media, art, culture and technology to reach mass audiences. The innovative strategies they have come up with seems promising.
7) Jagori: Jagori undertakes training, documentation, grassroots action research, advocacy and campaigning in partnership with stakeholders including individual women and their partners, community members, civil society representatives, and other state/ institutional actors. It works on awareness building on violence, health, education, development, and other issues critical for womenÂ´s individual and collective empowerment. It also works on production and distribution of creative material on feminist issues, dissemination of information and knowledge on feminist concerns to meet the needs of womenÂ´s groups, NGOs, and development organizations and advocacy on womenÂ´s rights and gender equality.
8) Arth India: Academy for Applied Research and Training in Healthcare in India is a non-government initiative striving for the attainment of better health of the community supplementing, and not substituting, the existing and future government systems and networks in healthcare in India. It believes that the non-availability, sub-optimal quality and relative lack of credibility of healthcare personnel, of the health-related data and information are the two major impediments against optimum healthcare delivery in the country. It works to bridge these gaps.
9) SAMA: Sama addresses the need to develop the broader understanding of women’s health through physical, social and political environments and to initiate interventions that enable and empower them to control these factors. They conduct awareness drives, working with adolescent girls to enhance their self-confidence, sensitize women to address their unequal and exploitative arrangements and relationships, research and document issues critical to women’s health and build a consensus to get to the police.
10) Centre for Health and Social Justice: CHSJ works in four thematic areas to strengthen the claim of citizens pertaining to many health related rights viz – Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights, Social Exclusion and Health Rights, Community Action for Health Rights and Gender Equality. Through all these, CHSJ largely focuses on evidence-based capacity building.
11) TARSHI: TARSHI (Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues) works towards expanding sexual and reproductive choices in people’s lives in an effort to enable them to enjoy lives of dignity, freedom from fear, infection and reproductive and sexual health problems. It runs an infoline, conducts trainings, develops publications, participates in public awareness and education initiatives, and provides technical support for advocacy initiatives.
12) North East Network: The organization has been raising women’s rights issues, particularly within the developmental and political context of the North East region of India. NEN responds to specific needs of women in north east India such as gender budgetary allocations, strengthening support services for women affected by violence, and security of women in conflict areas through fact finding processes and advocacy with the government through workshops, training and publications.
13) MARG: Multiple Actions Research Group. MARG works for the legal empowerment of the vulnerable and the marginalized, women, children, persons with disabilities, dalits, the poor, etc. MARG works towards its mottos through legal awareness drives, necessary legal assistance and advocacy, capacity building and policy development.
14) Centre for Social Research: It has been around for more than three decades and CSR works towards empowerment of women and girls in India, guarantee their fundamental rights, and increase understanding of social issues from a gender perspective. They operate on local, national and regional levels in an effort to enhance the capacities of individuals, communities and institutions for creating a humane, equitable and gender-just society.
15) CREA: CREA works towards a theory of change through building the self-confidence, leadership, and knowledge of women and girls about their sexuality and human rights, and creating feminist platforms to challenge oppressive norms and power structures. It also provides technical assistance to the fellow NGOs, donor agencies and other institutions through strategic planning, legal and other trainings, design, planning and implementation.
16) Pravah: Pravah is one such organization that works closely with the youth through the youth. It aims at moulding change-makers and leaders out of young people. It promotes youth citizenship action and issues of social justice. They have recently expanded to the dimensions of training teachers, incubating new initiatives and facilitative work with other organizations working on youth development.
17) Digital Empowerment Foundation: DEF works towards empowering people with the power of ICT. It works on various agendas like citizen journalism, digital panchayat, eNGO, gyanpedia- a digital repository with content created by children and teachers of rural schools, community radio, internet rights and many more. For DEF the means does not matter unless it is something from the ICT domain, what matters is the result and mass upliftment. They work towards development in the current scenario and it welfares the beneficiaries long with the viral spread of ICT.
18) Aarzoo: Arzoo is an education and activity centre created with an aim to provide a secure knowledge and livelihood base to the underprivileged children though moral, social and material support. It undertakes activities like education at nominal fees for 10 INR, supports their livelihood by selling handicrafts made by these kids, plays, shows, medical camps, etc. Personally, this is one of those NGOs that does wonderful work in educating underprivileged children and saving them from child labour and also giving them a livelihood to incentivize their parents.
19) Honey Bee Network : HoneyBee Network, established by IIM-A professor Anil Gupta, has a wonderful logo that communicates its motto — A nameless, faceless person comes in the contact of Honey Bee network and gets a face. It works towards identifying the grassroots innovators from across the villages of the country by organizing learning walks — Shodhyatras and then try to document, research and fabricate a commercially viable solution. It has established a sister organization called SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technology and Institutions) which works in four domains of innovation: Educational, Cultural, Technological and Institutional innovations.
20) Smile Foundation: Since 2002, Smile Foundation has been working on ensuring education for children, livelihood for the youth, healthcare in rural villages and urban slums, women empowerment and sensitization of the privileged masses.
It is an NGO which applies successful business strategies to social ventures. Its popularity is unparalleled.