We are living in a time, when the moment we hear the term ‘NGO’ (Non Government Organization), it alerts us. Recently, the Delhi high court has advocated for toughening of licensing norms for NGOs truly observing:
“most private run so called philanthropic organizations do not understand their social responsibilities. 99% of the existing NGOs are “fraud” and simply “moneymaking devices.” Only one out of every hundred NGOs serve the purpose they are set up for,” a bench headed by Justice Pradeep Nandrajog said.
True that. You name any top NGO working in India for long, on objective examination, you find that they are running some hidden agenda. There are thousands of such top frauds working around us. Given the surprising number of NGO-related scams which are unearthed on an everyday basis, it is quite justifiable for the public to be cynical.
But it would be really unfortunate if we fail to acknowledge the hard work put in by some of the agencies at the grass-root level to fill the gaps which the Government couldn’t. There are many NGOs in India who have been accorded a status much lower than they actually deserve. Some are doing a great service to this nation, a few of them stand out. To name a phew:
- Helpage India: It has been working nationwide for the cause and care of the elderly for quite some time and has played a pioneering role in influencing policy change favoring the grey population. With India’s poor track record of treating old people, HI has done a commendable job in providing the emotional and material support to the elderly when they need it the most.
- Udaan: It’s a new organization working to empower the lives of destitute children, women and senior citizens. What started off as an informal educational setup is now a full-fledged school running in accordance with SSC curriculum.
- Pratham: Founded in 1994 with the aim of providing education to the children of the slums of Mumbai, Pratham has grown considerably in geographic coverage and size to become the largest NGO to be providing education to the underprivileged.
- Goonj: Founded with the vision of making clothing a matter of concern. They have made optimum use of waste materials and turned them into resource. It has also been listed by Forbes as India’s most powerful rural entrepreneur organization.
- Smile foundation: It was formed in 2002 to promote the cause of education amongst underprivileged children and has popularized the Social return on Investment (SROI) model by enabling civic driven change.
There are many more like Give India, Nanhi Kali, MAD (Make a difference), Akshay Patra, Barefoot College, etc. These NGOs have been scrutinized for their transparency and credibility. They were successful because they were ‘focused and result oriented’, ‘accountable and transparent’, had vision for ‘scale-ability & sustainability’ and the idea to collaborate.
But above all, they all started at some point with a ‘good intent’. That will remain the most important factor. The right intent helps get the focus and inculcate all the right traits into the organization.
One such organization that came to my notice recently, which is in the start-up stage is “Humanitarian Aid International” (HAI), an India based organisation that intends to work in least developed and middle-income countries, in addition to India. HAI‘s prime focus right now is to be a response mechanism to medium and mega disasters in India.
Presently they are focusing their attention to disaster risk reduction, climate change and adaptation and building resilience with a vision to collaborate with other global organisations to ensure that the Indian civil society is looked upon in making a significant contribution to measures that reduce poverty, hunger and violence in least developed and middle-income countries.
As of now, most of the donor organisations come from Europe and North America. However, as the funding has started shrinking in that part of the world, they have started registering themselves in developing countries to start raising funds locally, yet the parent organization and the source countries get all the credentials.
This seems to be a huge step in creation of a global Indian brand. To achieve this, HAI presently working on roster recruitment that will consist of highly experienced professionals and humanitarian, ready for deployment at any time to support NGOs, and governments during the times of their disaster response programs.
During such times, HAI‘s focus area in managing/supporting the Govt. and other NGOs would cover addressing the immediate unmet relief needs, early recovery and ensuring rehabilitation which ensures mitigation of vulnerability from future disasters. Given increasing trafficking and distress migration, protection will remain a crosscutting issue across all HAI programs.
HAI recently has launched its appeal to respond to floods in Assam and Bihar. The implementation will be carried out through their partener organisations, namely AGUP and NEADS in Assam and RAHAT in Bihar. The appeal focuses on providing immediate relief through food and non-food items support and supporting early recovery through cash-for-work, revival of agriculture and other livelihood activities, WASH, shelter repairing and protection of vulnerable women and children.
For a quick look at their website, click here: And their twitter handle is @humanaidint
The founders’ background is not of a typical international non-governmental organizations’ senior staff. They hail from Indian middle-class families who found themselves moved by problems they saw at home and around.
For an organization to gain international repute, having a motivated professional workforce is both a matter of fairness and equity and key commitments for agencies fighting poverty, disaster, disease, and injustice. However, hiring talent with deep knowledge of local problems and challenges is also crucial to build effectiveness, impact, and sustainability into the effective job delivery.
Again the obstacles to finding the donors for an organization that has yet to prove any achievement will remain the most critical one. It will be played down at each stage. But then depends on how swiftly the founders are able to shake the entrenched assumptions, how determined they are for the cause, how ready they are to take the rejections in their stride. The fact remains that the organizations are stepping up, from startups bringing entrepreneurial fervor to development work, to larger, more traditional international agencies.
I hope, and wish that HAI too surpasses all the hurdles and achieves it’s goal of becoming one of the top Indian International name in serving people smartly, effectively and on a large scale across borders.