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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Intermediary Associations as a typology of civil society

Intermediary Associations as a typology of civil society:
This category of civil society organizations brings those organizations together which serve an intermediary function among individual citizens, and between them and macro state institutions like the bureaucracy, judiciary, legislature, police, etc. Such associations are typically formed by a group of citizens (generally middle class) to advance a larger societal cause or broader public good. The citizens forming such intermediary associations are not serving their own issues or needs but those of other or broader sections of society. Several types of intermediary organizations are active in India today.
a)    Service delivery
Basic human service delivery organizations of civil society have been focusing on education and health care. Many schools, clinics and hospitals operate in rural and urban areas of the country. VDOs have expanded the range of development issues in their purview over the past two decades. Drinking water, sanitation, micro-credit, etc are all covered by VDOs in India today. Many institutions of care (orphanage, homes for destitute homes for elderly, etc.) are also run by such intermediary associations.
b.    Mobilizational
Several VDOs also help organise and empower local communities and marginalized sections to understand and demand their own rights and to take ownership of their own development. Such an approach may also include service delivery. A variety of educational and organizational approaches have been used by VDOs in different parts of the country to enable the poor and the marginalized to act on their own.
c.    Support
Several intermediary civil society organizations have been set up to provide support to other community based organizations or other intermediary organizations in India today. Support functions include research and information sharing, capacity building and networking activities. Such support functions are focused on themes like income generation (Udyogini), environment. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), health, Centre for Health Education (HE), Training and Nutrition Awareness (CHETNA), wasteland development. Society for Promotion of Wasteland Development (SPWD), housing, Society For Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SP ARC) etc. Some support organizations are more generic in nature like the Organization for Development Education (Unnati), the Society for Participatory Research In Asia (PRIA), the National Centre for Advocacy Studies (NCAS), the Centre for Educational Development (ED), etc.
d.    Philanthropic
Some intermediary civil society organizations provide resources to other civil society organizations in the country. A wide range of such formations has been active in recent years. Child Relief and You (CRY), the National Foundation of India (NFI), the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation are some examples corporate houses have philanthropy programme like the Trust of Tata.  It is the New and innovative approaches for mobilizing resources like the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) are also emerging in the Indian context.

e.    Advocacy
Some intermediary civil society organizations have been set up with the explicit purpose of advocating for a particular cause. Environment, gender, human rights, child labour, Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) etc. are a number of issues on which intermediary advocacy civil society organisations have been active in India. PUCL (People's Union for Civil Liberty), CHRI (Commonwealth Human Rights Institute) etc. are examples of this type.
f.    Network
Some intermediary civil society organizations are associations of other intermediaries act as networks to extend their collective voice and strength. Some networks focus on themes e.g. Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), Associations of Voluntary Agencies in Rural Development (AVARD), etc. Some are generic and cover a specific geographical area such as the Uttar Pradesh Voluntary Action Network (UPVAN) or the country as a whole like Voluntary Action Network India (VANI). Such networks have began to extend their membership to cover a wide range of intermediaries.