In order to awaken people from blind religion, bigotry, and conventional thinking as well as to end child marriage, encourage widow remarriage, and start social changes, the Arya Samaj founded Nepal’s first civil society organization in 1909.
Both society and the social welfare system of Nepal are well developed. Social structures that have existed for centuries, such the Guthi (trust), Parma (labor exchange system), Dhikur (saving/credit), etc., are still important today. In Nepal, the figure is thought to be 200,000. Their functions have not been thoroughly investigated since they are so little and scattered randomly.
Once they had a solid foundation for serving and assisting the underprivileged and vulnerable members of society, they were well-organized, self-sufficient, and regarded as agents of social change. Some remnants of these organizations still exist in our culture today, but they have been superseded by contemporary externally supported NGOs.
NGOs are becoming significant institutional players for organizing community resources, inspiring people, and putting social welfare projects into action. For overcoming the hegemony of power and wealth and enforcing a pluralist sense of justice, civil society organizations such as trade unions, human rights organizations, student unions, teachers’ associations, women’s groups, professional organizations, etc. must be autonomous.
In Nepal, the SSNCC Act, 1977 was replaced by the Social Welfare Council Act, 1992. This statute established the Social Welfare Council (SWC) as a governmental organization to handle NGO matters, including both conventional self-supported NGOs and those that receive foreign assistance.
In 1990, there were 220 NGOs in Nepal; now there are almost 40,000. Around 204 international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) are also active in Nepal. These INGOs’ contributions have grown in terms of both quantity and variety of operations. They operate in fields including sanitation, women’s empowerment, community development, child welfare, and assistance for the handicapped, among others.
A conversation on governance was sparked by the underwhelming status of emerging nations in the 1970s, which stated the shared responsibility of several parties including public sector organizations, corporate organizations, and civil society groups. The United Nations Charter’s Chapter 10, Article 71, which gives groups that are not a part of the governmental system a consultative role, popularized the phrase “Non-Governmental Organization.” The UN Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC) gave a wide definition of an international NGO as “any international organization that is not founded by an international treaty.”
National and international NGOs provided individuals with commendable humanitarian aid during the time of the devastating earthquake in 2015. The NGOs quickly entered and penetrated in such regions, with the majority of them working well, the rural villages and hilly region of Nepal, where the government alone cannot get to all remote and disadvantaged areas proportionately.
Around 20% of the help that Nepal gets each year is channeled via NGOs and INGOs, according to information from the finance ministry. They provide around 7 to 9 percent annually to the development industry.
Many INGOs in Nepal are operating effectively in accordance with the contract they have with the government. However, several have generated controversy as a result of their subpar and contentious performances.
According to some analysts, I-NGOs have damaged social, political, religious, and governance institutions by joining various official and informal groups, while on the other side, they are making the smallest contributions to genuine local economic development efforts. They have furthermore come under fire for their pre-made projects and programs, lack of transparency, and low levels of local stakeholder involvement in the development and execution of the plans.
Since NGOs are being created and used as extensions of donor nations’ standard foreign-policy tools, they have been charged of harming the public sector rather than advancing equality and eradicating poverty. They are also accused of building their own pricey buildings in districts rather than supporting the efforts of the neighborhood. Several times, the topic of ethical leadership and donor community openness was brought up. It has been discovered that INGOs and donor communities often give recommendations based on the requirements of their own nations and organizations rather than those of the Nepalese government and people.
The majority of INGOs are from western nations, where capacity building, advocacy, and awareness are at the core of their programs. In contrast, INGOs from Asia and the Pacific often choose to promote community and economic development initiatives. Nepal does not need INGO funding for programs on capacity building, awareness, or advocacy at the local level since it is now capable of doing so; rather, it requires sound infrastructure development.
Through a “National Integrity Policy,” the Ministry of Home Affairs formerly sought to regulate and oversee INGOs in Nepal. But it raised a lot of controversy among contributors, and the government ended it in response to harsh criticism from the INGOs.
Without a doubt, INGOs provide workers with appealing pay, bonuses, and advantages employment. Additionally, they help regional NGOs with money, supplies, and capacity-building efforts. Even certain government officials, social and political elites are urged to create NGOs in the names of their family members as well as in the names of well-wishers in order to gain significant funding from the INGOs.
I-NGOs, however, do not have a good reputation. Even Nepal’s neighbors, India and China, are concerned about certain INGOs’ activity there. India has traditionally been attentive to these organizations’ opinions on domestic issues, the rise in Nepal’s religious conversion, and China’s access to Tibetan refugees.
After the country’s federal and provincial elections in February 2018, Nepal issued a strong warning against proselytizing in response to the European Union Election Observers Team’s recommendation to remove privileged castes and groups from the list of beneficiaries in proportional representation to elective bodies and some other recommendations.
In addition, the Nepali government requested that the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) section of the UN, which is situated in Kathmandu, be shut down. Since January 2011, the UN political unit has been functioning as the surviving office of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), which left the nation.
The Nepalese parliament, which had previously accepted financial help from foreign donors in the pretext of empowering and enhancing the skills of legislators, has likewise declined to take budgetary support from donors in the face of mounting controversy and criticism. Furthermore, several donors and NGOs included the Bible and other relevant books with the relief supplies they sent to earthquake victims, which infuriated the Nepali government.
In response to criticism, some I-NGOs claim that the main cause of their criticism may be a lack of awareness of the excellent practices they provide. Their failure to widely spread the knowledge might be another factor.
I-NGOs should take the concerns voiced by the government and society seriously and conduct frequent evaluations of their own in order to be held responsible by society. Nothing will change until the problems of accountability and openness are dealt with severely.
The people who work for I-NGOs agree that certain organizations may have abnormalities, but it is not true that all of them are negative. Only a small number of individuals, according to certain INGOs, are aware of their valuable contributions and function. Most politicians, journalists, and government representatives have a bad perception of INGOs because they don’t know the whole story.