ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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NGOs, the State and World Capitalism

Rajni Kothari is a political scientist and is the founder of Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in Delhi. 

This article, published in the 13 December 1986 issue of EPW, critiques a bill that would have set up a national council of voluntary agencies to regulate and establish a code of conduct for NGOs. Given that the role of NGOs remains debated even now, this article sheds light on how NGOs could be depolicised and distanced from those engaged in struggles against the government and their vested interests. 

Abstract of the article: What is new in the current renewed emphasis on the role of the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the development process is the emerging view in global corporate sectors, shared in large measure by Rajiv Gandhi's government, according to which a freshly conceived private sector, including the NGOs, provide the new frontier of a dynamic technological integration of the world economy. This is to be achieved through a wide diffusion of liberalised, privatised efforts that is then drawn towards a single market for which the vast hinterlands are opened up, new (including intermediate) technologies are introduced in them and a high rate of economic surplus is generated for the metropolitan regions and the export market, all this done efficiently, cost-effectively through cheap labour and raw materials, and in the framework of a competitive ethos which the principle of the market provides and which the state cannot. 

It is this that is new—the rapacious drive of a transnationalised, technology-driven, capitalism which has also 
discovered that the earlier avenues of investment in urban industries like textiles, machine goods, steel, etc, are 
gradually drying up or getting too competitive and there is need to look for new frontiers that lie deep in the 
countryside. The earlier 'commanding heights' are giving place to new ones. For the former the state and its agencies 
were alright, in fact in some ways better than the private sector as the required investment in massive infrastructures 
could only be provided by the state. But for the latter the agencies of the state will not do. Hence, yet another 
shift in capitalist thinking on the rule of the state. 
 

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