Sample Material of Our IAS Mains GS Online Coaching Programme
Subject: General Studies (Paper 4 - Ethics, Integrity, and
Topic: Probity In Governance (Part-3)
PROBITY IN GOVERNANCE (Part-3)
ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY
The term ‘civil society’ has come to enjoy much political,
administrative, and intellectual currency in recent years. However, it has a
fairly long history. Traditionally, the two terms ‘State’ and ‘civil society’
were used inter-changeably and treated synonymously. This trend continued till
the eighteenth century.
G. W.F. Hegel was the first political philosopher who
separated and differentiated civil society from State. He was followed by Karl
Marx and Fredrick Engels in the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century,
Antonio Gramsci analysed the concept of civil society.
Features of the civil society are:
1. It refers to non-state institutions.
2. It covers a large space in society.
3. It refers to the organised society.
4. It covers groups which are intermediate between the state (political society)
and the family (natural society).
5. It, though automonous, is subject to the authority of state.
6. It implies the existence of freedom of association, freedom of thought and
other civil and economic rights.
7. It is in pursuit of common public good.
8. It opposses authoritarianism and totalitarianism.
9. It promotes citizenship by educating the individual.
10. It facilitates citizens’ participation in the politico-administrative
11. It formulates public opinion and sets the demands which are general in
12. Its important attribute is voluntarism, not coercion.
13. It advocates pluralism to reduce the domination of the state.
14. It serves as a moral referent in the community value system.
The organisations and groups included under the umbrella
concept of Civil Society are:
1. Non-governmental organisations
2. Community-based organisations
3. Indigeneous people’s organisations .
4. Trade unions
5. Farmer’s organisations
7. Religious associations
8. Youth groups
9. Women’s groups and
10. Other similarly organised groups.
In USA, the civil society is highly developed, while in india,
it is fast growing since the 1970s. In the words of Niraja Gopal Jayal, “with
regard to India, it has been argued that civil society, in the sense of
opposition to the State, is developed, while civil society, in the sense of
associational groups, is not”.
Rajesh Tandon has classified Civil Society associations in
India into five categories:
1. Traditional associations based on caste, tribe or ethnicity
2. Religious associations like Ramakrishna Mission, Islamic Institutions, etc
3. Social movements of several types, viz.,
(a) movements focusing on the needs of a particular group like women or tribals
(b) movements to reform social evils like dowry or liquor
(c) movements to protest against displacements due to developments and
(d) movements focussing on gover-nance like civil liberties campaigns or