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Confronting or Complementing? A Case Study on NGO–State Relations from Kerala, India

  • Bejoy K. ThomasEmail author
  • Roldan Muradian
  • Gerard de Groot
  • Arie de Ruijter
Original Paper

Abstract

NGOs have, of late, found some of their traditional domains, such as provision of micro-credit and participatory development, coinciding with or being taken away by the state. How do they position themselves and retain relevance vis-a-vis the state in the changed scenario? Tracing the trajectory of interventions of a local NGO in Kerala, India, this article shows that NGOs exhibit ‘multiple identities’—selective collaboration, gap-filling and posing alternatives—in the process of engagement with the state. The ‘strategizing’ of such identities may hold the key to their relevance vis-a-vis the state.

Keywords

Self-help groups Multiple identities Strategizing Development 

Résumé

Depuis un certain temps, les ONG constatent que certains de leurs domaines d’activité traditionnels, tels que la fourniture de microcrédit et le développement participatif, se recoupent avec les actions des États ou sont remplacés par ces dernières. Dans ce contexte modifié, comment manœuvrent-elles pour conserver leur utilité face aux États? Cette étude, en retraçant la trajectoire des interventions d’une ONG locale au Kerala (Inde), montre que les ONG affichent «plusieurs identités» – collaboration sélective, comblement des lacunes, création d’alternatives – en même temps que le dialogue entretenu avec les États. La «fabrique de la stratégie» de ces identités peut détenir la clé pour que les ONG gardent la pertinence face aux États.

Zusammenfassung

Nicht-staatliche Organisationen haben in letzter Zeit einige ihrer traditionellen Bereiche entdeckt, wie beispielsweise die Bereitstellung von Mikrokrediten und die partizipatorische Entwicklung, welche entweder im Einklang mit dem Staat stehen oder von diesem übernommen werden. Wie finden die Organisationen in dem neuen Szenario ihren Platz, und wie können sie ihre Bedeutung gegenüber dem Staat wahren? Es werden die diversen Eingriffe einer lokalen nicht-staatlichen Organisation in Kerala, Indien verfolgt, und die Abhandlung zeigt, dass nicht-staatliche Organisationen im Dialogprozess mit dem Staat „multiple Identitäten” annehmen – z. B. die gezielte Zusammenarbeit, das Lückenfüllen und das Angebot von Alternativen. Der „strategische” Einsatz dieser Identitäten kann der Schlüssel zur Bedeutung der nicht-staatlichen Organisationen gegenüber dem Staat sein.

Resumen

Últimamente, las ONG han visto cómo algunos de sus dominios tradicionales, como la provisión de micro-crédito y el desarrollo participativo, se han solapado con los del estado o han sido absorbidos por éste. ¿Cómo se han posicionado estas ONG y qué han hecho para conservar relevancia frente al estado en este nuevo panorama? Este artículo, que hace un seguimiento de la trayectoria de las intervenciones de una ONG local en Kerala (India), demuestra que las ONG muestran «varias identidades» (colaboración selectiva, relleno de huecos y planteamiento de alternativas) en el proceso de compromiso con el estado. La posición estratégica de estas identidades puede ser la clave de la relevancia frente al estado.

摘要

NGO (非政府组织) 发现他们的某些传统领域(例如提供小额信贷和参与发展)与政府的同时发生或是被政府所取代。在改变的情况下,他们该如何面对政府以决定自己的位置并与之保持相关性?本文追踪位于印度喀拉拉邦一个本地非政府组织受到干预的轨迹,证明在与政府交战过程中非政府组织展示了”多重身份” — 选择性合作、填补空缺和构成替代方式。为这些身份的”制定战略”可能是他们与政府之间保持相关性的关键。

要約

最近、NGOは、マイクロクレジットと、状況に合ったもしくは状況から切り離された参加型開発の提供における伝統的なドメインを発見している。彼らは、どのように自分たちを位置づけ、変えられたシナリオの中で適切な状況を維持するのだろうか? 本論文では、NGO がインド・ケララ州のNGOの介入における軌道をたどることによって、関与する過程において、選択的なコラボレーション、ギャップ埋め、代替手段を提示する「複数のアイデンティティ」を提示する。このようなアイデンティティの「戦略」は、適切な状況を維持することが可能だといえる。

ملخص

المنظمات الغير حكومية ((NGOs ، في الآونة الأخيرة ، وجدت أن بعض مجالاتهم التقليدية ، مثل توفير الإئتمان المتناهي في الصغر و التنمية القائمة على المشاركة، تزامنت مع أو ما يجري نقلهم من قبل الدولة. كيف إنهم وضعوا أنفسهم و إحتفظوا بموقفهم في مواجهة الدولة في تغيير السيناريو؟ بتتبع مسار تدخلات المنظمات الغير حكومية ((NGOs في ولاية كيرالا ، الهند ، يوضح هذا المقال أن المنظمات الغير حكومية ((NGOs قدمت “هويات متعددة” – التعاون الإنتقائي ، سد الثغرات و طرح البدائل – في عملية المشاركة مع الدولة. “التخطيط الاستراتيجي” لهذه الهويات قد يحمل مفتاح أهميتها تجاه الدولة.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the people in the study area as well as the personnel of KNGO for extending friendship and sharing time during fieldwork. We also thank the anonymous reviewers of the journal for providing incisive comments on the earlier version. The responsibility for this version remains ours.

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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The John's Hopkins University 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bejoy K. Thomas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Roldan Muradian
    • 2
  • Gerard de Groot
    • 3
  • Arie de Ruijter
    • 4
  1. 1.Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE)BangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Centre for International Development Issues Nijmegen (CIDIN), Radboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Development Research Institute (IVO), Tilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Faculty of HumanitiesTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands

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