- In the last few decades, the power of civil society has expanded exponentially.
- In India, civil society became increasingly powerful since the left-supported UPA government came to power.
- The Modi government tried to curb the influence of civil society through various legislative and executive actions.
In the last few decades, the power of civil society has expanded exponentially. Driven by America’s neoconservative politics, where the state outsourced many of its duties to civil society groups that do not have the collective interest of the nation in mind, these international organizations today command huge influence in countries around the world. In India, civil society became increasingly powerful since the left-supported UPA government came to power.
In the 10 years of UPA, civil society was in the driver’s seat as far as policymaking in the country was concerned. The Modi government tried to curb the influence of civil society through various legislative and executive actions, but these elitist and compromised organisations, flushed with money from international NGOs, still command huge influence and obstruct nation-building steps.
In his speech to the 73rd batch of IPS probationers at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVP NPA) in Hyderabad, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval spoke about how civil society can be manipulated to hurt the nation’s interest.
“The new frontiers of war, what you call the fourth-generation warfare, is the civil society,” Doval said. He explained to probationers that wars have become too expensive to achieve political and military objectives, and at the same time, the outcome of the war is not certain. “But it is the civil society that can be subverted, suborned, divided, manipulated to hurt the interests of a nation. You are there to see they stand fully protected,” he added.
In the last two decades, India has paid a huge price for not controlling the menacing elements of civil society. While the East Asian countries like China, South Korea, and Taiwan became economic powerhouses riding on manufacturing, India failed to build the infrastructure required for manufacturing to flourish. And the primary blockage behind building infrastructure is civil society.
During the UPA government, we witnessed that how the building of highways, ports, and roads was blocked by the civil society groups in the names of ecological damage, displacement of natives, and so on. Various reforms like land acquisition, privatization of electricity distribution companies, liberalization of the agriculture sector are in the pipeline for more than two decades, but they could not be implemented because the UPA government was too scared of the civil society groups.
Civil society activism was so rampant that the government was not able to crackdown on militants and terrorists. The courts of the country were opened at midnight to hear a plea against the death sentence of terrorists like Ajmal Kasab who killed hundreds of people. Terror attacks in the cities of the country had become a norm in the 10 years of the UPA government because the crackdown on terrorists was politicized for votes.
People like Medha Patkar, Harsh Mander, Jean Dreze, Prashant Bhushan ruled the roost during 10 years of the UPA government. Even during the seven and a half years of the Modi government, the civil society organisations have been manipulated to hurt the nation’s interest, although more at the state level.
Two of the biggest damages by the civil society are the closure of the Sterlite copper plant in TamilNadu, which cost the country around 8 billion dollars so far; and the Aarey metro car shed, which increased the project cost by hundreds of crores of rupees and delayed the much-needed opening of new lines of metro in Mumbai.
Even at the Union government level, Delhi witnessed two high-profile protests – anti-CAA protests and farmer’s protests – under the nose of the Modi government, and both backed by nefarious civil society members who want to hurt the nation. International organisations like George Soros Foundation have backed Indian NGOs which are actively pursuing anti-national agenda in order to weaken the Modi government.