Find Civil Society expertise in India

Most of India’s developmental civil society is involved in social welfare, poverty alleviation and education. More than half are based in rural areas. In terms of magnitude, civil society organisations (CSOs) and non-governmental organisation’s (NGOs) are in the hundreds of thousands; some estimates suggest a number of at least a million. Many of India’s international NGOs focus primarily on education and poverty, climate change and sustaining agriculture. Oxfam in particular works on the key causes to poverty and is affiliated with an additional 200 grassroots NGOs which operates in specific regions and social groups.

The three ways to register a CSO/NGO in India are; as a trust, a society or a company:

  • Trusts: The registration of charitable trusts should be done at state level since there are no national laws governing public charitable trusts in India
  • Societies: Societies are governed by the (National) Societies Registration Act 1860
  • Companies: Organisations can be registered as Section 25 companies. Such companies with limited liability may be formed for charitable reasons provided that there are no profits and there is no pecuniary gain to the members.

The trade unions in India are fragmented as a consequence of political and regional divisions. There is competition to gain loyalty of the same selection of workers, which can result in violence. Many trade unions do not operate at a national level and are not associated with any national trade union centre which makes it difficult to gain large union memberships.