Robust, enlightened civil society essential for functioning democracy: Rajnath Singh

Jaipur: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said a robust and enlightened civil society is essential for a functioning democracy. Addressing a C20 meeting here, he said civil society organisations (CSOs) can act as force multipliers for governments.

Referring to various C20 groups working in various domains like health, education and digital transformation, gender equality, technology and security, the defence minister emphasised that these groups have the potential to impact official policies and programmes. “A robust and enlightened civil society is essential for a functioning democracy as it enables the citizens to engage in deliberative dialogues and cooperative efforts outside the adversarial arena of electoral politics and towards achieving the national objectives,” he said. The C20, launched in 2013 as an official G20 engagement group, provides a platform for the CSOs to bring forth non-governmental perspectives on the issues being taken up by the official G20. The C20 (or Civil 20) is being held here over three days from July 29 to July 31 with over 700 delegates expected to participate in it. Singh called for enhanced synergy between CSOs and governments to ensure the overall progress of society, saying CSOs enable citizens to engage in dialogue and cooperative efforts.

The minister said there are various sectors like education, health, gender equality and environment where both government and civil society institutions have worked hand in hand and achieved significant progress. “In the immediate context of present-day India, many of the government’s landmark initiatives such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao have brought significant transformation and attitudinal changes in society,” he said. Singh said the advantages of the CSOs and traditional government structures need to be harnessed to achieve the goal of holistic development.

“While the government apparatus is more rigidly structured and institutionalised and the initiatives broadly represent the ideas of a substantial majority, the CSOs have fluid structures that provide a greater scope for new ideas and practices to play out in the society,” he said. The minister said in modern state structures, the governments cannot act in a hasty manner on novel and untested ideas, but the CSOs have plenty of scope as they operate in a bottom-up approach and are more responsive towards the ever-shifting ground realities. C20 chair Mata Amritanandamayi, Rajasthan’s industries minister Shakuntla Rawat, Jaipur MP Ramcharan Bohra and others were present on the occasion.

More than 700 delegates are attending the event, including civil society organisations from around the globe and G20 officials. The valedictory function of the C20 Summit will be attended by Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra, former chief minister Vasundhara Raje, G20 India Sherpa Amitabh Kant and others.