On Civil Society, Again: Civil Society, State and Public Policy in South India

Published date01 June 2014
Date01 June 2014
Subject MatterArticles
Military-Madrasa-Mullah Complex 55
India Quarterly, 66, 2 (2010): 133–149
A Global Threat 55
On Civil Society, Again:
Civil Society, State and
Public Policy in South India
Anil Kumar Vaddiraju
It is often assumed that civil society’s influence on governance can only be complementary to the state
and that it must be exercised through conciliatory approaches. But contrary to that assumption, a study
of civil society organizations in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh shows that the civil society may attempt
to influence governance process through multiple strategies. These include conciliatory approaches,
adversarial approaches and a combination of both, depending on the issue or policy on which the influ-
ence is sought to be exercised. This article illustrates this by taking the examples of two intermediary
NGOs: one from Karnataka and the other from Andhra Pradesh. The question this article raises is: in the
context of globalization and the supposedly prominent role of civil society, how effective are they? This
article argues that they still happen to be subsidiary partners in the paradigm of ‘governance-through-
networks’. By and large, public policy still happens to be influenced by, first the state, and second,
multilateral donor organizations as well as multinational companies, although civil society activism itself
should be welcome and need not be viewed with scepticism.
Civil society, state, governance, policy advocacy, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, MYRADA, CWS,
South India
Civil society is defined in various ways (Elliott, 2003; Carothers & Brandt, 2000; Jayaram, 2005). The
term has been so overused that it is on the verge of losing its core meaning namely, the organizations
and associations that are non-governmental and are in the realm of civic associations with considerable
distance from the state and the party system. In political theory, there are three broad streams through
which civil society can be studied. First is the L-stream, that is, the Lockean notion of state of nature as
civil society. The second is the M-stream, the Montesquieu-de Tocqueville stream which focuses on
the importance of civic associations and associational life particularly as it obtained in America at the
time of de Tocqueville’s study (de Tocqueville, 1965; Misztal, 2001). The third is the Hegelian tradition
from which also follows the Marxist theory. Hegel defines civil society as the realm between the family
and the state. Marx includes the market and economic realm (Femia, 2001; Dryzek, Honig and Phillips
2006; Chambers, Simone and Jeffery Kopsten 2006).
When we speak of civil society, the one important aspect that we cannot forget is that the current
theorization on civil society is significantly informed by the 1989 events of the collapse of the Berlin
Anil Kumar Vaddiraju is Assistant Professor, Centre for Political Institutions, Governance and Development,
Institute for Social and Economic Change, Dr. V.K.R.V. Rao Road, Nagarabhavi, Bangalore-560072, Karnataka,
India. E-mail: anilkumar@isec.ac.in
Studies in Indian Politics
2(1) 55–66
© 2014 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
SAGE Publications
Los Angeles, London,
New Delhi, Singapore,
Washington DC
DOI: 10.1177/2321023014526090

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT