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Re: Private = Non-government

Chandrasekhar Commuri wrote:

> Sanjeev,
> I am afraid the collapsing of the categories 'private' and
> 'non-governmental' might have some unintended consequences. Even though
> I agree with you that all non governmental entities are in a sense
> private, we should still make a distinction between 'private' agencies
> and 'NGOs'. Here are some reasons:
>         - When NGOs get involved in governance (in the few cases that
>           they have been allowed to), they have some degree of legitimacy
>           associated with their actions. This is primarily because they
>           do not seek profits and they tend to represent the interests of
>           their constituents in some way. However, we can not say the
>           same of private agencies.
>         - If we encourage the interchangeable terminology, it is possible
>           that states will try to use 'private' entities to do some of the
>           things that governmental and 'non-governmental' organizations
>           have been doing (eg: manage prisons in the US). The implication
>           is that since 'private' and 'non-governmental' seem to be the
>           same, the legitimacy associated with them is also comparable,
>           which is certainly not the case.
> Even though some NGOs indulge in 'profit' seeking behavior, many perform
> tasks which neither the state nor the market will take up. Their
> independence, conceptual as well as organizational, must be guarded
> carefully.

The argument assumes that profit seeking behavior is somehow illegitimate, or
not as legitimate as non-profit behavior.  I think both are equally legitimate
and equally beneficial to the society.  In a real sense, the greed of Henry Ford
or Bill Gates, or closer to home, of JRD Tata and G. Birla have done a lot more
for the betterment of the humanity than say,  well... no need to name names, i
was though thinking of the Mother. Actually the Mother helped specific
individuals, hundreds, may be hundreds of thuosands. While the entrepreneurs
help the whole of humanity.  Even the life of a guy who will never use a
computer has been dramatically improved because of computers.  Ironically, we
say the Mother had been working for the public while the entrepreneurs for just
for themselves!

This debate also carries over to the issue of defining civil society.  Some
divide the society into three domains:state, economy (for profit), and civil
society (nonprofit).  This seems rather arbitrary; state is also nonprofit, why
not include that in the civil society??!!  The fundamental disctinction is of
freedom versus coersion.   State is the instrument, however necessary, of
coersion.  Economy is domain of individual freedom and sovereignty--trasactions
are all voluntary. Wether those transactions result in something we call
"profit" is rather secondary.   So there only two domains: state (political
society) and civil society.

I have always had troublewith the term NGOs.  Why should anyone define them in
opposition to something?  Besides in practice most NGOs are actually PGOs
(pro-govt orgs), they are aspiring govts.


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