Civil society organisations seek recognition of services during pandemic, tax concessions

NewsDrum Desk
29 Jan 2023

Chennai, Jan 29 (PTI) The CSO COALITION@75 - a network of civil society organisations (CSOs) across India - sought recognition of their services during pandemics, disasters, implementing government programmes and instituting an 'Ease of Doing Good Index' on par with the ease of doing business.


It sought a social security fund for the social sector, workers during emergencies, health needs, besides a level-playing field in recognition of their contribution to nation building.

During COVID-19 in 2020 with the large migrant population stranded in several parts of the country due to sudden lockdown, the civil society was in the forefront providing relief and humanitarian support to millions of migrant workers. Apart from food relief, they were offered help to travel back to their villages, medical aid was extended and community kitchens were established to feed them.

Some CSOs organised medical camps across the country, supplied oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators to the affected lot. In some cases, they shifted patients to hospitals and even volunteered to perform the last rites in many cases, said a recent report by India's non-profit sector or also known as non-governmental organisations, on 75 years of service towards nation building.


This research was undertaken by a group of CSO members to demonstrate their immense contribution to the nation in 75 years of independence and was released this week.

The civil society's contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is significant in terms of jobs, volunteers, and involvement of millions of people across the country. "In fact, NPO/CSO contribution is half the contribution of the IT sector, which has been the poster boy of the growth story and is offered concession after concession and 10 year tax holidays. But the civil society has been at the receiving end of the regulatory stick with even the simple Income Tax concessions like 100 per cent tax concessions under Section 35 AC and 35 (i) (ii) being summarily removed," the report claimed.

According to Mathew Cherian, former CEO of HelpAge India, who is among those who prepared the comprehensive report, about 25 NGOs across the country prepared the report on the contribution of this sector to India during the last 75 years.


"It also accommodates a survey of 515 NGOs throughout India and sectoral reports on children, education, healthcare, social and mental health, and disability. We said 8.1 million people are working for this sector and 5 million are volunteers," Cherian said.

Cherian, who is now the global ambassador for ageing with HelpAge India, and chairperson of Care India, told PTI that the report would be launched in Chennai soon.

CSOs provide jobs and have been instrumental in contributing to the nation's GDP. The report states that civil society organisations are economic engines of growth and contribute to 2.7 million jobs and 3.4 million full time volunteers - an employment larger than the public sector.


A substantial portion of CSOs contribute Rs 3.56 trillion as high as 2 per cent of the GDP, it states.

Sivakumar V K, secretary, Gandhigram Trust, has sought a level-playing field with regard to recognising the contribution of CSOs to the nation, especially in supporting the government initiatives and programmes.

"The CSO is regarded as third sector and their activities are not properly recognised. There should be a level-playing field in providing concessions to the CSOs on par with the corporate sector," Sivakumar told PTI.


The report describes the vast canvas of work of 16 million employees, 21 million non-profit's honorary board volunteers/members who inspire the work and the millions of volunteers and donors who support the work and causes served of CSOs in India.

"Black sheep exist in all sections of society and cannot be used to tarnish those who have spent a lifetime in dedicated social work," the report said.

It suggested instituting the Ease of Doing Good index on par with the ease of doing business, a social security fund for the social sector, workers during emergencies, health needs, etc. PTI JSP HDA HDA