My ethnographic study of NGO relations in India is based on my experiences and observations working at Dasra, a Venture Philanthropy NGO that conducts research, capacity building, and creates networks for grassroots NGOs and philanthropists. My work in the Portfolio and Business Partnership departments put me in contact with many NGOs working for education, street children, and anti-sex trafficking. I conducted over 20 online initial assessments and visited 6 NGOs for more in-depth information. I kept wondering, however, why there are so many NGOs (approximately 3 million in India) with similar altruistic goals, yet they don’t collaborate to tackle those problems on a large scale. My study examines the internal and external pressures that prevent collaboration between NGOs and the various reasons for the existence of a fragmented the social sector. Ultimately, my research suggests that that donor competition, intra-organization social dynamics, and external structural pressures fragment horizontal networks (NGO-NGO) and indicate that bottom-up NGO development continues to be guided by ‘top-down’ agendas and forces.
Below are some photographs that illustrate my summer in Mumbai.