Negotiating the NGO/Social Movement Dichotomy: Evidence from Punjab, India
Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and social movements are often juxtaposed as two distinct modes of action within civil society. While NGOs are seen as being linked to the interests of donors and being composed primarily of middle-class professionals, social movements are presented as a more authentic expression of grassroots perspectives. While academic literature compares and contrasts these two forms of organisation in the abstract, there has been comparatively little research exploring how civil society actors themselves conceptualise the NGO/social movement dichotomy and how this influences their strategic decision making. The Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM), working in the North Indian state of Punjab, is a useful case for exploring this issue. KVM is one of a growing number of groups working in the field of sustainable agriculture that has chosen to adopt a social movement model of organisation and distance itself from NGOs. The case helps illuminate how and why social movements differentiate themselves from NGOs and the challenges they face in doing so.