The term voluntarism is derived from the Latin word ‘voluntas’ which means will or freedom. Thus, in simple terms voluntary organisation is a group of persons who organise themselves on the basis of voluntary membership without external or state control for a common cause, for the cause of downtrodden and those who are deprived of their basic human rights.
NGO (Non Governmental Organisation) is a UN terminology encompassing all kinds of voluntary organisation. NGO is synonym to democracy. What Abraham Lincoln said about democracy, could be applied for NGO, an NGO is of the people, for the people, and by the people. Thus, voluntary organisations have a valuable role to play in a free and democratic nation like India.
Even after fifty years of independence, poverty, illiteracy, child labour, illegal detention, dowry deaths, violation of human rights, shabby treatment of the fair sex, etc. prevails in Indian society. To fight these maladies tooth and nail, the government machinery needs the assistance of voluntary organisations. Today, the role of government is quite limited to the enactment of law and appointing committees for the execution of the laws.
Voluntary organisations have been operating in diverse fields and those areas where the government is unable to reach and the yeoman service rendered by such organisations (commonly referred to as NGOs) has brought succor to the many lives. There has been a general recognition that voluntary organisations can play an active role in national development and to bring in about social change.
Nevertheless, it should be realised that the work of an NGO is not a ‘bed of roses.’ It demands a lot of sacrifice. It needs committed people who are willing to give up worldly comforts and work with dedication and sincerity for the cause of the downtrodden. Voluntary organisations follow the adage that the “Process of work is an end in itself.”