I4C South Asia Hub is a platform for civil society organizations, Human Rights Defenders, journalists, activists, and art-ivists across the region of South Asia to come together in solving issues facing civic spaces.
Over the past decades, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have become important actors for delivery of social services and implementation of development programs, as a complement to government action. From poverty reduction initiatives to women empowerment and protection of children, from defending human rights to promoting new and alternative technologies, from watchdog functions that include election monitoring to monitoring abuses in public decision making, from linking with the corporate sector to promote socially responsible business to strengthening and capacity building of grassroots organisations: their contribution to social, political, cultural and economic development has been significant
Yet, across the globe, and especially in South Asia, governments are becoming increasingly opposed to the contribution of civil societies. Their raison d’etre—bringing citizens together to give voice to the marginalised, providing alternative policies and narratives, and monitoring the functioning of governments—is now being perceived as a threat. As a corollary, governments have been tightening their control over CSOs and suffocating the democratic civic spaces in countries of South Asia.
The increased scrutiny, bureaucratic hurdles, selective application of laws and often draconian legislations, are damaging the vibrancy of civil societies. At times, heinous attacks in the form of unlawful detention, custodial deaths and extra-judicial killings have also been reported. There are cases as well of assassinations by proxy non-state actors and the government’s complicity through a culture of impunity. A climate of suffocation and fear is enveloping civil societies of South Asia, though their forms vary across national borders.
The South Asia Hub is working to implement innovative ways to combat restrictions faced by civil society groups operating in the region and focuses on the following themes through our various projects.