chapter  1
The State, Civil Society and Challenges to Democratic Governance in South Asia
ByMahfuzul H. Chowdhury
Pages 22

This chapter examines the nature of states, political structures, actors and institutions in South Asian countries and the space available in these nations for civil society, from the perspective of governance. It explores the existence of space available for non-governmental organizations and civil society to effectively engage with the state in areas of common public interest. Popularly, governance is often linked to democracy, accountability, transparency, decentralization, containing corruption, and efficiency of government institutions, but within the conventional concept of government. Civil society has been variously viewed, but the general consensus is that it comprises activities and organizations in the space that exists between the family and the state, which is "separate from and independent of state". State-civil society relations in South Asian countries fall in three categories — collaborative/co-operational, conflicting/confrontationist and disconnected or no relations with the state. The challenges to build up a network of governance between government agencies, international organiszations, donors and civil society are manifold.