NGO partnerships and the taming of the grassroots in rural India

Based on reflections undertaken with members of a partnership between an NGO and Adivasi (original dweller) communities in the Indian state of Orissa, this paper examines various linkages among NGOs (international, state, district, or local), and grassroots organisations in terms of their prospects for advancing Adivasi activism for social change. International NGOs seldom work directly with village- level networks of NGOs and grassroots organisations, but assuming that people's participation, agency, and activism transcend their rhetorical significance for some NGOs, such involvement would bring international NGOs into direct contact with vested interests (often the cause of the Adivasis' impoverishment) and potentially lead to power being handled in a more democratic fashion.