This is to invite you to
on a daylong conference "Towards a Rational
Government Policy for NGOs”being organized by Indic
Studies Network (IsNew) at the India International Centre, Conference Hall 2, Max Mueller Marg, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi, on January 31,
2015 from 10 am to 7 pm. A detailed 'Background Note' is given below.
Confirmed speakers include:
- Prof. Vaidyanathan, IIM Bangalore
- Rajiv Malhotra, Infinity Foundation, Princeton, USA
- Dr JK Bajaj, Centre for Policy Research
- John Dayal, Secretary-General, the All India Christian Council
- Harsh Mander, Director, Centre for Equity Studies
- Dunu Roy, Hazard Centre
- Madhu Purnima Kishwar, Prof CSDS & Founder MANUSHI
We have attempted to
bring together diverse voices—those that speak for NGOs as well as the critics
of NGOs. With that in view we sent invites to several NGO representatives. Only
three—Harsh Mander, Dunu Roy and John Dayal--very graciously and promptly accepted
the invite. But the following declined or have not responded till date:
- Renana Jhabwala/ Reema Nanavati, SEWA
- Javed Anand, Citizens for Justice & Peace
- Kavita Ramdas, Ford Foundation
- Dr. Joseph D’Souza, Dalit Freedom Network
- Kamla Bhasin, SANGAT/Jagori
- Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD
- Ruth Manorama, NAWO. (Response awaited)
However, if any other NGO representatives would like to present
their viewpoint, they should let us know asap.
We hope to make the deliberations interactive. In each session
there will be a 20 minute presentation followed by 40 minutes of discussion.
We also request other participants to confirm their presence so
that we can make food and other arrangements accordingly.
We look forward to an early response,
K Gopinath, Madhu Purnima Kishwar
Some months ago the present NDA
government imposed certain restrictions on select NGOs on the basis of IB
report entitled, “Impact of NGOs on Development” prepared by the previous UPA
Government listing certain NGOs like Green Peace for leading
high-powered campaigns against key development projects in the country
ostensibly at the behest of foreign powers hostile to India’s progress.
Subsequently, Ministry of Home Affairs sent notices to 21,493 NGOs registered
under the FCRA (Foreign Exchange Regulation Act), 2010, for their failure to
submit accounts as is mandatory under the law. But as per the CBI report
submitted to the Supreme Court, only 10% of 22 lakh plus NGOs in India submit
their tax returns to the Government. So why were only 21493 NGOs selected for
notices? (Reported in The Hindu, January 6, 2015).
On January 1 2015, the NDA
government clamped down on four US funded groups—namely AVAAZ (New York), BIC
(Washington), 350.org (New York) and Sierra Club
(California). According to RBI, these NGOs were not registered with the
Government of India. The MHA has directed the RBI to freeze all foreign funding
into the accounts of these NGOs.
Leading NGOs (NGOs) have dubbed
this crackdown as political vendetta and accused the BJP of crushing political
dissent in the country through these means. It is unfortunate that the
government has not clarified why the clamp down is restricted to select NGOs
whereas numerous others working on similar or identical issues have been spare
Varieties of NGOs
Broadly speaking, there are
nine kinds of NGOs However their functions often overlap:
groups: These NGOs pick up select issues and causes –such as environment
or the cause of specific social groups perceived to be disadvantaged—such as
women, SCs, STs, religious minorities--for advocacy campaigns. ANHAD, MAJLIS,
Lawyers Collective, Centre for Science and Environment, Voluntary Health
Association of India, Citizens for Justice and Peace fall in this category.
and Research organisations working on social,
political and developmental issues such as Centre for Policy Research;
3) Training/ Capacity Building organisations: Such
NGOs claim to help other NGOs with capacity building programs of the staff of
4) Networking organisations: They
provide supportive platforms for other NGOs in specific fields. AVARD, VANI and
NAWO are examples of this type;
Providers: Secular NGOs involved in providing services to neglected
populations by setting up schools, health centers, hospitals and undertaking
rural development work. They directly work with select communities, both
in rural and urban areas. Anna Hazare’s Hind Swaraj Trust, SEARCH founded by
Drs. Abhay and Rani Bang are good examples.
6) National organisations: They
operate at a national scale for specific vulnerable groups or causes as for
example CRY, Help Age India, Concern India, etc.;
NGOs: These include organizations setup by various denominational
groups of various faiths – Hindu, Muslim, Christian, etc. They may also be
involved in servicing communities and undertaking development work in villages
or urban slums. Many of them are aggressively pursuing proselytization backed
by the enormous financial resources and political backing they get from foreign
agencies. World Vision is a good example of such an NGO;
working for law and policy reform such as Lawyers
Collective, PILSARC, Human Rights Law Network, Centre for Science and
Mother NGOs: These are recipients of funds as well as givers. They have a
work focus but instead of implementing projects they identify projects and
monitor, evaluate and build capacities of other participating NGOs. CARE and
Oxfam are examples of such mother NGOs.
However, these categories are
not mutually exclusive. In fact, many NGOs are active in multiple
Government Charges against NGOs
On the one hand, NGOs have come
to acquire unprecedented influence and clout over policy and law making by the
Government of India as well as defining political agendas and terms of public
discourse in our country. They have been included in decision-making bodies of
various ministries and key government departments.
On the other hand, the Government of India claims to have accumulated
massive evidence of malpractices by foreign-funded NGOs. The charges include:
Misappropriation of funds, corruption scams, lack of transparency and accountability: CBI analysis of 22 lakh NGOs across the country showed that of the 22,39,971 NGOs functioning in 20 States, only 10% (about 2,23,428) submitted annual returns. In six of the Union Territories, of the 5,684 NGOs, only 50 filed their balance sheets. In the Northeast, none of the NGOs in Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura file returns. ( as reported in The Hindu, January 6, 2015)
in political activity, including
interference in electoral politics, in violation of one of the core conditions
of FCRA rules and regulations, which specifically prohibit NGOs from engaging
in economic policies allegedly
at the behest of foreign agencies causing enormous damage to India’s growth
geopolitical security of India,
including support to secessionist movements; Many NGOs claiming to be
involved in “human rights”, “social studies and empowerment”, “rural
development” are alleged to be fronts for India-based or foreign-supported
extremist political organisations with socially disruptive agendas.
the delicate social fabric of
India by indulging in proselytisation activities.
Our Conference will debate the following issues:
- Are NGOs being targeted arbitrarily and maliciously or is there
concrete evidence of malafide actions by the NGOs put under government scanner
or those whose funds have been frozen?
- Is foreign funding of NGOs desirable and necessary? Or is it due
to lack of other options?
- Does government funding of NGOs leave them easy targets of
political manipulations? Can organisations call themselves “Non
Government” if they are dependent on government funding?
- Are NGOs dependent on government and foreign funding because
none is available within India? What other sources of funding can be
made available to NGOs?
- How satisfactory are the existing accountability mechanisms for
NGOs? Is there need for better mechanisms to ensure that NGOs function in
a transparent manner?
- Need for a coherent, rational and transparent policy towards
NGOs and ways to arrive at it.
Please confirm your participation at the earliest at the following email address:
Contact number: 09899971741