We are posting below a letter written by Dunu Roy in response to
our petition to the Prime Minister demanding a Commission of Inquiry on Foreign
Funded NGOs and creation of a National Social service Fund to provide
indigenous support to NGOs. (Read the petition at http://www.manushi.in/articles.php?articleId=1816#.VQasiNKUeGM).
At the end of Dunu Roy’s letter are responses from some of the signatories to
Since you had very kindly
invited me to the meeting that preceded this petition to the PM by you and your
friends, (and could not attend because of some personal difficulties -
otherwise I would have made my views known at the meeting itself) I would like
to humbly submit that I do not agree with the arguments put forward in your
Secondly, I have been on to the
websites of all the organisations mentioned as the signatories' base and find
that none of them has put up their own accounts on their websites.
Thirdly, the websites reveal
that all of them have something to do with a concern with India's ancient civilisation,
and many of them receive foreign money:
Arsha Vidya Gurukulam -
based in Coimbatore, with centres in Saylorsburg, New Jersey, San Francisco,
and Argentina, "for the traditional study of Advaita Vedanta and
Infinity Foundation -
based in Princeton, New Jersey for promoting "a balanced view of the many
positive contributions from the Indian civilization".
Arya Vidya Pharmacy -
based in Coimbatore "offering services in the fields of Education,
Research, Pharmacy and Clinical Practice" in Ayurveda.
Centre for Policy Studies -
based in Chennai and New Delhi that claims it is "financed largely by
individual and corporate contributions from Indians ... has rarely sought or
accepted government funding ... is registered under the FCRA", "for
research and study aimed at comprehending and cherishing the essential
civilizational genius of India".
Bharath Gyan -
based in Bangalore and Chennai "to bring forth the knowledge from ancient
times through the ages, with a special focus on Indian heritage".
C.P.Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation -
based in Chennai "to promote Indian culture through research and
I could not trace where and what this organisation is.
and initiative of the Centre for Educational and Social Studies, Hyderabad
(that has received grants from Asian Development Bank, World Bank, IRC,
Netherlands, UNICEF, Ford Foundation, European Union and other International
Organizations) in Bangalore "to make fellow travelers discover the
heterogeneity of the Indian traditions yet the cohesiveness that has stood us
in good stead for several thousand years".
India Facts Research Centre -
set up in Bangalore "to preserve our rich literary & cultural
heritage; protect our dharma; promote Indic thought and studies".
International Forum for India’s
Heritage - set up in NOIDA "to promote the timeless and
universal values of India’s cultural heritage".
Given this background I wonder
what right this group arrogates to itself to speak on behalf of, or even
comment on, the over 22 lakh NGOs you yourself acknowledge as being in India?
I hope you will circulate this
letter to all the persons to whom you had sent your invitation as well as the
petition to the PM.
Madhu Kishwar’s response:
None of the signatories claim to speak on
behalf of the 22 lakh odd NGOs that supposedly exist in India. We are speaking
on our own behalf as concerned citizens to demand that instead of
selective targeting of NGOs, a proper inquiry commission needs to be appointed
to investigate foreign funded NGOs in a transparent manner instead of devious
leaks of IB or any other intelligence agency report.
We are not demanding a ban on the existence of
NGOs nor are we demanding restriction on their activities
However, we are demanding a ban on foreign funding
of NGOs along with creation of a National Social Service fund to provide
locally generated resources to NGOs.
My opposition to foreign funding of political
activism is not new. It began right from the very start of MANUSHI. We were
repeatedly offered hefty grants by powerful donor agencies. But we refused on
principle each time. Since then one has watched with deep concern the
distortion of public discourse and priorities at the behest of foreign donor agencies
as well as unhealthy domination of Foreign Funded NGOs in dictating political
agendas, policies and legislation in India.
I don’t think receiving foreign funds to
further one’s ideological, social or political agendas is a fundamental right.
Let NGOs learn to generate resources from within our own society since they
claim to speak and act on behalf of Indian society. That will make them more
accountable to people in India—rather than distant funders.
For the record, MANUSHI has been posting its
audited accounts, plus details of each donation we receive on our website since
2005-2006. We didn’t have a website before that.
Dr J K Bajaj
The issue about Kudankulam and other similar projects is not
whether these are in national interest or not? This can be discussed, debated
and even agitated. The issue is whether we can allow foreign funded agencies
into such debates and whether they can be allowed to invoke the help and
intervention of foreign agencies in our internal disputes. As it is, human
rights and environmental issues have become excuses for subverting national
sovereignties. Foreign funded NGOs perform the role of sappers and miners in
this disruptive design.
In response to Dunu Roy's disdainful queries, let me say the
following on behalf of the CPS:
Centre for Policy Studies
is registered under FCRA. In the last about 30 years of our functioning we have
received a single contribution amounting to less than 20 lakh rupees in this
head. This was from the share that an NRI well-wisher left for the Centre in
his estate. We were entitled to receive this money even without FCRA clearance.
We have in general
avoided receiving government moneys. For the past about 5 years, we have been
conducting a project to prepare individual Natural Resource Atlases for the
districts of Madhya Pradesh in collaboration with Madhya Pradesh Council for
Science and Technology. This is a very innovative but entirely technical
project. This is the only significant work that we have done with government
collaboration and support.
The Centre has been
filing regular IT and FCRA returns (mostly nil returns in the latter case). The
only reason we have not placed our accounts on the website is because we have
been working on a shoestring budget and we did not want to publicise our lack
of resources. But now that the issue has been raised, we shall consider putting
all our financial statements on the website.
We have been doing
significant research work with very little resources. We have nothing to answer
to Mr. Dunu Roy, who is one of the early leaders of the movement to convert, in
the now well-known Doon School style, austere and noble voluntary work into a
lucrative profession and thus draining the former of all virtue, idealism and
All the signatories have something to do with a concern with India's ancient civilization:
The meeting was called by Indic Studies group, so certain types of orgs/signers
will be present more. This is true of events organized by left orgs:
"how dare they speak on behalf of us"???
As for the charge that none of them has put up their own accounts on their
websites the point is
unexceptionable except that it is not required by law currently. If required by
law or is "customary", the same orgs would/may have complied. The
NGOs mentioned in the petition were not doing the FCRA reporting required by
The second charge is that many of them receive foreign money:
About foreign funding, the petition argues against foreign money for
"religious/political" activities, not against
"cultural/heritage/..." activities. Arsha Vidya Gurukulam may have
used foreign money for "religious" activities and hence could be an
issue. Also, culture and religion are difficult to disentangle, especially in
India, so the point is debatable.
We send out our accounts to our
donors who are all from Bangalore our expenses exceed what we receive so we
just spend out of our pockets for the programs we conduct.
None of us signatories use
money to destabilize our country or our people. We don't do anything to steal
people of their ancestry and roots either.
I hope this answers the query.
We don't have any website either since we decided not to spend anything on it. Our organisation is totally voluntary and none
of us take any money from it we only give to it.
Let not people look on the net
and draw conclusions. If they are serious, let them actually have a dialogue
with us. There are people in our country who do lot of work and are not visible;
they are busy working and have no intention of publicizing what they do.
Dunu has got his details wrong
on Jijnasa and CESS [based out of Hyderabad]. It is not the same body as the
one that incubates Jijnasa. Also the affiliation with CESS is merely one of a
"guide and mentor" and NOT financial. Jijnasa, as a platform, works
on self contribution. This must be made clear to him lest he continues to
Secondly, the group has not
arrogated itself the right to speak on behalf of the 22 lakh NGOs. Far from it
However, the group perceived that there is an issue, got together and debated
it along with people who may have had similar or different view on the subject
before petitioning the government, which is the final arbiter in the matter.
Does he want to deny us the
right to make a representation?
Infinity is not an Indian operating entity. It is not an Indian
I visit in my personal capacity to give talks, invited by Indian organizations
wanting to host me.
So Infinity case does not apply.
In any case as per US law all annual filings are available on the net.
There is a form 990PF filled out annually and it is publicly available. Failure
to file brings huge penalties. Infinity has never faced challenge on this,
I can only speak for IF on the limited point about accounts: We
send out a detailed Annual report of all our activities, etc to our donors.
Besides, IF is just over a year old and we will put up our accounts online in
Second, on the larger point on
his rubbishing these orgs listed here: NOT ONE of them have lobbied for
policy changes to the detriment of the Indian national interest whereas there's
ample evidence to show that a really large percentage of the 22 Lakh NGOs he
mentions have been guilty of doing this.
Where Hindu/civilizational organizations
have taken foreign funding, they have been only to preserve our heritage,
education, etc etc. and fully WITHIN the national interest. Neither have these
organizations indulged in political activity, religious proselytization, etc of
Others can add their points as
Michel Danino responds to Sandeep:
due respect, I am afraid national interest cannot be defined so simply (just an
example: if Kudamkulam turns out to be unsafe in 5 or 15 years down the line,
speaking against it today or yesterday will have been in the national
a healthy democracy, national interest can only be defined by national debate.
In India, we do not believe in national debates — it is impossible to hold a
national debate on, say, conversion, power generation, whether there was a
temple at Ayodhya, the concept of minority, blasphemy and respect for
religions, the role of NGOs, etc. Any attempt to start a debate degenerates in
vicious demonization campaigns. So in a skewed democracy like ours, “national
interest” will have to be defined by the government + executive, with whatever
arbitrariness and bias unavoidably follows.
any case, as our petition demands, foreign-funded NGOs should put their account
online, as the petition demands. I don’t know who Dunu Roy is but he undeniably
has a point and signatories — if they receive funds from abroad — must be
consistent and show the example.
for the record, if I haven’t done it with IFIH (International
Forum for India’s Heritage)
it’s because 1) for technical reasons I am now unable to update the website in
any manner; 2) the last FCRA donation received, for Rs 25,000/-, was in 2012
and I do not intend to apply for re-registration under FCRA if a for
re-registration is compulsory. IFIH isn’t set up in Noida but currently in
I could not attend the meeting on NGOs but have a separate point
altogether. As a 29 year old association of crafts people we do not take
foreign funds as a matter of policy and self respect and have never registered
for FCRA.Our accounts are fully audited and returns are filed annually. They
are available for all our members to examine.They are not posted on our website
since we do not take funds from external funders for regular work but only as
event related sponsorships. We earlier took grants occasionally from government
for schemes that needed good implementation. These were found fully successful
and satisfactory.Gradually, grant funds began to be misused by bogus bodies and
resulted in the concerned ministry distrusting all NGOs. Today, we are entirely
self sufficient, generating funds for 90% of our activities from our crafts
person members. To this the response of govt officials is to be critical and
unsupportive because we \"take money from crafts people\". With such
a narrow minded bureaucratic outlook they push genuine groups to the wall and
discourage self-reliance.There has to be some middle way found to give
legitimacy to the voice of sincere NGOs.