Hon’ble Prime Minister of India,
7 Race Course Road
February 17, 2015
Dear Prime Minister
Subject: Impartial Commission of Inquiry on
foreign funded NGO’s and creation of National Social Service Fund to support
genuine social service organizations.
We the undersigned request you for an
appointment to discuss the following issue in detail.
Foreign funded NGOs (FFNGOs) have been on the government’s watch list for a
while now. Both NDA and UPA governments have had serious issues with several such
FFNGOs. But the actions taken against a select few do not appear to be the
product of a well thought out policy.
The following is a partial list of
charges against some of the FFNGOs:
- Misappropriation of
funds, lack of transparency and accountability: A CBI analysis of
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. Of 5,684 NGOs in the six Union Territories, only
50 filed their balance sheets. None of the NGOs in Assam,
Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura file returns. (The Hindu,
January 6, 2015).
activism with foreign funds: FCRA rules and regulations
specifically forbid the use of foreign funds for undertaking “political
activities”. Yet a large proportion of FFNGOs have been indulging in a whole
range of political activities, including campaigning for or against certain
political parties during elections.
interventions in economic policies: Some leading NGOs have been in the
forefront of mobilisingresistance against nationally important development
projects (such as in the power sector) allegedly at the behest of foreign
agencies causing enormous damage to India’s growth potential.
geopolitical security of India andproselytizing under the guise of
“Development”: Many NGOs claiming
to be involved in “human rights”, “social empowerment”, “rural development”,
etc., are alleged to be fronts for India-based or foreign-supported extremist
political organizations with socially disruptive agendas and have
been found lending support to secessionist movements. Some Christian
missionary groups, under the guise of “developmental” organizations,
also carry out proselytization activities in India that often disrupt
social harmony and end up damaging the delicate social fabric of India.
It is estimated
that “of the 20 lakh registered NGOs and societies in the country, only 30,000
or so (about 1.5%) are actually doing developmental work” (www.outlookindia.com/article/Oh-What-A-Racket/221515). The widely-known Citizens for Justice and Peace is only
one among many NGOsthat face serious charges of buying personal luxuries out of
funds meant for victims or disasters.
As per the
report published by the Home Ministry for the year 2011-12, some 22,702 NGOs
reportedly received Rs.11,546crores as foreign contributions.It is widely
believed that the inflow turns out to be much larger if non-legal
flows as well as funds that come through UN system (which are not under
the purview of FCRA) are added to these numbers. Apart from the FCRA or UN
route, there are perhaps other lesser known routes of raising foreign funds.
There are cases of NGOs like that of the world-famous Narmada Bachao Andolan,which
does not even have a bank account and yet could run high-powered national and
international campaigns to obstruct and stop major development projects.
To deal with
the situation, the Government of India needs a coherent, transparent policy
towards FFNGOs, both secular and religious. We appeal to the
Ø Appoint an impartial Inquiry Commission: Constitute
a high-powered Commission of Inquiry into the functioning and sources of
funding of all foreign funded NGOs in India to discover:
- Whether the provisions of FCRA, including the provision forbidding
political activity, are being complied with;
- The nature of the donor agencies funding NGOs in India and the stated
and hidden agendas of those agencies;
- Evidence of corruption, if any, in the utilisation of foreign
- Linkages of FFNGOs with secessionist and other antinational outfits, if
- Evidence of hawala transactions, if any;
- Use of foreign funds for political activities including lobbying and
However, this requires that “political activity”
bedefinedrigorously. For instance, are advocacy campaigns for
enactmentof new laws to come under “political activity”? Do
campaigns against selected political parties in the name of “combating
communalism” constitute political activity or not?
Ø Restrictions on foreign-funded activism or on lobbying with
foreign governments: While
this Commission of Inquiry carries on with its investigations, we urge the
Government to enact a law banning the use of foreign money for carrying out
political or religious activity in the country. While political and religious
freedoms-- including critiquing development projects perceived to be harmful--are
guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, these rights must be exercised with
locally raised resources. There also needs to be a ban on NGOs lobbying with
foreign governments to seek punitive action against India under the guise of
protecting human rights or religious freedom.
Ø Create alternative sources of funding for
social organisations within India: The
Companies Act 2013 requires corporate entities to spend at least 2 per cent of
their profits on societal good. For proper utilisation of these corporate
social responsibility funds, these should be compulsorily deposited into
a National Social Service Fund under the charge of an autonomous
body on the lines of the Election Commission of India. This body should have a
set up in every state capital. Voluntary agenciesengaged in providing social
services, creating educational institutions, running advocacy campaigns, human
rights work etc., may be funded through this National Fund in a transparent
manner based on well-defined rules and procedures.
Ø Demand transparency of accounts from NGOs: It
should be mandatory for FFNGOs to post details of income and expenditure on
their websites, apart from submitting duly audited accounts to tax authorities
We look forward to an early response to our petition.
(Signed by Madhu Purnima Kishwar)
Professor CSDS & founder MANUSHI
On behalf of
Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam; R Vaidyanathan,
Professor, IIM Bangalore; Rajiv Malhotra, Director, Infinity Foundation;
PR Krishna Kumar, Founder, Arya Vaidya Pharmacy, Coimbatore, J K
Bajaj, Director, Centre for Policy Studies; K Gopinath, (Prof IISc
Bangalore), DK Hari, Bharat Gyan; Nanditha Krishna, Hon Director,
C.P.Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation; Vijayalakshmi, Secretary Heritage; Amit
Malviya, Convener, Jijnasa; Sandeep Balakrishna, Director, India
Facts Research Centre; Michel Danino, Convener, International Forum for
Address for Correspondence:
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Phone No. 08826377770, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org