A Bengaluru based NGO has filed a petition against the Ministry of Home Affairs for refusing to renew its license to receive foreign funds. The NGO has moved the Karnataka High court to seek evidence of wrong doing from the MHA. Institute of Public Health was denied renewal of FCRA licence by the ministry along with 24 other NGOs in October 2016 in a move to curb foreign funding for NGOs indulging in anti-national activities.
Puzzled by the blacklisting by MHA, IPH approached the ministry as well as the Prime Minister's office. Multiple representations yielded no response following which IPH approached the Karnataka High Court for reprieve.
"We have sought evidence of our NGO indulging in anti-national activities from the MHA. We have always worked with the union as well as state governments in many public health projects. We feel there has been a mistake. Surprised that we were deemed anti-nation since we have neither indulged in any activity against the government nor criticism of it," said Dr N Devadasan, Director, Institute of public health.
Tobacco lobby at play?
The institute feels that its work against Tobacco and its effect on public health has a lot to do with its blacklisting by the MHA. The institute has worked on many levels to create awareness about health implications of tobacco usage. "The tobacco industry is not very pleased with our work. We implement government's policy on reducing tobacco consumption and that has not gone down well with many. We believe that they have lobbied with the government and have a key role in the issue. It is absurd to say that we are anti-national", he added.
The NGO realised that the MHA had included them along with 24 other NGO it deemed anti-national following a newspaper report. "We applied for renewal well before time in February 2016 but received no response. On October 28, 2016, we received a single line mail that our application had been rejected. We used our sources to find out that our NGO was included in the list of supposed anti-national NGOs whose foreign funding had been blocked", he said.
The 11-year-old NGO claims that details of all its funding and donations are in public domain with WHO, world bank and European commission being contributors. They allege that their blacklisting is a result of a conspiracy by lobbists who accuse them of favouring foreign tobacco companies.