New Delhi, April 24: The Home Ministry's decision to place the Ford Foundation under watch reminds us of a very interesting account by Author Frances Stonor Saunders of how the CIA roped in NGOs as fronts and also participants in the spy game. The account is excellently narrated in the book, Who Paid the Piper? CIA and the Cultural Cold War.
The Narendra Modi led NDA government is extremely serious about the issue of NGOs and their funding. The Intelligence Bureau in a very detailed dossier had listed out the names of several NGOs which were bringing in the funds to India only with the intention of spreading a false propaganda and in simple terms, "make India look bad."
Greenpeace was the first NGO to come under the hammer and the Ministry of Home Affairs had suspended its licence with an option to show cause how it was bringing in the funds and also why it had not filed its statement of accounts. Yesterday the Ford Foundation was placed under watch.
Paid pipers of India:
Are these NGOs, which claim to espouse the cause of the weak and poor against the high and mighty really about the cause. 90 per cent of them are not and they have agendas ranging from breaking the economy, funding terror activities and indulging in large scale conversions.
Repeated attempts and warnings instructing nearly 140 NGOs to file their statement of accounts have gone in vain and they continued to go about their alleged activities as the paid pipers were loyal to their funding masters.
While there has been proof dished out in abundance against the Greenpeace and how it was carrying out activities contrary to the interest of the Indian economy, in the case of Ford Foundation, home ministry officials have said they are just watching them.
We need a clarification from them about their source of funding and how they are pumping money into India. If the money coming in is legitimate then we have no problem with it. However, what was tad surprising is that there is no statement of accounts that these persons have filed, an officer with the Home Ministry informed.
The CIA trick:
A US Congressional investigation that was conducted in the year 1976 revealed nearly 50% of the 700 grants in the field of international activities by the principal foundations were funded by the CIA. It was also observed that the CIA found the Ford Foundation to be one of the best funding cover.
It was further discovered that the Ford Foundation link to the CIA was a deliberate one and the effort that was being made was to strengthen the US cultural scene while undermining left wing cultural and political influence.
The Ford Foundation according to various investigations conducted was considered to be an extension of the government and it was only carrying out the international cultural propaganda. Another observation was that the Ford Foundation had contributed 7 million US dollars to a CIA organized Congress for Cultural Freedom in the year 1960.
Frances Stonor Saunders writes that the CIA had roped in NGOs not only as fronts but as willing participants in the spy game. She writes that the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation were conscious instruments of covert US policy, with directors and officers who were closely connected to, or even members of American intelligence.
At times, it seemed as if the Ford Foundation was simply an extension of government in the area of international cultural propaganda. The foundation had a record of close involvement in covert actions in Europe, working closely with Marshall Plan and CIA officials on specific projects, Saunders also writes in her book.
The Indian context:
The Home Ministry says that the Ford Foundation was placed under watch after it was found that the NGOs, which were getting grants had not filed their statement of accounts. The mandatory documents such as the balance sheets and the annual reports had not been filed, the Home Ministry states.
Last month, even the Gujarat Government had requested the Home Ministry to take action against Ford Foundation on the ground that they were interfering with the internal affairs of the state. The government had also alleged that they were abetting communal divide through the NGO, Sabrang Trust which is run by Teesta Setalvad.
The government in the past couple of months had blocked 5 million dollars in grants, which was said to be sent in by the Ford Foundation. The government believes that most of the funds are being sent in to sponsor activities and projects that run contrary to the interests of India.
The NGOs were also accused of not filing their statement of accounts for several years now. Among the various issues raised against Ford Foundation, there is also a question mark on the 1 lakh dollar grant to the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. The Home Ministry wants to know why the accounts statements were not filed in this case.
The Home Ministry says that at the moment it has been ordered that the NGO be placed under watch. There are several donations that have been made, which have no valid accounting. Until the accounting is clear, there shall be no permission to receive funds unless cleared by the Home Ministry.
Further the alleged funding of the BBC documentary on Nirbhaya, which was banned by India is also under the scanner of the Home Ministry. The Ford Foundation was also said to have contributed 4 lakh dollars to the NGO Kabir which was run by Arvind Kejriwal.
Ford Foundation statement:
Ford Foundation in a statement says that it has learnt that the Ministry of Home Affairs is reviewing information related to their ongoing investigation of Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt Ltd.
We have not been directly contacted by the Ministry, but we will continue to respond to official queries. The Ford Foundation also says that they are confident in their world and compliance of the law.