Transparency in NGOs funding is need of hour

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 Anti-POSCO protesters in Bangalore
After putting on radar a number of voluntary organisation (NGOs) receiving foreign funds in India, the Union Government will now sensitise all NGOs about compliance of rules when they receive funds from abroad.

A meeting headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh was held in this regard where plans on carrying out sensitisation programme for NGOs forcing them to conform to Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) regulations were sketched. In the meeting, Foreigners Division of the Ministry made a presentation on Visa Policy Citizenship Act, Foreigners' Contribution and Registration Act (FCRA) and related issues.

"The Home Minister appreciated the FCRA Outreach Seminars in different parts of the country and desired that all NGOs receiving foreign funds are sensitized about the compliance with FCRA Act and rules," said a Home Ministry spokesperson.

The development came in the backdrop of a recent IB report which alleged that foreign funding of these NGOs is aimed at stalling development in India. The report memorises the wide protests carried out by social activist Praful Bidwais, Medha Patkar which grab headlines in the last few years.

What IB report highlighted?

The leaked IB report on the ‘Impact of NGOs on Development' had alleged that protests against development projects fuelled by some foreign-funded NGOs had caused a presumptive loss of 2-3% to India's GDP. The report also named a number of NGOs namely Greenpeace India, Cordaid, Amnesty as those fuelling such protests.

NGOs receive over Rs 11,500 crore in foreign funds annually.

The 21-page report calls the NGOs' activities "anti-development" and has highlighted their plans for 2014. These include a campaign against palm oil imports from Indonesia and disposal of e-waste of Indian IT firms, organising construction workers in urban areas, protests against identified projects such as Gujarat's Special Investment Regions, Par Tapi Narmada River Interlinking Project and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.

Who is pumping money to stall development in India?

According to the 2010-2011 Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) reports published by the MHA, the top three donor countries were USA, Germany, and UK. Over the last decade, more than Rs 20,000 crore by the US and nearly Rs 8000 crores by Germany/UK have been donated to the NGOs.

What the facts say:

According to a Home Ministry report, NGOs receive over Rs 11,500 crore in foreign funds annually and the number of such associations is increasing very fast. There are more than 20 lakh NGOs in the country but less than 2 per cent of them - which is 43527 - were registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act up to March 31, 2012. During 2011-2012, 22,702 NGOs reported receipt of foreign contributions amounting to Rs 11546.29 crore. Among all States and Union Territories, NGOs in Delhi received the highest amount of foreign funds- Rs 2285.75 crore in 2011-12.

The IB report has thrown light on an alarming issue. Realising gravity of the issue, the Modi Government should take immediate step to make the process of funding more transparent beside making Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act more stringent it should have close watch on the NGOs, which have emerged out as den of corruption. All NGOs should be made accountable and this could only be done by putting them under RTI ambit.

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