IB Report On NGOs: Is It Really An Attack on Civil Society?

Interestingly, no one is talking about what the report actually points at ‘“ indulgence of these NGOs in anti-development activities.

The recent report of Intelligence Bureau on a handful of foreign-funded non-governmental organizations has seen criticism from all sides. While the experts and media are defending NGOs on the issue of foreign funding through various columns and television shows, many other “intellectuals” in Bollywood and elsewhere are also calling it an attack on the civil society of the country.

Contrary to their defence of all NGOs (and in particular Greenpeace, which was named as a “negatively impacting development projects in the country” in the IB report, and whose one of the defenders was none other than former environment minister Jairam Ramesh) a report in the Indian Express today claimed that “only two per cent of the country’s estimated 20 lakh NGOs report their donations from abroad, and that most of the money is used for purposes not specified by the NGOs.”

According to the report in IE, a home ministry report “classifies 15 major purposes for which the foreign contributions have been received, and states that the highest amounts were received and utilised for “activities which are not mentioned” and under the miscellaneous head — Rs 2,350 crore approximately in 2013 and Rs 2253.61 crore in 2012 — followed by work in rural development, welfare of children, construction and maintenance of schools and colleges, and research.”

Similarly, the Economic Times reported: The stricter regime against NGOs would involve immediate measures to ensure registered NGO’s file their statutory annual returns to the government. The review initiated at the Home Ministry has shown that nearly half the registered NGOs under FCRA – 20,825 out of the 43,527 to be precise – did not file annual returns with the central government which contain details of foreign receipts and utilization.

Interestingly, no one is talking about what the report actually points at – indulgence of these NGOs in anti-development activities. In fact, some went ahead to draw a parallel between FDI and foreign funding of the NGOs. The FDI, as mentioned by a Ravinar, political commentator and author of the blog “mediacrooks”, “Business and venture FDI is returnable, it’s a liability and demands a measurable return on the investment. In case of NGOs it is neither returnable nor a liability. For the NGO it is an “income” (mostly tax-exempt).

As the detail of some of the organizations named in the IB report was given by the author in previous article, it was also established how these NGOs may be involved in the anti-development activities due to their funding.

It should be noted that while the foreign funding and its non-revelation is indeed an issue, terming the IB report (which points out at a handful from the more than 20 Lakh NGOs working in India) an attack on the civil society is a bit uncalled for.

These NGOs named in the IB report wield influence over political lobby and misguide people in the garb of their interests. They are handful lots who have been singled out for anti-national activities. And they are also the NGOs which violate FCRA. Connecting it to the civil society of the country is shameful.

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