Saturday, January 24, 2015

Welcome


National Girl Child Day


Communication holds the key


Ritesh Dubey

Though people are passionate to serve society, it’s time they also understand the importance of communication and acquire necessary skills to communicate

While the number of NGOs in India vary between one and three million and several of them receive funds running into millions of rupees from the government and from abroad, not all NGOs are serving the needs of the people they are garnering funds for.

Recently, NGOs came under the Supreme Court’s scrutiny. This was the aftermath of the Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) submitting that only 10 per cent (out of 2.2 million) NGOs had filed annual income and expenditure statements.

When this correspondent met British national Murray Culshaw, an independent development worker, who has been working with NGOs in India for over two decades, he pointed that it is as important to have a lens on NGOs, as it is vital for the health of a democratic society for NGOs to thrive, communicate and advocate their cause.

Passionate about social issues, Bangalore-based Murray claims he often meets people doing amazing work desperately needed by individuals and communities. And that they manage to do it “in the very challenging situations all around us in the beautiful yet twisted and torn world we live in.”

The interview:

KHALEEJ TIMES: What exactly is your work like?

MURRAY CULSHAW: I rarely use the word ‘work’ for what I do. In the vast range of opportunities, which exist, I concentrate on encouraging NGOs to communicate their work and raise resources to improve and expand their services.

How did it all begin?

I came as a carpentry teacher to India to be in a Christian technical school for youth (without academic qualifications) to learn skills to earn a living; I became interested in the management of technical institutes and NGOs working on development subjects like education and vocational training in rural areas.

This provided opportunities to travel and work as a freelance consultant for international agencies like the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and ActionAid in countries such as Kenya, Palestine and India. Then, I was responsible for Oxfam’s work in India and was based in Delhi for five years. During this period I became aware of the plight (isolation and shortage of income) of NGOs in urban and rural areas, tied to the ‘grant system’.

What exactly is the grant system and how does it work?

The grant-system has arisen from two sources. The first source is where good-hearted people collect money from like-minded people for a cause. This is done through an organisational structure for distribution to NGOs, who have submitted ‘proposals’ or ‘projects’. Sadly, NGOs are forced to spend precious leadership time convincing a few people for grants and often little thought goes into building understanding of and support for their cause in wider society. On the other hand, thousands of people offer money by way of this system, but they do not know to which NGO it goes.

Grant making organisations prefer giving grants for specific works — like running a school or digging a well, but do not care for the NGOs need for communication. This leaves NGOs with no money to communicate their work to society. The same situation prevails wherein the second source, that is grants from the government, is concerned. So neither grant making organisations or the government provide funds to help organisations communicate their work to society, even though it is vital.

You believe things could improve for NGOs if they were able to communicate to the society?

Creating a new brand of toothpaste may not be easy; but responding to people faced with disease, disabilities, lack of shelter, clothing and food, abused and denied rights, is even harder. So, if NGOs were to communicate how they were responding to people’s needs, society would certainly respond in all sorts of practical ways and NGOs and their services would become stronger. But the hurdle is both finance and manpower.

Apart from financial crunch, isn’t a shortage of skilled staff the reason for lack of communication?

Most certainly. Though people are passionate to serve society, it’s time they also understand the importance of both communication and the necessary skills to communicate. There are a few very short training courses. However, training alone cannot solve the problem. People with right intentions and good communication skills such as listening, speaking, writing and designing, have to be recruited. Such people do exist, but they may not have heard of opportunities or the need for their skills. If the need is understood by the NGO and ‘communicated’, a steady stream of youngsters could be recruited into communication teams, even if it means an NGO having to reduce so-called ‘programme’ work, to start with. Hiring one person and gradually expanding the team does work.

Most NGOs in India are said to be corrupt. What has been your experience?

Yes, some are corrupt. But I believe most corruption in NGOs comes from the ones who seek grants from the government. For many, it is a terrible dilemma. To get a grant sanctioned and then to get it disbursed, there is very often the ‘need’ to pay a bribe. Some do, but others refuse at the cost of not getting the grant.

Sadly, there is no research and, therefore, no facts to back up these statements. But ask any NGO if it’s true and I am confident they’ll verify it.

With the Supreme Court observing that NGOs hide facts on funds and making it mandatory for them to submit annual income and expenditure, you think it will make a difference?

Not just the NGOs, everyone, including political parties, private companies and individuals hide facts, even though submission of income and expenses is already mandatory! The problem is with the regulatory institutions, which are absolutely inadequate to report and analyze information. Though it is getting better now, one hopes that with improved computerisation the issues around financial transparency and accountability will reduce.

What else is required?

There’s a need to analyse a number of aspects of NGO finances, especially the salaries of CEO’s. A sample from a recently published US report reads: “The worst offender was yet again for the 11th year in a row — UNICEF. The CEO receives $1.2 million plus use of a Rolls Royce and an ‘expense’ account. Only $0.14 per dollar goes to the UNICEF cause.” So, if we could gather such facts in India, it could trigger some debate!

Any causes that you feel people are unaware of and could support?

I am associated with an organisation that works with the deaf-blind (people who may be born both deaf and blind, born blind and subsequently lose their hearing power, or born deaf and become blind). Many people have not even heard of such a condition. Few would be aware that there are around 500,000 estimated cases of deaf-blindness in the country.

Similarly, there’s an endless list of causes: the plight of children of mothers who have been put in prison; eye cancer; leprosy still being discovered everyday; abused children, various and dangerous forms of child labour; widows with no homes and elderly with no support — that need to be made known. That’s why I emphasise the need for NGOs to communicate their cause and build a solid base of people who understand and support.

For more news from Khaleej Times, follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/khaleejtimes, and on Twitter at @khaleejtimes

Source: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=/data/expressions/2015/January/expressions_January13.xml&section=expressions

Narendra Modi govt cracks down on NGOs, prepares hitlist



The Centre may act against some of the 188 NGOs red-flagged by the Intelligence Bureau for alleged misuse of foreign funds, suspected extremist links and proselytization.

These non-government organisations were reported by the internal spy agency and a list sent to the home ministry, documents accessed by HT have revealed.

The country’s top tax body the central board of direct taxes (CBDT) and enforcement directorate (ED), which tracks foreign funds and money laundering, have been alerted. But, it is not clear how many of the NGOs have been referred to and to which agency.

At a November 21, 2014 meeting, the government’s economic intelligence council expressed concern over misuse of funds received from abroad by some NGOs. Stringent action, including cancellation of registration, was called for, the documents revealed. The council also suggested “sharing of the relevant cases” by home ministry “with CBDT and ED for further action”.

The NGOs have been reported by the IB for a range of activities -- violation of the foreign contribution regulation act (FCRA), links with Left-wing extremists (LWE), “conversion” of tribals to Christianity, and association with organisations such as Students Islamic Movement of India and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.

The reports were compiled over seven years, beginning 2006.

Medecine Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, was reported thrice by the IB -- in 2008, 2010 and 2013 -- for alleged links with “pro-LWE elements”.

“It is also using the satellite phones the use of which is currently not licensed by the government of India. The doctors of the MSF have often been noticed providing medical treatment to tribals in Naxalite infested areas,” says the report on the Nobel Peace prize winning voluntary body.

The French-founded NGO said it had not heard from the home ministry. “Until now we have received good cooperation from the authorities and MSF is carrying out its medical programs since many years as usual,” it told HT.

Amnesty International India Foundation faces similar charges. “Since 2006, it has occasionally aligned with the LWE associated organisation, PUCL. It has been critical of India’s human rights record since 1992, specifically criticiszing police/army action in J&K and North East,” the IB has said. An Amnesty spokesperson declined comment, saying the organisation had not been told of adverse reporting by the government.

Many NGOs have been reported for their alleged conversion activities. The IB report on Erode-based Trinity Charitable Trust says, “Its chief functionary…started the organization in the premises of the Assembly (church), which has 80 members of which 70 are converted. Its two trustees are converted Christians.”

Delhi-based activist Madhu Kishwar’s Manushi Sangathan has been reported for misusing/misappropriating funds and violating FCRA. Manushi was never charged with misappropriation, Kishwar told HT. “As a policy, we never accept foreign funding from international aid agencies and get modest NRI contributions. Our accounts are totally transparent and available on the website,” she said.

In January 2014, Kishwar got an FCRA notice for inspection of accounts which she refused to oblige, demanding proof of wrongdoing. Another notice came after the NDA came to power. “After I stated Manushi’s case in a press conference, I got a phone call saying the inspection had been called off! Since then no one has bothered us.”

The Modi government was Tuesday asked by the Delhi high court to release funds to Greenpeace in India. Greenpeace India had moved the court against the Centre’s move to block funds dispatched from its Amsterdam headquarters since June.

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/modi-govt-prepares-ngo-hitlist/article1-1310127.aspx

Friday, January 23, 2015

Calls for NGOs: grant to combat poverty in Asia, Africa

The Global Innovation Fund invites social enterprises, private firms, non-government organisations, international organisations, researchers, and government agencies to apply for multi-sector grants geared at fighting poverty in India

For More information please visit: http://globalinnovation.fund/apply-to-gif

Now, CSRs to come forward to donate for adolescent girls projects in India

United Nations Population Fund India (UNFPA) has partnered with NextGen, India’s leading CSR & Sustainability Management Company, to provide a cloud and mobile enabled platform for corporates to channel Corporate Social Responsibility funding for the benefit of adolescent girls.

This first of its kind platform, Pledge4Girls.fund, will facilitate CSR projects to leverage UNFPA’s expertise, experience and knowledge of working towards the cause of adolescent girls in over 150 countries.

UNFPA has been supporting the people and the Government of India in realizing potential of young people, sexual and reproductive rights and gender equality through evidence-based approach and inclusive, transparent and accountable project management.

NextGen’s powerful cloud and mobile solution, ‘p3’, will provide robust monitoring, evaluation, reporting and impact assessment for the projects on the platform. p3 will help bridge the accessibility gap for projects in rural remote areas by virtue of its mobile enablement.

The Pledge4girls.fund platform lies at the intersection of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ initiative for the benefit of girls in India, and the ‘Digital India’ initiative for improving governance and tracking of projects.

Emphasising the need for the platform, Frederika Meijer, Country Representative – India, UNFPA said, “Our experiences in the world tell us that investing in young people, especially adolescent girls, is one of the smartest investments we can make in reducing poverty and ensuring sustainable development of a society and a country as a whole. UNFPA, globally as well as in India, has been making efforts to provide a platform for everyone, the governments, NGOs, development partners and, increasingly, the private sector to join hands in fulfilling the rights and potential of the young generation, particularly the adolescent girls. We are pleased to launch Pledge4Girls.fund in partnership with NextGen that will facilitate the cooperating companies achieve maximum impacts of their CSR funds.”

Abhishek Humbad, Co-founder, NextGen, added, “We are excited to partner with UNFPA on this noble cause and provide our industry leading ‘p3’ solution. The cloud and mobile driven ‘p3’ solution is currently being used by corporates and development agencies across India to track, monitor and report CSR projects worth millions of dollars. ‘p3’ enables companies to generate reports on the progress and impact of their CSR projects, in real time and on the fly. Billions of dollars of development capital are spent annually across the globe but there is poor tracking or reporting of impact. We truly believe that digital technologies like cloud and mobile will transform the development sector, not just in India but across the globe”.

“These are exciting times wherein technology is enabling women empowerment, which is itself uniquely placed at the cusp of two important missions of India: women and digital empowerment", added Richa Bajpai, Co-Founder, NextGen.

CEOs of large corporates as well as youth change agents have committed to work towards the cause of adolescent girls in India through the http://Pledge4girls.fund platform.

Source: http://www.iamin.in/en/new-delhi/news/now-csrs-come-forward-donate-adolescent-girls-projects-india-50875



C O M I N G S O O N

pledge4girls.fund

In India, 22% girls aged 15-19 years receive no education; 47% girls are married before 18 years of age; and 24% start child bearing by the age of 18 years. With young people aged 10-24 years constituting almost a third of India’s population, isn't it time we invested our CSR funds on projects that are specifically for the betterment of our adolescent girls?

The United Nations Population Fund - India (UNFPA) and NextGen will soon launch a whole new online platform for corporates in India to do just that: Pledge for girls.



Please visit for more information’s: http://www.pledge4girls.fund

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Introducing NGOBranding.com, a Solution to all Marketing Needs of NGOs

DELHI, January 21, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --

Many NGOs and charitable organisations are working for various social causes today, but they lack visibility due to inadequate marketing and communications. To attract attention from the right quarters and bring in funds to sustain their good work, NGOs need to focus on marketing their achievements and creating an audience for their work. Screwdriver, a media production house with ten years of collective experience behind them, have come up with a new web portal called NGOBranding.com that provides a host of services specifically meant to assist NGOs in their branding and communications.

The team of professionals at Screwdriver (www.screwdriver.in) help NGOs build an online presence and showcase their work to the world by offering services such as domain name registry, website content, website management, brand development and communications. The portal also offers documentary filmmaking and animation services, which can be employed by NGOs to impart visual appeal and expression to the essence and objectives of their organisation. Brochure design, software development, social media and PR services are some other services through which NGOBranding.com helps bridge the gap between NGOs and their target audience.

Rahul Goenka, the man behind this initiative, says, "India is home to thousands of big and small NGOs, many of which are genuinely and consistently working for their chosen causes. It is high time these NGOs start marketing their accomplishments as well, so that they can attract investors, CSR directors and national and international donors to invest their trust and money in their work. A sure-shot way for NGOs to get this attention is to build a brand for themselves and market it skilfully so as to reach out to their target investors and bring in greater funds for their cause."

Donation Manager is one of the unique products of NGOBranding.com. It is essentially an automated system that keeps a record of all the donations and funds received by an NGO. It also enables the automated generation of customer invoices. By automating essential exercises such as financial management and maintenance of donor database, Donation Manager helps in bringing transparency, efficiency and convenience into the operations of NGOs, which has lately made headlines for alleged opacity in management of their funds.

"Indian NGOs have a long way to go in measuring up to the standards set by international NGOs and effective end-to-end communications could be one giant step forward in that direction," Rahul adds.

About NGOBranding.com:

NGOBranding.com is being launched by Screwdriver, a Delhi-based media production house with several years of experience in serving the marketing and communications needs of the non-governmental sector. Their clients include Maitri, a well-known NGO also featured in Satyamev Jayate on TV, Child Survival India and many other institutions working for social causes.

With this initiative, Screwdriver plans to empower NGOs with fresh branding/marketing/creative ideas and tools. The portal will talk about document and communicate the work done by NGOs, which would help them receive CSR funds from various corporate houses.

For more information, visit: http://www.ngobranding.com/

Media Contact: Rahul Goenka, rahul@screwdriver.in, +91-9811710769, Screwdriver

SOURCE Screwdriver

Source: http://www.prnewswire.co.in/news-releases/introducing-ngobrandingcom-a-solution-to-all-marketing-needs-of-ngos-289258731.html

Public Interest Registry Announces Launch Dates for OnGood™

OnGood Community Website and .ngo, .ong Domains Available in May 2015

RESTON, Va., Jan. 21, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After three years of extensive research, planning and development, Public Interest Registry, the not-for-profit operator of the .org domain, today announced that OnGood – a suite of online services exclusively for NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and nonprofits, including the new .ngo and .ong domain bundle – will be generally available beginning May 6, 2015.

Built for NGOs and nonprofits of all sizes and reach, OnGood offers membership to an exclusive community website with a searchable directory, and the brand new .ngo and .ong domain bundle to help improve visibility, raise funds and connect with other NGOs. What's more, OnGood membership includes the opportunity to create a customisable online profile included in a searchable, public directory, further enabling NGOs to showcase their missions, campaigns, multimedia content and other information to collect donations through OnGood's partner donation platform.

"We've spent years traveling to six of the seven continents to engage with fellow members of the NGO and nonprofit community and learn more about their challenges and needs when it comes to reaching a wider order through a thriving online presence. In opening OnGood to NGOs this May, it's our hope that it will serve as a dedicated online community for nonprofits and NGOs of all sizes," said Brian Cute, CEO of Public Interest Registry. "We want to combine the value of a validated online identity with a comprehensive online community that helps organisations raise awareness, funds and strong, long-lasting support for their missions."

In advance of General Availability, Public Interest Registry will also offer two early opportunities for NGOs to join the OnGood community and register their desired .ngo and .ong domain name bundle. The "Limited Registration" period kicks off on Apr. 21, 2015 and allows NGOs that have submitted an Expression of Interest to join the OnGood community and register their .ngo and .ong domain name bundle. Those NGOs that have expressed interest will receive news and information from Public Interest Registry leading up to Apr. 21, 2015. NGOs and nonprofits interested in joining the OnGood community are encouraged to submit an Expression of Interest online at globalngo.org before Limited Registration. There will also be a "Sunrise" period, beginning Mar. 17, 2015 and lasting 30 days. During this time, organisations that have registered their trademark(s) in the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) can register the .ngo and .ong domain name bundle that matches their trademark(s) before it becomes available to the general public.

Whether registering during the Sunrise, Limited Registration or General Availability periods, all NGOs must meet specific eligibility requirements and undergo Public Interest Registry's validation process. Ongoing audits will be conducted to ensure the credibility of the OnGood community and reassure Internet users that .ngo and .ong Web addresses represent validated NGOs.

For more information about OnGood or its validation process, please visit www.globalngo.org.

About Public Interest Registry
Public Interest Registry is a nonprofit corporation that operates the .org top-level domain — the world's third largest "generic" top-level domain with more than 10 million domain names registered worldwide. As an advocate for collaboration, safety and security on the Internet, Public Interest Registry's mission is to empower the global noncommercial community to use the Internet more effectively, and to take a leadership position among Internet stakeholders on policy and other issues relating to the domain naming system. Public Interest Registry was founded by the Internet Society (internetsociety.org) in 2002 and is based in Reston, Virginia, USA.

Contact:
Karyn Barr / Lindsay Hyman
202-223-9260
pir@allisonpr.com

SOURCE Public Interest Registry

Source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/public-interest-registry-announces-launch-dates-for-ongood-300022283.html

Delhi High Court to Centre: Remove freeze on foreign contributions received by Greenpeace India

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the government to remove the freeze on the IDBI Bank account of Greenpeace India, which has foreign contribution of Rs 1.87 crore from Greenpeace International. The court observed that the government had not brought any “evidence on record” to support its action of freezing the account.

“According to me, there is no material on record to restrict the petitioner from accessing the bank account with the IDBI Bank in Chennai,” said the court of Justice Rajiv Shakdher. It said that the “amount in fixed deposited
in the bank be unblocked and transferred to the NGO’s account”.

The court took note of the submissions made by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which had alleged that the “foreign funds” had been contributed by Greenpeace International, which was on its watchlist, but observed that the ministry’s directions to freeze the account had been given before any notice was issued to the NGO.

“How do you respond to the NGO’s allegation. At least, you should say something. First you freeze the account then you investigate the case, which is very, very uncommon,” observed the court, adding that the ministry had not been able to show on record any evidence that the NGO had been engaged in activities that went against national interest.
“NGOs are entitled to have their viewpoints,” said the court, adding that the NGO cannot be accused of acting against national interest “merely because its views do not match the government’s viewpoint”.

The court also noted that the directions to the bank to freeze the accounts were “arbitrary” as the government had not been able to prove its stand.

The court, however, said the government was free to take action against Greenpeace India in future if it found violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) provisions.

The court order came during hearing of a petition filed by Greenpeace India, which alleged that the government had taken action “without any rhyme or reason and without complying with the provisions of FCRA”.

The home ministry had directed the Reserve Bank of India in June 2013 to take prior permission of the ministry’s FCRA department before clearing any foreign aid to Greenpeace India from Greenpeace International and Climate Works. The order resulted in blocking the direct funding of the NGO from abroad since each transaction had to be cleared on a case-to-case basis by the RBI.

During the proceedings, the government’s standing counsel Jasmeet Singh opposed the NGO’s contentions and said the home ministry had a problem with the donor, Greenpeace International, which was on its watchlist.
Greenpeace India advocate Sanjay Parikh had argued that the “uncommunicated and illegal prohibition imposed by MHA in not allowing credit of the foreign funds in the petitioner’s FCRA Bank Account” had “violated the rights of Greenpeace”.

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/unblock-foreign-funds-of-greenpeace-india-hc-to-govt

Greenpeace wins funding battle against Indian government

Greenpeace, the environmental group, won an important victory in India on Tuesday, as the Delhi High Court ordered the government of Narendra Modi, prime minister, to release Rs18m in foreign contributions to its Indian branch.

In June, New Delhi blocked incoming foreign contributions to Greenpeace India, just after a leaked intelligence bureau report accused the group, and a clutch of other non-governmental organisations, of stalling India’s growth by fomenting dissent to large industrial projects.

However, Greenpeace appealed the government action. Justice Rajiv Shakdher ruled that the blocking of the funds was arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional, as authorities had never notified Greenpeace that money would be frozen, or provided a clear explanation for the move.

In his ruling, Justice Shakdher also noted that non-governmental organisations were entitled to have their own viewpoints, and just because they may oppose some government policies did not make them antinational.

Speaking after the ruling, Sanjay Parikh, the New Delhi-based lawyer who represented Greenpeace India, told the Financial Times the judgment was an affirmation of the fundamental rights of civil society groups.

“This is very very important,” he said. “It ultimately reaffirms faith in democracy and constitution that NGOs also participate in the developmental process, and that the definition of development is not in one way that the government understands but is in many ways.”

The government did not immediately comment on the ruling.

Greenpeace India, and a number of other non-government organisations including a clutch of Dutch-funded NGOs, have incurred the wrath of New Delhi’s political establishment in recent years by supporting grassroots community groups opposed large-scale industrial projects, including mines and heavy industries, on or near their traditional lands.

In the leaked intelligence bureau report, authorities estimated that NGO activism had cost India an average of 2 to 3 per cent GDP growth a year.

Greenpeace India has been the most obvious target of government ire, after the group’s campaign against a planned coal mine, which they say would destroy the livelihoods of about 50,000 people in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

Besides freezing overseas funds for Greenpeace India, authorities last week barred one of its campaigners from leaving the country to prevent her from meeting with British parliamentarians to discuss the coal mine.

New Delhi has also issued circulars to discourage India’s banks from opening accounts or processing transactions for a handful of Dutch-funded organisations working on human rights and environmental issues.

Many other charities and social activists are also concerned that the government may also crack down on their flow of foreign funds under new rules that require them to seek government permission to receive contributions every five years.

The verdict will come as a boost to civil society groups. “This is a vindication of our work, and the role that NGOs play in campaigning for sustainable development,” said Samit Aich, Greenpeace India’s executive director. “It’s a strong signal from the judiciary that the government must cease its campaign of harassment against civil society.”

Source: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/35533dfa-a0a4-11e4-9aee-00144feab7de.html#axzz3PX1ZqTtU

Court Orders Indian Government to Free Greenpeace Funds

An Indian court Tuesday ordered the government to release frozen funds worth approximately $270,000 to Greenpeace India Society sent from environmental group’s global headquarters.

Delhi High Court overturned a decision by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs to restrict funding for Greenpeace and other international environmental organizations in June last year.

The ministry’s directive followed a report by India’s Intelligence Bureau that alleged that the protests of such groups could be knocking percentage points off of the country’s gross domestic product growth.

The central government had asked India’s Reserve Bank of India to delay fund transfers to local units of six non-profits including, Greenpeace International, Association for India’s Development, Action Aid International and Survival International.

The latest judgment by the Delhi High Court came in response to a petition filed by Greenpeace India in August last year that said that the government’s decision to block their foreign funding pipeline was “uncommunicated and illegal.” In its petition, Greenpeace also said that it had sought government documents explaining the reasons behind the freeze on funds but had not received a response.

In October, the government said that contributions from “certain foreign donors…is used for agitations and campaign, thereby adversely impacting national interests” and that Greenpeace India had failed to provide complete details of the project for which it had received funds from its counterpart in Amsterdam.

On Tuesday, the court ruled that the government had been unable to produce any “material on record on the basis of which its action could be sustained,” according to Samir Parikh, a Delhi-based lawyer representing Greenpeace India.

The court’s decision had “upheld the legitimacy of the issues Greenpeace takes up in India,” Samit Aich, the executive director of Greenpeace Indiasaid in a statement.

The report by India’s Intelligence Bureau last year said Indian NGOs with foreign donors were found to “create an environment which lends itself to stalling developmental projects.”

Under Indian law, the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act permits the government to restrict overseas funding to nonprofits. However, given the new government’s pro-development stance, its decision to curb funding to NGOs was seen as a move to clear the passage for big-ticket projects, including those involving nuclear power and coal mining and expedite their completion.

June’s report named some companies like POSCO, Essar Energy PLC and U.K.-based Vedanta Resources PLC, whose ongoing projects had been mired by activities of the nonprofit groups.

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2015/01/21/court-orders-indian-government-to-free-greenpeace-funds

Delhi HC orders Government of India to ‘unblock’ foreign funding to Greenpeace India

The Delhi High Court today directed the Government of India to “unblock” foreign contributions to the tune of Rs 1.87 crore received by the NGO Greenpeace India from its headquarters in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The Delhi High Court today directed the Government of India to “unblock” foreign contributions to the tune of Rs 1.87 crore received by the NGO Greenpeace India from its headquarters in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The court observed that the ministry "showed no material tor restrict access" to the foreign fund.

"According to me, there is no material on record to restrict the petitioner (Greenpeace India Society) from accessing the bank account with the IDBI bank in Chennai," Justice Rajiv Shakdher said, observing that the "amount in fixed deposited in the bank be unblocked and transferred to the NGO's account.”

The court also observed that all NGOs were entitled to have their viewpoints and merely because their views are not in consonance with that of the government's, it does not mean they were acting against national interest.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had directed the Reserve Bank of India to take prior permission of the Ministry’s Foreign Contribution Regulatory Act department before clearing any foreign aid to Greenpeace from Greenpeace International and Climate Works Foundation, which are the two principal international contributors to Greenpeace India Society. This directive, issued on June 13, 2013, put on hold direct funding for the NGO.

“This is a vindication of our work and the role that credible NGOs play in support of India’s development. The court has deemed the government’s action as unconstitutional and has upheld the legitimacy of the issues Greenpeace takes up in India,” said Samit Aich, Executive Director, Greenpeace India.

Agencies and Greenpeace India

Source: https://in.news.yahoo.com/delhi-hc-orders-government-of-india-to--unblock--foreign-funding-to-greenpeace-india-133403655.html

Ten FC Donors under Prior Permission

For quite some time, Indian banks have been asked by RBI to refer some international remittances to FCRA Wing. The RBI has now issued a general circular on this. Remittances from following donors are subject to prior-approval from Ministry of Home Affairs:

1. Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA)

2. Danish Institute of Human Rights (DIHR)

3. Catholic Organization for [Relief] and Development Aid (CORDAID)

4. Dan Church Aid (DCA)

5. Mercy Corps, USA

6. Inter Church Peace Council _ Pax Christi (IKV- PC) , Netherlands

7. HIVOS, Netherlands

8. ICCO Stretegische Samenwerking (ICCO), Netherlands

9. Green Peace International

10. Climate Work Foundation (CWF), US

If you are receiving funds from one of these donors, be prepared for long delays in credit of the funds to your accounts.

Ref: RBI/2014-15/408 DCBR.BPD (PCB/RCB) Cir.No.13/14.01.062/2014-15 dated January 15, 2015; Available at http://www.srr-foundation.org/circulars/RBI-Circular-16012015.pdf

Ten FC Donors under Prior Permission

Ten FC Donors Under Prior Permission!

For quite some time, Indian banks have been asked by RBI to refer some international remittances to FCRA Wing. The RBI has now issued a general circular on this. Remittances from following donors are subject to prior-approval from Ministry of Home Affairs:

1. Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA)

2. Danish Institute of Human Rights (DIHR)

3. Catholic Organization for [Relief] and Development Aid (CORDAID)

4. Dan Church Aid (DCA)

5. Mercy Corps, USA

6. Inter Church Peace Council _ Pax Christi (IKV- PC) , Netherlands

7. HIVOS, Netherlands

8. ICCO Stretegische Samenwerking (ICCO), Netherlands

9. Green Peace International

10. Climate Work Foundation (CWF), US

If you are receiving funds from one of these donors, be prepared for long delays in credit of the funds to your accounts.

· RBI/2014-15/408 DCBR.BPD (PCB/RCB) Cir.No.13/14.01.062/2014-15 dated January 15, 2015; Available at http://icmai.in/upload/pd/RBI-Circular-16012015.pdf

Power to Give Directions under FCRA

RBI has issued these instructions to the banks on the basis of a letter from Ministry of Home Affairs. What is the legal basis for the MHA letter? Sec. 46 of FCRA empowers the Government to give directions to various persons. However, these directions should be issued to help implement the provisions of the Act.

· RBI/2014-15/408 DCBR.BPD (PCB/RCB) Cir.No.13/14.01.062/2014-15 dated January 15, 2015; Available athttp://icmai.in/upload/pd/RBI-Circular-16012015.pdf

Monday, January 12, 2015

Invitation


National Toll Free Helpline for DRUG DE-ADDICTION


BSE to set up a CSR Exchange

Thane: With the growing connect between big business and corporate social responsibility, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) will soon set up a CSR Exchange, said Ashish Chauhan, BSE managing director and CEO.

"The Indian Companies Act, 2013, is a significant step in the direction of CSR. We will soon set up a CSR Exchange where NGOs (non-governmental organisations) can register," Chauhan said Saturday evening at a two-day weekend retreat of top Indian corporates at Govardhan Eco Village in Wada here.

His announcement came at a conclave on implementing Vedic wisdom, art of giving, spirituality, and good governance in modern business practices for all-round benefits, organised by Iskcon under Artha Forum.

Addressing the meet, Piramal Group chairman Ajay Piramal stressed on humility in business.

"If one has a value-driven business, it increases the economic value. Integrity is an alignment between what you think, what you see and what you do ethically," Piramal said.

He pointed out that when one ventures into a new venture, there are challenges which can be converted into business opportunities.

"But, it is important to be humble. Unlike the US style of management where the business head would wield his power to get recognition, here we have found that on being humble, we get better advice, love and respect," Piramal said.

KIIT and KISS founder Achyut Samanta said the more we respect women in our society, homes and offices, there be more overall prosperity.

"It is not about Vedic knowledge which we all know about. Do we practice it? Do we practice giving? Spiritualism among the wealthy can motivate many big people to do good things and bring about great positive changes in society," Samanta said.

Apar Group of Industries chairman N.D. Desai said that scriptures have suggested that 50 percent of wealth must be for the good of society, 25 percent must be distributed to family or relatives and the rest must be kept for oldage security.

"I don't want to be in the Forbes list...I want to be in Krishna's list," he said.

Artha Forum founder and managing partner of Basil Growth Corporation Rajeev Srivastav dwelt on how they had helped many start-ups and powered many business which came with a view to give back to society.

"In fact, some started with zero-value and then the firms became million-dollar companies, but the great thing was that many of them used as much as 50 percent of wealth for charity," Srivastav said.

The other prominent speakers included Iskcon spiritual leader Radhanath Swami, Maharashtra Chief Secretray S. Kshatriya, Arvind Mafatlal Group chairman Hrishikesh Mafatlal, Rajshri Media MD and CEO Rajjat Barjatya, Mahindra SSC CEO Dinesh Pillai, Swastik Pictures heads Rahul Tiwary and Siddharth Tiwary, and Institute of Public Health director Vishal Rao.

Source: http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/2015-01-11/BSE-to-set-up-a-CSR-Exchange-125703

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Explained: Lens on NGOs

Written by Shyamlal Yadav

The Centre told the Supreme Court this week that it wanted to stop grants to NGOs who fail to file their income-expenditure statements. The court asked if it should pass an order to that effect, following which the counsel for the government asked for leave to move a memo. SHYAMLAL YADAV explains some key issues in the matter.

What is a Non-Governmental Organisation?

Worldwide, the term ‘NGO’ is used to describe a body that is neither part of a government nor a conventional for-profit business organisation. NGOs are typically set up by groups of ordinary citizens, and are involved in a wide range of activities that may have charitable, social, political, religious or other interests.

In India, NGOs can be registered under a plethora of Acts such as the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860, Religious Endowments Act,1863, Indian Trusts Act, etc.

How did the Supreme Court come to examine them?

Advocate M L Sharma filed a public interest lawsuit in 2013, requesting an inquiry against Hind Swaraj Trust, an NGO run by social activist Anna Hazare. The court widened its scope and ordered an inquiry into all registered NGOs in India.

How many NGOs are there in India?

India has possibly the largest number of active NGOs in the world, but no specific number is available. A study commissioned by the government put the number of NGOs in 2009 at 33 lakh. That was one NGO for fewer than 400 Indians, and many times the number of primary schools and primary health centres.

Do they receive government funds?

Worldwide, NGOs are helpful in implementing government schemes at the grassroots. In India, ministries such as Health and Family Welfare, HRD, WCD and MoEF have separate sections to deal with NGOs. They are flooded with requests for grants but only a handful of NGOs linked to politicians, bureaucrats or other high-profile individuals get hefty government funds.

Do they receive funds from abroad?

They may, if they are registered with the Home Ministry under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). Without this, no NGO can receive cash or anything of value higher than Rs 25,000. Last year, the Home Ministry served showcause notices on 10,331 FCRA-registered NGOs for not filing mandatory contribution reports for 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Why have NGOs been recently controversial?

An IB report, submitted to the PMO and National Security Adviser in June, alleged that several foreign-funded NGOs were stalling India’s economic growth by their obstructionist activism. The report accused Greenpeace of attempting to destabilise India’s energy mix in collusion with a US-based anti-coal lobbying group. The IB subsequently advised the government to cancel Greenpeace’s FCRA registration.

What has CBI told the Supreme Court?

That fewer than 10 per cent (only 2,23,428) of 22,39,971 NGOs in 20 states have filed balance sheets with the authorities. Details from Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Delhi are awaited.

Are there tax benefits in donating to NGOs?

Charitable donations are eligible for exemption, with the condition that it should not be for benefit of any religious community or caste, among other conditions. As per the I-T department website, 1,50,217 institutions have got approval under Sec 12A of the Income-Tax Act to receive donations under Sec 80G.

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/explained-lens-on-ngos

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Funds freeze: NGOs yet to get intimation

The organisations are working on impact of coal projects

While the Home Affairs Ministry has directed the Reserve Bank of India to stop the flow of foreign funds to four non-governmental organisations, three of them are yet to get an official intimation of the order.

Bank Information Centre, Avaaz, 350.org and Sierra Club are engaged in work related to the social and environmental impact of coal projects. Sierra Club has denied any presence in India.

“We do not have any staff or offices in India, and we have not been contacted by the Indian government recently regarding the details of this issue,” John Coequyt, director of international climate programmes of Sierra Club, said in an e-mail to questions from The Hindu. “One of Sierra Club’s major goals is to promote the transition from dangerous fossil fuels to clean energy solutions that create jobs and reduce pollution. Therefore, we monitor U.S. government funding of projects and institutions that may affect those goals at home or abroad.”

A letter from the Director of the Ministry’s unit monitoring NGOs says it has “decided to keep a watch on all the activities funded by U.S.-based donor agencies,” listing the four groups. Every fund transfer from abroad to their activists in India will be held back, pending the Ministry’s clearance.

‘Not registered’

RBI records say the international NGOs have not been registered with the government. Nor had their employees in India applied for the Ministry’s Foreigners’ Division (FCRA wing) clearance. The Ministry is going to enquire into all remittances into India from these groups since January 2013.

BIC and Avaaz have not received any official letter stopping their funds. A leaked Intelligence Bureau report, “Concerted efforts by select foreign-funded NGOs to take down Indian development projects”, in 2014 alleged that several foreign-funded environmental NGOs were targeting development projects across the country. Greenpeace, Sierra Club and 350.org were mentioned in its annexure.

While the other three NGOs have been making online petitions and organising marches, BIC partners with civil society in developing countries to influence the World Bank and other international financial institutions to promote social and economic justice and ecological sustainability.

BIC’s work has led to complaints by mass organisations against the 4,000-MW Tata Mundra project, which is financed by a consortium of banks and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. The complaint filed with the Compliance Adviser Ombudsman led to an audit in 2013, which found serious lapses in the project.

Among its key findings are that environmental and social risks, and impact of the project were not considered and addressed. There is no social baseline data, the IFC’s policies for land acquisition were not applied, inadequate attention was paid to biodiversity conservation and the IFC failed to examine the cumulative impact of projects around Tata Mundra.

BIC assisted local communities to make several online and offline representations to the World Bank to act on the findings of the ombudsman. The findings, which were made public, are, however, not binding. The Mundra project is financed by the Asian Development Bank, which did a compliance review of the project after a complaint by the local organisation representing project-affected persons. The report is expected shortly.

Against the Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project, a Reliance Power project partly funded by the U.S. Exim Bank, a complaint was filed by various NGOs and local groups to the Bank’s Office of the Inspector-General last year. Several issues of labour rights violation, inadequate compensation and health issues were raised, especially since the project is in Singrauli, which has nine coal plants and 11 coal mines.

The impact of these projects on people and health has not been cumulatively assessed.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/funds-freeze-ngos-yet-to-get-intimation/article6761015.ece

Govt: No balance sheet, no funding for NGOs

Tightening noose around more than 24 lakh registered NGOs, the Centre Monday told the Supreme Court that it wanted to stop grant of funds to all such groups which have failed to regularly file their income-expenditure statements.

Additional Solicitor General P S Patwalia informed a bench led by Chief Justice H L Dattu that the government was contemplating to set it as a condition precedent for release of funds that the NGOs adduce balance sheets, which are to be filed before the Registrar of Societies.

“For release of grants, let it be a condition precedent that the government would release money only after they produce such accounts of the preceding three years. Those not complying with this should not receive any grant,” said the ASG.

The bench replied: “We want to know why should NGOs which are not maintaining records of their finances be allowed to continue and receive funds from the government. Should we record your undertaking in our order?” At this, the ASG sought liberty to move an appropriate note or memo before the court. The bench allowed him to do so and said that an appropriate order, based on the Centre’s note, could be passed on the next date of hearing.

Meanwhile, the court also issued notices to Tamil Nadu and Telangana, seeking explanation on why they had not provided details to the CBI about registered NGOs in the states. The court had earlier directed the agency to collect details of all the registered NGOs and apprise it whether they regularly filed income-expenditure statements.

PIL petitioner M L Sharma had sought an imminent inquiry against NGO Hind Swaraj Trust, run by social activist Anna Hazare, but the court had expanded the scope of the petition and ordered institution of an inquiry against all registered NGOs in the country.

According to the inquiry conducted by the CBI so far, only about 10 per cent of the NGOs have filed requisite financial statements. Out of 22.4 lakh NGOs in 20 states, only 2.23 lakh have filed their balance sheets.

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/govt-no-balance-sheet-no-funding-for-ngos

India has one cop for every 940 people, an NGO for 535

NEW DELHI: CBI on Monday raised a question mark on NGOs in the country, informing the Supreme Court that of the more than 22 lakh NGOs in various states, less than 10% had filed their balance sheets on grants received and their expenditures with the authorities.

CBI collated data from 20 states and seven UTs, and informed the court that 22,45,655 NGOs were operating in the states. Of these only 2,234,78 NGOs, that is 9.9%, have filed their returns.

The number of NGOs will be much more as it did not include data from MP, Odisha, TN, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh. Taking India's population to be 1.2 billion, there appears to be an NGO for every 535 people. According to home ministry data, at present India has one policeman for 940 people.

Supreme Court concerned

Hearing a PIL by advocate ML Sharma on regulating the NGOs, a Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu and justices AK Sikri and RK Agrawal expressed concern over a large majority of them not filing accounts of receipt and expenditure with the Registrar of Societies.

It asked additional solicitor general PS Patwalia, "Why NGOs should not be asked to mandatorily maintain appropriate accounts?"

Patwalia suggested that NGOs could be asked to submit accounts for the previous three years to be eligible for receiving grants. The bench asked the Centre to file its suggestions on the issue.

UP has the highest number of NGOs at 5.48 lakh followed by Maharashtra, which has 5.18 lakh of them. Figures for other states are Kerala — 3.69 lakh; Rajasthan — 1.36 lakh; West Bengal — 2.34 lakh; Assam - 97,437; Punjab — 84,752; Uttarakhand — 62,632; Gujarat — 61,959 and Bihar — 33,781.

The court issued notices to Tamil Nadu and Telangana as the CBI complained that the two states have not provided any data relating to registered NGOs in their territories. The agency also said that part information had been received from Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Haryana.

Among the Union territories, Delhi has not yet furnished data to the CBI. Puducherry has a healthy NGO culture. It has 60 registered NGOs of which 46 filed their accounts with the competent authority.

Given the huge statistics to deal with, the CBI sought three more months to compile the information from the states.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-has-one-cop-for-every-940-people-an-NGO-for-535/articleshow/45771040.cms

भारत में पुलिसवालों से ज्यादा हैं एनजीओ

धनंजय महापात्रा, नई दिल्ली
केंद्रीय जांच एजेंसी (सीबीआई) ने देश  भीतर एनजीओ की भारी संख्या को लेकर सवाल उठाए हैं। जांच एजेंसी ने सुप्रीम कोर्ट को सूचित किया है कि अलग-अलग राज्यों को मिलाकर देश में 22 लाख से ज्यादा एनजीओ हैं। इनमें से 10% से भी कम अनुदान और खर्चे को लेकर बैलेंस शीट का ब्योरा जमा करवाते हैं।

अगर भारत की जनसंख्या 1.2 अरब भी मान लेते हैं तो इस आधार पर हर 535 आदमी पर एक एनजीओ बैठता है, जबकि गृह मंत्रालय के आंकड़े के मुताबिक देश में हर 940 लोगों पर एक पुलिसवाला है।

सीबीआई ने 20 राज्यों और 7 केंद्र शासित प्रदेशों का ब्योरा जुटाने के बाद सूचित किया कि इन राज्यों में 22 लाख 45 हजार 655 एनजीओ काम कर रहे हैं, जिसमें से 2 लाख 23 हजार 478 ने सोसायटी रजिस्ट्रार के पास अपना रिटर्न दाखिल किया है, जो महज 9.9% है।

एनजीओ की वास्तविक संख्या इससे काफी अधिक होगी क्योंकि इसमें मध्य प्रदेश, छत्तीसगढ़, तेलंगाना, ओडिशा, कर्नाटक और तमिलनाडु जौसे राज्यों के एनजीओ शामिल नहीं हैं।

वकील एम. एल. शर्मा ने एनजीओ को रेग्युलेट करने की मांग करते हुए एक जनहित याचिका दाखिल की है। इस पर सुनवाई करते हुए चीफ जस्टिस एच एल दत्तू, जस्टिस ए. के. सीकरी और जस्टिस आर. के. अग्रवाल की बेंच ने हालात को लेकर चिंता जताई और अडिशनल सलिसिटर जनरल पी. एस. पटवालिया से पूछा, 'क्या एनजीओ से यह नहीं कहा जा सकता कि अनिवार्य रूप से अकाउंट का लेखा-जोखा रखें?'

इस पर पटवालिया से सलाह दी, 'एनजीओ से कहा जा सकता है कि अनुदान पाने के लिए उन्हें पिछले तीन सालों का लेखा-जोखा जमा कराना होगा।' बेंच ने केंद्र सरकार को निर्देश दिया कि वह भी इस मुद्दे पर सुझाव दे।

उत्तर प्रदेश में एनजीओ की संख्या सबसे अधिक 5.48 लाख और उसके बाद महाराष्ट्र का नंबर आता है, जहां 51.8 लाख एनजीओ हैं। अन्य राज्यों में केरल में 3.69 लाख, राजस्थान में 1.36 लाख, पश्चिम बंगाल में 2.34 लाख, असम में 97,437, पंजाब में 84,752, उत्तराखंड में 62,632, गुजरात में 61,959 और बिहार में 33,781 एनजीओ हैं।

कोर्ट ने एनजीओ से जुड़े आंकड़े नहीं देने पर तमिलनाडु और तेलंगाना को नोटिस भी जारी किया है। सीबीआई ने दोनों राज्यों की सुप्रीम कोर्ट से शिकायत दर्ज कराई थी। जांच एजेंसी ने यह भी बताया कि मध्य प्रदेश, ओडिशा, छत्तीसगढ़, कर्नाटक, आंध्र प्रदेश, अरुणाचल प्रदेश और हरियाणा से भी आंशिक आंकड़े ही मिले हैं।

केंद्र शासित प्रदेशों में दिल्ली ने अभी तक सीबीआई को आंकड़े नहीं दिए हैं, जबकि चंडीगढ़ में एनजीओ की संख्या सबसे ज्यादा 3981 है और किसी ने भी अधिकारियों के सामने अपना लेखा-जोखा जमा नहीं कराया है।

पुडुचेरी का रिकॉर्ड इस मामले में शानदार है। यहां 60 रजिस्टर्ड एनजीओ हैं और 46 ने सक्षम अधिकारी के सामने अपने अकाउंट के डीटेल्स जमा कराए हैं।

राज्यों से आंकड़ों को जुटाने और उसे पेश करने के लिए सीबीआई ने सुप्रीम कोर्ट से तीन महीने की मोहलत मांगी है। वकील शर्मा ने 2011 में जनहित याचिका दायर करके अन्ना हजारे के एनजीओ हिंद स्वराज ट्रस्ट पर फंड्स के दुरुपयोग का आरोप लगाया था।

लेकिन, सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने इस याचिका का दायरा बढ़ा दिया और सीबीआई को निर्देश दिया कि वह एनजीओ के बारे में देशभर से ब्योरा जुटाएं कि वे सक्षम अधिकारी के सामने अपने अकाउंट्स का ब्योरा जाम कर रहे हैं या नहीं।

Source: http://navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/india/india-has-one-policeman-for-every-940-persons-an-ngo-for-535/articleshow/45771934.cms

Monday, January 5, 2015

SMILE


US-based NGOs put on watch list were flouting FCRA Act, MHA says

NEW DELHI: The Union home ministry on Friday defended its decision to put four US-based NGOs on the watch list and subject all foreign contributions received by them in India to prior clearance, stating that they were flouting norms by receiving remittances in personal accounts instead of their designated FCRA account.

As per the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010, all foreign contributions must be remitted to designated FCRA account of NGOs registered under the Act. The four US-based NGOs - reportedly, Avaaz, Bank Information Centre, Sierra Cluba and 350.org - were found to be remitting foreign funds to personal accounts instead of the designated FCRA account. "These NGOs are therefore liable for action initiated against them. It is expected of all NGOs, including foreign, to respect Indian laws and regulations and carry out their activities in accordance with the laid-down norms," said the official.

The Reserve Bank of India has now put on hold any direct flow of funds to these NGOs and their representatives from abroad since each transaction has to be cleared on a case-by- case basis.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/US-based-NGOs-put-on-watch-list-were-flouting-FCRA-Act-MHA-says/articleshow/45738341.cms

Fixing The Big Picture: Axis Bank Foundation

by Pravin Palande

By shifting its focus from education to the larger issue of poverty, Axis Bank Foundation is proving effective in addressing the livelihood issue in underprivileged India

Why were children still dropping out of schools, wondered Babu Joseph, executive trustee and CEO of Axis Bank Foundation (ABF). It was 2010. His organisation had been working closely with NGOs in some of the poorest areas of the country, but to little avail. Since 2006, when ABF was set up (as UTI Bank Foundation before the name change to Axis Bank took place in 2007), education had been its primary focus but, over the years, the results had not been encouraging. “We often saw children dropping out of school and we found that poverty was the reason for that. These were areas which had not seen any growth in terms of income as well as development,” says Joseph.

Among the worrisome areas was Jharkhand, where ABF was working with the Nav Bharat Jagriti Kendra, an NGO that concentrated on supplementary education for classes 8 to 10, particularly in courses related to maths and sciences. The NGO had found that kids were dropping out as their parents were continually on the move in the search for livelihood.

A similar trend was observed in the slums of Delhi where kids had to leave school since families were returning to their native places due to lack of jobs and looking for work on the farms.

Joseph phoned Shikha Sharma, managing director and CEO of Axis Bank, and asked for a meeting. This was in June 2010, a busy time for Sharma. It had only been a year since she had taken up the top job and already had her plate full. But he got his meeting and explained to her that there was an increasing trend in the dropout rate of kids and that vitiated the foundation’s focus on primary education. Sharma told him to dig deeper and assess the reasons behind this trend. Within the next three months, and after talking to various people in the field, Joseph was convinced about the link between the dropout rate on the one hand, and poverty and migration on the other.

The shift in focus to sustainable livelihood—and tackling the problem at the root—was the obvious solution. “Once people find stable jobs, they will not have any problems sending their kids to school,” Sharma told Joseph.

The next steps were clear: Joseph and his team engaged with four NGOs who were working on sustainable livelihoods. He started with Development of Humane Action (Dhan) Foundation, a Madurai-based organisation that works on improving livelihoods using innovative themes. Among those initiatives is the cleaning up of the lakes and tanks so that women do not travel distances to fetch water. Through this programme, ABF worked with 30,000 families, training the women through self-help groups in kitchen gardening and animal husbandry, among other areas.

“The focus for Axis Foundation is that we want to see the income of these people grow and see how we can help them achieve this. We work very closely, and on a long-term basis, with our NGOs so that these goals can be sustainable,” says Sharma. As with Dhan, ABF outsources its programmes to other NGOs that are experts in their fields. How it works is, ABF identifies a cause and connects it to the appropriate NGO, and, thereafter, monitors the work. The association is similar to that in project finance where targets and achievements are well-rewarded. For instance, ABF has even worked with NGOs such as People’s Rural Education Movement that work on making tribal youth employable.

Source: http://forbesindia.com/article/philanthropy-awards-2014/fixing-the-big-picture-axis-bank/39287/1

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Ahead of Barack Obama's visit, Centre clamps down four US NGOs

In a move that could trigger controversy before US president Barack Obama's visit, Centre has clamped down on four American NGOs — Avaaz, Bank Information Centre (BIC), Sierra Club and 350.org – dealing with issues on climatechange.

Union home ministry sources said the action was taken as irregularities were found in the funds being transferred. The funds received by the NGOs were being transferred in to the individual or personal accounts and not into the accounts approved to receive foreign funding under the Foreign Control regulation Act (FCRA).

Following home ministry's observation, the Reserve Bank of India has restricted all funding to four American NGOs operating in India after the government found them allegedly violating laws related to foreign contributions.

The home ministry has asked RBI to take prior permission from its foreigners' division before clearing any aid from abroad to the four NGOs. The move, sources said, follows prolonged monitoring of the activities of four American NGOs which were allegedly violating the rules governing FCRA.

Accordingly, the RBI has put on hold any direct flow of funds to these NGOs and their representatives from abroad since each transaction has to be cleared on a case-by- case basis by the home ministry.

The move comes within six months of international environment group Greenpeace and Climate Works Foundation subjected to a similar restriction for allegedly opposing severaldevelopment projects in India. The two NGOs have denied the charges.

Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-government-clamps-down-on-four-us-ngos-2049132

Four NGOs barred from receiving foreign funds

New Delhi

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has restricted all funding to four American NGOs operating in India after the government found them allegedly violating laws related to foreign contributions.

The US-based Avaaz, Bank Information Centre, Sierra Club and 350.org or their representatives have been debarred from receiving funds from abroad after it was found that the foreign contributions were being remitted into personal accounts of a few individuals instead of bank accounts operated under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, a Home Ministry official said.

The action came after Home Ministry asked RBI to take prior permission from its foreigners’ division before clearing any aid from abroad to the four NGOs. It follows prolonged monitoring of the activities of the four American NGOs which were allegedly violating the rules governing FCRA.

Accordingly, the central bank has put on hold any direct flow of funds to these NGOs and their representatives from abroad since each transaction has to be cleared on a case-by- case basis, the official said.

The move came six months after international environment group Greenpeace and Climate Works Foundation were subjected to a similar restriction for allegedly opposing several development projects in India. The NGOs have denied the charges.

“No NGO will be allowed to violate Indian regulations and (will be) liable for action if they do so. Action will be initiated against them,” the official said.

Source: http://deshgujarat.com/2015/01/02/foreign-funds-flow-restricted-to-four-ngos-in-india

Foreign funds flow restricted to four NGOs

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has restricted all funding to four American NGOs operating in India after the government found them allegedly violating laws related to foreign contributions.

The US-based Avaaz, Bank Information Centre, Sierra Club and 350.Org or their representatives have been debarred from receiving funds from abroad after it was found that the foreign contributions were being remitted into personal accounts of a few individuals instead of bank accounts operated under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, a Home Ministry official said.

The action came after Home Ministry asked RBI to take prior permission from its foreigners' division before clearing any aid from abroad to the four NGOs. It follows prolonged monitoring of the activities of the four American NGOs which were allegedly violating the rules governing FCRA.

Accordingly, the central bank has put on hold any direct flow of funds to these NGOs and their representatives from abroad since each transaction has to be cleared on a case-by- case basis, the official said.

The move came six months after international environment group Greenpeace and Climate Works Foundation were subjected to a similar restriction for allegedly opposing several development projects in India. The NGOs have denied the charges.

"No NGO will be allowed to violate Indian regulations and (will be) liable for action if they do so. Action will be initiated against them," the official said.

Source: http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/foreign-funds-flow-restricted-to-four-ngos-115010200886_1.html

Govt. targets climate groups


SUHASINI HAIDAR
MEENA MENON

MHA says it will not compromise on national interest

After taking action against the international environment group Greenpeace, the government has clamped down on four American NGOs working in the same field — Avaaz, Bank Information Centre (BIC), Sierra Club and 350.org.

Over the past month, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to stop all foreign funding into the accounts of these NGOs or their representatives without MHA clearance. A letter issued by the Director of the Monitoring unit for NGOs said it had been decided “to keep a watch on all the activities funded by U.S.-based donor agencies” and lists the four groups.

The order could create a controversy ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India this month, given that the U.S. has in the past issued statements regarding India’s restrictions on international NGOs.

In 2013, after India took similar action against anti-nuclear groups in Kudankulam, the U.S. State Department had denied it was linked to the NGOs, but said such groups “are among the essential building blocks of any healthy democracy.” Later, the funding for Greenpeace was also frozen.

As a result of the latest MHA order, every fund transfer from abroad for their activists in India will be held back pending clearance.

According to RBI records, the international NGOs were not registered with the government. Neither had their employees in India applied for FCRA clearance. The MHA is also going to inquire into all remittances into India from these groups since January 2013.

Last year also saw the leak of an IB report titled “Concerted efforts by select foreign-funded NGOs to take down Indian development projects.” It contended that several foreign-funded environmental NGOs were targeting development projects across the country. Apart from Greenpeace, Sierra Club and 350.org were mentioned in Annexure B of the IB report in a graph.

Home Ministry and Foreign Ministry officials did not comment on the order and declined to speak about why U.S.-based NGOs had been singled out for scrutiny.

Reason to worry, says NGO representative

A representative of an American green NGO, one of four whose foreign funding will be stopped unless they are cleared by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), told TheHindu that the move appeared to question democratic effort that individuals and organisations could exercise in the country. “False allegations against activists of political subversion are becoming commonplace and that is enough reason to worry,” he said.

A letter the representative received dated December 10 said the MHA Foreigners Division (FCRA wing) regulates receipt of foreign contribution by NGOs to ensure that it is utilised for bonafide welfare activities, without compromising on concerns about national interest and security.

The government has clamped down on four American NGOs — Avaaz, Bank Information Centre (BIC), Sierra Club and 350.org. Earlier it had acted against Greenpeace.

With a claimed membership of about 40 million worldwide, New York-based Avaaz works on several public issues and in September 2014, it had organised a ‘People’s climate march’ in Delhi.

The Bank Information Centre (BIC) is an NGO-based in Washington that tracks World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded projects worldwide, but has a special focus on India. According to a description on its website, its work involves public debate on coal and energy projects in India, as “there is a complete lack of transparency and the agencies who receive these borrowings are not accountable to the people.”

BIC was particularly critical of the Tata Mundhra 4,000 MW Ultra Mega Power Project in Gujarat, a key project for the Gujarat government.

New York-based NGO 350.org which works on climate-change and the California-based Sierra Club have been opposing coal imports from Australia for Indian thermal plants, including deals that were finalised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia in November 2014.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-targets-climate-groups/article6746321.ece