Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Some NGOs with foreign funding get access to FCRA director as the series of monthly meetings kicks off today

Out of at least 100 applicants, representatives of 14 organizations were given appointments, according to a document seen by Mint

A top bureaucrat in the Union home ministry on Monday separately met representatives of several non-profit organizations to discuss matters relating to their foreign contributions, in the first of a series of such meetings.

Out of at least 100 applicants who had sought to meet Deba Prasad Tripathy, director, FCRA, representatives of 14 organizations were given appointments, according to a document seen by Mint.

A circular, dated 18 June, on the website of the home ministry’s division which deals with the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), had said the official will meet their representatives for a total of three hours every month. “In order to redress grievances of the associations who have submitted their applications for the grant of registration/prior permission, etc., it has been decided that a monthly meeting will be held by director (FCRA) with genuine representatives of these associations...”, the circular had said.

While representatives of non-profit organizations, who had turned up for the meeting on Monday refused to go on the record about what they discussed, merely indicating that they wanted to take up small technical challenges while filing documents such as annual returns.

An official at a non-profit who had turned up said his Delhi-based organisation had submitted annual returns for 2013-14 three times in the past one year, but its status on the FCRA website had not changed. The organization was not given an appointment on Monday, but after making several calls to the FCRA division, it was assured that the problem will be addressed.

FCRA director Tripathi and joint secretary in the foreigner’s division G.K. Dwivedi declined repeated requests to seek their comments.

Some of the 14 organisations listed for Monday were Hyderabad-based IP India Foundation, a global charity organization set up by American International Paper Ltd, New York-based Vision Spring, which distributes spectacles to the visually impaired, the Indian arm of the international organization Child Help Foundation headquartered in Mumbai which works with underprivileged children, W.H.Y. Foundation (Working for Humanity with You) headquartered in Andhra Pradesh working with the under privileged, Delhi-based Livelihood Initiatives for Empowerment working on livelihood-related research and skill development of poor and India wing of the global network Doctors Without Borders - MSFHolland India Trust.

The foreigner’s division in the home ministry monitors, controls and approves or cancels licences for non-profits who receive overseas funding. It has cancelled thousands of such licences in the last one year, citing various violations. Following this, the division has been flooded with requests to meet the officers in charge, to gain some clarity or to update information.

Organisations like Greenpeace India, Caritas India, Ford Foundation and Teesta Setalvad’s Sabrang Trust have been in the news lately for alleged violations of rules on foreign contributions.

Source: http://www.livemint.com/Politics/RH2JA6KB4wXL68O5mSHihJ/Some-NGOs-with-foreign-funding-get-access-to-FCRA-director-a.html

Friday, June 26, 2015

Govt agrees to meet NGOs for their access to foreign funds

Home ministry circular states that the FCRA director will meet NGOs for 3 hours every month to discuss grievances

New Delhi: A government circular saying that a top bureaucrat will meet representatives of agencies over their permission to receive foreign funds has raised hopes for non-profits, some of which have faced crackdown, even as the wording of the circular has left many in doubt.

A circular dated 18 June on the website of the home ministry’s FCRA division, which deals with the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), said the official will meet their representatives for a total of three hours every month by appointment.

“In order to redress grievances of the associations who have submitted their applications for the grant of registration/prior permission, etc., it has been decided that a monthly meeting will be held by director (FCRA) with genuine representatives of these associations...”, the circular said.

In June alone, the ministry cancelled the FCRA registrations of over 6,800 organizations in two separate instances, including the Banaras Hindu University, the Annamalai University and a Unesco learning centre.

The ministry has justified the crackdown based on a June 2014 Intelligence Bureau (IB) report that said that NGOs, such as Greenpeace India, were working against the national interest.

Organizations which have lost their FCRA licence—mandatory to receive foreign funds—have often complained that they were not given a hearing, and that they wanted to discuss licences with the ministry.

To be sure, the circular does not specifically say if appeals against suspension of registration will be entertained.

According to the circular, the aggrieved organizations must email the home ministry seeking an appointment with the name of the organization, and the person attending the meeting, address, application number and issues for discussion.

The FCRA director will meet representatives on the fifth of every month from 10am to 1pm.

If the fifth is a holiday, the meeting will be held on the next working day.

Willy D’Costa, member and former general secretary, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), a human rights advocacy group, is unsure how the latest measure will play out. The government had in 2013 cancelled INSAF’s FCRA registration.

“As required by law, we had been filling returns and submitting responses to queries with the ministry, before our licence was suspended in 2013. It was through the bank we got to know and then, we made several attempts to contact the ministry to get a hearing and to show them that all our paperwork was in order. However, it never happened,” said D’Costa.

The organization then moved the Delhi high court, which restored its registration saying the ministry had not followed the due procedure of informing the organization nor had it given it a due hearing mandated in the course of “natural justice”.

INSAF continues to receive foreign funding. D’Costa says he is glad “at least a platform is being made available for interaction”.

According to Biraj Patnaik, principal advisor to the commissioners of the Supreme Court on Right to Food Campaign, “This structured time being provided is a very good thing, because earlier it was very difficult for us to approach anyone at the ministry... There are many organizations which can benefit from this.” Patnaik was unaware of the circular till two days ago.

Amit Behrar, executive director of National Foundation of India, which supports grassroots organizations working on development issues, is upbeat.

“Right from the start, all non-profit agencies cutting across sectors have been demanding a platform for putting forward their case. And this monthly meeting does just that,” he said.

Henri Tiphagne, the executive director of People’s Watch that works for human rights of the underprivileged, said: “I only learnt of this development a week after the circular was put out because I happened to be browsing through the ministry of home affairs’ FCRA website.”

Tiphagne, who unsuccessfully tried to meet the ministry’s officials when his organization’s registration was suspended from July 2012 to March 2014, said: “It is a great opportunity. Previously, we’ve written, called and even approached the ministry at least half a dozen times with no response—no denial or acceptance of our applications seeking appointments.”

Tiphagne, at present, sees no need for People’s Watch to meet with the ministry, but is hoping that if the need arises, he would be able to gain the appointment unlike the “wall of silence” he has faced in the past.

Not everyone is as optimistic.

Voluntary Action Network of India (Vani), an umbrella organization which promotes voluntarism, is one of them.

“We are trying to organize a meeting with FCRA’s director, to gain greater clarity on what this meeting slot will entail—will appeals against cancellations also be heard, or is it to be limited to the ‘associations who have submitted their applications for the grant of registration/prior permission’—as the circular states,” said Vani’s communications manager Arjun Phillips. He said that Vani hopes these meetings will be the first step towards the longstanding demand of the NGOs to have engagement with the authorities.

FCRA director Deba Prasad Tripathy could not be contacted on his office phone. An email sent to him also remained unanswered. His personal assistant, however, informed that applications are pouring in, and the names and time slots for the associations will be announced in a few days.

Source: http://www.livemint.com/Politics/RvaJyd2Bh0oYG7WBTi7ckJ/Govt-agrees-to-meet-NGOs-for-their-access-to-foreign-funds.html

Thursday, June 25, 2015

India Increases Pressure on NGOs

India is cracking down on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating on its territory, alleging that thousands have misreported their foreign funding to Indian fiscal authorities.

In the past two months alone, the Home Ministry has cancelled registrations of more than 13,000 NGOs for allegedly failing to file annual tax returns for three years since 2009, according to Indian media reports.

As many as two million home-grown or international NGOs – many of which are funded by foreign donors – work across India, largely in the field of development.

The Indian government this past week added Caritas Internationalis, a Catholic charity based at the Vatican and that has been working in India for the past 50 years, to its NGO watch-list.

The government accuses Caritas of violating India’s foreign funding laws by financing groups that were working “against the country,” Agence France-Presse quoted a Home Ministry official as saying Tuesday.

"There was [a] clear violation of foreign funding law," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The case was connected to Caritas’ funding of organizations that had protested against a nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu, in southern India, the official said.

"We have been filing all our returns, documents in time according to law. We necessarily don't find this a hindrance because we anyway declare all our funding to the government," Father Paul V. Moonjely, Assistant Executive Director of Caritas India, told NDTV on June 19.

Caritas is among several high-profile international NGOs that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has accused of violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

The Indian arm of global environmentalist group Greenpeace and the U.S.-based Ford Foundation also were placed on the government’s watch-list.

But last month, the Delhi High Court ordered the government to unfreeze Greenpeace India’s access to bank accounts. These held deposits of money from domestic donors that allowed the NGO to cover its day-to-day operating expenses.

NGO conference relocated to Thailand

The crackdown has prompted the Berlin-based International Civil Society Center to move its “Global Perspectives” conference, which it had been planning to hold in New Delhi, to Thailand, according to a report in The Wire, an Indian news website.

The center describes itself as a “global action platform” for the world’s leading international civil society organizations.

“The reason for changing the venue was our fear that leaders from some of our key stakeholders, such as Greenpeace and others, would not be allowed into the country [India] and that we would fail to achieve our main objective of bringing together all key players irrespective of their political, religious or other approaches and affiliations,” Burkhard Gnärig, the center’s executive director, told The Wire.

Justified or not?

The governmental crackdown on NGOs has elicited a mixed response.

Some observers say the government’s actions are justified.

In their view, the targeted NGOs have failed to deliver any services to the people whom they are registered to serve. Others say this is a clear message from Modi’s government that it won’t tolerate any activities deemed as “anti-state.”

“There has been mushroom growth of NGOs across the country over the years,” Santosh Shukla, president of the NGOs Association of India, told BenarNews.

“The government has the right to cancel registration of such groups which fail to file the annual returns and fulfill other legal requirements on their part. Only those groups that operate within the legal purview and in the interest of the people should be allowed to operate,” he added.

Tapan Bose, a prominent civil society and rights activist, sees the crackdown as uncalled for, saying the government is going after NGOs that are working for people’s welfare.

“The government’s action against these groups has directly affected the poor people in the country as they work for their welfare in multiple ways,” Bose told BenarNews.

"With regard to closing down the operations of the groups, the government has acted in an arbitrary and highly selective manner,” he added.

NGOs: A threat to traditional politics

And, as another observer put it, the crackdown is being driven by a fear of the influence wielded by some NGOs in shaping public opinion, and how this might threaten the government’s political standing.

Prabha Kiran, founder and president of United Human Rights Federation Delhi, an NGO, pointed to a recent case in which NGOs helped bring about a crushing defeat of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party by the Aam Admi Party (AAP) in February’s Delhi Legislative Assembly election.

“The Modi government is fearful of the influence of NGOs as they have played a vital role in exposing the corrupt and fraudulent political parties,” Kiran told BenarNews.

An anti-corruption crusade led by activist Anna Hazare had helped bring about the demise of Congress-led United Progressive Coalition (UPA) in last year’s general election, Kiran noted.

“The Modi government might be expecting the same fate, hence it decided to clamp down on NGOs,” she added.

Source: http://www.benarnews.org/english/news/bengali/ngos-06242015181240.html

Caritas funds from Dutch agency under scanner

After the controversy over the Union home ministry’s fresh crackdown on foreign-funded NGOs, the MHA on Wednesday cleared the air saying fund flow from a Netherland-based foreign donor agency Stichting Cordaid to Caritas has come under the scanner since Cordaid is under the prior-approval category.

Cordaid had been placed under prior approval category on Aug. 6, 2012, during the tenure of the UPA-II government. An official statement said the ministry received a reference from Standard Chartered Bank seeking clearance for crediting of an inward remittance of Euro 2,30,000 from Stichting Cordaid in favour of Caritas India, which is an NGO working in India registered under FCRA, 2010.

“Comments of security agency were sought and on the basis of the inputs received from them the matter is under consideration in the ministry,” the statement said. It further said, ‘’Any inward remittance from this agency to any Indian NGO will be credited only after clearance from the ministry of home affairs.” Sources said the IB had raised a red-flag over Cordaid’s fund to Indian NGOs in 2011-12 during the Kudankulam protests prompting the government to put it in the prior-permission category. “Other than Cordaid’s funding to Caritas, we have no problem with the latter receiving money from any other donors,” a top government official said. Meanwhile, security sources also revealed that out of the 16 FCRA registered NGOs, nearly a dozen of them had been put in the prior-permission category during the UPA-II tenure.

Source: http://www.asianage.com/india/caritas-funds-dutch-agency-under-scanner-095

DRAFT CHANGES IN FCRA RULES

Integrated Application for Registration, Prior Permission and Renewal
One integrated form prepared for FCRA registration, Prior permission and Renewal. Till now one had to use different forms for each of these activities, FC3 for registration, FC4 for prior permission and FC5 for renewal, now an integrated form FC3 has been drafted.
Now printed copy of form not to be submitted, instead applications need to be Digitally Signed just like as in Income Tax and Companies Act. All documents required to be submitted in hard copies would now be scanned and submitted alongwith these applications.
Fee would need to be paid online through electronic gateway.

Declaration on web-site
All NGOs granted registration / prior permission would need to post Audited FCRA Accounts would need to be posted on their websites.
Any foreign contribution received would need to be displayed within 7 days of receipt on website.

Annual Return
From now on even annual return (FC6 till now) will no longer need to be filed in printed copy and only Digitally Signed copy would need to be filed alongwith all supporting documents. Time limit still remains of 31st

Requirements from Bankers
All bankers have to inform within 48 hours Central Govt. about receipt of any foreign contribution by any ‘person’ who receives such contribution but till date does not have registration / prior permission. In previous rules this was 30 days.
Bankers are also required to inform within 48 hours the central govt. all remittances received by FCRA registered or having prior permission in their designated or utilization bank accounts.

Changes in Forms
Earlier there were 10 forms (FC1-FC10), these have now been reduced to 7 (FC1-FC7). As mentioned above Form for Registration (FC3), Form for Prior Permission (FC4) and Form for Renewal (FC5) all have been merged in a new form FC3. Also earlier forms for articles (FC7) and securities (FC8) have been merged into one form FC5. Consequentially all other forms have been renumbered in sequential order.

Changes in these forms are highlighted as below:

FC1 (new Form No. FC1): Intimation of receipt of FC by way of gift from relative.
No change except details like e-mail, mobile nu., address etc. now sought.
Still to be submitted in a printed copy.
Normally to be submitted by an individual.

FC2 (new Form No. FC2): Prior permission for receiving hospitality
Normally to be submitted by persons covered under S. 3, (legislature, Govt employees, judges, etc.) who are likely to visit abroad and accept foreign hospitality
Certain changes made in the form but seem more a case of drafting error, as details of organisation, which will provide hospitality seem to have been left out.

FC3 – earlier only covered registration (new Form now covers registration / prior permission / renewal)
Very strange now the form requires details of facebook page and twitter handle of the chief functionary
Now alongwith details of Chief Functionary and executive members/ office bearers, details of Chief Patron are also requested.
In case any of the persons whose details have been provided is a foreign citizen, following additional details are requested:
Place of Birth
Passport No.
Permanent address in foreign country
If a person of Indian origin, then details of OIC/PIO card,
If resident in India, from when,
In case of above persons details of any positions held in any other NGO
Details also asked for organisations which have been granted prior permission / registration and are a unit / branch / associate of the organisation applying.
Has been prohibited under S. 10 or asked to obtain prior permission under S. 9(d).
Details of designated / utilization accounts being asked.
Q 13 asks for details of foreign sources both individuals as well as organisations from whom the foreign contribution is proposed to be received. Most likely this is applicable in case of prior permission where sources are known. However the Form does not mention that this information is not required in case of Registration cases.

FC4 – for annual return (earlier FC6)
Prior permission return earlier used to go manually, now this will have to go online.
Facebook page and twitter handle details of the chief functionary to be given here too.
Total number of employees to be disclosed – This could pose problem as many NGOs are not registered for PF & ESI
It is also asking donor wise details of foreign / local source. Rather perplexed, if a donor is a local source, then it should not appear in FCRA return in any case ?
Now project details are also required along with address of implementation. Now amount has to be given address-wise.
Details of administrative exps. asked for. Earlier no details were required.
Branch office details to be provided
Details of Designated as well as Utilisation Bank Accounts also required to be disclosed
Details of closing balance not asked for.
Now Chief Functionary has to declare that FC has not been used for (i) detrimental to national interest, (ii) not likely to affect prejudicially public interest, (iii) not likely to affect prejudicially security, strategic, scientific or economic interest of the State and any matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
Many changes in List of purposes to be discussed separately.

Call for proposals: Symposium on State Competitiveness

Deadline: 30 June 2015

The U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section in New Delhi is currently seeking proposals from the legally-recognized non-profit, nongovernmental organizations for the program called Symposium on State Competitiveness with a special focus on the North Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, and Haryana (including Union Territory Chandigarh). This initiative aims to share best practices that would allow states to become more competitive, improve the business environment, and promote trade between the U.S. and India.

This initiative will have two program components-

1. A Symposium on State Competitiveness: This symposium will bring together key stakeholders, including state policymakers, industry associations, business leaders, researchers, and strategists, who will discuss economic policy, regulation, and best practices from the Indian and American state context. The event will include discussions on how states can become more competitive by focusing on key areas such as policy reforms, strengthening the institutional framework, improving infrastructure, use of information technology, and encouraging innovation and skill development.

2. A North India Speaking Tour for Two American Experts: This program could include interaction with the Foreign Commercial Services’ American Business Corners (ABCs) in North India and webinars between Indian audiences and U.S. industry representatives. The speaking tour will last for approximately 10 days. The speakers, target cities, and program schedule will be coordinated in collaboration with the Embassy. The speakers chosen could also be part of the symposium, with the speaking tour occurring immediately before or after the symposium.

Award Information

The award amount lies between $ 150,000 to $ 200,000.

Eligibility Criteria

§ Open to all non-profit, non-governmental organizations. Organizations may sub-contract with other entities.

§ Applicants must be registered with Grants.gov before submitting an application.

§ Organizations must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number from Dun & Bradstreet and an active SAM registration.

§ The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) of the Government of India applies for Indian applicants.

§ Applicants must acquire all required registrations and rights in the United States and India. All intellectual property considerations and rights must be fully met in the United States and India.

§ Any sub-recipient organization must also meet all the U.S. and Indian requirements described above.

§ Cost sharing is not required for the funding opportunity.

§ Award does not allow for construction activities or costs.

§ The U.S. Mission to India grants cannot be used to fund religious or partisan political activity.

Application Guidelines

§ Applicants must submit their proposals in a prescribed application format and detailed budgets in a prescribed Budget Spreadsheet

§ All documents must be in English

§ All budgets must be in U.S. dollars

§ All pages must be numbered

§ All materials must be submitted in .pdf format

§ Forms SF-424, SF-424A and SF-424B must be completed and submitted with the application.

§ Applicants may submit the following additional information-

§ Budget Narrative

§ Letters of Intent

§ Proof of Non-profit Status

How to Apply

Applicants must submit their proposals together with a cover letter via email. After reviewing, selected applicants will be acknowledged.

For more information, please visit http://grants.gov and opportunity number NDRFP16-05.

Government Cancels Licences of 2,406 NGOs

NEW DELHI: In a fresh move, the government has cancelled the licences of 2,406 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) across the country, which includes entities that run schools and hospitals.

In the wake of the cancellation of their registrations, the NGOs would not be able to receive foreign funds. According to official data, Maharashtra tops the list with the cancellation of licences of 964 NGOs followed by Uttar Pradesh with 740 and Karnataka with 614.

The licences of 88 NGOs were cancelled in Tamil Nadu. These cancellations have taken place between June 19 till today, officials said. The decision to cancel the registration of these entities under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act was taken by the Union Home Ministry after the NGOs allegedly failed to submit their annual returns and in view of other anomalies.

All the organisations were given proper notice by the Foreigners' Division of the Home Ministry with adequate time to reply before their FCRA licences were cancelled, official sources said.

Meanwhile, in a related move, Caritas International, linked to the Vatican, may be put on a watch list and it would have to seek prior permission before receiving funds from abroad, official sources said, adding that the bankers of the NGO would be notifying them.

However, a spokesman for the NGO denied having received any such notice and said that the organisation has complied with all laid-down norms. In two earlier rounds of crackdown this year, licences of nearly 13,470 NGOs were cancelled for alleged violation of FCRA

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Government cancels licences of 2,406 NGOs

New Delhi: In a fresh move, the government has cancelled the licences of 2,406 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) across the country, which includes entities that run schools and hospitals.

In the wake of the cancellation of their registrations, the NGOs would not be able to receive foreign funds.

According to official data, Maharashtra tops the list with the cancellation of licences of 964 NGOs followed by Uttar Pradesh with 740 and Karnataka with 614. The licences of 88 NGOs were cancelled in Tamil Nadu.

These cancellations have taken place between June 19 till today, officials said.

The decision to cancel the registration of these entities under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act was taken by the Union Home Ministry after the NGOs allegedly failed to submit their annual returns and in view of other anomalies.

All the organisations were given proper notice by the Foreigners' Division of the Home Ministry with adequate time to reply before their FCRA licences were cancelled, official sources said.

Meanwhile, in a related move, Caritas International, linked to the Vatican, may be put on a watch list and it would have to seek prior permission before receiving funds from abroad, official sources said, adding that the bankers of the NGO would be notifying them.

However, a spokesman for the NGO denied having received any such notice and said that the organisation has complied with all laid-down norms.

In two earlier rounds of crackdown this year, licences of nearly 13,470 NGOs were cancelled for alleged violation of FCRA.

Source: http://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/govt-cancels-licences-of-2406-ngo-51983.html

Govt cancels licences of 2,406 NGOs

In a fresh move, the government has cancelled the licences of 2,406 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) across the country, which includes entities that run schools and hospitals.

In the wake of the cancellation of their registrations, the NGOs would not be able to receive foreign funds.

According to official data, Maharashtra tops the list with the cancellation of licences of 964 NGOs followed by Uttar Pradesh with 740 and Karnataka with 614. The licences of 88 NGOs were cancelled in Tamil Nadu.

These cancellations have taken place between June 19 till today, officials said.

The decision to cancel the registration of these entities under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act was taken by the Union Home Ministry after the NGOs allegedly failed to submit their annual returns and in view of other anomalies.

All the organisations were given proper notice by the Foreigners' Division of the Home Ministry with adequate time to reply before their FCRA licences were cancelled, official sources said.

Meanwhile, in a related move, Caritas International, linked to the Vatican, may be put on a watch list and it would have to seek prior permission before receiving funds from abroad, official sources said, adding that the bankers of the NGO would be notifying them.

However, a spokesman for the NGO denied having received any such notice and said that the organisation has complied with all laid-down norms.

In two earlier rounds of crackdown this year, licences of nearly 13,470 NGOs were cancelled for alleged violation of FCRA.

Source: http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/govt-cancels-licences-of-2-406-ngos-115062301227_1.html

MHA cancels licences of over 15,000 NGOs for violations of FCRA

In a fresh crackdown, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cancelled licences of over 15,000 Non-Governmental Organsiations (NGOs) for violations of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

In addition, the government has cancelled the licences of 2,406 NGOs across the country, which includes entities that run schools and hospitals. In the wake of the cancellation of their registrations, the NGOs would not be able to receive foreign funds. According to official data, Maharashtra tops the list with the cancellation of licences of 964 NGOs followed by Uttar Pradesh with 740 and Karnataka with 614. The licences of 88 NGOs were cancelled in Tamil Nadu. These fresh cancellations have taken place since June 19.

The decision to cancel the registration of these entities under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act was taken by the Union Home Ministry after the NGOs allegedly failed to submit their annual returns and in view of other anomalies.

All the NGOs were given proper notice by the Foreigners' Division of the Home Ministry with adequate time to reply before their FCRA licences were cancelled, official sources said.

Meanwhile, in a related move, Caritas International, linked to the Vatican, may be put on a watch list and it would have to seek prior permission before receiving funds from abroad, official sources said, adding that the bankers of the NGO would be notifying them. However, a spokesman for the NGO denied having received any such notice and said that the organisation has complied with all laid-down norms. In two earlier rounds of crackdown this year, licences of nearly 13,470 NGOs were cancelled for alleged violation of FCRA.

Source: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/mha-cancelled-licences-ngos-fcramaharashtrafcra-licences-foreign-contribution-regulation-act/1/446623.html

Government cancels licences of 2,406 NGOs

New Delhi, Jun 23 (PTI) In a fresh move, the government has cancelled the licences of 2,406 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) across the country, which includes entities that run schools and hospitals.

In the wake of the cancellation of their registrations, the NGOs would not be able to receive foreign funds.

According to official data, Maharashtra tops the list with the cancellation of licences of 964 NGOs followed by Uttar Pradesh with 740 and Karnataka with 614. The licences of 88 NGOs were cancelled in Tamil Nadu.

Source: http://www.niticentral.com/2015/06/24/nda-cancels-licences-of-2406-ngos-319625.html

A TRANING PROGRAM ON NGO MANAGEMENT

Date: 28th June 2015, Sunday Time: 9:30am to 4.30 pm

Over period of time, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) are playing a very critical role in the process of managing development initiatives of various kinds at the grass root level. Even the Government of India has recognized the critical role of the NGOs in the Five - Year Plans, as they have commitment, credibility with the masses and professional approach to the people's issues. However, despite their good intentions, a large number of NGOs find it difficult to sustain in the long run i.e. sustainability of organisations as well as sustainability of projects. Keeping this in view, We would like to scheduled training program to trained the grass roots organization.

Training Objectives: The objectives of the programme would be to:

i) Strengthen the managerial capabilities of representatives of NGOs;

ii) To develop skills for better management of the organization and project which leads to sustainability of initiatives/ project; and

iii) To prepare the NGOs to face new emerging trends and make them able to cope up with the present scenario.

Learning Investment: Rs. 1500/- per participant. Fee includes refreshment, Lunch, High Tea and Training Kit.

Maximum Seat: 15

For Registration & Detail : 99746 55135 (M/s Nilam Shah)

Reach us
Navjivan Centre For Development
T-17, Palila Bazar, Opp. Nagar Palika Building
Mehsana-384 001, North Gujarat, India
Ph: 02762 291874, Email: navjivan2012@yahoo.com
Helpline: 95105 26835, 94280 55135

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Government extends NGO crackdown to Catholic charity Caritas

The Indian government has placed the Catholic charity Caritas on a government watch list, an official and news reports said Tuesday, in a growing crackdown on foreign organisations operating in the country.

A home ministry official told AFP that Caritas had violated India's foreign funding laws by financing groups that were working "against the country".

He said Caritas had been placed on a list of organisations needing prior government approval to receive or distribute funds in India, a move also reported by the Indian Exp.

"There was clear violation of foreign funding law," said the official, who asked not to be named, citing funding for groups which protested against a nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu.

The central government has launched a massive crackdown on non-governmental organisations, cancelling the foreign funding licences of nearly 9,000 charities in recent months.

It has also frozen the domestic and international bank accounts of Greenpeace India, although the domestic accounts were recently unfrozen on the orders of a court.

In April it placed the Ford Foundation, an American charitable organisation, on the same watch list as Caritas, saying it was funding groups which acted against the national interest.

No one at Caritas India was immediately available for comment.

The group has been operating in India for more than 50 years and works on health, education and poverty-related issues.

The Prime Minister has criticised what he calls "five-star activists" and a government intelligence report last year reportedly said they were working with foreign powers to undermine India's economic growth.

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/government-extends-ngo-crackdown-to-catholic-charity-caritas/article1-1361912.aspx

NGO under Scanner for Diverting Funds

CHENNAI: A Chennai-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) has come under the Income-Tax Department scanner for allegedly diverting funds received for welfare of children to Christian religious institutions. A senior I-T official told ‘Express’ that Caruna Bal Vikas has been collecting donations worth `100 crore every year from US-based Compassion International. “Of this, only 10 per cent is being used for the welfare of children. The rest of the funds is diverted to 300 organisations, which have been registered as religious and socio-religious institutions, “said the official. The official charged that the funds are suspected to be used by the Christian outfits for conversion.

As per the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010, the organisation to which the fund is directed should also be registered with FCRA, and it should also be a social organisation. When I-T officials verified the background of the 300 organisations in the Ministry of Home Affairs website, it was found that only one-third of them are charitable organisations, with the rest being socio-religious and religious institutions. Under the FCRA, money meant for social purposes can’t be diverted for socio-religious and religious purposes. I-T sources said a probe into the funds of Caruna Bal Vikas was launched in March 2013. “We carried out the assessment for the year 2010-11 which was completed in 2013 and the demand raised was `28.59 crore. Similarly, assessment for the year 2011-12 was completed in 2014 and the demand raised was `30.20 crore. Assessment carried out in 2012-13 raised a demand for `28.91 crore,” said the official.

Once the I-T Department raised the demands, Caruna Bal Vikas was shut down and a new company called Adhane Management Consultants Private Limited came into being, in May 2014.

It was run by Aswin Paul, the same CEO of Caruna Bal Vikas. This new company started paying taxes.

However, Compassion International started giving funds directly to the 300 organisations.The I-T official said 40 per cent of the 300 organisations are in South India, of which 20 per cent are in Tamil Nadu.

The agenda of Compassion International is apparently to bring children out of physical, emotional, social and economic poverty and make them ‘Christian’ adults. The I-T sources allege that Compassion International gets generous funds from the US under the Adopt a Child in India programme.As much as $20 a month is given to Compassion International to fund a child in the development centres being run by the 300 institutions.

Source: http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/NGO-under-Scanner-for-Diverting-Funds/2015/06/22/article2879642.ece


Monday, June 22, 2015

FCRA draft amendment 17.06.15

Please Visit for the document at: http://mha1.nic.in/pdfs/draftamendment_170615.pdf 

Fewer Formalities for NPO Companies

NGOs can also be registered as sec. 8 companies (old sec. 25). The new procedures allow quicker registration, in just about a month. They enjoy all the benefits of a charitable trust or society, with clearer governance rules.

In a welcome move, the Government has announced some more relaxations for these:

1. No minimum requirement for paid-up capital (sec. 2)

2. Minimum notice period for AGM etc. reduced to 14 days (sec. 101)

3. Consent to act as director neither needed (DIR 2), nor to be filed with ROC (DIR 12) (sec. 152)

4. Quarterly board meetings not needed. Once every six months enough (Sec. 173)

5. Lower quorum permitted for board meetings (sec. 174)

6. Disclosure or recording of interest in related-party transactions needed only if these exceed Rs. 1 lakh (Sec. 184, 188, 189)

FCRA Going Digital Shortly

MHA is revamping its online services. All online applications and returns will have to be signed digitally (DSC). Only the Chief Functionary can sign these. The DSC should be in the name of Chief Functionary. This change is likely to happen in mid-Jun'15.

If the Chief Functionary already has a valid DSC, the same can be used. If not, please apply for and get a class-II DSC. The DSCs are issued by agencies such as TCS, e-Mudhra, NIC, etc. These are available from vendors for about Rs. 700 and are valid for 1-2 years

Foreign funds order stumps varsities

NEW DELHI: The cancelling of FCRA registration of Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, for alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010, has left several university officials scratching their heads.

There are concerns, of course, about how (if at all) this will impact fellowships offered by sundry foreign foundations to students, grants for international seminars and programmes and the MoUs each has signed with foreign universities. But the question trumping them all is whether DU and JNU are covered by FCRA at all.

Officials from both institutions point to an MHA document that states, "In terms of Gazette Notification S.O. 1492(E) dated 01.07.2011, all statutory bodies constituted or established by or under a central Act or state Act requiring to have their accounts compulsorily audited by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India are exempted from all the provisions of FCRA 2010."

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Foreign-funds-order-stumps-varsities/articleshow/47650293.cms

Inform Us of Foreign Funds to NGOs in 48 Hours, Government Proposes to Banks

NEW DELHI: It could take all but 48 hours for the government to know about any NGO receiving foreign funds, and it will be mandatory for NGO's to put out such details on their website within a week.

These are some of the changes proposed by union home ministry to keep a strict watch on NGOs under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules.

The home ministry has issued a notification with the proposed draft amendment rules and has sought suggestions from public and stake-holders by July 1.

As of now, NGOs are required to put out details of foreign funding only if they are over Rs. one crore, that too at the end of the financial year. Banks have to inform the government only if foreign contribution to any NGO is over Rs. one crore, over a period of 30 days.

The Centre's move comes after it cancelled the license of 9,000 NGOs for alleged violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in April. Earlier this month, it also cancelled the license of 4,470 entities including Supreme Court Bar Association, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Delhi University, which bars them from receiving foreign funds.

Another suggestion by the ministry is a new declaration that NGOs have to make, that foreign aid received will not be used for any activity that is, "detrimental to national interest, likely to affect public interest, or likely to prejudicially affect the security, scientific, strategic or economic interest of the state."

NGOs will have to also submit details of any social media account on Facebook or Twitter being operated by them as well.

Central government has been cracking down on NGOs receiving foreign funding, engaging in irregularities including non-filing of annual returns. The associations were given a notice asking for reply, official sources had said.

Source: http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/inform-us-of-foreign-funds-to-ngos-in-48-hours-proposes-government-773067

India Mulls Tighter Rules for NGOs

The Indian government has proposed tighter restrictions on nonprofits that will require them to declare how they raise funds from abroad and what they use the funding for.

Activists described the latest move to rein in the activity of non-governmental organizations in India as “discomforting” and “worrying.”

The proposed amendments to rules attached to the Foreign Currency Regulation Act would require banks to inform the Ministry of Home Affairs within 48 hours if international money transfers are made to an organization.

Within a week of receiving foreign funding, the nonprofit would have to publish details of the transaction on their website, under the new draft rules.

Some 30,000 organizations, which are registered with the government to receive money from overseas, will also have to disclose details about their social media accounts including Twitter and Facebook profiles.

Organizations when seeking to renew their license with the home ministry will also have to list their activities over three years, according to a statement on the ministry’s website posted Wednesday.

The ministry’s statement said organizations would not be permitted to use funds for activities that may be “detrimental to national interest, likely to affect prejudicially public interest, likely to affect prejudicially the security, strategic, scientific or economic interest of the state and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.” It did not elaborate on what such activities might be.

Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2015/06/19/india-mulls-tighter-rules-for-ngos/

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Request EOI from NGOs and CSR organization in Odihsa

C-DAC, Hyderabad. Developed a Vikaspedia multilingual portal, multi-sectoral knowledge portal – http://www.vikaspedia.in it seeks to provide e-knowledge and use of ICT-based applications for empowerment of underserved communities in select livelihood related domains. In the process, it also catalyzes collaboration and knowledge sharing among development stakeholders representing Government, NGOs, community based organizations, private, academic and research institutions.

EOI, have recently released for the states of MP, Odisha and Punjab to act as SNAs for the respective language portals. So, that respective NGOs and CSRs organization may participate and get benefit out of it.

NGOs, CSR organizations and Community Based Organizations are kindly requested to visit the EOI portal for online application.

EOI Details for online application and EOI document: http://services.indg.in/EOI/

NGO crackdown: Visitors will not have a walk in the park

New Delhi, June 15: Any foreigner associated with an NGO visiting India will no longer have a walk in the park. Read more: NGOs: How the new rules will check foreign funding?

The Home Ministry has decided that any visiting member of an NGO will have to register his or her name with the Foreign Regional Registration Office and furnish all details.

This is part of the process involving the amendment to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act or the FCRA.

The Home Ministry which has been cracking down on NGOs getting foreign funds and not declaring them or using it for purposes to undermine India's economic interests has decided to introduce several measures to check the menace.

Provide all details on arrival: The Home Ministry says earlier a visiting member of an NGO would visit India and there would be no questions asked. However now as per the amended rules the visiting member would have to furnish all details to the Foreign Regional Registration Office. This would be the first step on arrival.

Read more: CIA's NGOs: After India, Pakistan wakes up

In addition the purpose of the visit along with the duration of the stay would also need to be furnished. Further the NGOs website would have to detail the visit by its visiting member, the new rules would also mandate.

Home Ministry officials say that this will be made mandatory as we have had bad experiences in the past.

Take the case of the Wahabi scholars who came to India in the past couple of years. Their visits were aimed at spreading a radical school of thought and due to lack of stringent rules they came in large numbers.

The same has been found with the other NGOs who have been inviting their members to preach at areas where there are developmental works on.

Provide access to Intelligence Bureau and Home Ministry:

The Home Ministry has also proposed that any financial transaction shall be listed on the website of the NGO. The NGOs will have to furnish all details of their bank accounts and also the funds that they get. They would also have to give detailed information on how these funds are being spent.

In addition to this the banks where the NGOs deposit their funds would be required to provide access to the Home Ministry and the Intelligence Bureau.

The IB will have the power to check the financial transactions if it finds that the funds being brought in are not used for the purpose intended.

Educating the NGOs:

A home ministry official tells OneIndia that not all NGOs are bad. There are many foreign funded NGOs which use the money for the right purposes. There are several NGOs who are not aware of the norms or rules. Such NGOs need to be educated about the rules.

The Home Ministry official says that there will be a programme conducted where NGOs will be educated about the rules. We are sure that the genuine NGOs will have no problem in abiding by the rules.

The rules may appear to be stringent only to those wishing not to follow it, the officer also stated. Such programmes will be held at the state level and all NGOs who bring in the foreign funds would have to attend it and strictly follow the rules.

OneIndia News

Read more at: http://www.oneindia.com/india/ngo-crackdown-visitors-will-not-have-walk-the-park-1777923.html


21st June is UN international yoga Day


Foreign Contribution Regulation Act: New crackdown on NGO foreign funds

In the most important change, government plans to equate “economic security” for NGOs under FCRA with the definition provided in Section 2 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

The NDA government has proposed a series of amendments to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) to strengthen its scrutiny of financial transactions involving NGOs.

In the most important change, the government plans to equate “economic security” for NGOs under the FCRA with the definition provided in Section 2 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Section 2 of the UAPA, amended in 2013, reads: “Economic security includes financial, monetary and fiscal stability, security of means of production and distribution, food security, livelihood security, energy security, ecological and environmental security.”

According to the proposed changes, NGOs and organisations that receive foreign donations will now have to share personal details, bank account details and bio-data of their trustees with the government. Also, banks will have to provide online access to the Home Ministry and Intelligence Bureau (IB) for monitoring the utilisation of accounts of all FCRA-registered associations. In April, the Home Ministry had cancelled the registration of Greenpeace India for “adversely impacting the economic security” of the country.

The government also plans to “clearly define” provisions under the law that require “prior approval” for associations to receive foreign funding — 16 organisations are currently under this category, the latest being the Ford Foundation. When contacted, a senior government official denied that these amendments were part of a clampdown on NGOs. “There is no attempt to clamp down on NGOs, we are making arrangements to make the entire procedure transparent. On many occasions, the NGOs are not aware about the rules and procedures to be followed, the idea is to educate them too,” the official said. “We propose to clearly define prior-approval category… The procedures for placing NGOs and associations under this category also need to be laid down threadbare. Apart from this, the government will periodically issue advisories and cautionary notices to foreign donors as well so that the rules are reiterated to them,” the official added. According to the amended rules, any foreigner associated with an NGO, who is visiting India, will have to furnish his/her details with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO), spelling out the purpose as well as the dates of the visits. The NGOs will have to list all their activities and declarations on a website, and register themselves under one of the nine Indian Acts: Societies Registration Act, 1860, Indian Trust Act, 1882, Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956, Religion Endowments Act, 1863, Charitable and Religious Trust Act, 1920, Mussalman Wakf Act, 1973, Wakf Act, 1954, Public Wakfs Act, 1959 and Section 12 A of IT Act.

See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/foreign-contribution-regulation-act-new-crackdown-on-ngo-foreign-funds/#sthash.P6lRtgpg.j0Bg0kFo.dpuf 

2015 Calls for Proposals under the CRRP and CAPaBLE Programmes

APN is inviting applications from all member countries and approved countries under two separate programmes, the Collaborative Regional Research Programme for Global Change Research (CRRP) and the Capacity Development Programme (CAPaBLE), for funding starting mid 2016.

Activities of Interest to APN for Funding from 2016

Under CRRP:
Global change and sustainability collaborative research particularly via gaps, analysis, synthesis and assessment work.
Research that develops pathways and mechanisms to achieve sustainable development and develop adaptation strategies.
Place-based integrative research particularly from developing countries.
Collaborative research that contributes to the evolving global change arena, including IPCC, IPBES, post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, ongoing and new global change and sustainability research programmes.

Under CAPaBLE:
Scientific capacity development in the context of the 5 thematic areas.
Awareness raisign and dissemination activities for policy- and decision-making communities, civil society and the public.
Science-policy interfacing in the context of the 5 thematic areas.
Capacity-building partnership activities that contribute to the capacity development components of the evolving global change arena, including IPCC, IPBES, post-2015 Sustainable Development goals, and ongoing and new global change and sustainability research programmes.

Submission Procedures

Full details about the call for proposals, online submission procedures and relevant links and downloads are available at: https://www.apn-gcr.org/call/2015/

Closing Date

The deadline for the submission of summary proposals is Sunday, 9 August 2015.

Source: http://www.apn-gcr.org/2015/06/16/2015-calls-for-proposals-under-the-crrp-and-capable-programmes/

NGOs benefit from standards

With over 30 years experience in natural resource management, the N.M. Sadguru Foundation, headquartered in Dahod, Gujarat, is one of India’s most reputed NGOs. Yet, it opted for accreditation by Credibility Alliance, a consortium of voluntary organisations committed to enhancing accountability and transparency through good governance practices.

Accreditation, however, is not the norm in the voluntary sector. This was apparent recently when the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) cancelled the registration of nearly 9,000 NGOs for violation of the Foreign Contribution Registration Act (FCRA) and for not filing income tax returns.

“At such times, reputation doesn’t work. Your account details, balance sheets and FCRA details speak for you,” says Kanhaiya Chaudhary, Chief Executive Officer, N.M. Sadguru Foundation.

Annual reports, accounts, FCRA details and project reports can be produced anytime if they are prepared under expert guidance. “The laws are complicated and require intensive knowledge in order to avoid violation, even unintentionally,” says Chaudhary, whose organisation has been accredited by Credibility Alliance (CA).

The Sadguru Foundation had approached CA because its director, Harnath Jagawat, was part of the inception team that led to the formation of CA. “He knew the importance of getting accredited by CA,” says Kanhaiya, who believes that CA has helped the organisation maintain transparency not only financially but also at the level of governance.

He points out that being accredited by an umbrella organisation doesn’t necessarily bring in donors but cements ties with them by endorsing the NGO’s work.

Of the two million registered NGOs, only 518 have been accredited by CA. “Half the NGOs are running only on paper and do not have any presence on the ground. Many are working in remote corners and are not aware of accreditation and its benefits,” points out Tejinder Kaur, Deputy Manager, CA.

Accreditation of NGOs is a relatively new concept in India. “Over the last 10 years we have observed greater acceptance towards it from the voluntary sector. Every month, we receive requests from 25-30 organisations for accreditation. Earlier, it would be much less. We have also evolved in the last few years, making ourselves more approachable,” says Tejinder.

CA was conceptualised 15 years ago when likeminded people from within the social sector came together to make the voluntary sector more transparent. “But before it was registered in May 2004 as an independent, not-for-profit organisation, a lot of hard work had gone into developing a set of ‘Minimum Norms for Good Governance, Accountability and Transparency of the Voluntary Sector,’ which were then circulated to over 15,000 partners, members and affiliates. More than 500 organisations provided feedback, with 94 per cent agreeing on the need for minimum norms for the voluntary sector,” said Cherag Chatwal, Director, Finance and Operations, CA.

Many donors approve of an organisation only when it has been accredited by CA. “Reputed organisations like Oxfam India, before giving a grant to any NGO, make sure it has been accredited by us. This has also helped NGOs approach us on their own to get the accreditation,” says Chatwal.

NGOs approach CA as they want to work transparently but are hampered by lack of information and awareness about the law and seek guidance. “There are many organisations who have invested their heart and soul in their work but for them documentation, board meetings and accounts is just another world,” says Tejinder.

The process of accreditation takes 20-25 days. “The NGO sends us the filled-in accreditation form available on our website along with all the required documents like annual reports, minutes of board meetings, annual audited accounts and so on. After review, an introductory letter, MoU and final accreditation form are sent to the NGO. Our regional assessors then visit the organisation for two days to check their on-ground presence, meet their board members, interact with the beneficiaries, check accounts and, based on their evaluation, share the report with CA,” explains Chatwal.

CA’s coordinator then prepares a factsheet based on the minimum norms related to identity, objectives, operations, governance, accountability and transparency. It is presented before a Central Accreditation Committee (CAC) that comprises four-five experts from the sector who meet every month to review the cases. If satisfied with the documents and the fact sheets, they approve the accreditation. If they have doubts, the file is put on hold for further clarification.

Cases put on hold require extra effort. Instead of rejecting them, CA works towards building the capacity of such organisations. “Based on the documents sent by the organisation, we identify the weak areas and hold workshops to strengthen their skills and capacities on how to demonstrate greater transparency and accountability,” explains Tejinder.

Accreditation is for five years. CA follows up with the NGOs-VOs regularly so that following the norms becomes a habit. Accredited organisations receive benefits like wider reach with the Credibility Alliance and GuideStar India websites displaying their profiles, enhanced prospects of attracting financial and other forms of support from various stakeholders, and discounted fees to access capacity-building support through various workshops.

A fee is charged for the service, depending on the grant the NGO-VO receives.

Website: www.credibilityalliance.org Phone: 011-6472 2849

Source: http://www.civilsocietyonline.com/pages/Details.aspx?754

Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW 2016-2020)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Netherlands aims to improve the position of women and girls in the World. Hence another round of funding is now been made availabel: Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW).

Worldwide, some progress has been made in recent decades in attaining women’s rights and equal treatment. Many countries have abolished discriminatory laws and criminalized violence against women. They have made investments in health and education, and in some countries the economic participation of women has increased. In general, however, the pace of change is slow. In some countries and sectors, progress is at a standstill or has even been reversed. Despite major regional and contextual differences, experts agree that there is no country where progress towards gender equality is either assured or irreversible.

Call for proposals launched today

FLOW funds programs in low- and lower-middle income countries. 93 million EUR is available for the period of 2016-202, for programs aiming at:

1. Combatting violence against women;

2. Participation by women in politics and public administration; and

3. Women’s economic participation and self-reliance

Deadline for submitting FLOW proposals is 31 August 2015. More information about FLOW, e.g. policy framework and application form, in the documents below.

Specific questions can be addressed via our designated email address: DSO-FLOW-tender@minbuza.nl and our twitter accounts @community_flow and @nlwomensrights.

For more information please visit: http://www.government.nl/issues/grant-programmes/documents-and-publications/decrees/2015/06/12/funding-leadership-and-opportunities-for-women-flow-2016-2020.html

Download Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW 2016-2020) http://www.government.nl/files/documents-and-publications/decrees/2015/06/12/funding-leadership-and-opportunities-for-women-flow-2016-2020/flow-2016-2020-beleidskader-engels-12-06-2015.pdf
Model application form for FLOW2 grants (2016-2020):

: http://www.government.nl/issues/grant-programmes/documents-and-publications/forms/2015/06/12/model-application-form-for-flow2-grants-2016-2020.html

Friday, June 12, 2015

4,470 NGO Licences cancelled: Sisodia’s Kabir, DU, JNU on

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s NGO Kabir, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), which works under the sports ministry, are the latest among the list of 4,470 NGOs and organisations whose licences to receive foreign funds were cancelled by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) over the past one week.

In a fresh round of action against the NGOs, government has cancelled their licences for a variety of reasons ranging from non-filing of returns or non-compliance with Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

The list includes the names of Delhi University (DU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Supreme Court Bar Association, Escorts Heart Institute, among others, and bars them from receiving foreign funds.

All associations were given proper notice by the Foreigners Division of the Home Ministry with adequate time to reply before their FCRA licences were cancelled, a senior official said. Other prominent organisations whose FCRA licences were cancelled include Panjab University, Chandigarh, Gujarat National Law University, Gargi College, Delhi, Lady Irwin College, Delhi, and Vikram Sarabhai Foundation, School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), National Minorities Development and finance Corporation, which works under the minority affairs ministry. In the last round of crackdown, licences of nearly 8,875 NGOs were cancelled in April last for alleged violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/government-cancels-licence-of-4470-ngos/

What’s good for companies is good for NGOs too

India’s democracy comes across as immature and underconfident when it restricts NGOs’ activities and calls them unpatriotic when they give voice to the dispossessed

Nations are lobbied by outsiders all the time. It is a strong nation that knows when to concede; it is a weak nation that feels frightened when it is lobbied; and it is a foolishly stubborn nation whose government believes it knows everything and does not need external advice.

India’s annoyance with foreign funding of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or its allergy to their campaigns and advocacy are not marks of its strengths, but of its weakness. Just as governments till 1991 were myopically nationalist in keeping foreign capital out, the government now is churlishly nationalist in its attempts to restrict the activities of NGOs.

If companies investing in India have the right to raise capital abroad, so should civil society organizations. This is not only because resources are insufficient, but also because philanthropists in India have their own priorities. Typically, these revolve around assisting the poor by providing healthcare, education and, in many cases, building places of worship. All those activities are voluntary, and often dictated by the philanthropists’ personal preferences.

It is indeed the government’s responsibility to provide whatever welfare it chooses to provide in a non-discriminatory manner, and yet often a government is unable and sometimes unwilling to do so. In such contexts, it falls on other entities, such as NGOs, to step in. This is particularly so in instances where an NGO is assisting a community or region that may be politically controversial. (Think of an NGO providing medical relief in Maoist-held areas of central India.) The government is clearly not going to be active there, and few corporations would want to associate themselves with a cause so controversial.

It is hard for Greenpeace or Human Rights Watch to raise funding entirely from domestic sources—not because Indians don’t care for the environment or human rights, but because the advocacy of those organizations clashes with the policies and priorities of the government, and Indian companies are wary of aligning with such organizations. (Some such NGOs may have internal policies prohibiting them from seeking corporate funding.)

At the same time, even if they deny it, NGOs are businesses—they employ people, provide services or advocate ideas, or help manufacture goods. Indeed, they lobby, they amplify voices—Indian voices—already vocal in India, to advance specific positions.

It is naive to think companies, which have foreign capital invested in them, don’t do such lobbying. Companies routinely lobby for tax exemptions, to override community vetoes so that they can expand their operations, to get subsidized power or access to infrastructure, or to reduce protection of workers’ rights. They lobby for higher tariff on imports or for tax holidays. Each of those demands is in the companies’ own self-interest, and each such demand benefits only a few—shareholders, contractors, associates and staff. There is nothing wrong with any of that, provided no force is used, no bribes are given or taken, no laws are violated and there is transparency.

The same logic ought to apply to NGOs. When a company wants a community to be displaced so that it can begin mining, its shareholders and workers will gain, but someone else—a community—may bear the pain, which needs to be compensated. Indian—and indeed international—experience shows that more often than not such communities are treated unfairly, and NGOs represent such disempowered communities. That’s another way of looking at what John Kenneth Galbraith, the economist, called countervailing power.

The argument that NGOs represent foreign or anti-national interests assumes that those opposing the NGOs represent Indian interests. But how could you consider as anti-national an NGO funded by a foreign development agency and challenging a foreign pharmaceutical company which might insist on keeping life-saving drugs out of the reach of the poor, or fighting to protect India’s forests against a foreign oil company?

A former Indian senior executive argued how countries such as the US and the UK would not allow lobbying by a foreign NGO when their national security issues are involved. It is a misreading of the American and British political scene. Non-American NGOs like Federatione Internationale de Droits de l’Homme and the International Committee of the Red Cross have criticized the US over its policies and actions to combat terror, including the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and neither is restricted from raising funds or operating in the US.

By restricting NGOs’ ability to raise funds, by micromanaging their operations, by seeking to prevent their representatives from travelling to speak at meetings abroad (the latest incident involves barring a Greenpeace International staff member from Australia from entering India despite him possessing a valid visa), or by calling them unpatriotic when they give voice to India’s dispossessed, India’s democracy comes across as immature and underconfident.

Salil Tripathi is contributing editor at Mint and based in London. He is also a senior advisor at the Institute for Human Rights and Business, and has been on the board of English PEN, which campaigns for freedom of expression worldwide. These are his personal views and not necessarily of the two organizations.

Source: http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/3m6EyCcehT7ksaeeYq47IO/Whats-good-for-companies-is-good-for-NGOs-too.html

Government cancels the licenses of 4,470 NGOs, bars them from receiving foreign funds

In another round of action against erring NGOs, the government has cancelled the licence of 4,470 such entities that surprisingly included a number of top universities, Supreme Court Bar Association and Escorts Heart Institute, which bars them from receiving foreign funds.

The decision to cancel the registration of these entities under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act has been taken by the Union Home Ministry after examination of their activities that allegedly include non-filing of annual returns and other anomalies.

All associations were given proper notice by the Foreigners Division of the Home Ministry with adequate time to reply before their FCRA licences were cancelled, official sources said.

Other prominent organisations whose FCRA licences were cancelled include Panjab University, Chandigarh, Gujarat National Law University, Gargi College, Delhi, Lady Irwin College Delhi, Vikram Sarabhai Foundation and Kabir floated by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

In the last round of crackdown, licences of nearly 9,000 NGOs were cancelled in April last for alleged violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

In January, Greenpeace India activist Priya Pillai was offloaded from a London-bound flight by immigration officers in New Delhi airport. She was to have addressed British parliamentarians there.

The Delhi High Court later overturned the action by the Home Ministry and Pillai's "offload" passport stamp was expunged in May.

The Centre had in April blocked Greenpeace India's bank accounts, following which the environmental group had to seek interim relief from the Delhi High Court.

In April, government ordered that funds coming from the US-based Ford Foundation should not be released by any bank to any Indian NGO without mandatory permission from the Home Ministry.

A crisis response campaigner with Greenpeace International, Aaron Gray-Block, was denied entry into India on Saturday as his name figured in a Home Ministry "black list".

The fresh round of cancellation process of the 4,470 NGOs started on May 6 and the highest number of such voluntary organisations -- as many as 971 -- were de-registered on Tuesday.

Source: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/ngo-license-4470-cancelled-union-home-ministry/1/443324.html