Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Our Social Responsibility


Registration open for the 6th Batch of NPO Governance Programme

Dear Friends,

Greetings from FMSF!

We are glad to announce the registration open for the 6th batch for the ‘NPO Governance Programme’. This batch will start in March, 2015.

The online programme on NPO Governance has been formulated with the objective to provide a basic understanding of the Governance mechanisms, Structures & Processes in the voluntary sector.

The course is web-based and comprises of four modules. The course materials on all four modules can be accessed online by the students. Further the program is open to participants across the globe.

Who should apply?

- o Personnel working in mid-level, senior management level positions in NGOs, resource sharing agencies or any other development organization

o CEOs, CFOs or Executive Director of NGOs

o Individual serving in Board of NGOs, resource sharing agencies

o Consultants involved in the review and evaluations of NGOs

For further details on the course, kindly refer to the attached program brochure or visit our website www.fmsflearningsystems.org

To register, please visit our website www.fmsflearningsystems.org

As the seats are reserved on first come first serve basis, kindly hurry!

Best wishes,

Sanjay Patra
Executive Director
FMSF

Businesses need to go beyond limited CSR based framework, says Cabinet Secretary

Ajit Kumar Seth, Cabinet Secretary, Govt. of India emphasized that businesses need to go beyond the limited Corporate Social Responsibility based framework for more comprehensive engagement to address the disaster risk. He said in his valedictory address while congratulated the SAARC disaster management center and FICCI to take up this unique and critically important initiative towards economic resilience of the region through business continuity and private sector engagement.

Seth re-assured the SAARC community with the firm commitment of the Government of India, for sharing its knowledge, capacity and technology for all humanitarian aspects like disaster response, real time early warning and forecasting etc. He mentioned that the space program of Government of India is already dedicated to the entire region by the Prime minister himself through a dedicated SAARC satellite and various space applications tools and products available with us. India's investments in advance trauma and medical care can also be reaped by the region.

He highlighted his experiences and lessons learnt while addressing disaster situations in the country like the Cyclone Hudhud, Cyclone Phailin and Cyclone Nilofer, wherein the benefits accruing from better Early Warning systems and preparedness measures and work of NDRF and State Disaster Response Forces and other related agencies were acknowledged and appreciated globally.

Ajay M Gondane, Joint Secretary (SAARC), Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India made a reference to the importance that the Prime Minister attaches to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, and the efforts that all member states have put into reducing disaster risk in the region. These efforts led to the creation of the SAARC Disaster Management Centre, and the continuation of its efforts towards creating a safer and disaster resilient South Asia. He highlighted the importance of translating and transmitting the policy framework and recommendations to the local and ground level. Over the past one decade Disaster management in South Asia has translated successfully from theory to policy which now needs to be translated into actual practice and action at the field.

M C Misra, Director, AIIMS chaired the Technical Session on 'Disaster Risk Reduction and Business Continuity Planning for Health Sector'. While outlining a comprehensive structure for Business Continuity of the Health Sector in South Asia assured the region of all support with respect to sharing India’s advances in health and medical sector. Misra elaborated upon the incidence command systems in the aftermaths of disasters to ensure uninterrupted critical care and trauma services including a renewed focus on Road Tsunami and Injury Epidemic which leads to over four hundred thousand deaths across India in 2013 alone.

Major General JK Bansal, Ex-Member, NDMA, India Admiral VK Singh, and other eminent experts from the health sector, highlighted the importance of securing proper medical requirements, transportation services and contingency plan for hospital managements especially for the poor and marginalized as well. Proposing a vote of thanks, Prof. Santosh Kumar said that, cooperation, coordination and partnerships not only at the national level but at the regional and global levels are required to complement and supplement our strengths and weaknesses to capitalize on the limited resources available in the developing world.

Source: http://www.myiris.com/news/economy-policy/businesses-need-to-go-beyond-limited-csr-based-framework-says-cabinet-secretary/20141217125202717

Funds available for NGOs fighting drug abuse: Government

KOCHI: Organizations across the country, fighting drug abuse can avail funds set apart for this purpose as per the provisions of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, the Union government has informed the high court.

The information was submitted in response to a public interest litigation filed by advocate Rajesh V R in the high court.

The Union government has constituted a national fund for control of drug abuse and issued guidelines for its effective implementation for the benefit of such organizations, said an affidavit filed by Union ministry of finance. The affidavit was filed by by S N Dash of department of revenue, on behalf of the ministry.

As per the guidelines produced before the court, in addition to the funds from the government, sale proceeds of any property forfeited from those engaged in illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs can be source of fund for the organizations that work to eliminate the issues of drug usage.

Any properties of drug dealers arrested for offences under the NDPS Act that are punishable with imprisonment of more than 10 years or convicted to such a term by a court will have to forfeit their property.

The guidelines say the fund can be used for combating illicit traffic in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances or substances controlled by the NDPS Act.

According the guideline framed by the government, any expenses to meet the measures taken for controlling abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances can also be claimed by the organizations under the fund.

The other heads under which the fund can be utilized includes identification, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts. It can also be availed for educating the public against drug abuse.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/Funds-available-for-NGOs-fighting-drug-abuse-Government/articleshow/45517372.cms

The provisions of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act

http://www.indiacode.nic.in/acts2014/16%20of%202014.pdf

Amendment of NDPS Act 2014 - Frequently asked questions

http://palliumindia.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/FAQs-Amendment-of-NDPS-2014.pdf

Japan Fund for Global Environment is now open: NGOs around the world can apply

Deadline: 14 January 2015

The Environmental Restoration and Conservation agency invites non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profit organizations (NPOs) aiming at environmental conservation to apply for The Japan Fund for Global Environment (JFGE). The application forms must be written in Japanese language.

Non-Japanese organizations must ensure their eligibility through Eligibility-Quiz before beginning with application. They must have a contract with an agent (individual or organization) to apply for JFGE Grants. The Agent can be a person who has Japanese citizenship or foreigner who has permanent residence permit of Japan, possessing a bank account available for JPY (he/she does not necessarily live in Japan, but he/she must participate into the meeting with JFGE at the headquarter of ERCA); or an organization with a main office in Japan. The agent must have the participative experience to the conservation activities implemented by the applicant overseas organizations; and must be able to communicate with the applicant overseas organization by English/local language.

Categories

1. Nature protection, conservation and restoration

2. Forest conservation and tree/grass planting

3. Anti-desertification

4. Agriculture of environmental conservation type

5. Mitigation and adaptation to climate change

6. Building of a recycle-oriented society

7. Air, water and soil conservation

8. Comprehensive environmental education

9. Comprehensive environmental conservation activities

10. Other environmental conservation activities

Eligibility Criteria

  • The applicant organization must
  • Be a non-governmental organization (NGO) and non-profit organization (NPO).
  • Possess an Articles of Incorporation or its equivalent bylaws.
  • Possess a well-established board of directors and work forces that make decisions for the organization and implement the activities of the proposed project.
  • Possess an accounting structure capable of book-keeping and self-auditing.
  • Prove that they have enough capacity to execute the proposed project by presenting the firm evidence, such as activity report of previous activities and achievements.
  • Proposed project must be implemented in developing countries and areas.
  • Applications must be made for conservation activities under the categories mentioned above.
  • Applicants must assure the participation of local communities for practical activities such as afforestation, wildlife conservation, prevention of pollution, etc.

Complete application materials include – completed grant request form; organization’s articles of Incorporation or equivalent bylaws; a register of members who constitute the board of directors or equivalent decision-making body of the organization; organization’s statement of accounts for the past three years; reports, photographs and other materials showing the outline of similar activities in the past three years; other background materials that provide details of the project, blank official postcard, ‘Power of Attorney’ and documents explain a relationship between a Non-Japanese organization (applicant) and agent in Japan.

For more information, please visit Japan Fund for Global Environment. At: http://www.erca.go.jp/jfge/english/index.html

To fix child sex ratio, govt to launch Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, a key scheme announced by his government to address the dipping child sex ratio and empower India’s girl child, from Haryana’s Panipat district on January 22.

Modi’s decision to choose Haryana is significant as at 832 girls per 1,000 boys (Census 2011), the state has one of the lowest child sex ratio in the country.

“Haryana was chosen intentionally as it has a poor track record as far as protecting the girl child is concerned. Launching the scheme from here would put the spotlight on the state to take urgent measures to address the dipping sex ratio,” said a government official.

The overall child sex ratio (CSR) of India is also one of the worst in the world. From 927 girls per 1,000 boys in 2001, it dipped to 919 girls per 1,000 boys in 2011, the lowest since 1961.

The scheme, piloted by the women & child development (WCD) ministry, will initially be launched in 100 districts across India which have the worst CSR.

An allocation of `100 crore has been made for the scheme which proposes a slew of measures such as providing incentives to pregnant mothers to register during the first trimester to giving rewards to informers to help identify unregistered clinics indulging in illegal sex selection tests.

“Advocacy would be a key component. The idea is to use incentives and disincentives; right from the time a girl child is born to her education and marriage, to protect her,” said the official.

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/to-fix-child-sex-ratio-govt-to-launch-beti-bachao-beti-padhao-scheme/article1-1296577.aspx

Saturday, December 13, 2014

National Commission for Women invites Applications for LAP and PMLA

Last date 31st December 2014

Call for Proposals in the Commission for Conducting Legal Awareness Programme (LAP) and Parivarik Mahila Lok Adala (PMLA)

Under section 10(1)(h) of the National Commission for Women Act 1990, the Commission is required to undertake propotional and educational research so as to suggest ways of ensuring due representation of women in all spheres and to identify factors responsible for impending their advancement. The Commission collaborates with Govt.Semi Govt. organisations, univeristies, Non Governmental Organisations etc. to undertake Research Studies, Seminars/Workshops, Legal Awareness Programmes and Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalas etc to implement the mandate. For further details see the link below:

Call Order: https://app.box.com/s/x6dentk1kzo3fh6g61i6

For guidelines and other information visit:

http://ncw.nic.in/frmRes_GuidelinesNotification.aspx

Thursday, December 11, 2014

No foreign funds for NGOs without approval

The government on Tuesday informed Lok Sabha that certain NGOs receiving funds from abroad hold campaigns against critical operations like nuclear power plants and mining, affecting the progress of the country.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told the lower that some NGOs have been barred from receiving funds from abroad without the prior approval of the home ministry.

The minister said the CBI was investigating 23 cases related to NGOs while nine more were being investigated by the state police. “Activities of some foreign-funded NGOs were directed against interests of the country,” he said. On amending the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) — which enables NGO’s to accept foreign funds — he said a holistic view is required on the issue.

The government has either issued or is in the process of issuing notices to 10,343 NGOs registered under FCRA that have not filed annual returns for any of the financial years — 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12. Of these, 1441 NGOs are registered in Andhra Pradesh, 1110 in Tamil Nadu and 1167 in Uttar Pradesh.

Rijiju said the home ministry has introduced a penalty for late filing of returns from April, 2013. “Associations that default in filing the returns or do not file the returns will face penal action,” he said.

Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/no-foreign-funds-for-ngos-without-approval/article1-1292620.aspx 

Society needs NGOs: President



Monday, December 08, 2014, Gurgaon: The society needs non-government organisations (NGOs) to serve people in areas where a gap still remains between demand and availability, President Pranab Mukherjee today said.

“Though the government is doing a lot but still gap remains between the demand and availability and the NGOs should come forward to bridge that gap,” he said. The President was addressing a gathering after inaugurating an old-age home and a school building of an NGO, Bharat Sevashram Sangha (BSS), in Wazirpur village, Sector 92 Gurgaon.

Mukherjee also laid the foundation stone of a prayer hall in the premises of the NGO. Speaking at the occasion, the President said that the core of our Constitution is ‘Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina, Sarve Santu Niramaya’ (everybody should be blessed and happy). He said that the objective of all the social activity should be ‘Bahujan Hitay, Bahujan Sukhay’ (welfare of all) and it should not be for an individual but for whole of the humanity.

The President said that the Hindu religion has emphasised that service to humanity is equal to service to God. Mukherjee said that BSS is launching a series of celebrations beginning with this ceremony to mark its centenary year in 2017. Bharat Sevashram Sangha (BSS) was founded by Acharya Sreemat Swami Pranava Nandaji Maharaj. Nandaji was born in 1896 at Bajitpur in present-day Bangladesh.

Source: http://www.dayandnightnews.com/2014/12/society-needs-ngos-president

Society needs NGOs: President

The society needs non-government organisations (NGOs) to serve people in areas where a gap still remains between demand and availability, President Pranab Mukherjee today said.

"Though the government is doing a lot but still gap remains between the demand and availability and the NGOs should come forward to bridge that gap," he said.

The President was addressing a gathering after inaugurating an old-age home and a school building of an NGO, Bharat Sevashram Sangha (BSS), in Wazirpur village, Sector 92 Gurgaon.

Mukherjee also laid the foundation stone of a prayer hall in the premises of the NGO.

Speaking at the occasion, the President said that the core of our Constitution is 'Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina, Sarve Santu Niramaya' (everybody should be blessed and happy).

He said that the objective of all the social activity should be 'Bahujan Hitay, Bahujan Sukhay' (welfare of all) and it should not be for an individual but for whole of the humanity.

The President said that the Hindu religion has emphasised that service to humanity is equal to service to God.

Mukherjee said that BSS is launching a series of celebrations beginning with this ceremony to mark its centenary year in 2017.

Bharat Sevashram Sangha (BSS) was founded by Acharya Sreemat Swami Pranava Nandaji Maharaj. Nandaji was born in 1896 at Bajitpur in present-day Bangladesh.

Source: http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/society-needs-ngos-president-114120700766_1.html

Our goal is to create 1 mn jobs and 1,000 philanthropists by 2020: Ravi Venkatesan

According to Social Progress Index 2014, India ranks way below its neighbouring countries on social development indicators. Social Venture Partners (SVP) India, launched in 2012 by Ravi Venkatesan, former chairman of Microsoft India, aims at improving social welfare of India. SVP India brings together philanthropists who want to address social problems through venture philanthropy. He speaks to Reghu Balakrishnan on SVP’s journey so far and how it can improve the quality of life of underprivileged Indians. Edited excerpts:

What was the rationale behind launching SVP India in 2012?

India ranks pretty low on most social development indicators and ranks at 102nd position among 150 nations — well behind Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. Half of India’s population lack toilets and two-thirds lack access to safe water. After I stepped down from a full-time corporate career, I met a fairly large number of people who felt a strong desire to “give back” to society — to contribute money, time and expertise to worthwhile causes and organisations. We needed a model that would allow us to pair up good non profits with people who have the relevant expertise and who can help them really scale up their impact. After much searching, we found such a model in the US and a few of us came together to start Social Venture Partners in Bengaluru in 2012.

How has the journey been in the past two years?

We have 80 donor-partners in Bengaluru and we are shortly going to give our second set of grants. We have worked with several NGOs and social enterprises, not just in funding projects but working on core capacity-building. We have engaged with corporates on their CSR (corporate social responsibility) strategy, and made a start in rolling out partner education programmes, to inform and educate our partners and make them better philanthropists. We have already started our chapter in Pune and Mumbai and hope to get going in Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Kolkata next year. Recently, we have set an audacious goal for ourselves – to help create one million jobs and 1,000 philanthropists by 2020.

What are the criteria for choosing NGOs and which are the key areas of focus?

We have a proven grants process, which all SVP chapters around the world follow. A group of partners gets together every year to form what we call the Grants Committee (GC). Acting as stewards of the pooled grant funds, the GC represents the partnership in choosing new NGOs to work with. Nationally, we focus on the livelihoods sector and within this broad umbrella, each chapter can choose where it wants to work and which NGOs it wants to work with. Additionally, each chapter can also choose a local focus area, which it will fund. For example, in Bengaluru, we have chosen to intervene and work with the government in the waste management space.

Other than waste management, what are the common issues that need to be addressed in India?

Collectively, we believe that fixing governance in this country is very important. Otherwise, we are just addressing the symptoms and not the disease. We are fortunate in having credible and influential partners in each city where we operate. Therefore, we believe that we could potentially play a constructive role over time in working with organisations that are doing good work in governance — be it in justice, legislative process, sanitation, etc.

How can SVP India play a crucial role in the background of regulators demand for more CSR from India Inc?

We have started engaging with companies on helping them develop their CSR strategy and align this with their business goals. We are also working with one company helping them build a more robust employee engagement platform through CSR. Over time, there is an opportunity for companies to co-invest with us in worthwhile organisations in the livelihood space. Many companies are well-intentioned but have trouble finding the right credible organisations to partner with.

How much has been deployed by SVP India so far?

In Bengaluru, nearly Rs 1 crore was committed last year and a similar amount this year. This does not include thousands of hours of free bro-pono consulting provided to NGOs by SVP partners. If you put a monetary value on this, the figure would be greater. This year, the Pune and Mumbai chapters will also be making their first grants.

As more corporate leaders are coming with philanthropy ideas and the space is getting crowded, how can SVP India differentiate itself?

The scale of the problems in India ensures that more is always better. However, we do not believe that money is the most fundamental issue. Creating professionally-run, credible organisations that can scale and be sustainable in the long run is more critical. This is where our model of engaging with our investees and helping with capacity building is important and that is the differentiator. In addition, being the catalyst that can leverage our connections and networks to help grassroots organisations in the livelihood space will be our niche.

What’s the role of SVP Academy?

SVP Academy exists to make our partner-donors better philanthropists. We induct, induce and immerse our partners into issues and challenges facing the country. We currently do this through speaker events and on-the-ground experiences. Going forward, we want to create more programmes to educate our partners on giving philanthropy and social issues. We hope this will make many of them contribute much more and much more meaningfully; not just through SVP, but even outside the SVP network.

Source: http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/goal-is-to-create-1-mn-jobs-and-1000-philanthropists-by-2020-ravi-venkatesan-114120300682_1.html

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rajiv Mishra to Lead Samsung’s CSR Division in India

· Samsung’s current CSR initiatives include Guru Shiksha programme, Samsung Smart School,

· Samsung Technical Schools, Nanum’ village project & MSME-Samsung Technical Schools

​Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. today announced that Rajiv Mishra would head Samsung’s CSR division in India. Samsung lays strong emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility, which involves extending the company’s legacy of innovation to create value for society by addressing societal needs and challenges. Through the CSR initiatives Samsung hopes to open newer possibilities that positively transform people's lives.

Speaking about the development, Mr. H.W. Bang, Senior Vice President of Samsung South West Asia said “I am happy to announce that Rajiv Mishra, V.P, Media has been given the additional responsibility of leading Samsung India’s CSR division. At present, our CSR programmes focus in the areas of education, culture, sports, social welfare and community development. I am confident that under Rajiv’s leadership, Samsung’s CSR initiatives will cross new milestones.”

Samsung has, over the years, leveraged its legacy of technology innovation through philanthropic initiatives focused on helping communities lead healthier, smarter and more sustainable lives. In addition to skill development among youth, Samsung also places substantial focus on providing underprivileged children a chance at quality education and in helping bridge the digital gap that exists in India. This is done through Samsung Smart Schools, set up in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas across the length and breadth of the country. The Smart Classes are equipped with an interactive Samsung whiteboard, Samsung laptops for the students, a printer, wi-fi and a power backup since power outages are common. Over 198 Smart Schools have been set up to date in India, benefitting 75,000 secondary class students. Samsung continues to expand the program based on positive feedback received from the schools on the impact on students learning and attendance.

Rajiv Mishra joined Samsung in August 2014. Rajiv’s career spans over 22 years during which he has held several key positions. Prior to joining Samsung, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Lok Sabha TV. In this role he led the overall functions of the channel including marketing, sales, distribution, producing, hosting and telecasting a complete array of programmes of general interest on issues relating to democracy, governance, social, economic and constitutional issues as well as citizens’ concerns. He has worked for leading media companies like the Hindustan Times, Star TV, TV Asia of USA, BAG Films & Media. He is also the nominated Member of various Media Advisory bodies in various Ministry of Government of India.

Rajiv Mishra is also the founder and first President of Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI) and also the first President of Association of Regional Television Broadcasters of India (ARTBI), the industry representative body of regional Broadcasters of India. He has recently been nominated as member, expert committee of Information & Broadcasting Ministry to develop papers on copyright issues.

He is a Masters in Broadcasting from IAB, Montreux, Switzerland and MBA in Media Management from MCNY, USA. Rajiv Mishra can be contacted at rajiv.mishra@samsung.com.

About Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. is a global leader in technology, opening new possibilities for people everywhere. Through relentless innovation and discovery, we are transforming the worlds of TVs, smartphones, tablets, PCs, cameras, home appliances, printers, LTE systems, medical devices, semiconductors and LED solutions. We employ 286,000 people across 80 countries with annual sales of US$216.7 billion. To discover more, please visitwww.samsung.com.

Source: http://www.moneylife.in/business-wire-news/rajiv-mishra-to-lead-samsungs-csr-division-in-india/41816.html

NGOs at Crossroad in Mainland China and Hong Kong

By Li Xiaojun, Director, The State Council Information Office, P.R.China

The concept of NGOs is quite new to China. China had social organizations which were closely linked to the governments for several decades. With the transformation of government functions and deepening of reform and openning-up, China has turned to nurture domestic NGOs like other countries.

NGOs in Mainland China and Hong Kong

The spring for NGOs is coming to China. By the end of 2013, mainland China has 5.47 lakh registered NGOs which employed 1.2 crore people. They have played very important roles in areas like social service, poverty alleviation, science, education, health, culture, ecological and environmental protection, religion, community service, legal service and so on. They mostly provide professional services and consultations to society and government. The Chinese leadership has called on deepening reform in an all-round way late last year. It includes the transformation of some functions of the government to NGOs in big strides. The government would buy services from NGOs in the course of turning itself to service-oriented from a management-oriented one. For example, the State Council and the Ministry of Finance published guidelines for government agencies to buy services from NGOs to better meet diversified needs of the masses. The Ministry of Civil Affairs of China put a notice on October 29 to invite domestic NGOs to apply for a funding of RMB 20 crore yuan ( Rs. 200 crore) to carry out services to orphans and poverty or natural disaster striken people in remote regions. NGOs are set to flourish in mainland China.

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) came into being in 1997 after its handover from Britain to China. It boasts of Western-style democracy, a vibrant economy based on free trade and plenty of NGOs. “Small government and big society” is its mantra. It has more than 2 lakh NGOs which administer 90 percent of social welfare schemes. the HKSAR government provides for half of their fundings. In the 2012-2013 budget year, the government bought services from local NGOs worth 13 billion HK dollars. It is worth mentioning that some Hong Kong NGOs have contributed a lot to the needy people in mainland China. There are also a small number of political NGOs which have innumerable connections with Western countries. They play to the hands of Western countries. The illegal Occupy Central protest which has lasted for 49 days in downtown Hong Kong proved this. But the incident is drawing to conclusion with two thirds of residents being against the movement according to an opinion poll conducted by Hong Kong University recently.
NGOs as Intervetion Tools by Western Countries

In contrast, according to statistics, Britain, France and the U.S. each has more than one million NGOs. They are also home to many internationally famous or notorious political NGOs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Journalists without Frontiers. Western countries are highly experienced in using NGOs to meddle in the demestic affairs of other countries. Color revolutions in Central Asian, Arabian and East European countries could not have happened without NGOs in spearheading the revolts.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in November 2009 the Civil Society 2.0 Initiative with a funding of 5 million dollars to build capacity of grassroots organizations in North Africa and the Middle East. Her aim was to enable NGOs in these countries to do the work that, in the past, Western NGOs and governments have done. Her efforts paid off but not without side effects. One year after the unveiling of her initiative, Tunisia saw Jasmine Revolution, Eygpt put President Hosni Mubarak behind the bars, Libyan leader Colonel Qaddafi was killed. And many Arabian countries experienced a wave of color revolutions and violence. The U.S. welcomed the new developments. It’s the common Arabian people who suffered the most. On the demestic front, Western governments prevented major protests from happening in their home soil in view of the financial tusnami in 2008 which brought immense bitterness to common man in the western world. The Western capitals should have been occupied 1000 times but that had not happened. Although Occupy Wall Street Movement was held in a park in New York, it was crushed by 1000 police officers in a moment. The western people and NGOs had been fooled by their governments and their media. It’s worth studying.

Generally speaking, Western countries are rich in NGOs and good at using NGOs to fullfil their stategic and political goals. Western troops, media and NGOs are the three effective tools in seeding thorns among the people in countries and regions which they do not like. Although called non-governmental organizations, many Western NGOs get their funding from their governments, legislatures or political parties. For example, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) based in Washington has kept on providing substantial funding to overseas Chinese dissidents, Tibet splittists and Xinjiang Uyghur splittists and recently Hong Kong pan-democrats to destablize China. It was disclosed by Hong Kong media that Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Labor Party of Hong Kong, a pan-democrat, was very active in Occupy Central by accepting big sums of money from the U.S. It’s also disclosed that the the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) with Lee as its secretary-general received secretly more than 1.3 crore HK dollars from American Center for International Labor Solidarity, an arm of NED, since 1994. Lee has violated relevant HKSAR laws by not reporting the transfer to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong. There are many such cases involving Occupy Central in Hong Kong.

It was reported by BBC on October 24 that plans on Occupy Central demonstration were hatched in Hong Kong back in January 2013. BBC Newsnight has been told in the Oslo Freedom forum that “some leading protesters received advice and materials from Western activists to help them train as many as 1,000 of those who would later be involved in the demonstrations”. It is getting clear that some pro-independence lawmakers in Hong Kong has joined hands with local and foreign NGOs and a few foreign governments, parliamentarians and think tanks to facilitate Occupy Central. It was unfortunate that the anti-subversion bill was shelved indefinitely in 2003. But that was in contradiction with the Basic Law of Hong Kong. The Constitution of China and the Basic Law are the cornerstones for Hong Kong’s existence. Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulates that “The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Region, and to prohibit political organizations or bodies of the Region from establishing ties with foreign political organizations or bodies.” In my view, today as Beijing is determined to promote the rule of law throughout the country, some members of the Hong Kong Legistive Council would feel the heat of accusations of violation of the constitution.

Hong Kong must change if it still wants to stick to principles of democracy and the rule of law after the bankruptcy of Occupy Central whose days are numbered.Indians are luckier than Chinese in dealing with foreign NGOs. India has Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)to regulate NGOs in receiving foreign fundings. I remember the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project was delayed by anti-nuclear activists and NGOs backed by the US funding because it was a Russian supported project. The project became the victim of big power contest. No country cherishes independence like India or China. Fortunately the Union government of India took swift action by applying FCRA and the funding was cut off and NGOs involved were punished.

The project was carried on. That was in 2012. Unlike India, China does not have such an act or regulation. It is imaginable how difficult it is to monitor and regulate domestic and foreign NGOs in this regard. The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee held a plenary session in Beijing late last month. It adopted the Decision on Comprehensively Advancing the Rule of Law. It is set to shape the future of the whole country. The Decision has 186 measures to enforce the rule of law. One of the measures prescribes that “To strengthen the supervision of foreign NGOs in China, and to guide and supervise them in carrying out activites according to law”. China has a lot to learn from India in this regard.

Challenges for Domestic NGOs and Foreign NGOs

For domestic NGOs in China, they should not drift into paws of foreign interests. The promise of big cash or sponsored foreign trips sometimes become allurement for selling oneself’s souls.This kind of danger is always there. The domestic NGOs have to enhance capacity building and come up with new ways for resources mobilizing. As for overseas and foreign NGOs in China, the majority are good. They have channeled big sums of funds, expertise and resources in helping China fight against poverty, diseases, and pollution. These kind of foreign NGOs have become lubricants in maintaining good relations between their country and China. In theory, every NGO should play angel instead of troublemaker. But in practice, a very small number of foreign NGOs carry out illegal activities in the disguise of legal identity. They deserve punishment.
The other challenge is the hostile Western media. Half a month ago, hundreds of demonstrators took part in Occupy the Parliament Square Protest in London. But it was like it never happened . Major media like the BBC, Reuters, the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph who reported extensively on Hong Kong’s Occupy Central turned a blind eye to this home-grown NGOs’event. Only the Independent Television network website mentioned it briefly. It transpired that all the demonstrators were rounded up and fifteen of them had been arrested over the three days that the protest had lasted. Obviously the British media are good players of double standard in filing reports on NGO activities.
As to Hong Kong, the 18-year old student leader in Occupy Central Joshua Wong was put on the cover of The Time magazine in an October issue. The Time was eager to make him a democracy champion and human rights idol. He heads an NGO of college and middle students. The underlining motive was self-evident.

Source: http://www.newdelhitimes.com/ngos-at-crossroad-in-mainland-china-and-hong-kong123

No specific tax exemption for companies' CSR expenses: Government

NEW DELHI: The government on Friday said there is no specific tax exemption on expenses incurred by companies under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

The new companies law, which came into force from April 1, requires certain class of profitable corporates to shell out at least 2 per cent of their three-year annual average net profit towards CSR works.

"...no specific tax exemption has been extended to expenditure incurred on CSR," corporate affairs minister Arun Jaitley said in the Lok Sabha on Friday.

However, he said that several activities that are part of Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013, already enjoy exemptions under the Income Tax Act, 1961.

These activities include contribution to Prime Minister's relief fund, scientific research, rural development and skill development projects. Schedule VII of the Act pertains to CSR.

"As regards contribution made by companies under CSR towards Swachh Bharat and Clean Ganga, no specific tax exemption has so far been made," Jaitley said in a written reply.

Responding to a query on whether the government has taken note of private sector companies trying to evade CSR on one pretext or the other, the minister said that information with regard to compliance would be available only after September 2015.

"This is the first year of implementation of CSR by companies under the Act. Information on compliance by companies in this regard will be available only after statutory annual returns on CSR are filed by companies, including private sector companies, which are due after September 2015," he said.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/No-specific-tax-exemption-for-companies-CSR-expenses-Government/articleshow/45387201.cms

Are NGO’s India’s blind alley?


A Good Samaritan once said “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. Most of us cannot even contemplate the derisive nature of the quote itself, as admittedly, most of us are yet to find ourselves. In some part it is down to the congenial realms we confine ourselves to rather than the lethargy of thought and intention. ‘That’ Good Samaritan was none other than Mahatma Gandhi, whose words in not specifying the ‘nature’ of service, perhaps lost some value with time.

The service of others, has in recent times developed into a mantra, which unlike a pathological idea, wears a rather snappish line on a t-shirt. The modern definition or rather a commercial one ‘in service to others’ is the all encompassing NGO.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India’s premier investigating agency, earlier in the year disclosed before the Supreme Court that there were about 20,00,000 NGO’s operating in the country. However, only a handful compared to the dwarfing cumulative number, submitted papers to relevant authorities for routine auditory checks.

It is not difficult to guess where the majority of these NGO’s exist. The states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh (not in any particular order) are frontrunners in the number of NGO’s that are currently active. Uttar Pradesh alone has a whopping number of over 5 lakh active non-governmental organizations operating.

The CBI report further reveals that only 8% of the NGO’s file their papers yearly, with regards to meeting financial regulations. The 2010-11 financial year statement about NGO’s funding pattern shows that nearly 22,000 NGO’s drew a cumulative amount of $2 billion from overseas – which is a fairly substantial amount. Majority of this donation has come from the US.

With much of the NGO sector working in an unregulated way, not filing any annual returns for years, not being questioned about the funding sources, or the objectives as play, what these organizations are delivering on the ground is also questionable.

Take case of an NGO having set up an eye camp in Punjab, where just a couple of days ago, a media reports states that 60 patients lost their eye sight due to cataract operations having been performed under unsanitary conditions.

We are all guilty of blindly acknowledging the role of NGOs as an organization based on the Mahatma’s ideals about ‘service of others’. We regularly fail to identify that the spurt in global concern about serving others in India has to be done so with bucket loads of money.

Contrary to general belief about NGOs working for the social good of mankind, an intelligence bureau (IB)report submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office recently did suggest that large overseas funded organizations were more likely to be detrimental to local growth.

One of the reason attributed being that NGO’s are in practice working as lobbying agents or market scouts from global brands or different countries by undermining local participation and against local interests.

While the IB’s report can be disputed but there is no doubt that the unregulated NGO sector has become blind alley for the country’s administrators. Something surely needs to done. Will the PMO’s office – as a public state promised – reign in runaway NGOs and align their roles with the development agenda that Prime Minister Narinder Modi has claimed his government will vigorously pursue or will the authorities continue to identify the book merely by its cover, remains to be seen.

Source: http://hillpost.in/2014/12/are-ngos-indias-blind-alley/101761

Ministry Eye on NGOs: Online Applications Made Mandatory for Organizations seeking funds for People living in Disability

The Social Justice Ministry has made a new order asking all non-government organisations working for the disabled persons to apply online for grants. The initiative aimed at ensuring transparency and a level playing field for emerging NGOs. The order has come after the ministry, which is in charge of disbursing grants, has blacklisted five NGOs for alleged misappropriation of funds.
According to the order, from now onwards NGOs will have to apply on a designated website, www.ngograntsje.gov.in , with relevant documents before inviting a “grants in aid committee” — to be set up by the state government concerned — for an inspection of the proposed project.
Previously, NGOs had to apply to the government concerned, which would set up committees that would report back with its recommendations on grants after a scrutiny. The state would forward the recommendations to the central ministry, which was expected to follow the recommendations.
Order Guidelines
§  The Ministry has made it mandatory for all NGOs that receive grants from the government to put up on their website details of beneficiaries along with their mobile numbers for better monitoring and feedback of the services rendered.
§  For the current (2014-15) financial year, all applications by NGOs seeking grant in aid for the disability sector shall be accepted online only.
§  The grants in aid committee will ascertain through inspections carried out, the functioning and suitability of the NGOs applying for the grants.
§  Inspecting officers would have to put their signature and seal with date at the end of their reports, which should clearly mention whether the grant in aid is recommended or not.
§  Photographic evidence should also be enclosed with the report.
§  Any official below this rank found to be interacting with any such representative could be liable to appropriate disciplinary action.
§  No further grants would be released to an NGO that has not submitted a funds-utilization report for more than a year.

Benefits
§  Transparency: This initiative would bring in transparency in disbursement of grants. It has become a tradition in the sector to give grants to the same organisations over and over again. Only those NGOs that have some network in the states get their proposals approved through bureaucrats they know. These NGOs have learnt how to work the system.
§  Central Database System: Online procedure system would act like a central database. It will become easier for both NGOs as well as the ministry to have all the details online. That way approval can come quicker and NGOs don’t have to run around with documents.

For more information, visit the source link The Telegraph.

Right to Sanitation Challenge by CAF-India: Construction & awareness of Sanitation Facilities

Deadline: 8 December 2015

CAF( Charities Aid Foundation) India is inviting a detailed Expression of Interest (EOI) from NGOs/CSOs, for construction of toilets including maintenance and awareness building across schools, households and communities under the Right to Sanitation Challenge initiative.

Through RTS Challenge, CAF India wants to involve more and more people into the campaign, thereby making everyone aware of the state of toilets in rural & urban schools, communities and households and the need to build/renovate them on priority.

The Program aims at

1. Construction of Toilets

2. Maintenance & upkeep

3. Sanitation & Hygiene Education

Apart from funds for construction of toilets, the winning organization will get an exposure and full tax exemption under section 80G.

Eligibility Criteria

  •  Applicants can be NGOs (Not for Profit Organisations) / CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860 / Public Trust Act at the National or State level / Section 25 / Clause 8 of the Companies Act which must have-
  • Minimum three year old registered organisation with a proven track record of promoting Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) interventions
  • Prior experience of handling similar projects for schools or communities
  • Experience of working with any government project, on water and sanitation
  • Equipped with a reliable technical staff to implement the project effectively
  • Proven track record in project management
  • Dedicated technical team for WASH Programme.

Selection Criteria

  • Organisations meeting the above requirements can submit their application by downloading the EOI application form and sending it before deadline either by post/courier/hand or e-mail.
  • The EOI proposals, entitled as “EOI Application for CAF Right to Sanitation” should be filled in the prescribed format.
  • The shortlisted agencies will be invited for submitting the detailed technical proposals, including strategy, work plan with timelines and budget.

For more information, visit CAF-India Right to Sanitation.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

NGOs get foreign funds to stall critical operations: Govt

New Delhi: Government Tuesday said certain NGOs receiving funds from abroad hold "campaigns" against critical operations like nuclear power plants and mining, affecting the progress of the country.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju informed the Lok Sabha that certain NGOs are being used to launch a "campaign" against critical operations such as nuclear power plants and mining projects which affects the "progress" of the country.

He said NGOs like Greenpeace in India have been barred from receiving foreign funds.

Responding to a supplementary on amending the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, he said a "holistic" view is required on the issue.

The government has either issued or is in the process of issuing notices to 10,343 NGOs or NGOs registered under FCRA who have not filed annual returns for any of the Financial Years 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Out of these, 1441 NGOs or associations are registered in Andhra Pradesh, 1110 in Tamil Nadu and 1167 in Uttar Pradesh. 401 such organisations are in Delhi.

Organisations receiving foreign contributions are required to submit annual returns for each financial year within a period of nine months from closure of calendar year.

He said the MHA has introduced penalty for late filing of annual returns from April, 2013. "Thus associations who default in filing the returns or do not file the returns would face penal action," he said.

Source: http://zeenews.india.com/news/india/ngos-get-foreign-funds-to-stall-critical-operations-govt_1508148.html

Monday, December 1, 2014

World AIDS Day 2014: Why is India facing shortage of anti-HIV drugs?

December 1 is the World AIDS Day 2014

On the occasion of the World AIDS Day, let’s have a look at some real stories outlining the situation of HIV drugs’ shortage in India.

Ratan who couldn’t afford the ART: As young as 34, Ratan Singha, an AIDS patient, lost his life because he couldn’t afford to buy his ART (Anti Retroviral Therapy) drugs from the open market as they were not available with the government centre in Manipur.

Rahul who didn’t receive proper counselling: The shortage of ART deteriorated the health of Delhi-based Rahul who was detected with HIV in 2006. He didn’t get proper counselling and support and hence gave up on using ART and now is on second line ART. The reason was simple: he was given incomplete dosages due to shortage of ART.(Read: Is India’s HIV/AIDS success story a farce?)

The five year old who never received the drugs: Little Keerthiga’s is the same story. The five-year-old from Tirchi was born HIV positive and needed regular ART treatment. However, due to the non-availability of ART drugs at the Tirchi centre, her mother, a daily wager, had to take her to a Chennai ART centre every month, which she discontinued after it ran out of stocks.

What are the implications?

The three cases are unrelated, but point to a grim picture about the acute shortage the country faces of ART drugs. (Read:These 5 people didn’t know they had HIV).

According to experts and NGOs, the situation is going from bad to worse. Though there are no figures on how many people with HIV/AIDS are dying due to shortage of crucial drugs, experts feel it is steadily rising. According to UNAIDS, India had the third largest number of people in the world living with HIV at the end of 2013, accounting for about four out of every 10 people living with HIV in the Asian region. As per a World Health Organisation (WHO) report last year, the Indian government has been providing free anti-retroviral drugs for treating HIV since 2004, but only 50 percent of those eligible were getting it in 2012.

According to the health ministry 140,000 people died in India because of AIDS in 2012. In February, the health ministry had said that as per surveillance data, 2.09 million people are estimated to be living with HIV (PLHIV) in the country. A total of 747,175 PLHIV are receiving free first line anti-retroviral treatment and 7,224 PLHIV are receiving free second line drugs.

The Technical Resources Group of the health ministry has recommended providing third line anti-retroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS patients in 10 centres of excellence across the country. There are 448 ART centers across the country.(Read: 11 things about HIV/AIDS you didn’t know)

But the question experts ask is: Where are the drugs?

‘It is easy to blame the government and authorities at higher levels for such issues,’ a senior National AIDS Control Organisation official, who refused to be identified.

Till 2010, the participation of foreign agencies, pharmaceutical firms and the UN towards the procurement of ART drugs was 70 percent, with only 30 percent of Indian government’s role. A decision was taken by former health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to entirely revert the scenario, which slowed down the procurement process. (Read: Ten HIV/AIDS myths busted)

‘Now help from foreign agencies is taken only when required. Tenders have already been given to Indian pharmaceutical companies for procurement of ART drugs. By early 2015, all will be fine and the drugs will be in abundance,’ the official added.

Experts don’t buy the argument. They said the scarcity is because developed nations stopped funding Indian NGOs, social groups after the then United Progressive Alliance government stated that there was a decline in fresh HIV cases. However, the Network for People living with HIV and AIDS, a pan India organisation, says the number of cases has increased.

‘The way the government is hurrying up to project India as HIV-free and keen to stop the funding for the dreaded disease is a farce. It has to understand that as many global organisations have stopped funding, this will only lead to an increase in the deaths of HIV patients who were surviving with the help of ART drugs,’ Anand Grover, founder-president of Lawyers Collective said.

Lawyers Collective is a global organisation working for the human rights of the HIV and AIDS patients. Grover said that even the draft of the HIV and AIDS bill keeps people with HIV and AIDS out of the purview of the free ART drugs. The HIV and AIDS bill, drafted in 2006, was tabled in the Rajya Sabha in February and is currently being considered by a parliamentary standing committee.

What should be done to improve the access of drugs?

‘HIV has long gone past being a medical problem and is now an issue that cuts across social, economic, psychological and human rights parameters. The government needs to guarantee access to ART drugs. Just by ignoring the issue, the government cannot tackle the real menace of the disease,’ Grover said.

Krishna Kant, founder-president of the India Network for People living with HIV and AIDS, agreed. ‘We work at the grass root level. Every month there are new cases of HIV registered,’ Krishna Kant said.

Reni Jacob, advocacy director, World Vision India, said, ‘The government needs to realise that the way it is ignoring a dreaded disease like HIV and instead projecting that everything is well ultimately will aggravate the issue, which will later become uncontrollable.’

Source: IANS

Source: http://www.thehealthsite.com/news/world-aids-day-2014-why-is-india-facing-shortage-of-anti-hiv-drugs

Assam NGO gets UN award - To receive prize on Dec. 11

Guwahati, Nov. 25: Aaranyak, an Assam-based NGO working for the conservation of nature, has won an United Nations award for its community-based flood early warning system that has benefited 40 villages in flood-prone Dhemaji and Lakhimpur districts.

It has won the award along with Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) for the 2014 Lighthouse Activities awards under the focus area of information and communication technology (ICT) solutions.

The award was declared today by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn and will be showcased at a series of special events during the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru (December 1-12). Representatives of Aaranyak and ICIMOD will go to Lima to receive the award on December 11.

The community-based flood early warning system makes innovative use of ICT by deploying simple electronic sensors to produce flood warning signals through wireless technology for disseminating flood warning messages to and through a wide network of communities and government agencies.

Altogether 20,000 people living in the catchment areas of two rivers, Jiadhal in Dhemaji and Singora in Lakhimpur districts, have been benefiting from this initiative directly and indirectly since 2010-11.

“It is a happy news for all of us. This shows that the indigenous system developed for flood affected people has been appreciated at an international level,” Partha J. Das, head of the water, climate and hazard programme, Aaranyak, told The Telegraph.

The 2014 Lighthouse Activities were selected by a 25-member international advisory panel as part of the secretariat’s momentum for change initiative, implemented with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

The Lighthouse Activities are some of the most practical, scalable and replicable examples of what people, businesses, governments and industries are doing to tackle climate change.

Villagers like German Doley and Noor Mohammed are happy that the system has benefited immensely.

“On receiving flood warning from upstream areas of the Jiadhal, villagers of Dihiri were able to save livestock and other valuables worth Rs 2 lakh on September 5 last year when a flash flood hit them late in the night,” said German Doley of Dihiri Mising Gaon of Dhemaji.

Noor Mohammed of 1 Borsola Gaon, a member of Karunabari Anchalik Panchayat, Lakhimpur district, said the early warnings in July and September alerted the villagers to prepare for impending floods. “The villagers took advantage of this early information to gather around the embankment in the village, monitor it and took immediate measures to protect and plug the weaker portions which helped in protecting their village,” he said.

David Molden, director-general of ICIMOD, attributed the project’s success to the support received at the local level in India. He expressed hope that the service would be expanded to other Hindu Kush Himalayan countries to disseminate flood information to the most vulnerable communities.

Das said ICIMOD and Aaranyak have plans to request the state and local governance agencies to mainstream these practices into the regular disaster mitigation activities in both the districts. “We are hopeful that the state government and non-government agencies will come on board with them and help in up scaling and out scaling this practice so that larger populations all over Assam in acutely flash flood prone areas can benefit from this service,” he said.

Source: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1141126/jsp/frontpage/story_19088572.jsp#.VHxhGtKUfCo

MicroGraam inks partnership with crowd funding platform for social good www.Kiva.org

BENGALURU: Peer-to-peer microlending platformMicroGraam has inked a strategic partnership with crowdfunding platform for social good Kiva.org enabling people globally to fund low-income microfinance borrowers in MicroGraam's network of NGO partners in India.Alongside, the partnership expands Kiva's ability to crowd fund microloans in India.

"We want to tap into capital from abroad. Also, as Indian market matures we would also like to get funds for borrowers from outside. This partnership will give us faster scale as well," said Rangan Varadan, CEO and cofounder of MicroGraam on reasons for partnering with Kiva.

Kiva has agreed to raise up to $2 million (Rs 12 crore) as the first tranche over the next two years, under this partnership that comes under the purview of external commercial borrowing (ECB) as per guidelines set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). "India is the largest micro-finance market in the world and also has largest number of poor people.For an organisation whose mission is to eliminate poverty it was always a priority country for Kiva to work with. MicroGraam has an interesting model and is a lot like us in that they raise funding using the internet. This partnership allows us to reach more borrowers rather than brining on more field partners," said Saheba Sahni, Portfolio Manager for South Asia & the Middle East at Kiva.

"Also they charge a lower interest rate as compared to other MFIs in India and this allows us to reach even poorer borrowers," she added. Kiva launched in India in August 2012 and has five field partners including MicroGraam.

So far, both entities have raised $250,000 from pilot that started in March this year. MicroGraam now expects over 15,000 borrowers in India and will be crowd-funded by Kiva lenders over the course of this year, a fifteen-fold increase in Kiva's reach in India from last year.

Varadan and Sekhar Sarukkai founded MicroGraam in 2010 that works on a micro-VC model providing low-cost credit to rural entrepreneurs from socially minded investors. MicroGraam has partnered with 31 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in rural areas of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Assam to find borrowers. To date MicroGraam alone has disbursed loans worth Rs 9.27 crores across 5,709 borrowers. Visitors to Kiva site can browse through the profiles and stories of those they want to support with a loan of $25 (Rs 1500) or more. Loan products offered -and in development -are for microenterprises, livelihoods, healthcare, education, clean drinking water, clean energy , and organic farming. The minimum loan term from Kiva to MicroGraam is for three years as per RBI guidelines. Even if loan term to a borrower is for one year, MicroGraam will collect it back from borrower and is allowed to relend it before it pays it back to Kiva.

Since its inception in 2005, Kiva and their growing global community of 1.2 million lenders have crowd-funded close to $800 million (Rs 4,962 crore) in loans to over 1.4 million people. Kiva operates in 83 countries through a network of 286 field partners.

Centre lens on NGO disability grants - Organisations told to apply online for funds to check misuse

ANANYA SENGUPTA

New Delhi, Nov. 30: The social justice ministry has asked all non-government organisations working for the disabled to apply online for grants as part of an order aimed at ensuring transparency and a level playing field for emerging NGOs.

The order has come at a time the ministry, which is in charge of disbursing grants, has blacklisted five NGOs for alleged misappropriation of funds.

According to the order, NGOs will from now on have to apply on a designated website, www.ngograntsje.gov.in , with relevant documents before inviting a “grants in aid committee” — to be set up by the state government concerned — for an inspection of the proposed project.

So far, NGOs had to apply to the government concerned, which would set up committees that would report back with its recommendations on grants after a scrutiny. The state would forward the recommendations to the central ministry, which was expected to follow the recommendations.

What the order seeks to do is keep the central ministry, the funds disbursing authority, in the loop.

A senior official in the central ministry said the department of disability affairs has decided that from the “current (2014-15) financial year, all applications by NGOs seeking grant in aid for the disability sector shall be accepted online only”.

The order, sent to all chief secretaries and secretaries of all disability welfare departments in states, says the “grants in aid committee will ascertain through inspections carried out, the functioning and suitability of the NGOs applying for the grants”.

Inspecting officers would have to put their signature and seal with date at the end of their reports, which should “clearly mention whether the grant in aid is recommended or not”.

“Photographic evidence should also be enclosed with the report,” the order said.

The ministry said no further grants would be released to an NGO that has not submitted a funds-utilisation report for more than a year.

“This is a good initiative to bring in transparency in disbursement of grants. It has become a tradition in the sector to give grants to the same organisations over and over again. Only those NGOs that have some network in the states get their proposals approved through bureaucrats they know. These NGOs have learnt how to work the system,” said activist Javed Abidi, founder of the NGO Disability Rights Group.

“Emerging NGOs have no scope to break through this glass ceiling because of the nexus between the older organisations and the babus,” he added.

It was this alleged “nexus” that the ministry under the then UPA government had sought to break through an order this February when it issued “restrictions on interactions” of officials with representatives of NGOs seeking grants.

The ministry had authorised such interactions only at a “sufficiently higher level” — or officials above the rank of deputy secretary or director.

The order said any official “below this rank” found to be interacting with any such representative could be “liable to appropriate disciplinary action”.

The new order has made it mandatory for all NGOs that receive grants from the government to put up on their website details of beneficiaries along with their mobile numbers “for better monitoring and feedback of the services rendered”.

A member of the Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust, who didn’t want to be named because he isn’t the authorised spokesperson, said it was “easier” for both NGOs as well as the ministry to have all the details online. “That way approvals can come quicker as we don’t have to run around with documents…. If it’s online, it’s like a central database.”

Source: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1141201/jsp/nation/story_19109182.jsp#.VHxcKNKUfCo

NGOs get a “No Transparency No Funding message” – Parliament Round-up

No Transparency No Funding

The Minister of State (MoS) for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha said that the Government is imparting greater transparency and expeditiousness in the sanctioning of funds to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). The Minister said several corrective steps have been initiated by his Ministry to check embezzlement of Government funds sanctioned to NGOs. In fact, the Ministry has revamped the process of submitting application and subsequent process has been made online mandatory from the Financial Year 2014-2015.

Sampla informed the Rajya Sabha that funds are only released to the NGO once they get a receipt from various departments including the State Level Grant-in-Aid Committee, Inspection Reports, Utilisation Certificate and Audited Accounts. In fact, the Ministry has also initiated a surprise checking of these NGOs to stop corruption and embezzlement. The Minister also said that the schemes or programmes implemented through NGOs are also monitored by respective State Government and UT administrations.

“The Ministry sponsors evaluation studies from time to time through independent evaluation agencies, inter alia, to check proper utilisation of funds by the implementing agencies under various schemes and programmes, ” the Minister said.

He also informed that in the event of proven misappropriation of fund by an NGO, the Ministry blacklists defaulter.



Clean Ganga Mission



Minister of State (MoS) for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Prof Sanwar Lal Jat informed Lok Sabha that the Centre has proposes to free all villages along the banks of the river from open defecation under Namami Gange project.

The Minister was answering the Lok Sabha question on the plans of rejuvenating the Ganga river and freeing it from the pollutants. He also said that during the Union Budget session for 2014-2015, the Government has set up an Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission namely “Namami Gange” with an allocation of Rs 2,037 crore for Ganga Rejuvenation plan. He said, “The plan formulated for Ganga Rejuvenation provides for ‘Short-term’, ‘Medium-term’, and a ‘Long-term’ action plan, while incorporating the projects already sanctioned by National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBP).” The Minister also said that a currently, a World Bank assisted National Ganga River Basin Project (NGRBP) for Rs 7000 crore and a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) assisted Project at Varanasi for Rs 496.90 crore are under implementation.

National Ganga Monitoring Centre (NGMC) is conceptualised as a Nodal Centre for monitoring the critical aspects of Ganga rejuvenation, such as water and effluent quality at identified suitable locations throughout Ganga, using IT enabled systems, the MoS informed the Lower House on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has also prepared an Action Plan to make some 1649 Gram Panchayats along the banks of river Ganga Open Defecation Free at an estimated cost of approximately Rs 1508.76 crore. Around 118 urban habitations on both banks of river Ganga have been tentatively identified by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) for extending suitable coverage of sewerage infrastructure the Lok Sabha was told.

Government to recognise commendable work done by retiring officers

The Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Jitendra Singh in a written reply to Dr. T Subbarami Reddy in Rajya Sabha said that retiring employees who have served the country will be recognised and their achievements will be put up on Department’s website. He also said that a platform for retiring employees has been initiated where a retiring employee can showcase his or her significant achievements during their service period. This has been already uploaded on the website of the concerned department. Singh also said that this step will also create a database of useful suggestions and information provided by the employee. Once this facility is eventually created, retiring employees will be able to submit their outstanding achievements online.

Railways launches NextGeneration E-ticketing System

In order to provide better services to the passengers, the Railway Ministry has upgraded its website for booking of e-tickets, Minister of State (MoS) for Railways Manoj Sinha told Lok Sabha. He also informed that a new state-of-the-art Data Centre has been set up by Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation to serve people better. Further, the e-ticketing system has been upgraded with the launch of the NextGeneration E-ticketing System (NGeT). While replying to the question in Lok Sabha, the Minister also said that under this system, people will be able to book over 7200 tickets in a minute as against the capacity of 2000 tickets per minute of the old system. he said, “In the new system around 1,20,000 concurrent users can login at a time and simultaneously book e-tickets against the earlier capacity of 40,000 concurrent users at a time”.

However, he also told the Lower House that though a few instances of unsuccessful transactions have been reported on issues including non-availability of the choice of berth, network failure at the bank’s end but these cases are being examined and necessary steps have been put up in place.

Monitoring of variability of weather phenomenon

Union Minister of Science and Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences Harsh Vardhan in a written reply in Rajya Sabha said that the Government is continuously monitoring the variability of the weather phenomena, extremes and development of abnormal weather pattern potentially leading to drought, floods, flash floods, cyclones, rain induced landslides, heat cold wave. He informed that the records of past weather events show that extreme values in respect of heavy rainfall, maximum and minimum temperatures, seasonal rainfall etc remained unsurpassed in many cases.

The Minister said,”Heavy rain events (>10 cm/day) over Central India are found to have increased in the recent decades while weak and moderate events are decreasing. The extreme rain events which are becoming more intense in recent years are localised and could be part of the natural variability of the monsoon system”.

He also informed that the spatial changes in minimum temperature are found to be decreasing in most parts of Western Ghats and increasing in most parts of Himalayan region and certain parts of the Northeastern region and such warming is confined to winter and post-monsoon seasons. No such pattern is discerned in respect of other weather phenomena.

However, he informed that spatial pattern of trend in mean annual temperature anomalies, for the period 1902-2012, suggests significant positive (increasing) trend (0.5 0C) in general with few pockets of 1.0 0C) over most parts of the country except some parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Bihar, where significant negative (decreasing) trend was observed. He also told Parliament that no significant long-term trends are reported in the frequencies of large-scale droughts or floods in the summer Monsoon season. Vardhan also said that total frequency of cyclonic storms that form over the Bay of Bengal have remained constant.

Radars to monitor cyclones

Union Minister of Science and Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences Harsh Vardhan in a written reply in Rajya Sabha said that the Government does not proposes to buy a NASA aircraft for prediction of cyclones or calamities.

“Earth System Science Organisation –India Meteorological Department (ESSO-IMD) has installed Doppler Weather Radars network over the coastal areas of the country to identify zones of strong wind and heavy precipitation associated with cyclone as and when cyclone moves in to the 500 km radial coverage range”, the Minister said. The Minister also said that a full proof 24×7 operational cyclone detection and movement mechanism exists for the assessment of intensity, track and landfall over the coastal areas of the country. Details of such monitoring mechanism include genesis of the possible cyclonic circulation over the open seas is generated by the meso-scale short range (72hrs in advance) prediction models and global scale medium range (120hrs in advance) prediction models along with monitoring sea surface temperature and moisture convergence, satellite monitoring is pursued for detecting cyclogenesis and monitoring further intensity, movement and landfall of cyclones, Rajya Sabha was duly informed.

While answering the question, the Minister said, ” As far as the track and landfall forecasts of the tropical cyclones are concerned, the performance evaluation of the updated forecast systems for the past five years have demonstrated enhanced forecast skill by about 18 per cent”.

Review of financial architecture of MSMEs

Minister of State, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Giriraj Singh in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha said that the Centre has set up a Committee to examine the financial architecture for the sector, which will also cover the Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance. The Committee and Joint Secretary (Institutional Finance), DFS as Member Secretary. The first meeting of the committee was held on November 11.

The Committee comprises 15 members, the Minister said.

India self-sufficient in Thorium Reserves

India has reserves of thorium in sufficient quantity as compared to other parts of world, the Minister of State (MoS) of Ministry of Personnel, PG & Pensions and in the Prime Minister’s Office Dr. Jitendra Singh told Rajya Sabha.

He said that the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), a constituent unit of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), has so far established 11.93 million tonnes of in situ resources Monazite (Thorium bearing mineral) in the country, which contains about 1.07 million tonnes of thorium.

He also informed that both Uranium and Thorium have got distinctive characteristics governing their utilisation in nuclear reactors. Unlike uranium, thorium alone cannot be directly used as nuclear fuel in a reactor. Utilisation of Thorium with either uranium or plutonium, without going through the second stage of Fast Breeder Reactors, to build sufficient inventory of plutonium first, will be counter-productive by limiting thorium utilisation to a very small fraction of the total available resources in the country. Utilisation of Thorium in the third stage makes it available as a sustainable energy resource for centuries. With this mode of utilisation, Thorium offers not only a sustainable energy resource, but also excellent fuel performance characteristic in a reactor, better than Uranium with respect to lower inventory of long lived nuclear waste.

Singh said,” The three stage Indian nuclear programme was formulated at the inception of the DAE and has as its main stay objective of utilisation of large resources of Thorium in a sustainable manner and it cannot be used for overcoming power crisis in the short-term.”