Friday, June 13, 2014

IB report on NGOs a cock and bull story: activists // RSS, India’s biggest NGO, gets foreign funding too // Very long tax holiday for VHP?

Terming the Intelligence Bureau report on non-government organizations (NGOs) as "most unintelligent", civil society activists named in the report said it was a "cock and bull" story and some of them even threatened to launch a defamation suit against the bureau.
"It (the IB report) is a cock and bull story full of innuendoes and unsubstantiated allegations," said Praful Bidwai, who in the report has been accused of guiding a "master network" of activism against nuclear plants. "The whole idea of master network shows how officials in the intelligence bureau create spy dreams," Bidwai said, rejecting the claim in the report that the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace had received foreign funds. "The report is worrisome as it shows working of our intelligence agencies meant to create credible intelligence for protection of people".
He termed the claim in the report that a German national Sonntag Rainer Hermann had passed on map of nuclear plants as laughable as they were available on the website of Nuclear Power Corporation Limited of India (NPCIL). Bidwai also quoted The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) report to claim that India losses gross domestic product growth of 7 % every year because of destruction to environment, which was higher than the growth achieved in the last financial year. The report had said that India lost 2-3% of economic growth because of anti-development activities of non-government organizations.
Threatening to initiate defamation proceedings against the intelligence bureau, former Navy chief and Magsasay award winner admiral L Ramdas said the report was leaked to "demean the individuals" and create a scare among people against democratic and participatory approach. "In my long service I have been part of many secret report but I have never seen such a shoddy work," he said at a press conference in Delhi on Friday.
Former director general of Tripura Police KS Subramanian said the report should be placed before Parliament and there should be a debate on it. He added that the report was leaked to create a scare among people who have been protesting against the projects and brand them anti-national. The IB report to the prime minister had said some foreign-funded NGOs, were being used to fuel protests against developmental projects relating to coal, bauxite mining, oil exploration, nuclear plants and linking of rivers, resulting in slowing down of these projects. 
Udayakumar, who heads the National Alliance of Anti Nuclear Movements (NAAM) and People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) named in the report to have received "unsolicited contract" from a US university, termed the report as baseless and non-sensible.

ReadNGOs can do little economic damage
Refuting the charge (in the IB report) that Sonntag Rainer Hermann, a German national who was deported from Chennai in 2012, was his contact, he said he was an acquaintance from Nagercoil, his hometown in Tamil Nadu. "Knowing somebody does not make him my sponsor. This is an effort to discourage popular protests from opposing dangerous projects" 
NB: One of the formal requirements of NGO's is they may not engage in political lobbying. Does the RSS not engage in politics? Scroll down to the middle of this post for its 'non politics'

Very long tax holiday for VHP?
Here's something they've all brushed under the carpet, it was a scandal about which the VP Singh government could do nothing, as it depended on the BJP for support. 
The GoI may be requested to collect arrears, since we're all into financial stringency about sops to the poor etc these days

Over the past couple of days, the alleged misdeeds of NGOs have been hotly debated in television studios and on the social media. The storm was set off by a series in The Indian Express, revealing that a 21-page Intelligence Bureau report has claimed that foreign-funded non-governmental organisations have been “negatively impacting economic development”. The newspaper said that the environmental group Greenpeace had been singled out for attention, as had other groups agitating against nuclear power projects, mining plans and attempting to organise construction labour. It has since transpired that a portion of the IB report plagiarised portions of a speech delivered by Narendra Modi in 2006 to mark the launch of a book called NGOs, Activists & Foreign Funds: Anti-Nation Industry.

The Express series has triggered an outcry against all NGOs, which are being denounced with special vehemence on Twitter as frauds and scoundrels, as anti-national entities that are dishonest about the source of their funding.  The critics seem blind to the transformative role played by non-profits such as the women’s group SEWA and the child-support service Childline, among others. There is some irony to this. The mushrooming of NGOs in recent decades is a direct consequence of the neoliberal philosophy of which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a passionate advocate. As in the west, NGOs are filling the holes in social services created by minimal governments aspiring to maximum governance. NGOs are a cornerstone of the public-private partnerships for social development that are seen as a vital part of this economic model. Other non-profits are adjuncts of the corporate world, established to avail of tax breaks for corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Amidst this debate about non-profits, one fact seems to have gone largely unremarked upon: India’s biggest NGO, one that played a crucial role in installing Modi as prime minister, also receives foreign funds. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which has an estimated 2.5 million members, created an army of panna prabharis to help Modi during the election campaign. Each prabhari was entrusted with contacting voters on a single page of the electoral rolls and getting them to the polling booth. As Scroll.in has reported, this strategy paid rich dividends.

Modi’s wariness of foreign-funded NGOs evidently does not extend to the RSS, of which he has been a member since 1971. In 2002, a report titled The Foreign Exchange of Hate: IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva,  put together by a group called The Campaign To Stop Funding Hate, documented how the India Development and Relief Fund, a charity based in the US state of Maryland, was funnelling funds to Sangh institutions in India. It claimed that the IDRF had sent more than $3 million to Sangh institutions in the seven years before the report was published. With NGOs being put under the scanner, this may be a good time to officially scrutinise the funding of the Brotherhood in Saffron.