Saturday, June 14, 2014

Nivedita Menon - When Are Foreign Funds Okay? A Guide for the Perplexed

The Intelligence Bureau has, as we know prepared a document, updating it from the time of the UPA regime (which had reportedly started the dossier) indicating large scale foreign funding for subversive anti-development activities. Such as claiming that you have a greater right to your own lands and to your livelihood than monstrous profit-making private companies. Or raising ecological arguments that might stand in the way of the profits to be made by private corporations and the corrupt state elite, from mining, big dams, multi-lane highways and so on. The IB report, signed by IB joint director Safi A Rizvi — alleges that the “areas of action” of the foreign-funded NGOs include anti-nuclear, anti-coal and anti-Genetically Modified Organisms protests. Apart from stalling mega industrial projects including those floated by POSCO and Vedanta, these NGOs have also been working to the detriment of mining, dam and oil drilling projects in north-eastern India, it adds. 
Imagine – working against the interests of POSCO and Vedanta! Is there no end to the depraved anti-nationalism of these NGOs! 
The average observer of Indian politics – being like me, not as sharp as the IB – might be a little befuddled by this apparently anachronistic allergy of two successive governments and its intelligence gathering organization, towards foreign funding, in an era in which the slightest slowing down of the pace of handing over the nation’s resources to multi-national corporations,  is termed as “policy paralysis”, and attacked as detrimental to the health of the mythical “Sensex”. Older readers might remember that the  inspiring slogan of the legendary Jaspal Bhatti’s Feel Good party was Sensex ooncha rahe hamara.
This post is just to help you figure out then, when it is Okay to applaud foreign funding and when it is not – because otherwise you might post something on your FaceBook page that attacks foreign funding when it is actually Okay – and then how stupid and anti-national you’ll look.  Apart from being arrested and hauled off to jail, a few other “innocent” people might be killed, for as we know, if you did post something “objectionable” to the Hindu Right/India, you’re not innocent and may be legitimately killed. The street gangs of the Hindu Right have been in readiness for this moment when Their Man is PM for some years now.  They also know that Their Man may not publicly defend them at all times – depends on whether they carry out their work in a non-BJP state or not. And whether state assembly elections are coming up there or not.
That is called being Drigdarshi. Far-sighted.
So in Maharashtra, Mohsin’s killing was described – in an apparent paradox – by the BJP ‘s central government Home Ministry as “communal” and by the state’s Congress government as merely “a law and order problem”.  But in fact, not a paradox at all.  The BJP is always keen to point out communal violence in states in which it is not in power. And the Congress plays the secular/communal card with the same unprincipled cynicism.
But I digress.
So – When are Foreign Funds Okay?
a) Foreign Funds are Okay if you are BJP.
The Delhi High Court indicted both Congress and BJP in March 2014 for accepting foreign funds from Vedanta subsidiaries in violation of provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act. (Vedanta clearly believes in covering all its bases – after all, who knows who will come to power).
BJP and Congress in their defence had argued that Vedanta is owned by an Indian citizen, Aggarwal, and its subsidiaries are incorporated here, therefore they are not foreign sources.
That’s the kind of fine distinction you must learn to make. For instance, there is no cap on parties’ expenditure during elections, only on individual candidates’ spending. Thus, Narendra Modi’s face on the front page of every newspaper and on huge hoardings all over the city did not get counted towards his poll expenditure. A Hindustan Times premium front page advertisement costs Rs 3950 PER SQUARE CENTIMETER... read more:
NB  Very long tax holiday for VHP?
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'
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