NEW DELHI:The government has shared a list of over 42,000 NGOs with Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to check suspicious foreign funding amid the crackdown on some top international donors for flouting the law of the land. These 42,273 NGOs were put under watch after intelligence reports claimed that several charity organisations are diverting funds for purposes other than the permitted use of foreign contribution. Besides, foreign funds to government organisations, including IITs and IIMs, will also be strictly monitored and antecedents of donors will be thoroughly probed before the foreign funds are transferred into their respective Foreign Contribution (FC) account. Each transaction related to foreign funding has to be cleared by the Department of Economic Affairs under the Ministry of Finance.
The list handed over to FIU includes NGOs operating in religious, cultural, economic, social and educational fields. For the first time, the government has clearly defined the sectors in which it has listed Christian missionaries, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim religious groups receiving foreign contribution besides other activities of NGOs in which funds are claimed to be utilised. There is also suspicion that money launderers could use the legitimate route to wire illicit money.
“Huge amounts of foreign contributions received for public policy, seminars and people’s agitation will be closely monitored. Government is not against foreign funding but it should be for tangible efforts like building schools, houses, rural development, etc., instead of movement and agitation. India is a democratic country and any policy related to governance is cleared by Parliament. Where is the need for foreign donors to interfere in that process?” a senior government official pointed out, clarifying that over Rs 2,000 crore as foreign contribution was received in 2012 for the activities which were not clearly defined by the NGOs.
The crackdown on unchecked foreign funding, which started after NDA II came to power in May last year, will also include government entities where foreign donors are suspected to have deep penetration. On Friday, a billboard of Community Radio Facilitation Centre (CRFC) under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was removed by the officials from its Shastri Bhawan office, as it had Ford Foundation logo printed on it. The international donor, which is supporting the programme, was put under the Ministry of Home Affairs’ watch list on Thursday in the national interest and security of the country.
When asked about Ford Foundation’s role, an official requesting anonymity said the CRFC was launched with support of Ford Foundation during the UPA regime to facilitate radio applicants through various stages of licensing and it liaises with different ministries to expedite the necessary clearances.
“OneWorld, an international NGO, manages the CRFC,” the officer said. Tax returns filed by Ford Foundation in the US for 2013 reveal the foundation had granted $137,390 to Oneworld International Foundation UK for CRFC’s capacity building and promoting awareness of community radio in India. After the home ministry’s crackdown, the funds for the programme will now be cleared through Department of Economic Affairs.
According to the home ministry’s latest data, the NGOs operating in the country had received a staggering Rs 11,070 crore during 2013-14, with the US topping the list of donors by contributing over Rs 4,491 crore, followed by the UK which contributed Rs 1,347 crore. Intelligence reports have indicated that many NGOs registered under Foreign Contribution regulation Act (FCRA) may go missing due to the crackdown started by the government.
In March 2015, the home ministry had reported that around 510 NGOs from Andhra Pradesh went missing and show-cause notices issued by the ministry’s foreigners division returned undelivered.
After home ministry’s recent crackdown on Ford Foundation, a jittery US government raised concerns claiming that the recent ruling limits the necessary and critical debate within Indian society. The US response a day after the government’s decision was on the expected lines as Ford Foundation is known to have been involved in several policy sectors, which are exclusive domain of the government and could cause undue influence. Amid the allegations in social media flying thick and fast about Ford Foundation and US CIA’s link, The Sunday Standard dug out a declassified CIA letter to Ford Foundation which establishes the relationship.
CIA Director Allen W Dulles on August 13, 1955, wrote to Don K Price, Acting President of Ford Foundation, seeking a CIA operative on loan to work for Ford Foundation.
“I appreciate your letter of 21 July requesting XXXXX (name of CIA Operative redacted) to serve on loan as a member of the Foundation staff for two years. I am pleased to make her available to you since I feel that such service will be mutually beneficial,” Dulles wrote.
In 2012, The Sunday Standard had exposed Ford funds in a programme known as Legislative Assistants to Members of Parliament (LAMP). Following the story, the home ministry had ruled against it. Even before Parliament took up a debate on FDI in December 2012, Ford Foundation-funded PRS had an interactive session in the hour-long closed-door meeting.
The home ministry, which is probing into Gujarat government’s allegation that Ford Foundation funded social activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO and a private company, is also examining the indirect funding by the Foundation in India.
“It has come to our notice that some professional interns are placed in government’s rural development programme which is entirely funded by the Ford Foundation. We are examining if due process was followed in this regard. There is another case of funding of a private Limited company without having FCRA license which is being dealt with,” a source said.
The Gujarat government has alleged that Teesta’s Sabrang Communication & Publishing Pvt Ltd (SCPPL), a private company, was given grant by Ford Foundation. The government has alleged that Ford Foundation encouraged Setalvad and Javed Anand of SCPPL to meet even junior officers of UNHCR, OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) etc and promote anti-India propaganda on foreign lands and International fora.