The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has refused to consider the re-application from the PRS Legislative Research for FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) clearance to get Ford Foundation funding for its Legislative Assistants to MPs (LAMP) scheme which places one legislative assistant to work with an MP.
The Sunday Standard had reported last Sunday that the MHA had ordered an enquiry into the involvement of Ford in providing legal and technical expertise to the MPs.
Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran had denied FCRA clearance to PRS—applied through its newly floated sister concern, Institute for Policy Research Studies (IPRS)—questioning the necessity of foreign assistance for research assistance to Indian MPs. “The government thinks that it is not desirable that our legislators accept foreign support channelled through an NGO for their parliamentary research assistance. We are very clear on this,” Ramachandran told this paper.
According to sources, PRS has given a detailed clarification regarding the fund details. It has also argued that the money would not be going for any lobbying, and had stated that the money would be going into research. But the MHA does not seem to be happy with it.
“The PRS has not furnished any fresh ground which needed to be looked at in its re-application. As far as we are considered it is a closed case,” an MHA source said.
When asked what would be the next procedure, the source said that the decision has been conveyed to the PRS and if they have any complaints they can go to higher authority.
“We have taken a decision and that is final,” added the source.
The PRS spokesperson had told The Sunday Standard that it had appealed to the MHA to reconsider their decision. “We have expressed our willingness to address any specific concerns they might have.”
The application was for approval to receive $8,55,000 (`4,70,25,000 approx.) from Ford Foundation and $ 1 million from Omidiyar Network that belongs to eBay founder Pierre Omidyar respectively. About 300 MPs are part of various programs of PRS Legislative Research—an NGO that is sponsored by the Ford Foundation and other domestic agencies.
Under the Legislative Assistants to MPs (LAMP) scheme launched in 2008, PRS places one legislative assistant to work with an MP for a period of 11 months. Currently, 46 lawmakers cutting across 18 political parties are part of the scheme and they include hitters such as Rajiv Shukla and Manish Tewari from the Congress; Rajeev Pratap Rudy, Shahnawaz Hussain and Prakash Javadekar from the BJP and NK Singh from the JD(U).
The MHA, asking the question “why should the Ford Foundation provide assistance to Members of Parliament (MP) in legislative business”, has already initiated an “internal inquiry” into the process of “foreign funded researchers” getting into the Parliamentary system. And it would be looking into how far “coloured research’’ has seeped into the system and how far “lobbying’’ has worked its way upward. It will also inspect how the MPs got “entangled’’ in the foreign funded scheme and also whether they were aware that their assistants were being paid by a foreign agency.
- Sunday Standard