Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bring NGOs under RTI, insists Reliance thinktank discussion, calls Greenpeace, Ford Foundation "anti-development"

Venkataraman
By Our Representative
A Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) thinktank report, based on a discussion organized by it in Chennai, has floated a new idea -- that non-government organizations (NGOs) should be brought under right to information (RTI) Act. The thinktank is known to organize discussions on different policy issues nagging the government, and indirectly presents a particular corporate view of what should be done on the issues before the officialdom.
Extensively quoting a Chennai-based pro-Narendra Modi "social activist" NS Venkataraman, trustee of a Chennai-based social organization Nandini Voice, the report says, while acknowledging that many of the "NGOs have done phenomenal work in public welfare", insists that the "motives" behind the initiatives of few of of them in the country have lately "become questionable."
Venkataraman -- who initiated the discussion organized by Observation Research Foundation (ORF), the Reliance-owned think-tank, who is particularly active lately in organizing policy discussions -- was quoted as saying that "the NGOs themselves should be subjected to the Right to Information Act (RTI), a tool that these organisations use against governmental bodies to extract information."
During the discussion, according to the ORF report, Venkatraman particularly referred to the NGOs like Greenpeace and Ford Foundation as anti-development, one reason why, he believed, they have come under the scanner of the Government of India.
Venkataram "broadly classified the NGOs into two categories, on the basis of ’size’ and portfolio(s). He appreciated the unassuming welfare services carried out by the small NGOs, and cited instances where such contributions go seldom recognized", it adds.
"These NGOs also include several individuals who genuinely carry out philanthropic activities like aiding differently-abled people for their education and employment with purely service motive and without seeking any publicity or having some hidden agenda", the report states.
"On the other hand, some big NGOs/international NGOs function like corporate entities, with state of the art offices and are adequately funded from foreign sources. Many of these big NGOs may have other hidden agendas behind their philanthropic services such as promoting political motives, foreign interest, anti-national activities, religious conversions and at times money-laundering", the report points out.
Critical of "some NGOs" who have become "promising platforms for many political aspirants who use NGO activism to gain entry into the public spotlight", the report underlines, quoting Venkataraman, "Some of these big multinational NGOs like Greenpeace and Ford foundation have resorted to activism hindering projects and development initiatives of national importance, rather than carrying out actual philanthropic work."
During the discussion, the report says, Venkataraman "cited the anti-nuclear activism at the Russian-aided Kudamkulam power project in Tamil Nadu, where politically-inspired methods for attracting crowds were said to have been adopted." At the same time, he was critical of "some corporates", without naming them, who were using "NGOs as a means of effective and economic way of publicizing their product and corporate brands."

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