Skip to main content

State terrorism against civil society?

By Rathin Das
Several NGOs and other activists in Gujarat and elsewhere are up in arms against the Union Home Ministry’s (HMA's) order suspending the Foreign Currency Regulation Act (FCRA) registration of Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), a network of over 700 NGOs involved in grass root activities.
In an order on April 30, 2013, the Ministry of Home Affairs has suspended the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) registration of the INSAF, apparently for its involvement in what the Government considers ‘political’ activities like ‘Dharnas’ and rallies.

The bank account of INSAF has also been frozen by the same order.
Incidentally, the MHA order of April 30 came just on the eve of INSAF organising an international conference in Delhi from May 1 to 4.
Activists in Gujarat have described the MHA action against INSAF as ‘state terrorism against civil society’.
Prof Prakash Shah, convenor of Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD), said that civil society intervention is inevitable in a healthy democracy and citizens have the right to express their opinions on issues of public interest.
Explaining the consequences of the MHA order, cultural activist Hiren Gandhi said that any NGO indulging in activities considered political can be debarred from receiving foreign funds.
The definition of political activities has also been kept vague, which can be misinterpreted to deny foreign funding to any NGO, hinted Hiren Gandhi.
If the provisions of FCRA,1976, as amended in 2011, are to be implemented in letter and spirit, any NGO receiving any foreign fund cannot participate in a protest demonstration against increasing incidents of rapes and the like, he explained.
Jimmy Dabhi of St. Xavier’s Non-Formal Education Society said the Government too receives foreign funds for many purposes and questioned the motive behind what he called ‘state terrorism against civil society’.
The activists said that any organisation which engages itself in common methods of protest action like Bandh, hartal, Rasta Roko, Rail Roko or Jail Bharo in support of any public cause, would be deemed as political in nature and, thus, denied foreign contributions for its programmes.
Questions were also raised about the nature of funds received from ‘overseas friends’ of parties indulging in pure politics.
A petition challenging the MHA order has been admitted in the Supreme Court and it is likely to come up for hearing after the summer vacation.
---
Rathin Das is a senior journalist, based in Ahmedabad

Comments

TRENDING

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

Poser to Modi: Why is Gujarat not fulfilling Constitutional obligations to minorities?

Counterview Desk
In an open letter, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on infringing upon MCC activists’ constitutional right to protest. Nafees says, they had no other demands except that the Gujarat government should move towards fulfilling the constitutional obligations towards minorities and international treaties to which India is a signatory.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.