Skip to main content

Crackdown on Ford Foundation smacks of political vendetta: New York Times

By Our Representative
"The New York Times" (NYT), one America's most influential dailies, has come down heavily on the Government of India (GoI) clampdown on Ford Foundation, calling it "India’s chilling crackdown." Qualifying Ford Foundation as "among the world’s best-known charitable organizations, dispensing billions of dollars globally for projects aimed at reducing poverty, fighting injustice, improving education and advancing democracy", it said the GoI move is simply "alarming".
"It was alarming when India’s Ministry of Home Affairs last month placed the foundation, which has made $500 million in grants to organizations in India since 1952, on a national security watch list", the NYT (May 7) said in an editorial approved by its powerful editorial board, adding, "That means it cannot give money to Indian groups without permission from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government."
The editorial comes close on the heels of the US state department and US ambassador in India, Richard Verma expressing "serious concern" over the clampdown on Ford Foundation and Greenpeace India saying it did not portend good for India's democracy. 
And now, the German Ambassador to India Micheal Steiner added his voice to what the "Time" weekly called "the growing discontent over the Indian government's treatment of international NGOs", saying that "the South Asian nation needed to show more support to the groups."
"The move shook the donor community and triggered fears of a broader crackdown on civic activism — fears quickly realized when the government canceled the registration of nearly 9,000 foreign-funded civic and nongovernmental groups", said the NYT.
Pointing out that "the Ford case smacks of political payback", the NYT noted, "The listing stems from a complaint by the Gujarat State government about the Sabrang Trust, a private group that has received grants from Ford."
The daily recalled, "The trust, its founder, Teesta Setalvad, and her husband have worked on behalf of victims of sectarian riots in Gujarat in 2002, when Modi was chief minister. They have also sought to bring charges against Modi for enabling the violence, which left more than 1,000 people dead."
Yet, the NYT said, "The state asked the ministry to investigate the trust for 'disturbing the communal harmony here and carrying out anti-national propaganda against India in foreign countries'."
The NYT further said, "The state had previously accused Setalvad and her husband of embezzling funds meant for a museum to honor the riot victims. Their advocates say they are victims of a political vendetta."
Particularly taking exception to the view taken by "an Indian official" who has described Ford and Greenpeace, which is now facing closure in India, as agents of Western strategic interests", the NYT said, "Although democratic India is a far cry from Russia, China and Egypt, similarly chilling talk was heard when authoritarian leaders in those countries moved to crush civic activism."
The daily warned, "Modi has an ambitious agenda to lift millions of people out of poverty and play a bigger role on the world stage." But "he almost certainly cannot attract the investment he needs while imposing a repressive social order and devaluing India’s greatest asset, a robust democracy."

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through  dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper (retracted) in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Dalits in India, Blacks in US suffer 'similar' humiliation: Macwan drafts letter to Trump

Counterview Desk
Well-known human rights activist Martin Macwan, recipient of the prestigious Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2000, has drafted an open letter to US President Donald Trump following the disturbing turn of events with the murder of George Floyd, leading to widespread protests in the US. He has sought signatures of concerned citizens before sending it to Trump.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.