Skip to main content

Letter to Modi seeks cancellation of "coercive" anti-NGO orders, amendment of "opaque" foreign funding rules

By Rajiv Shah
Around 70 civil rights organizations have come together to strategize “a collective response to the stifling of civil society space” in the wake of the recent Government of India clampdown on NGOs, telling Prime Minister Narendra Modi that government steps are “coercive” in nature, are “without reasonable cause or due process”, and seek to “cripple” the ability of NGOs to “carry on their legitimate and sanctioned work.”
Asking Modi to “urgently review” all orders placing restraints on NGOs and “revoke” orders where due process has not been followed, the letter says, this should be particularly done in the case of INSAF, Peoples’ Watch, Sabrang Trust, Greenpeace India, Ford Foundation, HIVOS and ICCO, whose activities were sought to be stifled because of “vague, subjective or flimsy” grounds, without being offered any redressal mechanism.
The letter -- likely to be released on Tuesday -- comes close on the heels of the US State Department taking a serious view of the Government of India move to target Ford Foundation and Greenpeace India, saying it could limit "necessary and critical debate" in India.
It all began last year, when an Intelligence Bureau report said Greenpeace and other NGOs were “damaging” the country's economy by campaigning against power projects, mining and genetically modified food. The government moved against Ford Foundation this year following a controversial investigation into human rights activist Teesta Setalvad-run Sabrang Trust, which has fought tens of cases of 2002 Gujarat communal riots.
Headquartered in the Netherlands, ICCO and HIVOS fund projects which “oppose” discrimination, inequality, abuse of power and unsustainable use of our planet’s resources. The Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) is a national forum of over 700 movements and NGOs of India, while the People’s Watch has been monitoring human rights violations mainly in South India.
Asking Modi to “immediately initiate dialogue” between the NGO sector and the government to “address” NGO concerns, the letter says, the current the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) rules and regulations, under which they get foreign funds, are “opaque”, and should be amended to ensure “complete clarity and transparency on provisions and processes, as well as forums and mechanisms of redress.”
The letter expresses “deep concern” over the manner in which NGOs’ funds are being “frozen, intelligence reports are being selectively released to paint NGOs in poor light, disbursal of funds are being subjected to case-by-case clearance, and their activities are reportedly being placed on ‘watch lists’.”
“It does not behoove the government to label any and every conflicting voice on these issues as ‘anti-national’, ‘against national security’ or ‘donor driven’ and seek to create a public atmosphere that justifies ‘a crack down on NGOs.’ These very words shame any society. ‘Watch lists’ and ‘crack-downs’ belong in another age and have no place in a modern democracy”, the letter says.
The letter emphasizes, “In an increasingly globalized world, where even business interests freely collaborate across national boundaries, to label any individual or NGO that engages with international forums or any donor who supports such NGOs, as ‘anti-national’ is illogical.”
Recalling that many of the NGOs have collaborated with the government, while others have been critical of his government and also previous governments, the letter says, one may or may not agree each one’s views on issue of nuclear power, acquiring tribal and other lands, upholding Dalit rights, protecting minority rights. But, it tells Modi, “We expect that government protect our right to work and express our views.”

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

PepsiCo warned: Withdraw cases against Gujarat farmers or face dire consequences

By Our Representative
About 200 farmers’ leaders and activists, in a letter to Dr KV Prabhu, chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA), and Dr R C Agrawal, registrar general, PPVFRA, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India, have demanded that PepsiCo immediately withdraw all the legal suits it has slapped on many potato farmers in different districts of Gujarat.

During Emergency, the ruler was extolled but Opposition wasn't punched around: Scribe

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released book, “India: The Wrong Transition”, by a top Delhi-based scribe Anand K Sahay, has quoted “journalistic circles” to say that the Indian mainstream media – with certain “honourable exceptions” – has virtually abandoned the “practice of journalism”, and  this happened following a “sting operation” that showed that “the crème de la crème of Indian journalism were only too willing, for a suitable price, to let poisonous Hindutva propaganda prevail in their news columns.”

Ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers tell Modi: Pragya Thakur doesn't represent India's rich heritage

Counterview Desk
In an open statement, a group of former civil servants have said that normally they would have dismissed the candidature of Pragya Thakur, who is BJP’s choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, as an act of political expediency. However, they were forced to react to her candidature after none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed has as a “symbol of our civilisational heritage.”

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".