Skip to main content

Top British weekly Economist warns Modi clampdown on NGOs will boomerang

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat
By Our Representative
Influential British weekly The Economist has warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi that his efforts to cow down non-government organizations (NGOs) in India will in the long run rally his political opponents against him. Going by experience around the world, it insists, “As countries grow richer and aspirations rise, NGOs will grow only more influential in helping to promote social equity and civil rights. Those now advocating tighter scrutiny of activist outfits may come to regret it”.
Pointing out that Modi shouldn’t forget that his political opponents, once in power, may clampdown on RSS on the same grounds he trying against NGOs, The Economist says, “Hindu nationalists in the RSS often claim to run the world’s biggest NGO.” But it should know it has “strong foreign links, draws on an Indian diaspora in America and elsewhere for support, and dishes out help across borders, such as in Nepal following last month’s earthquake.” And this would be enough reason for it to “face close scrutiny itself” one day, when “Modi is gone”.
Titled “Who’s afraid of the activists?: Democratic Asian governments as well as authoritarian ones crack down on NGOs”, The Economist seeks to compare what is happening in with what Central Asian dictatorships, where officials call NGOs “battering-rams that damage national sovereignty”.
Telling Modi that “battering-rams, after all, have two ends”, the weekly compares India’s clampdown with China, where “a new law restricting independent organisations is being drafted, as activists are hounded, including five women recently detained for more than a month for campaigning against sexual harassment.”
Things are not very different in Cambodia, whose rulers say they must “handcuff any NGOs that stir up political trouble”, The Economist points out, wondering, “You would expect authoritarian states to suffer from NGO-aversion. But many of the ostensibly more liberal Asian polities also display the symptoms, especially where prickly nationalists are in charge.”
Thus, the weekly says, while in Sri Lanka the defence ministry took charge of “regulating NGOs” describing them as a “necessary guard against traitors”, in India “Modi snarled that ‘five-star activists’ were bent on doing down his country.”
“A new law in Indonesia imposes tight restrictions on NGOs so as not to ‘disrupt the stability and integrity’ of the country. And three years ago Pakistan closed down Save the Children and booted out its foreign staff, saying that spies all too often masquerade as aid-workers”, the weekly says, even as drawing similar comparisons with what is happening in Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan.
Especially taking a dig at “Hindu nationalist outfits” of India, notably the “giant” RSS, which rage at Christian charities, the weekly recalls, “The boss of the RSS insists that the late Mother Teresa cared more about converting Kolkata’s poor than helping them”. It adds, in the same tone, “the Indian home ministry says that $13 billion in foreign money has gone to local charities over the past decade”, adding, “Of the top 15 donors, 13 were Christian outfits.”
“Who is to say they were not saving souls rather than improving lives? It is common to hear such claims in India”, “The Economist” says, adding, “An overlapping complaint is that groups promote Western values—including the idea that power should be monitored and shared among many actors and institutions, not hoarded by governments.”
The weekly takes strong exception to the “leaked report by India’s Intelligence Bureau which “absurdly” claimed that “people-centric campaigns against coal, nuclear and hydroelectric projects and against GM crops were costing the economy 2-3 percentage points of growth a year.”
Pointing out that the previous Congress wasn’t far behind in clamping on environmentalists, the weekly says, if in January Indian officials “stopped a Greenpeace activist from leaving the country because she planned to testify to British parliamentarians about coal mining in India”, earlier the Manmohan Singh government “pushed through a law regulating 45,000 foreign-funded groups”, accusing “American NGOs of being the black hands behind anti-nuclear protests.”

Comments

Anonymous said…
The Government has rules that ensures that the citizens are not victims of rapacious corporations. Organizations including NGOs, have to conform to those rules. Those rules were in place BEFORE the NGOs were formally formed. Even now, the NGOs are free to leave. The Economist's arguments are as phony as a three dollar bill.

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.

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.

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.

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".