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

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

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.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Global Hunger Index: Govt of India response pathetic, 'lacks' scientific empirical evidence

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* Come 16 October – and the world once again focused on the most basic need for a person’s survival: food! The first World Food Day was observed in 1994, to mark the launch of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Ever since, the day is marked to highlight the need and importance of food security across the world. The significance is accentuated especially in these difficult times like the C-19 povidandemic. The theme for 2021 is ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthier Tomorrow’, emphasising on the various immediate and long-term benefits of consuming safe and healthy food.

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.