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Foreign funding of NGO's

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With reference to a certain context, a debate got started on the Hasiru Usiru Yahoo-group on the above subject, which I thought called for a larger debate, and hence this blog. The exchanges on the Y-group are reproduced below:

CR:  I wonder whether all contributors and receivers of foreign funds are as altruistic as they claim to be. Any government will have to have some checks, but is Chidambaram's the way (this was perhaps with reference to the alleged curbs imposed on the agencies funding the Koodankulam agitation) ?

Me:  To get foreign funds, you will first have to convince the foreign source that you are doing work that is worthy of the funding. Now, if you can convince a foreign source, then why can't you convince an Indian source as well, particularly now that many Indians (and Institutions) are fairly well funded? So, if you are still relying on foreign funds, naturally many questions will arise.

LS (who heads a local NGO):  Have you wondered why in a city with the largest concentration of millionaires, esp those who made their monies from the so-called globalised knowledge economy, there is not a single privately funded free public library of world standards? When there is no giving for something as non-controversial as books and Cds, what hope is there of anyone contributing to 'controversial' initiatives - such as fighting PILs which have intergenerational value or empowering street vendors for instance?

VM:  @ Murli - I can think of many institutions and individuals, right here in bangalore who can and are currently funding civic related issues for their neghbourhoods,city and broader national issues.including pils. But there is a small caveat. If they are approached for funds by people or individuals who spend the rest of the time, brandishing them,their intentions, lifestyles or companies, then I doubt the purse strings would open. All people have their own belief systems. I would guess that a first step is to acknowledge this. And unless they are outright rouges or criminals, I think there is a way to pool resources,sweat and finances for a better good. I really don't know too much on foreign donor organisations,or their imperatives.

Me:  @ LS - Mr VM's response appears to have addressed the first part of your question. As to the second part, I am left wondering as to what kinds of foreign agencies would want to fund 'controversial' initiatives in a country like ours supposedly enjoying a vibrant democracy? Or, should we think we still need foreign funding to make the democracy even more vibrant?

Whatever, it's an interesting debate which could perhaps do with wider participation, and consequently, I have shifted it to PRAJA.

Muralidhar Rao


silkboard's picture

interesting question

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I would think that regardless of soure of funds, foreign or domestic, NGOs should declare their source of funds right when they get funded (not just once an year when account details are submitted), if the funds are being sourced from anyone outside of the individuals that are actually operating the NGO.

Foreign or domestic - mony can always have intentions that one may not agree with. What is good, or worthy or altruistic depends on every individual's point of view. Basic minimum requirement is transparency.

murali772's picture

Police state effect

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Can foreign funding be used to sponsor domestic agitations in India? Faced with a PIL raising this issue in connection with alleged grants made by Ford Foundation to Team Anna, the Delhi high court on Wednesday asked the Centre to verify if these were received after prior permission from authorities.

- - - - The PIL sought a direction to “Union of India to conduct CBI investigation against team members and others and ask for an action taken report”. The petitioner alleged, “Team Anna has been running their anti-government graft movement... for creating false propaganda for lowering Indian Parliament and defame entire constitutional and judicial structure as corrupt.”

For the full report in the ToI, click here

Now, if any Indian individual, or entity, makes a substantial donation to an organisation like Team Anna (whose activities can by no stretch of imagination be termed undemocratic), I expect the government agencies will start harassing them in the various ways that they alone are capable of. In fact, Koramangala RWA members are facing exactly that now (check this). Under these circumstances, NGO's, like Team Anna, perhaps find it easier to find benefactors outside the country.

The problem as such boils down to lack of free flow of democracy. For Mahatma's own country, that's a crying shame.

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