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Friday, September 2, 2011

The Appalling Financial Transparency Standards of Anna affiliated NGOs



Now that NGOs have attempted to engineer a revolution in this country for better transparency and accountability in the system, let’s have an insight to what actual standards they follow themselves.

Anna Hazare


If you try to Google search for Anna's NGOs, you probably would not find any information. But let’s excuse Anna. He is hardly technological savvy as his other team NGO members in the India Against Corruption movement to maintain a website. Nevertheless, the PB Satwant Inquiry Commission indicted a few of his NGOs for corruption. They were Hind Swaraj Trust; Sant Yadavbaba Shikshan Prasarak Mandal; Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan Trust and Krishna Pani Puravatha Yojana Sahakari Sanstha

Read more: here

Arvind Kejriwal & Manish Sisodia and Abhinandan Sekhri 

These three individuals operate multiple charitable organizations. The 3 organizations discussed here all are involved in promoting Right-to-Information and fight against corruption. Why they need 3 separate organizations to do the same task, tells a story of its own.

Parivartan     




According to Wikipedia: "Kejriwal joined the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) in 1995 and worked as an Additional Commissioner of Income Tax in Delhi. In January 2000, he took a sabbatical from work and founded Parivartan, a Delhi based citizens’ movement which works on ensuring a just, transparent and accountable governance. Thereafter, in February 2006, he resigned from the job, to work full-time at Parivartan."

Kejriwal's actual working experience within revenue service is hardly 5 years though he pretends more knowledge of the system. Parivartan was founded in January 2000 ostensibly to ensure just, transparent and accountable governance. 
11 years later, visit their website, and you will find an example of a NGO completely devoid of transparency. They give no details  who funds them nor do they publish their financial statements! Everything is kept under wraps!
Public Cause Research Foundation


According to Wikipedia "In December 2006, Kejriwal along with Manish Sisodia and Abhinandan Sekhri started Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF), which works for promoting better local self governance and RTI related campaigns." 

According to their own declarations, the Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF) acts as the secretariat of the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement, which is a shell organization without any legal status. Consequently all funds received and spent are supposedly to be accounted by PCRF, a NGO controlled by Arvind Kejriwal, a key member of the Anna team. Consequently, for those who donated to India Against Corruption, PCRF would be of extreme interest it is here their donations ultimately endup.

We had in our archive  and archive highlighted that the Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF)  being one of the poorest example of good public transparency and accountability standards among NGOs in the country. We had then found PCRF had disclosed “accounts" for just three years 2006-07; 2007-08 and 2008-09.
On visiting their page today, we found they additionally disclosed "accounts" for 2009-10. But standards had not changed. They just got worse. Their auditor charged in their latest "accounts' a notional amount of Rs 1 as audit fees. It looks to me a correct valuation as that is all what it appears to be worth!
Kabir



According to their website "Kabir is a society registered under Societies Registration Act. It was registered on January 7, 1999 with number S34169. It is also registered under section 10A and 80G of the Income Tax Act. We are also authorized under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act to receive foreign funding for our organization". Manish Sisodia is a founding member of Kabir and is currently the Chief Functionary with Arvind Kejriwal also a founding member.

Out of all Anna affiliated NGOs; Kabir stands at least three notches above the rest in transparency standards. But this raises the question, why despite quite alot of overlapping in governing body membership within the Anna affiliated NGOs, why couldn't they be able to replicate the kind of Kabir's transparency practices to rest of their NGOs? 

The most probable explanation being, as a Ford Foundation partner, Kabir needed to conform to USAID financial transparency norms. Using USAID money means that their donor, Ford Foundation are accountable to Congress. In turn it became a contractual necessity for Kabir to adopt such practices. But for the rest of Anna affiliated NGOs, they were free from such legal  necessities, so they decided to ignore it! 

But Kabir’s “accounts” statements still do not disclose who their donors are though we now know Ford Foundation is their main funder. The fact is that advertising as Ford Foundation partners puts off other NGOs due the former’s documented links with the CIA. So it well may be the case that Kabir may find it prudent not to advertise their partnership with Ford Foundation in an attempt not to piss off other civic society from offering their solidarity with the IAC movement.

That audit costs time and money is reflected by the audit fees in the case of Kabir, though still notional, is booked at Rs 10,000. This is in contrast to PCRF's auditor that charges Rs 1 as fees. Compare the two sets of accounts statements and you will see the marked difference in transparency standards. And imagine the donations arising from India Against Corruption, estimated at hundreds of crores are to be accounted by PCRF and not by Kabir! Smell a rat somewhere? 

Kiran Bedi

Kiran Bedi founded two NGOs in India, namely Navjyoti India Foundation, originally called Navjyoti for Welfare and Preventive Policing in 1987 and India Vision Foundation for prison reforms that dealt with drug abuse prevention, child welfare in 1994. Both were established and had been operating while she was in service. Amazingly that Indian Police Service (IPS) service rules permitted their officers to also run NGOs and hobnob with foreign funders. 

India Vision Foundation                                                      
http://www.indiavisionfoundation.org/donation





India Vision Foundation has a long list of names to which it expresses "gratitude" and an even longer list of names of donors.

Interestingly, the British and Australian High Commissions, the Dutch Embassy, Irish Aid support this foundation. 

Foreign NGO donors: are Concern India Foundation, Open Hands Switzerland, Ramon Magsaysay Foundation; Charities Aid Foundation, UK, Duncan Charitable Trust, US; SPAN Foundation, Rotary International, American Women Association; Federation American Association of Physicians NY/ NJ, Eva Reckitt Trust, Halcrow Foundation

Top corporate international and local companies:  Microsoft, Infosys, notorious Lehman Brothers, Bharti Walmart Ltd, Coca Cola India Inc., Pepsico Ltd, Procter and Gamble, LG, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Infosys Technologies Ltd, Fortis Hospital, Hotel Taj Palace, JK Group of Companies. 

Also alot of individuals such as Mark Sainsbury, Soli Sorabjee, Naseerudin Shah and Madhu Trehan are disclosed as donors.

Read the complete list: here
 
With so much dependence on corporate sponsorship, no wonder the Anna team oppose tooth and nail the inclusion of corporate corruption to be under the ambit of the Lok Pal! 

But the most obvious thing that hits you is that here is an organization that lacks complete transparency. India Vision Foundation lists their donors but does not disclose each individual contribution. What's more, the information does not reveal whether the disclosed donors are current or one-off made in the past. This is highly suspicious too as despite the British and Australian High Commissions, the Dutch Embassy and Irish Aid supporting the organization; none of them insisted on basic transparency requisites to be complied by the organization. 

Besides, despite being registered in 1994, India Vision Foundation chooses not to disclose its financials. You will not find their balance sheets or income/revenue-expenditure statements in their website.  And this lady had the audacity to mock parliamentarians in an obscene act which she describes as a game changer.

What makes India Vision Foundation’s financial opaqueness even worse is that they operate 4 international offices - 2 in the US, 1 in Australia and the last in Mauritius.  Notwithstanding the US hand, we may even understand their rationale to maintain offices in the US and Australia due to the huge NRI population in these countries. But Mauritius?? The major hub for black money transmission into India??? This has raised a lot of speculation whether a lobby frightened of being exposed by expected hardening of policies by the government against black money has got together to fuel a coup against the government through the Anna Hazare movement using the Mauritius route. They are other serious questions as well. Such as whether all the money raised abroad are being repatriated to India and if so, are they transferred to India Vision Foundation's official account in India or all or some part diverted  to other NGOs in India?

So no surprise here that media reports that the enforcement directorate is now investigating India Vision Foundation.
Navjyoti India Foundation:
http://www.navjyoti.org.in/annual-balancesheet.asp. -galler



Foreign donors: Charities Aid Foundation (CAF); Concern India Foundation (CIF); Eva Reckett Trust; Halcrow Foundation; Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. 

Local foundations: Palriwala India Foundation (PIF); Sir Ganga Ram Ladies Welfare Society; Mamta; Aarti Charitable Trust; Aryans Group of College. Corporate Foundations: Max India Foundation; Essel Social Welfare Foundation. 

Corporates: Adobe; Astrowix Corporation; Bain Capital Advisors (India) Pvt Ltd; Bank of India; Britannia Industries Limited ; Canara; HSBC; OBC Life Insurance Co; Diamond Pocket Books; HSBC; Rabobank Noordoost- Veluwe; SAP Labs India Pvt. Ltd; Standard Chartered; VLCC; Coca-Cola India; GMR. 

Embassies: Irish Embassy. 

Government: Govt. of NCT, Delhi (GRC); NABARD; Steel Authority of India; IGNOU.

Individuals: Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Dubai, India, Oman

Transparency standards are found relatively better in Navjyoti India Foundation than India Vision Foundation. At least, here Kiran Bedi publishes their balance sheets.  Read here. This is probably because Navjyoti has a much more broad based membership and founder base while India Vision is totally a Kiran Bedi show.

Yet, despite being registered in 1987, Navjyoti India Foundation too refuses to disclose each individual donor's contribution and audited income/revenue-expenditure statements.  Without these, a mere balance sheet, audited as it maybe means absolutely nothing. This is the most disappointing part. Suspicious as well as we get no answers why embassies like Ireland do not insist on better transparency standards from the organization.

Shanti & Prashant Bhushans 

Even the father-son duo, Shanti & Prashant  Bhushan appear to have a NGO. With every key member operating NGOs, no wonder the Anna Team vehemently opposes NGOs being put under the ambit of the Lok Pal.

Campaign for Judicial Accountability & Judicial Reforms
http://www.judicialreforms.org/home.htm
 

The Bhushans run a "Campaign for Judicial Accountability & Judicial Reforms"(CJAR) which according to their website "is a response of people’s movements, and all organizations and individuals working on public interest issues".

The basic problem with CJAR is that we do not know whether it is platform like India Against Corruption or a registered non-profit organization. Their website does not offer us a clue. But according to press reports and the fact that CJAR conducts many workshops and training in addition to filing on their letter head PIL petitions to the Supreme Court, it does suggest that CJAR has some sort of a legal structure.  Nowhere in the website does CJAR disclose from whom they secure funding or their account statements. The Bhushans and their Campaign for Judicial Accountability demand "asset declaration of judges"  but they do not consider it necessary likewise to disclose their CJAR’s own assets/sources of funds. This said, let’s take a look at their patrons.

Patrons

Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer (Former Chief Justice of India); Justice P.B.Sawant (Former Judge Supreme Court); Justice H.Suresh, (Former Judge Bombay High Court) Shri Shanti Bhushan (Senior Advocate & Former Union Minister Law); Shri K.G. Kannabiran, (Advocate); Shri Ajit Bhattacharjea (Senior Journalist); Shri Prabhash Joshi (Senior journalist); Prof. B.B.Pande (Rtd Prof of Law)  Admiral Tahiliani, (Chairman, Transparency International India); Dr Bhaskar Rao (Chairman, Centre for Media Studies); Ms. Arundhati Roy (Writer Activist) Shri Banwari Lal Sharma, (Azadi Bachao Andolan); Shri Pradip Prabhu, (Campaign for Dignity and Survival); Prof Babu Mathew, (Country Director, Action Aid India); Dr Baba Adhav, (Hammal Panchayat); Shri Manoj Mitta, (Senior Journalist) Ms. Kamini Jaiswal, (Advocate, Supreme Court); Shri Mihir Desai, (Advocate, Bombay High Court)

Just a fleeting glance at the composition of CJAR's patron list would prompt one to conclude that the Congress may not be too off the mark in dismissing the Anna movement as a bunch of armchair fascists, over ground Maoists & closet anarchists!  Prof Babu Mathew, being still referred to as Country Director, Action Aid India probably indicates that the CJAR website needs to be updated since Babu has long since retired from the post. But it is still interesting to look just who were there among the patrons.

We have the one and only Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer! A living legend as a legal luminary but in his nineties and most of us know he is almost senile. And surprise, surprise - Justice PB Satwant is there too - his commission report categorically indicted Anna Hazare for corruption! But the wonder of wonder is Arundhati Roy who we all thought till now was the ultimate anti-(Anna) matter.  She too had been listed as a patron of CJAR. Another surprise was to see Dr Bhaskar Rao in the list as he took a critical position on Anna Hazare's just concluded fast. It is also interesting to note Admiral Tahiliani, now Chairman, Transparency International India being also listed as a patron of CJAR.  Interesting because he doesn't seem to have anything to say about the abysmal transparency standards of Anna's NGOs? 

The long list of endorsing organisations of CJAR is even more interesting: 

Abhyudaya; Academy for Socio-Legal Studies; Action Aid International; Action India; Anhad; Asha Ashram; Bal Vikas Dhara; CACIM; Campaign against Child Labour; Campaign for Survival and Dignity;  Centre for Civil Society; Centre for Media Studies; CHETNA; CHINTAN; Combat Law; Committee for Judicial Accountability;  Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative; DAMU; Delhi Forum; Delhi Shramik Sanghthan; Ekta Parishad; Hammal Panchayat, Pune;  Harit Recyclers Association; Hazards Centre; Housing and Land Rights Network; Human Rights Law Defenders;  Human Rights Law Network; India Social Institute; INSAF; Intercultural Resources; ITDP; Jagori; Jan Sangharsh Vahini; Janhit Manch, Mumbai;  Jhuggi Basti Sangharsh Morch, Indore; Kashtakari Sanghathan, Dhanu; Labour Education and Development Society, Jaipur; Sneh Bandhan Society; Lok Raj Sangathan; Lok Shasan Andolan, Pune; Mahila Chetna Kendra; Mahila Kalpana Shakti; MANUSHI;  MKSS - Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghathan; Mumbai Mahanagar Vyapari Seva Parishad; NASVI; National Alliance for Peoples Movement; Natural Heritage First; Navdanya; National Campaign for People’s Right to Information; National Council for Workers’ Rights;  National Federation of Indian Women; Nidan, Patna; Nirmana; NISHAN-Upholding Rights and Justice; Parivartan; Patri Dukandar Sangathan, Lucknow; People’s Cultural Centre;  Peoples News Network;  Plachimada Solidarity Committee, Plachimada; PUCL; PUDR; Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF); Ridge Bachao Andolan; Sahyog Trust; Samaj Parivartan Samudaya, Dharwad;  Save The Children-UK; Social Development Foundation; Socio Eco Reforms and Research Centre; Transparency International India; Unorganized Labour, Pune; Uttar Pradesh Land Alliance; Vigyan Foundation, Lucknow; IndiaVision Foundation 

These organizations include European donors, some who have scattered presence as an all India project reach; people's movements and networking NGOs who too have some country wide reach; human rights NGO networks and specialised NGOs like in media research etc. Collectively this is really a motley crowd of NGOs and people's movements who in normal times do not see eye to eye and have internecine rivalry both within this collective grouping and within themselves. All the same, this grouping will find it ideologically more comfortable to lend support to loose cannon such as Prashant Bhushan rather than a Ford Foundation funded, India Against Corruption. 

The moot question is whether these organizations just lend their endorsements as an act of passive solidarity; or if genuinely involved, how much have they contributed financially to the Anna movement and mobilization of crowds for the fast? This would be an answer that the government would be probably trying to learn too.

Some of these human rights organizations who advocate the abolishment of capital punishment were uncharacteristically silent when Anna Hazare called initially for capital punishment in cases of proven corruption. Now we know the reason why they kept silent. They are endorsers of CJAR and could not go against one of their leading lights. But we see the same characters rushing in to the defence of Rajiv Gandhi killers from getting hung. It is not that I oppose capital punishment. In fact I am a firm advocate of abolishing capital punishment. But what worries me is this creeping inconsistency of application of principles of human rights. This is what I equate as corruption - applying differential standards. 

Those of us in the NGO sector are well aware of the rampaging corruption among most of these endorsing NGOs. They can't eliminate brazen corruption in their own backyards but they are thick skinned enough to launch a campaign against the government and judiciary. Here’s a snippet of a hilarious example of their hypocrisy:

A few years ago, one of the European donors who endorsed CJAR found one of their partners had diverted all their funds to construct a star hotel. To resolve this situation, donor staff repeatedly visited their partner to ostensibly negotiate with them; stayed in the same hotel constructed from diverting their funds; ate and boozed at the hotel's cost. Did they in the end recover the money? No? Did they file an FIR? No. Still they have the audacity to take a moralistic stand on corruption. 

Apparently, these NGOs haven't they heard the saying - physician heal yourself! If they are serious about eradicating corruption in the country, Anna affiliated NGOs first should take a lesson out of most of the smaller NGOs surviving less than a Rs 10 lakh turnover. Learn from them their transparency and accountability practices and then introduce it in their own organizations before projecting themselves as saints against corruption in the country.



13 comments:

  1. AMit UPadhyay

    KAbir's is showing there accounts that they are funded by Ford Now what do u want to say on this? May I know who are u ?

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  2. How can be u so sure about there patrons if it's not revealed in the website?

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  3. I know one of above organization where Prashant Bhushan went to gather support to Jan Lokpal ? U cannot blame every organization. They refused it because of Janlokpal has nothing prominent about corporate corruption. I too asked him at Mumbai meeting about corporate corruption and Jan Lokpal he started talking about prevention of corruption act 1960. Such a strong CORPORATE LOKPAL!!!!!!!!!

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  4. @ Amit

    1. Never in their balance sheets or income and expenditure statements, Ford Foundation is disclosed. They are clubbed as grants received

    2. If my patrons it is in the context of Campaign for Judicial Accountability & Judicial Reforms; go to the website http://www.judicialreforms.org/home.htm

    3. I am sure Prashant Bhushan may want to include corporate corruption but not Kiran Bedi

    There are plenty of dots to be connected. But over time they will

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  5. Thanks for informing!

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  6. Under each organization I have given the link. For Kabir it is: http://www.kabir.org.in/indexx.htm

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  7. U mean to say Justice sawant is silent because he's part of CJAR then why Arundhati Roy spoke against this? Or JU SAwant is in support to this movement and AR is overactively against it being part of CJAR? Need some more clearity?

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  8. Justice Satwant in several recent interviews confirmed his indictment of Anna for corruption.

    The other part (Arundhati) is the puzzling part. Political pundits have not been able to figure this out.

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  9. Interview on any website please. sorry for troubling u a lot

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  10. Amit. No problem. Which interview you are refering to?

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  11. Interview of P.B. sawant

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  12. You guys are merely jealous.So you say that enterprising people must not make money.
    If you had a rich NGO of yours, would you allow the government to poke its nose into its affairs?
    Anna team is honest. They openly agree that they have rich NGOs, and openly exercise their rights against any law that lets the government into them.
    Why can't they use NGO money freely when politicians use government money freely?

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    I've saved it for later!
    My webpage > click here

    ReplyDelete

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