I am sure my childhood buddy, George Varughese, boss of Development Alternatives, spent many a sleepless night after his organization received a tax demand note for a whopping Rs 5 crores!! And he is not the only one. Rajesh Tandon of PRIA must be as equally surprised as taxmen slapped his organization with an Rs 42 lakh demand notice! Big or small, over 100 NGOs find themselves in a similar plight. Even Helpage India, the NGO who looks after the elderly in society received a tax violation notice.Blame the unnecessary harassment on the likes of Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sishodia who bankrolled the Anna agitation through allegedly using Ford Foundation funds. As a result, rightly or wrongly, Ford Foundation funded NGOs find themselves in the receiving end of the government backlash, even if some of them played no role in the Anna's agitation. The situation was made much worse by the likes of Udayakumar who spearheaded the Kudankulam and Jaitapur anti-nuclear protests by funds bankrolled by another set of US and European donors. For the government, these are all individuals and entities that treated India as a banana republic.At least 10 NGOs have already had their Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) numbers cancelled. These included Global Vision Charitable Trust, Tuticorin Social Service Society, Rural Uplift Centre (RUC), PEAL Madurai etc. 70 others have received notices, among them are so called pivotal “Gate-keepers” of foreign funds such as Madurai based NGO, People’s Watch of Henri Tiphagne. Nearly 33,000 NGOs presently possess a FCRA number. In the next month or two, this figure will be cut by one-third so that the monitoring of foreign funds is made more manageable for the Home Ministry. A media report quoted Tiphagne:“The government’s modus operandi is to first send 31 questions to be answered and ask for a host of documents. Then we are visited by the FCRA. The next stage is to have our bank accounts frozen without any explanation.”Things have gone even much worse from here in terms of government backlash. Now, never mind if you are Indian registered legal entity like Oxfam India, Greenpeace India and ActionAid India. The government still treats you as what you really are - a country office of a foreign entity., just as Walmart India or Citibank India are. And never mind if you are not even a foreign donor but just a recipient of foreign funds. If a foreigner visits you, you are now legally required to report back to the government the synopsis of the meeting. For that matter, never mind if you are neither a foreign donor nor a NGO funded by them. If by chance you undertake liaison work for these foreign donors you are liable to submit a similar report.Where the hell is NGO "advocacy" these days you may ask? You now know the reasons. For existential reasons, NGOs have placed "advocacy" and agitational forms of protests in cold storage! Cowards! As we all know the so called "cause" doesn't matter to them as much as their own individual and organizational well being are. It was always so. This is why both the so called Anna and anti-nuclear Kudunkulam "movements" lost steam.If they think by withdrawing into their shells will help, they are grossly mistaken. The next logical step probably for the government is to launch tax raids on the bigwigs of the sector instead of their organizations. As we all know these individuals are mostly rags to riches stories. They are now the largest property owners, money lenders in their locality and own industries and shares, petrol bunks, hotels etc. Their children are educated in fancy universities in the US and other European countries. Some of them maintain undisclosed trusts in the US and European countries including the UK. Some circumvent FCRA rules by using credit cards of their undeclared foreign bank accounts. As and when details of "black money" stashed abroad are eventually disclosed, don’t be surprised to find many of these bigwigs of NGOs in this list.That's all what's probably coming. Till then, read what's happening presently....Stung by Kudankulam stir, government seeks details from foreign entities in India
NEW DELHI: All foreign companies and organizations, including NGOs, having offices in India will be under close watch as they will have to mandatorily provide details of employees, including those engaged to liaison work, to the Union home ministry at regular intervals.Although such details of their employees are provided when visas are sought, foreign companies will now have to give particulars of specific nature of work and 'contacts' in various ministries or Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) to the government once a year.The circular issued by the government is being read in the backdrop of controversies over foreign nationals participating in political activities like protests against Indian nuclear projects at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu and Jaitapur in Maharashtra.The home ministry circular asks all foreign entities, including NGOs, to furnish the details. The home ministry is probing the role of foreign NGOs and the allegation that the money they sent to Indian entities in Tamil Nadu was used to sustain the stir against the Kudankulam project."The allegation that some foreign entities were also involved in funding Indian NGOs for fanning agitations like at Kudankulam nuclear project in Tamil Nadu has also highlighted the need for such a direction from the government," said an official.He said the circular has been sent to various ministries, including the ministry of communication, asking them to ensure security clearance before foreign entities set up liaison, branches or project offices in India.The ministry has come out with a fresh two-page form which all foreign entities are required to fill. The form seeks details of the employees working with the Indian office, besides asking them to provide details of foreign nationals who had visited India from that firm.The new circular also seeks details from the foreign entities whether they had any contact with civil society, trusts or NGOs.