Has the Modi government created a difficult phase for NGOs in six years?
The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment 2020 i.e. FCRA bill has been passed in the Rajya Sabha. In the new bill, instead of 50 percent foreign funds, only 20 percent funds can be used in the administrative work of NGOs.
That is, it has been cut by 30%. Now, an NGO will not be able to share the grant with other NGOs as well and the foreign funds received by the NGO will be received only at the branch of State Bank of India, New Delhi.
A new FCRA amended bill has been introduced with these and similar new rules. The new bill can cause a lot of trouble for all the NGOs working in the country. In particular, small non-governmental organizations will almost die.
These institutions work to bring social change in the country but civil society people are saying that the new rules are weakening instead of empowering them and an uncomfortable atmosphere is becoming for NGOs in India.
The government has introduced this bill in the house saying that funds received from abroad should be regulated so that these funds are not used in any anti-national activities. The aim of the government behind this law is to impose restrictions on taking foreign donations, transfer of foreign funds and opening of FCRA accounts, clear rules and mandatory system of providing Aadhaar number.
But such an atmosphere for civil society has not been created by a bill passed last week, there have been many such incidents in the last six years which have made the functioning of NGOs difficult. And now NGOs are considering this new law as the biggest attempt to weaken civil society in the country.
Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar talked about this new law.
He said, “Civil society has never been a favorite of governments and should not be because one of our tasks is to ask tough questions to those in power. In 2011, the Manmohan Singh government made the FCRA law more difficult by amending it. The FCRA Act was constituted by Indira Gandhi in 1976 to monitor foreign funding.
But for the last six years, we are seeing that civil society is being seen as an opponent, not as a partner who supports the government in nation building. Civil society will raise questions but also supports the governments, but here it is accepted as anti.
“There is a difference of basic thinking, where if anyone criticizes, then you take the adversary and then try to make how to obstruct his work, such rules should be made for him to not work at all.” Actually a narrator has been prepared, if someone speaks apart from that narrator, then there is no place for him. Now when it has to be done, legal avenues are also being prepared for it.
On Monday, September 21, in the Lok Sabha, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai had said about this bill that this bill is not against any religion or NGO. This bill will help prevent the misuse of foreign funds and it is also necessary for a self-reliant India.
In response to a question by NCP leader Supriya Sule, Rai had said that many NGOs impose 3-4 ACs in the name of major administrative expenses and if they buy big cars then what society are they doing well. Many NGOs associate their family members with the organization and pay them salary.
In favor of the government on making Aadhaar number mandatory, Rai had said that Aadhaar is identity card and if any NGO does not want to share their identity card then it is questionable. The government is emphasizing that the aim of this bill is to bring more ‘transparency’ about foreign funds and prevent its misuse.
Ingrid Srinath, head of the Center for Social Impact and Philanthropy, says, “This is the biggest step to control the country’s civil society and is certainly a violation of international law.” The government is saying that this bill has been brought to prevent the misuse of foreign funds, but no such evidence, data has been shown to prove its claim that anywhere foreign funds are used by institutions for wrongdoing Have done
Has any criminal case been filed, who has misused the fund? How many funds have been used in such works? The government has some data to prove its reasoning. “
“Aadhaar numbers have been made mandatory for people in high positions of such institutions, which is prima facie a violation of the Supreme Court order which states that Aadhaar cannot be mandatory.”
In such a situation, people will be deterred from becoming the head of these institutions and joining the board because no one wants their personal information to be public. “
“Who is the government to control the donor?” If a donor wants to grant grants for training, technical aspects, will the government now decide what donor should grant and for whom not. This is a very controlling decision. Does the government tell companies how much money they should spend on marketing, research and products? After all, as to which authority, the government wants to tell the NGOs how, where and how much money they should spend. “