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India Cancels Permits Of 9,000 NGOs Over Foreign Funds
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29 April, 2015by BW Online Bureau
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The Indian government has cancelled licences of nearly 9,000 NGOs over alleged violations of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), widening its crackdown on civil society groups.
The government recently suspended the FCRA licence issued to Greenpeace India and froze its seven bank accounts for various alleged violation of laws.
Last week it ordered that funds coming from the US-based Ford Foundation should not be released by any bank to any Indian NGOs without mandatory permission from the Home Ministry.
The Home Ministry said that notices were issued to 10,343 NGOs for not filing annual returns for the year 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12.
The notices were served on October 16, 2014 saying that the NGOs should file their annual returns within a month specifying amount of foreign funds received, sources of such funds, for which purpose it was received and in manner in which such foreign contribution was utilised, according to a Home Ministry notification.
Out of the 10,344 NGOs, only 229 replied.
There was no reply from the remaining NGOs, leading to cancellation of their registration issued under FCRA, the notification issued said.
Among the registration cancelled 8,975 NGOs include 510 NGOs against whom notices were sent but returned undelivered.
In a high-profile case, India has put the Ford Foundation onto a security watchlist as it probes its funding of a local organisation run by a prominent activist and critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Home Ministry has said it would "keep watch on all the activities" funded by the Ford Foundation and instructed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to check with the government before passing any money from the New York-based group to local organisations.
All funds distributed by the foundation should be "utilized for bonafide welfare activities without compromising on concerns for national interest and security", the ministry said in a letter to the RBI published online.
The Ford Foundation, which has worked in India since 1952, said the Indian government was "reviewing information related to their ongoing investigation of Sabrang Communications and Publishing" and highlighted its work in India.
Sabrang, which is run by activist Teesta Setalvad with a mission to strengthen conflict resolution and peace building in Gujarat and Maharashtra, was given $250,000 by the Ford Foundation in 2009, the foundation's website said.
This is not the first time the Indian government has blocked foreign money to a local non-government organisation this year with funding to the local branch of Greenpeace blocked.
The move came after several months of Greenpeace activists accusing Modi's government of watering down environmental rules after it let industries operate closer to protected green zones.
Some have criticised the crackdown as undemocratic, describing it as a move to quash dissent in the country.
Tags assigned to this article:news 9 civil society ngos fcra ford foundation teesta setalvad greenpeace india