The Hindu nationalist. The neo-liberal. The grassroots activist. The Leftist. Everybody, it seems, has a reason to hate NGOs.
Some, like political commentator Radha Rajan who edited a collection of essays titled NGOs, Activists and Foreign Funds: Anti-Nation Industry, have charged several NGOs with “de-Hinduising India” and sought to expose “the essentially anti-Hindu activism of some NGOs and activists… and their foreign sponsors, supporters and funders who have their own vested interests in keeping the Hindus in this state of powerlessness”.
The advocates of unfettered growth, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, blamed foreign-funded NGOs for blocking development. “There are NGOs, often funded from the United States and the Scandinavian countries, which are not fully appreciative of the development challenges that our country faces… The atomic energy programme has got into difficulties because (of ) these NGOs, mostly I think based in the United States,” he alleged in February 2012. READ MORE >
For Rainer Sonntag Hermann India remains a nightmare. But after having lived in Nagercoil for three months, he was deported to Germany on 27 February 2012 for allegedly funding the anti-nuke protests in Koodankulam. The recent Intelligence Bureau report on foreign-funded NGOs also names Hermann for funding anti-nuclear protests. Hermann spoke to Jeemon Jacob on why he is being framed as a threat to India’s national security. READ MORE >
Western governments are using NGOs to prevent India’s rise as a major power, says Rakesh Krishnan Simha
Among the world’s leading powers, the Indian State stands alone in having virtually abdicated its responsibility to provide basic economic necessities to hundreds of millions of its citizens. In this backdrop of callous neglect, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have attempted to occupy the space vacated by the State. In places where bureaucrats or politicians do not care to trudge, such organisations provide vital services such as schooling, sanitation and housing. And hope.
But NGOs also have their dark side. Some live off the fat of the land, as platforms for their founders to skim charity money. Others are more devious. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) — India’s premier internal security agency — has submitted a report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, identifying several foreign-funded NGOs that are “negatively impacting economic development”. READ MORE >
How cash-flush NGOs are often in cahoots with global giants is sharply illustrated in this exclusive extract on the mining sector from the recently published book Neta, Babu and Subsidy by Sandip Sen
Over 10,000 NGOs, both Indian and foreign-backed, are active in the mining sector, each with the stated objective of stopping or slowing down mining projects in India. Some of these are working against aluminum and bauxite mining, a few are against iron ore mining and several are pitted against coal mining and thermal energy. Most of these organisations are fighting industrial development to preserve the environment, some to preserve the tribal community lifestyle and some to assert the right of the forest dweller as the hunter-gatherer. There are some very large foreign NGOs backed by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and USAID working hand-in-hand with multinational mining giants who are active in their opposition to local mining in India. Their global stated objective is to ensure rights of the indigenous people including the poor, downtrodden and the tribal community. Since they are actively engaged in areas where mining is done globally, they have forged a partnership with mining giants like Barrick Gold and Rio Tinto Alcan, which also fund their activities. They are backed by the church and the conservative governments of Canada and the US and work directly and indirectly funding smaller local NGOs in countries of their operations.
Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper outlined the policy initiative in 2007 to actively support Canada’s global mining giants, when he met with officials from Barrick Gold during a trip to Tanzania and said the government wanted “to assist in building our investments here.” Mining had been a controversial area which most western governments had not openly backed before Harper devised a unique strategy to mix trade with activism. Pushing for the highest global standards in mining would keep competitors working hard and the use of cash-flush global NGOs to achieve first world social practices in emerging countries would promote the cause of Canadian companies to enter the world market as miners that care for the local people. READ MORE >
Why both the Right and the Left are wrong on foreign-funded NGOs, writes Pradyot Lal
It is a theme on which both the naysayers and proponents of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are guilty of overstating their case; not all NGOs are neo-liberal Trojan horses furthering a subversive agenda, while the number of actual good samaritans working for change is also not particularly very high. Objectively speaking, the issue is far too sensitive to be treated in the cavalier fashion as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has done: Terming foreign-funded NGOs “anti-national” per se reinforces the Indian penchant of trying to detect a foreign conspiracy to manipulate domestic politics when the actual guilt primarily lies with the policy planners and the government itself.
There indeed is a huge element of hypocrisy on the part of the Indian State to freeze the accounts of the anti-Kudankulam groups when actual facts suggest that nothing is done about some other favoured ones who are thriving on the largesse of their donors — and the government is simply doing nothing about them! Such indeed is the preponderance of mythmakers and alarmists that arriving at a balanced perspective on the issue is not very easy. There is a thin dividing line between the projection of the vested interests of private companies and those who are peddling influence on behalf of an NGO. More pertinently, the stakes either way are huge, as the volume of foreign money entering India in the name of “advocacy” or “development” is by no means small change. READ MORE >