NGOs received a whopping Rs 17,208 crore from foreign donors in 2015-16 – Vijaita Singh

Debit Card & Cross

Vijaita SinghThere are 33,000 NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) that are required to file their annual returns with the Home Ministry. … Of the 16 major donors, at least 14 are Christian organisations, most of them based in the U.S. – Vijaita Singh

Foreign donations to Indian NGOs have surged since the NDA government came to power.

As per figures available with the Home Ministry, which regulates the flow of foreign funds to NGOs and associations in India, the 2015-16 fiscal saw a flow of Rs 17,208 crore from foreign donors, the highest in five years. There were donations of Rs 14,525 crore in 2014-15 and Rs 13,092 crore in 2013-14. In 2012-13, the foreign donations received totalled Rs 9,423 crore, and in 2011-12, Rs 10,334 crore.

There are 33,000 NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) that are required to file their annual returns with the Home Ministry, but only 19,000 received funds last year.

Of the 16 major donors, at least 14 are Christian organisations, most of them based in the U.S.

Last year, the Home Ministry put Colorado-based Christian NGO Compassion International on its watch-list as it was accused of funding Indian NGOs involved in religious conversions.

The crackdown against the Compassion International, which also figures in the list of the largest foreign donors, led to a diplomatic standoff with the United States. The U.S. Embassy wrote to the Centre, asking it to share evidence to support the allegations.

World Vision International, which is also based in the U.S., sent Rs 300 crore to Indian NGOs last year. Another U.S.-based donor, Give2Asia, sent Rs 105 crore while Canada-based Gospel For Asia sent Rs 830 crore.

Before it was put on the watch-list, the Compassion International had donated Rs 292 crore.

Clean-up exercise

Soon after the NDA government came to power in 2014, a massive clean-up exercise was taken up against NGOs registered under the FCRA. In 2015, the Home Ministry notified new rules, which required NGOs to give an undertaking that the acceptance of foreign funds is not likely to prejudicially affect the “sovereignty and integrity of India or impact friendly relations with foreign states and does not disrupt communal harmony.”

Under the annual returns category, the NGOs were asked to give an undertaking that the foreign funds were utilised in such a way that it did not affect the “security, strategic, scientific or economic interest, public interest, freedom or fairness of election to any legislature or harmony between religious, social, racial, linguistic group, caste or communities.”

The Home Ministry has cancelled the registration of over 10,000 NGOs in 2015 for not complying with the norms.

The registration of Greenpeace International was cancelled on the premise that it compromised the country’s “economic security”.

The MHA also cancelled the registration of Sabrang Trust, an NGO run by Gujarat-based social activist Teesta Setalvad’s and that of noted lawyer Indira Jaising’s Lawyers Collective. Ms. Setalvad and Ms. Jaising are known for their critical stand against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. – The Hindu, 20 February 2017

» Vijaita Singh is a senior assistant editor at The Hindu in New Delhi.

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Kids starved and beaten for not reciting Bible verses in illegal Christian shelter – Abhishek Anand

Emmanuel Seva Group

Abhishek Anand“The mother, whose complaint with a children’s helpline led to the raids, said she was approached by one Joshua Devraj at a Delhi hospital around three years ago. ‘He said he will raise my children and make them IAS officers. He forced us to circulate pamphlets and copies of the Bible in public places but never paid us,’ she said. … Their ordeal has not ended even after being rescued. The woman said the shelter’s employees came to her house on Tuesday night and threatened to take her three children back. ‘They pelted stones at our house and beat us up with batons. They fled when the neighbours gathered,’ she said.” – Abhishek Anand

Forcibly converted to Christianity, hung by the wrists from a ceiling fan, starved for days and beaten mercilessly for failing to recite Bible passages—this is what a nine-Emmanuel Seva Groupyear-old boy said he had to endure at an illegal shelter.

He was among 30 children, all from poor families, rescued on December 29 after police raided two homes run by the Emmanuel Seva Group [also known as Charity Seva Groupsee more] in Greater Noida and Meerut. The child, who along with his younger sister and brother had been confined to the home for three years, said their stay was like a “jail term” during which his name was also changed.

“I was allowed to meet my parents once a month for only 15 minutes. The only thing I was taught was the Bible. They forced me to memorise its passages,” the boy told HT on Thursday and added that the children were forced to consume buffalo meat and “paraded” before potential donors.

“They gave us good clothes whenever visitors came. They made us stand in line and recite Bible passages. Faltering meant a beating with sticks and belts later,” he said. “Once the guests left, the shelter in-charge snatched away our clothes, sweets and gifts and we were back in rags again.”

His 11-year-old sister said the children were forced to sleep on a dirty floor that was littered with rodent droppings.

“They never allowed us to step outside. We were not given food for three days at a stretch if we forgot a Bible passage.”

“A case was registered at the Bisrakh police station following the raid. The children complained they were tortured and beaten up for not following the orders of the caretakers. We are investigating whether the organisation had permission to run a shelter home. Three persons, including the caretaker of the shelter home, have been detained and are being questioned. We are investigating the claims of the rescued children,” said Ashwani Kumar, in-charge, Bisrakh police station.

Their mother, whose complaint with a children’s helpline led to the raids, said she was approached by one Joshua Devraj at a Delhi hospital around three years ago. “He said he will raise my children and make them IAS officers. He forced us to circulate pamphlets and copies of the Bible in public places but never paid us,” she said.

Their ordeal has not ended even after being rescued. The woman said the shelter’s employees came to her house on Tuesday night and threatened to take her three children back. “They pelted stones at our house and beat us up with batons. They fled when the neighbours gathered,” she said.

“The victim’s mother had approached us on December 28. We contacted the police and conducted a raid at Naya Haibatpur village in Bisrakh area. It was found that a shelter home with the name of Emanuel Sewa Group was operating illegally. Seven children were kept there in squalid and untidy condition. The children were also found to be malnourished. A subsequent raid was conducted at the shelter home of the same organisation in Meerut from where 23 children were rescued,” said Satya Prakash, programme manager, FXB Suraksha NGO.

Satya Prakash further said, “The complainant said she was not allowed to meet her children for months and told us that they might have been shifted to some other place. After we conducted a raid, it was found that her children were lodged at an illegal shelter home of the same trust in Dehradun. Following the raid, the children were brought back to Greater Noida.”

He said the children revealed that they were being served cockroach-infested food and were forced to live in a substandard condition.

“Most of them are malnourished and sick. They need proper medication and care. We are in talks with their family members. They will be sent back to their homes soon,” Satya Prakash said.

When contacted, accused Joshua Devraj accepted that a raid was conducted at his shelter homes but refused to comment on the issue.

“Yes, raids were conducted but I can’t tell you much about it. I will comment on this issue later,” he said. – Hindustan Times, 8 January 2016

Emmanuel Seva Group

Emmanuel Seva Group‘Forced to eat cockroach-infested food:’ Children rescued from Emmanuel Seva Group shelter – Abhishek Anand

The children who were rescued from the alleged illegal shelter home near here recounted that their stay at the place was like a jail term where they were punished with lashings and forced to eat cockroach-infested food.

Ram (9), whose name was changed to Rohan Masih during his stay there, said, “I was allowed to meet my parents for only 15 minutes once a month. The only thing I was taught during my stay there was the Bible. They forced me to read it and recite hymns from it.”

He said the caretakers at the shelter home would put on a show as if they took good care of the children whenever donors came.

“Whenever visitors came to meet us for donation, they gave us good clothes to wear and asked us to stand in a queue and recite hymns from the Bible, failing which we would be subjected to severe punishment which included beating with sticks and belts,” he told HT.

And once the guest left after donating money, clothes and sweets, the centre in-charge would tell us to wear rags again and none of the gifts would be given to us, Ram said.

As many as 23 children were rescued recently from the shelter home Emanuel Seva Group in Naya Haibatpur village in Bisrakh area of Uttar Pradesh, which functioned like a forced conversion centre.

Ram’s sister Jaya (11), who was also rescued from the shelter home, said the caretakers used to force her to sleep on a dirty floor which was covered in rodent droppings.

“The food they used to give us was infested with cockroaches. There were more cockroaches than food in the kitchen,” she said.

She further added that they were never allowed us to step outside the shelter home.

“Sometimes, when we forgot lines from the Bible, we would not be given food for two-three days as punishment,” she said.

Ram also said he was forced to eat buffalo meat and when he refused, he was suspended from the ceiling and thrashed black and blue with a stick.

Ram’s other sister Preeti (6) was also rescued in the raid and all three children were rescued after three years at the shelter home. The police raided the home following a complaint from Ram’s mother Neetu.

Neetu said she met head of the shelter home Joshua Devraj at a hospital in Delhi where he offered to help the family.

“He asked us to stay at his accommodation. He said he would raise my children and make them IAS officers. He forced us to circulate pamphlets and copies of the Bible in local trains and other public places,” said Neetu. “For three years, he used us to publicise his organisation, but didn’t give us a penny. When he did not allow us to meet our children, we approached the NGO and the police,” she said.

She said that some employees of the shelter home came to her house on Tuesday night to demand her children back. (All names changed) – Hindustan Times, 8 January 2016

» Abhishek Anand is the principal correspondent at Hindustan Times in Noida.

Emmanuel Seva Group

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The anti-national agenda of foreign-funded NGOs – Rakesh Krishnan Simha

Rakesh Krishnan Simha“Does India need NGOs at all? Think about it: NGOs have been working for over a hundred years yet have barely made a dent in poverty in Africa. On the other hand, hard work, private enterprise and investment in roads and industry have transformed the economies of once poor countries such as Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. This gentrification is happening in India—albeit at a slower pace—and only needs good governance for the process to hasten.” – Rakesh Krishnan Simha

NGOAmong 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”.

The 21-page IB report reveals that “a significant number of Indian NGOs, funded by some donors based in the US, UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries, are using people-centric issues to create an environment which lends itself to stalling development projects”.

The report adds: “Foreign donors lead local NGOs to provide field reports which are used to build a record against India and serve as tools for the strategic foreign policy interests of the Western government.”

If the IB’s contention that NGOs drag down economic growth by 2-3 percent is true, then the total national loss is as much as $60 billion annually—equal to France’s defence budget.

Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)Perfect cover

The problem with NGOs is that it’s hard to tell the good from the bad. Take the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), the country’s largest and oldest human rights group. PUCL was mentored by none other than Rajindar Sachar, a retired high court judge, who shot to fame after he headed a committee that filed a report about the condition of Indian Muslims.

In 2010, a Tehelka report (The Crimson Brief by Raman Kirpal, 22 May) quoted an IB communiqué that blew away the PUCL’s patina of philanthropy by calling it a “front organisation” of the outlawed Maoists. The communiqué stated: “It is after the front bodies have done the groundwork that the armed activity would start.”

An investigation by Open magazine (Foreign Funding of NGOs by Prashant Reddy, 2 March 2013) reveals the well-known Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), headed by Sunita Narain, has some pretty dodgy donors. Between 2006 and 2012, the Delhi-based organisation received over Rs 67.7 crore, mainly from Denmark-based Dan Church Aid and Germany-based Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst EV.

Vandana Shivahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Union_for_Civil_Liberties’s equally reputable Navdanya received 16.7 crore between 2006 and 2012 in foreign donations from mainly Christian churches and the European Union.

What are the chances that these organisations are likely to keep India’s interests above that of their church or European backers?

The biggest danger of foreign-funded NGOs is that they bring in foreign detritus—spies, evangelistic missionaries and agent provocateurs, who are creating numerous difficulties for India.

Among the outrageous instances of foreign meddling in India, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s high-octane crusade against Modi, when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, stands out. Her use of Indian NGOs as fronts is a classic example of how the West is able to play the divide and rule game in India.

Madhav NalapatProf M.D. Nalapat, Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, quotes a US official in The Sunday Guardian: “Hillary Clinton likes to operate through NGOs, which are given funding through indirect channels, and which target individuals and countries seen as less than respectful to her views on foreign and domestic policy in the target countries.”

The official claimed that “rather than US NGOs, Clinton favoured operating through organisations based in the Netherlands, Denmark and the Scandinavian countries, especially Norway” as these were outside the radar of big power politics.

Like the CIA’s fake polio campaign in Pakistan—that successfully ferreted out Osama bin Laden—the Americans have launched similar campaigns in India as well. Current and retired American officials told Nalapat that “during the tenure in office of Secretary Clinton, several expert teams in the guise of NGOs were sent to Gujarat to try and find mass graves”. The purpose was to then take the matter to the Office of the UN Commissioner of Human Rights in Geneva as an example of genocide.

Failing to discover any ‘mass graves’ in Gujarat, Clinton directed the search teams to Punjab. After the American F-16 and F-18 jet fighters were shot down in the Indian Air Force’s multi-billion dollar competition, “orders were given to activate the Khalistan file”.

The Americans were trying to put the heat on the Indian government by trying to unearth mass graves in Punjab. NGOs again provided vital logistics. According to American officials, “Key politicians in Punjab have assisted these search teams and on occasion even provided logistical facilities for them.”

Manmohan SinghPlaying nuclear poker

NGOs were also active in the agitation against the Kudankulam nuclear power station in electricity-starved Tamil Nadu, with funding coming from the West. In February 2012, at the height of the protests against the Russian-built plants, the then prime minister Manmohan Singh uncharacteristically railed against the protesters, saying India’s atomic energy programme had got into difficulties because of mostly US-based NGOs.

The day after Singh’s comment, his MoS in the PMO, V. Narayanasamy, came to his defence, saying the contention was based on a Home Ministry probe. He said the protests against the Russian plant “are being funded by organisations from the US and Scandinavian countries”.

After the PM’s accusation, the Home Ministry didn’t waste any time in freezing the accounts of four NGOs, including an Indian Christian group, Tuticorin Diocese Association.

The latest IB report says a Dutch NGO is targeting oil drilling in the Northeast. It also warns that in 2014 foreign-funded NGOs plan to hit the strategic Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. If you look at the targets, they are all major infrastructure projects vital for India’s self-sufficiency.

USAIDThe spy game

NGOs have often been linked with the world’s second oldest profession. In 2012, President Vladimir Putin booted out the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), accusing it of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs. Earlier, in 2007, Moscow had ordered the British Council to ship out. Are the Russians being paranoid? You be the judge.

In 2010, the Associated Press published an explosive report detailing how USAID—which was ostensibly established to channel humanitarian aid—created a fake Twitter account to undermine the Cuban government. According to the news service, the US planned to use the platform to spread political content that might trigger a Cuban Spring and bring out “street mobs”. In essence, the American plan was to destabilise the country with the highest health standards in the western hemisphere and perhaps turn it into a present-day Iraq or Libya.

The Ford Foundation is the CIA's favorite social and cultural front organisation.According to The Washington Post, “In South Vietnam, USAID provided cover for CIA operatives so widely that the two became almost synonymous.”

Author Frances Stonor Saunders has done an excellent expose of how the CIA has roped in NGOs not only as fronts but as willing participants in the spy game. In her book Who Paid the Piper? CIA and the Cultural Cold War, she writes that the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation were “conscious instruments of covert US policy, with directors and officers who were closely connected to, or even members of American intelligence”.

Saunders adds: “At times it seemed as if the Ford Foundation was simply an extension of government in the area of international cultural propaganda. The foundation had a record of close involvement in covert actions in Europe, working closely with Marshall Plan and CIA officials on specific projects.”

In this backdrop, expelled AAP leader and former national council member Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay’s allegation that his party—or its leadership—has connections with the CIA needs to be looked into.

Iain BuchananThey need your country

There is a small but vocal lobby in India that wants closer ties with the West, especially the US. They point out various benefits that would accrue from hitching India’s wagon to the American engine, such as high technology, security umbrella and democracy.

But the problem with American influence peddlers is they represent rabidly right-wing groups that don’t want US sway over India limited to trade and diplomacy. “In addition, there must be infiltration of every sector of influence in a society, from religious groups to government departments to local charities to private business,” British-born Malaysia-based academic Iain Buchanan said in an interview to DNA.

Indeed, NGOs are becoming the apologists of NGO-colonialism.

BRICS, Brasil, 2014Why target India?

As western power declines and the stock of China, Russia and India rises, the US-led bloc is desperate to extend its 300-year-old domination of the planet. With Moscow and Beijing being alert to their shenanigans, the West is able to do precious little in those countries. India, on the other hand, with its chaotic and ‘open-source’ democracy, can be easily influenced. Sceptical? Go back to the Battle of Plassey in 1757.

The BRICS, posing a major challenge to the West, is currently an economic grouping. If it morphs into a political alliance, then all bets are off the West. The US would do anything to stop India throwing its lot with Russia and China.

The West also looks at India through Judeo-Christian glasses. Western elites may be atheistic or agnostic but their worldview is coloured by their past. Virtually all western countries are united in their angst at the rise of the non-western world.

China is already set to become the world’s preeminent power and in tandem with Russia, another civilisational rival, sits at the global high table. Seeing a former colony, India, which the West has collectively mocked for two centuries, at the head of the table would probably leave them apoplectic. Plus, if India remains semi-industrialised as it is now, it is a vast market for western consumer goods and armaments.

NGOs, Activists, and Foreign Funds: Anti-National IndustryRegulating NGO Raj

Faced with swarms of American-funded NGOs promoting ‘democracy’ and ‘free’ markets in Russia, Moscow has introduced a law that requires foreign-funded NGOs involved in political activity to be labelled “foreign agents”.

Such a law might appear harsh to Indians, but aren’t NGOs acting in the interests of a foreign State foreign agents? In the US, such NGOs have to file a report of their activities every six months, produce copies of all their contracts and even verbal agreements with the outfits they work for.

But does India need NGOs at all? Think about it: NGOs have been working for over a hundred years yet have barely made a dent in poverty in Africa. On the other hand, hard work, private enterprise and investment in roads and industry have transformed the economies of once poor countries such as Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. This gentrification is happening in India—albeit at a slower pace—and only needs good governance for the process to hasten.

Besides, development must not happen at the expense of national security. For a country that has suffered its fair share of invasions—with active help from traitors—that should be a guiding principle. – Tehelka, 28 June 2014

» Rakesh Krishnan Simha is a New Zealand-based journalist and foreign affairs analyst, with a special interest in defence and military history. He is a columnist with the Rossiyskaya Gazeta group, Moscow, and Modern Diplomacy, a Europe-based foreign affairs portal.

Modi Sarkar cracks down on NGOs

India has 31 lakh NGOs, more than double the number of schools – Utkarsh Anand

World Vision bibles for slum children.

Utkarsh Anand“According to the affidavit filed by the CBI in the Supreme Court Friday, there are a total of around 31 lakh NGOs in 26 states. Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana are still to adduce information about the number of NGOs, so the total number of NGOs will be more than 31 lakh. Besides, more than 82,000 NGOs are registered in seven Union Territories.” – Utkarsh Anand

NGOThese statistics have come to light after the CBI collated information from all states and Union Territories to list NGOs registered under the Societies Registration Act.

The first-ever exercise by the CBI to map registered NGOs has disclosed that India has at least 31 lakh NGOs—more than double the number of schools in the country, 250 times the number of government hospitals, one NGO for 400 people as against one policeman for 709 people.

These statistics, indicating the relative status of education and healthcare infrastructure apart from policing, have come to light after the CBI collated information from all states and Union Territories to list NGOs registered under the Registrar of Societies Delhi.

The CBI has been directed by the Supreme Court to collect information about NGOs and inform whether these NGOs have filed balance sheets, including income-expenditure statements, to ascertain compliance with accountability norms.

According to the affidavit filed by the CBI in the Supreme Court Friday, there are a total of around 31 lakh NGOs in 26 states. Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana are still to adduce information about the number of NGOs, so the total number of NGOs will be more than 31 lakh. Besides, more than 82,000 NGOs are registered in seven Union Territories.

Niti Aayog The total number of schools in the country is around 15 lakh, as per the data compiled by the Planning Commission of India in 2011. The commission had calculated the number of schools, classifying them as primary, upper primary, secondary, lower secondary and higher secondary. The number inheres the peril of duplication since one school building may have primary as well as upper primary schooling — more than one level of education in the same building.

In March 2011, total number of government hospitals in the country was 11,993, with 7.84 lakh beds. Of these, 7,347 hospitals were in rural areas with 1.60 lakh beds and 4,146 hospitals in urban areas with 6.18 lakh beds. The number of NGOs also exceed the number of policemen in the country.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau data in 2014, there were 17.3 lakh policemen across the country, as against a sanctioned India has 31 lakh NGOs, twice the number of schools, 250 times number of govt hospitals strength of 22 lakh. This accounts for one policeman for 709 people. Add 13 lakh armed forces personnel to the number of policemen, and the total number of NGOs will be equal to the combined strength of both.

Among the states, Uttar Pradesh tops the list with more than 5.48 lakh NGOs, followed by Maharashtra which has 5.18 lakh NGOs. Kerala comes third with 3.7 lakh NGOs, followed by West Bengal with 2.34 lakh NGOs. Of the 82,250 NGOs in the Union Territories, Delhi alone has more than 76,000 NGOs.

Registrar of Societies DelhiLess than 10 per cent of the NGOs have complied with the requirement of submitting balance sheets and income-expenditure statements with the Registrar of Societies. Of around 30 lakh NGOs, 2.9 lakh have submitted financial statements.

In Kerala, none of the 3.7 lakh NGOs have filed details since the state law does not mandate it. In Maharashtra and West Bengal, only around 7 per cent of NGOs have been filing such details. Other states also had poor records.

The CBI has told the court it will complete its exercise in the next two months after Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana also furnish the requisite data. Next week, the court will take up the PIL filed by advocate M. L. Sharma who has sought a CBI inquiry into affairs of all the NGOs lacking accountability. – The Indian Express, 1 August 2015

» Utkarsh Anand is the Assistant Editor (Legal) at Indian Express Newspaper, New Delhi.

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Government puts brakes on NGOs’ disruptive activities – Balbir Punj

Balbir Punj“Every industry anywhere will disturb the environment in some way or the other. We need industry to create more jobs with at least 10 crore young people looking out for jobs in the next ten years. Governments that continually outsource their right to decide what development is needed to NGOs will finally end up creating no new jobs.” –  Balbir Punj

NGOIncreasingly, the question is being posed in public discourse: Who should govern the country and how?  Should an elected government with an elected Parliament under a Constitution with all its built-in checks and balances take decisions or should the many thousand privately run organisations called collectively as non-governmental organisations (NGOs)? The question is increasingly becoming relevant as the Central government has sought to curb the NGOs and bring their funding and functioning under the scanner of the law of the land. The Green Peace affair is only one of several such events that continue to dog public discourse.

 Not that such curbs are the handiwork of the NDA government only. UPA also had a run with several NGOs. The core influence of several NGOs on the Manmohan Singh-led government through the extra-constitutional authority like the National Advisory Council created by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and headed by her, notwithstanding that government had to come down heavily on several NGOs as these organisations moved to obstruct development projects. One such NGO was working among the poor fishermen at the southern end of the peninsula. It used the fishermen as a human shield against the nuclear power project at Kudankulam going ahead and succeeded in delaying it by several years. All the while Tamil Nadu itself was suffering of as much as a 10-hour power cut almost every day.

Indian EconomyWhen the UPA-2 regime blocked the pipeline that it found was being used to funnel foreign funds into this NGO, the agitation also tapered off and the project went on to being commissioned. The 2,000 MW project began to provide a lifeline to Tamil Nadu’s industries and also feed into the national grid. Whether it is NGO Green Peace or others like it that claim to have all the wisdom in development economics, there ought to be some Lakshman Rekha to their agitational tactics.

India’s power, steel, aluminium and other industries need coal. The coal reserves are largely in forested areas or even in marginal land where residents eke out a hard  and marginal life.

Kundankulam protest funded with foreign money.If you reduce the entire coal mining project as a People versus Government issue, and then insist that the only solution is for the project to exit and people be allowed to be where they are, no new mines can be opened unless you mine the coal in the sky. A rational answer would be to find a solution that causes the least pain to the residents and yet gets the projects through. However, such a solution would mean that the NGO spearheading the agitation against the project loses out in its battle to get the project scrapped, virtually its raison d’etre  to exist. Foreign funding or political undercurrents behind these NGOs cannot be ignored by any government worth its salt.

No one suggests people’s right to protest should be curbed. Governments in any democracy cannot claim all the wisdom; nor could NGOs.

What is needed is a fair understanding of the issues involved and a fair solution that enables both development, ecology and people to find their common interest and move ahead.

Every industry anywhere will disturb the environment in some way or the other. We need industry to create more jobs with at least 10 crore young people looking out for jobs in the next ten years. Governments that continually outsource their right to decide what development is needed to NGOs will finally end up creating no new jobs.

 Several major projects have been stalled by the ability of these NGOs to make groups of farmers, adivasis, fishermen and forest dwellers believe that development projects are their enemy. Of course the people’s concerns may be genuine in most cases but why not let expert bodies take a call.

This is not an authoritarian government but a democratic one with a vibrant media and active opposition parties.

Several major projects remain stalled by NGOs and other groups organising people to physically prevent installations leading to law and order issues and even force being used by governments that unfortunately end up in police firings and deaths. Just as in Kudankulam, the 2,000 MW nuclear power plant was sought to be physically stalled by  an NGO using the fishermen even after all the experts inside and outside government convincingly showed that the fishermen’s concerns have all been met, in Jaitapur on the west coast of Konkan the proposed 6,000 MW nuclear power project has been attacked this time by a political party. Maharashtra is the industry and business centre of the country. It too cries for more bulk power. Konkan is an underdeveloped area in the state and power, oil, gas are some of the installations that could create jobs and change the economic profile of the coast. Can people depend entirely on fishing and farming to get rising incomes and improve their living standards?

Rahul Gandhi with Orissa tribal girlsThese questions have been repeatedly asked but NGOs who object to projects refuse to answer them by merely fogging off some vague beliefs as answers. On the east coast, the 12 million tonne Posco steel plant has remained on paper for over 15 years now. Activism of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress vice-president brought the proposed aluminium project in Kalahandi to a dead stop — and Kalahandi, we know, is  an area of persistent poverty for all the romanticism around some local tribal people. Building of national highways, opening of waterways, coal and iron ore mining have all suffered in the country and yet we want high GDP growth and elimination of poverty. In international reports, India is seen in poor light compared to China.

In the most recent United Nations report on Millennium Development Goals, titled ‘Making It Happen’,  China gets the credit for reducing poverty from 60.7 per cent of the population in 1990 to a mere 6.3 per cent by 2011. India on the other hand is listed as a laggard compared to China with reduction in poverty ratio from 49.4 per cent in  1994 to a still significant 24.7 per cent by 2011.

Prima facie, this gives a leg up for communism which is the political doctrine in China. The government in Beijing does not have to contend with NGOs physically trying to stall development projects or a Supreme Court that could declare a government decision as illegal.

Dissenters in China are shut up in jail and government and ruling party are supreme authority. Of course this is not an argument to follow China.

However, if democracies have all the time to keep arguing and avoid taking decisions, there can be no progress and high levels of poverty will continue to besmirch India’s  image as it used to do for a long time after independence. – The New Indian Express, 11 July 2015

» Balbir Punj is a senior columnist and one of the vice presidents of the Bharatiya Janata PartyEmail: punjbalbir@gmail.com 

Saudi funded Rs 1,700 crore for Wahhabi influence in India – Vicky Nanjappa

Vicky Nanjappa“Saudi sponsored Wahhabis are aiming to set up their own education system in India. … Out of the total Rs 1700 crore that has been earmarked for the cause, Rs 800 crore is being spent on setting up universities in different parts of the country. One such university was seen in Andhra Pradesh as well. Over all they propose to set up 4 such universities which will only cater to Wahhabi preachings.” – Vicky Nanjappa

Bommanahalli MasjidLast year violence broke out near a mosque in Bommanahalli, Bengaluru and what was being termed as minor tiff was in fact a case of some youth trying to impose the Wahhabi preachings.

When the seniors in the administration of the mosque opposed these youth, there were clashes in which 4 persons were injured seriously.

In another incident that occurred in Maharashtra, Wahhabi scholars bribed some members of the mosque and attempted taking over the administration. While the Muslims in many states have opposed the Wahhabis tooth and nail, success for the Saudi Arabia sponsored Wahhabis was highest in Kerala.

These are instances that could be read with the recent Wikileaks documents which suggested that Saudi Arabia is worried about the growing influence of Iran over India and the outreach by Tehran to the Shia community was worrying. The Muslim World League also requests Saudi Arabia to establish Wahhabi centres in India to counter the threat from the Shias.

Salman bin Abdulaziz Al SaudHow Saudi Arabia set up Wahhabi centres in India?

Saudi Arabia realizes that the Shias in India are a threat to the dominance of the Sunni community. India houses a large number of Shias and this according to the Saudis gives Iran an upper hand in India. However for Saudi the Sunnis in India have not followed the violent Wahhabi style of Islam and there are many seniors in the Muslim community who will not allow that to happen.

The only way Saudi could instill a radical thinking in the minds of the Sunni Muslims in India was by the establishment of Wahhabi centres. The Wahhabis are an extremely orthodox set of Sunni Muslims. There are several Muslims in India who subscribe to the Wahhabi view [Muhammad Shams-ul-Haq AzimabadiSiddiq Hasan KhanSyed Nazeer Husain, Zakir Naik were and are adherents of this Salafi movement – Ed].

As a first step, Saudi sent in several Wahhabi preachers into India an Intelligence Bureau report states. The years 2011 to 2013 alone saw a record number of 25,000 Wahhabis coming to India and conducting seminars in various parts of the country. With them they brought in Rs 1700 crore in several installments and used it to propogate the Wahhabi style of Islam.

Salafi Masjid, Mudappallur, KeralaWahhabism found success in Kerala

The drive by Saudi to impose the Wahhabi culture in India has not been entirely a success. The highest rate of success that they have witnessed is in Kerala.

This is a lot to do with the fact that there is a large population of people who go to Saudi in search of employment. Many in Kerala have welcomed with open arms the Wahhabi style of preaching and this has let the Saudi controlled lot take control over nearly 75 mosques in the state.

The newer mosques that are coming up in Kerala are also constructed in the manner in which they done in Saudi Arabia.

This is just one small indicator of how much people of the state are willing to follow the radical style preached by the Wahhabi scholars. Moreover the inflow of funds into Kerala from Saudi is the highest when compared to any other part of the country.

It was in Kerala that one got to see posters mourning the death of Osama Bin Laden and also a prayer for Ajmal Kasab after he was hanged. Intelligence Bureau officials tell OneIndia that a large number of youth appear to be attracted to this radical style of Islam, but also add that there are some elders who are trying to oppose it.

Muslims in IndiaThe Wahabi rule book in India

Each time a Wahhabi preacher comes to India, he comes in with a rule book. What they intend to do is ensure that the rule book is circulated in the Mosques.

However when the administration of the mosques have opposed this it has led to clashes. The rule book has a set of guidelines which need to be ahdhered to failing which the horrific Sharia law would be imposed.

Guidelines that have been set as per the Wahhabi rule book

  • Shrines shall be forbidden
  • Every Muslim woman should wear purdah or be subject to severe punishment
  • Men have to compulsorily grow beards
  • Women should not be allowed to work. Exception can be made only if the family is in need.
  • Men and women should not mingle together in public.
  • No weeping loudly at funerals.
  • Abide by the Shariat law; every offence committed shall be punishable under this law.
  • All men should wear trousers which are above their ankles.
  • No laughing loudly or listening to music; no dancing or watching television.

 Faisal Foundation on March 1, 2015 shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (L) presenting Zakir Naik, president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India, with the 2015 King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam in Riyadh. Naik was honoured for being one of the most renowned non-Arabic speaking promoters of Islam. He founded the Peace TV channel, billed as the world's only channel specialising in comparative religion. AFP PHOTO / HO / King Faisal Foundation == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / King Faisal Foundation" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==Wahhabi universities being set up

The Saudi sponsored Wahhabis are aiming to set up their own education system in India as well. Out of the total Rs 1700 crore that has been earmarked for the cause, Rs 800 crore is being spent on setting up universities in different parts of the country. One such university was seen in Andhra Pradesh as well. Over all they propose to set up 4 such universities which will only cater to Wahhabi preachings.

With the take over of the existing mosques becoming extremely difficult, they have earmarked Rs 400 crore to set up 40 mosques adhering only to Wahhabi preachings in different parts of the country.

A sum of Rs 300 has been been earmarked to set up madrasas while the remaining Rs 200 crore has been set aside as miscellaneous costs which also would include bribes to paid off to mosque authorities as was seen in Maharashtra.

Muhammed ibn Abd al-WahhabThe birth of the Jamiat Ahl al-Hadith

The birth of the Jamiat Ahl al-Hadith took place in India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. As a first step they wielded their influence on the various mosques which began preaching the Sharia law as mandated by the Wahhabis.

The next stop was Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh following which they began wielding influence heavily in Kerala. The Jamiat Ahl al-Hadith was the umbrella body which oversaw the flow of Wahhabi scholars into India. The same outfit is also making efforts to spread their ideology into Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and until last year Karantaka. – OneIndia News, 25 June 2015

Update

Western civil libertarians afraid of China, hypercritical of India – Lawrence Solomon

Lawrence Solomon“India is a convenient target for social justice activists around the world because … it’s easy to attack India. Being a democracy, its government sees peaceful dissent, debate and demonstrations as the very stuff of daily life, and thus no existential threat. The study from PEN and University of Toronto, entitled “Imposing Silence: The Use of India’s Laws to Suppress Free Speech,” would be unlikely to draw any retaliation.” – Lawrence Solomon

Chinese Policeman  BeijingThe largest dictatorship in the world, China with its 1.4 billion people, is today engaged in the most extensive crackdown on civil liberties since the Tiananmen massacre: NGOs have been shut down, thousands of citizens have been picked up by the police, the fates of many are unknown, none are expected to get a fair trial for “crimes” that include publishing books and studies, none are even expected to get a fair hearing for their plight in the state-controlled press. 

At the same time, the largest democracy in the world, India with its 1.3 billion people, today enjoys a vibrant free press, a highly respected judiciary and a government newly elected on a promise to grow the economy through free market principles. Yet in a major study released this week by PEN International, PEN Canada and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law’s International Human Rights Program, the Indian government is condemned for stifling freedom of expression. 

Renu MandhaneWhat would motivate PEN and U of T to attack the democracy and not the dictatorship? In part, perhaps, a distaste for India’s polarizing new prime minister, Narendra Modi, who won a landslide victory in national elections last year. In advance of Modi’s trip to Canada last month, Renu Mandhane, the Executive Director of U of T’s International Human Rights Program, and Tasleem Thawar, the Executive Director of PEN Canada, wrote Prime Minister Stephen Harper a letter on University of Toronto letterhead captioned “India’s dismal record on freedom of expression poses risk to Canada.” 

Tasleem ThawarTheir letter, which announced they were releasing a report to mark Modi’s first year in office, urged Harper to “put freedom of expression on the agenda for this week’s talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” Nowhere did Mandhane and Thawar make even a feeble case of any risk to Canada. Rather, the injustices they pointed to — for example, an Indian Supreme Court decision that upheld parts of a law making internet service providers responsible for libelous material they might carry — hardly warranted a dressing down of Modi by Harper. Such controversies, normal in a democracy, don’t rise to the level of what most Canadians would consider human rights abuses. Moreover, it is certainly not Harper’s business to second-guess a reasoned decision by the Supreme Court of India, let alone the laws enacted by India’s democratically elected legislature, in the process embarrassing a visiting head of government. 

This week PEN and U of T were again untoward, saying in a press release, “Earlier this year, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs used an extensive arsenal of vague and overbroad laws to muzzle the world’s largest environmental watchdog, Greenpeace International” through “seemingly innocuous provisions in the Indian Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.” 

Greenpeace CanadaThose “seemingly innocuous provisions” prohibit foreign funding of political activities by charities. As PEN and University of Toronto Faculty of Law must know, Canada also prohibits charities from receiving foreign funds to engage in non-charitable activities, and severely limits any political activity by a charity. In fact, Canada long ago revoked Greenpeace Canada’s charitable status for engaging in political activity. Why the outrage over a democratic India appearing to follow in the footsteps of a democratic Canada? If Greenpeace India wants to remain a charity, it need only operate without foreign funding, some $2 million a year or 40 per cent of its budget, which it receives largely to influence decisions affecting climate change. That and an end to other non-charitable activities, which the Indian government alleges includes funding the political campaign of a former Greenpeace consultant. 

Modi on the Time cover May 18, 2015India is a convenient target for social justice activists around the world because it is led by a reincarnation of Ronald Reagan, because it is on the wrong side of the climate change debate, and because it’s easy to attack India. Being a democracy, its government sees peaceful dissent, debate and demonstrations as the very stuff of daily life, and thus no existential threat. The study from PEN and U of T, entitled “Imposing Silence: The Use of India’s Laws to Suppress Free Speech,” would be unlikely to draw any retaliation. 

Not so with China’s Communist Party, whose thin-skinned leadership fears for its very existence, and bullies those who question its human rights record. The threat of sanctions by China, particularly once China became an economic powerhouse, has chilled many organizations and countries, too, as seen in their reluctance to publicly welcome the Dalai Lama. The many thousands of Western NGOs that operate in China well understand this, and stay silent to remain in the Chinese Communist Party’s good books. This is the real face of “Imposing Silence.” – Probe International, 22 May 2015

UT IHRP Letter to PM Harper - 1UT IHRP Letter to PM Harper - 2

Embassy news item attached to  UT IHRP letter to PM Harper Embassy news item attached to  UT IHRP letter to PM Harper

See also