India Fighting Against Foreign NGOs

02.06.2015 Author: Valery Kulikov

17-Dollars-IndiaInk-blog480The development of public diplomacy in world politics, the activities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are actively being discussed in public and political circles of various countries. According to some estimates, there are over 60 thousand international NGOs alone in the world today. Many NGOs are indeed non-political civil society institutions, structures of self-organisation of citizens in various spheres of life.

At the same time, a certain number of NGOs claim the role of umpire in matters of ideology in all of society and public policies, affecting the development of the political situation in a number of countries, interfering in the internal affairs of states, participating, as ordered by the West and especially US intelligence, in changing political powers in governments that are opponents of Washington. In the US intelligence community there are even special inter-agency groups responsible for coordinating the activities of a wide variety of non-governmental actors, particularly focused on Russia. For example, there is a National Intelligence for Russia and Eurasia in the National Intelligence Council (NIC).

These circumstances are objectively forcing many states, especially those seeking to pursue a policy independent from the US, to closely monitor the activities of NGOs, by opportunely identify their misuse of funds coming from abroad to support political parties and movements and affect the economic policy of the state, all the way to limiting NGOs activities.

And so, the Indian government, as part of the clean-up work in foreign financing of non-governmental organisations recently revoked the licenses of 8975 non-governmental organizations and charities for accounting violations (see ). In the future, organisations deprived of licenses will not be able to receive funds from foreign or domestic sources until a special order of the Indian authorities. The well-known environmental organization Greenpeace (operated in India since 1971) is on this “black list”, in regards to which the government has suspended their license for six months and has frozen the accounts of its Indian branch. In addition, India’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has launched an investigation into the activities of the American charitable Ford Foundation and several other foreign NGOs in the country.

The main complaint of the Indian authorities against the NGOs is their systematic violation of the law on foreign donations, NGO registration rules, failure to submit reports on their activities and revenues, misappropriation of funds, as well as providing charitable support without proper notification of the authorities of the country of India as required by current law. As appears from further clarification published by national authorities concerning the charges brought against the NGOs, for Indian NGOs to receive foreign financing they have to draw up a resolution in accordance with the Law on foreign donations and open special bank accounts. Incidentally the financing of activity of political parties, election campaigns, mass media, state machinery as well as the transfer of funds received by unregistered organisations is strictly forbidden.

The impartiality of the charges brought against NGOs is confirmed by more than 150 inspections carried out in India since mid-2014, which resulted in the government already demanding detailed information on funding from the 10,000 non-profit organisations. However, the situation with bringing order in foreign financing of NGOs did not change and therefore the government instructed the Interior Ministry to use more drastic measures in this regard, ending in the revocation of licenses.

It is highly interesting that the steps taken by New Delhi immediately triggered a wave of protests and moral admonition on the part of those Western countries that are guilty of violating financial laws of India and for many years deliberately violated it by financing NGOs accountable to them through political processes in different countries, including this country, affecting the investment plans of energy companies and national economic structures in favour of multinational corporations. As a result of such actions of NGOs, the Indian government estimates that the country has suffered significant economic damage, represented by the deceleration of the development of the country and even the decrease of its GDP.

For example, the well-known Ford Foundation had already been repeatedly criticised in various countries for the financing of a number of its politicised programs (in particular, the support for the Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting – FAIR). Since its inception, the Fund has not departed from the strategic interests of the United States. A former professor of sociology at the University of Binghamton (NY) James Petras accused the Ford Foundation of being a kind of “front” for the CIA and of a rotation between the senior officials of the CIA and the Foundation making large donations to support the White House-friendly political parties and movements, particularly in countries opposing the United States. In 2003, the Ford Foundation was criticised by the American pro-Israeli news service, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, for one-sided politicised support, and ended up under the pressure of a number of US congressmen and even had to apologise. But even if the Foundation served as a cover for the CIA at the time of the Cold War, it developed its own methods of intervention in recent years, the so-called “soft power”: meddling in the internal disputes of its rivals by funding one side to thwart the plans of the other, in order to maintain rivalry in its purest form.

As for the activity of the Ford Foundation in India, they are charged with unlawful activities of sponsoring activists of several NGOs and political movements (including, in particular, the NGO of Teesta Setalvad). In particular, according to the report of the administration of the state of Gujarat, the Fund was engaged in advocacy work with the victims of anti-Muslim riots in 2002, interfering in the internal affairs of India. In addition, the Ford Foundation is accused of inciting religious propaganda under the guise of Christian missionaries.

Indian law enforcement agencies also accuse the environmental organization Greenpeace of the illegal allocation of funds to support a number of political activists. As a result of the actions of this organization, who was supposed to promote the socio-economic development, the Greenpeace propaganda politicised speech caused, as estimated by New Delhi, damage to the investment appeal of India and a number of economic projects.

Over the past decades the NGOs, implanted globally by Washington, have accumulated huge funds allocated by Congress and the US State Department to create outposts of American influence in foreign countries under plausible pretexts, often under the guise of assistance of constructing a “civil society” and the protection of human rights, to assist in the execution of “democratic” elections and the creation of “alternative media.” But, as highlighted in a number of recent studies, including the American Enterprise Institute, many NGOs are actively involved in changing the political balance in countries targeted by the White House under the pretext of helping the “civil society”. And in doing so a number of Western NGOs have even had many successes: successful interventions to ensure favourable results in the elections for Washington in the Philippines, Pakistan, Taiwan, Chile, Nicaragua, Eastern Europe and other countries.

Therefore the hasty reaction of the United States and other Western countries in the efforts to strengthen controls concerning NGOs in India and some other countries, particularly in Russia, only reinforces the suspicion that Western “charity” is not selfless. And to shatter the myth, the US and its satellites need to demonstrate a respect for the sovereignty and identity of other countries.

Valery Kulikov, political analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.