Govt under US pressure backs to remove Ford Foundation from the “Watch List”

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Ford Foundation - New Delhi Office. Image Credit - NDTV

20 March 2016. This cannot be denied the US acting through the NGOs as the part of its foreign diplomacy. After raising the issue of strictures against NGOs in the past couple of weeks, repeatedly by US Govt, put the pressure backs to its decision of putting off the U.S.-based Ford Foundation from the “prior permission” category. 

As per the Hindu Reported earlier - the government’s actions to regulate Non-Governmental Organisations including the Ford Foundation and Greenpeace International of having a “chilling effect” on civil societ. In April, the U.S. State department had criticised the decisions in a public statement, saying that it “was seeking clarifications from the government” over the actions against Ford foundation and Greenpeace.

The Ministry sent a letter to the Reserve Bank of India on March 16 to remove the foundation from the watch list, a senior government official told The Hindu.After the order will be in effect, the banks will no longer need the Ministry’s clearance to process the foreign funds coming from the foundation to any Indian bank account.

Earlier, the Ministry, on the basis of a report sent by the Gujarat government last year, had put the international non-governmental organisation on the “watch list”, citing concern to “national security. The Gujarat government report had said that the organisation funded the “anti-India” activities of Citizens for Justice and Peace and Sabrang Trust run by Teesta Setalvad, activist.

Apart from the diplomatic pressure, Ford Foundation complied with the government’s condition to register itself under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999 which enables it to receive foreign funds in its accounts.

Ford Foundation, which has been operating in India since 1952 was not registered either as an NGO or under any other category like the Indian Society Act till now. It applied under FEMA and got registered as a branch office by the Reserve Bank of India in December 2015.

The Centre had last year also unblocked foreign funds to the tune of $1,50,000 to be released to the foreign donor’s bank accounts as the organisation had exhausted its options to pay salary to its staffers and made a plea before the government.

On several occasions, Ford Foundation representatives met Nripendra Misra, principal secretary to the Prime Minister of India and explained their position.

There are 14 foreign donors who are providing the donations to Indian NGOs under FCRA, now are in listed of prior permission – Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA); Danish Institute of Human Rights (DIHR); Catholic Organisation for Relief and Development Aids (CORDAID); Dan Church Aid (DCA); Mercy Corps, USA; Inter Church Peace Council-Pax Christi (IKV-PC) Netherlands; HIVOS Netherlands; ICCO Stretegische Samenwerking (ICCO), Netherlands; Greenpeace International; Climate Work Foundation (CWF), USA; 350.Org; BIC, USA; Avaaz, USA and Sierra Club USA. All these organisations either work in the field of climate change, coal activism or human rights issues. DANIDA is the humanitarian aid wing of the foreign ministry of Denmark.

Jan-Satyagrah Desk
Jan-Satyagrah Desk represents the collective work of its editorial team by researching, observing and writing on various contemporary subjects.
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