Attention NGOs: Transparency and probity begins from you!

India receives a huge sum of money through FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) approved organizations. The FCRA portal was non-functional for more than 10 years, courtesy UPA 1 and 2. Now, the NDA government has made it functional by strictly implementing the rule book. It is true that many of its measures are questioned and termed as oppressive, but there is another truth: these organizations are always trying to hide their source of funds, their accounts. They have been violating basic principles of accountability quoting that they never come under RTI!

These same organizations fight here for civic liberty, freedom of expression, societal issues, human rights and what not. If these organizations are really genuine in their self-declared agenda, then why are they not publishing minimal compliance data? Why many of these institutions are not even publishing their annual financial reports? Why they are very particular about ‘Donate’ section on their websites and never bother to follow accountability in financial probity? Why these institutions are keeping all their expenditure under wraps?

Readers may term me as another NGO troller. But please read my questions without any agenda in your mind. I could find only Association for Democratic Norms (ADR) providing such financial details, which received INR 2.15 cr from Omidyar Network. It is natural for it to do so, as it is after the financials of the politicians! But what about others? FCRA rules are very specific: Rule 13 (a) says: NGOs should display audited FCRA accounts including balance sheet, income and expenditure and receipts and payments account for a financial year within 9 months of the year-end.

Rule 13 (b) says all NGOs receiving foreign contribution are required to disclose donor-wise details of FC amounts received in its designated account as well as the date of receipt. If these NGOs are here for a cause, for the upliftment of society, for probity and honest public life, then their first duty is to publish their donor details and the contract under which the donations are made. A cursory glance will make anybody to feel that the big share belongs to Christian organizations. It is also true that many Hindu organizations have also got significant donations. Irrespective of their religious affiliations, all these NGOs need to be more transparent. This applies more so to the Christian organizations as their overseas donors are highly oriented to missionary goals and objectives. Otherwise, we should keep mum on Ayana, which is the largest receiver of foreign donations.

I will just enlist the NGOs which have not published their financials compliant to FCRA rules:

1. Action Aid 6482068773.09
2. Indian Society Of Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints 6155077161.60
3. CBCI Society for Medical Education 2102118335.78
4. India Campus Crusade for Christ 1729890772.26
5. Ved Vigyan Maha Vidya Peetha 1624667660.56
6. Helping Hand Welfare Society 1257859861.84
7. The Bible Society of India 1205181115.11
8. Sri Sri Ravishankar Trust 868091790.00
9. Dhyana Peeta Charitable Trust 816212888.82
10. Youth with a Mission 653181941.24
11. The Bangalore Salesian Society 592868284.36
12. Karnataka Jesuit Educational Society 568297966.94

 

You should know that these are among 27 NGOs which received largest donations more than INR 50 crores for the last 10 years. Hence I strongly feel that suitable legal action should be taken on these institutions for non-compliance of FCRA rules. It is also astonishing that the so called media, including those new age news portals like Scroll, Qz, thewire.in and others have skillfully avoided this data, which in fact is a landmine of information. True journalism demands a critical analysis of this data and further investigation as to how these funds are utilized and how best these NGOs are keeping up to their declared goals?

While Modi is criticized for shutting a few NGOs, media has forgotten its duty to analyze the non-compliance of these NGOs for the last decade and beyond. And I remind you, the data before 2006 is yet to be published. Data journalism has grown leaps and bound in Europe and USA. But the new age media houses, which are funded by the same USA and European capitalists, have forgotten to follow certain basic neutrality aspect of journalism.

It is high time that these NGOs come out of their hideouts and be transparent and honest in their cash management.

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