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!
Based on the FCRA data, I tried to collate some information. I was shocked to see that in Karnataka, where Bangalore Urban District was highest in getting foreign funds to the tune of INR 6251 crores for the period of 2006-17 (only those accounts who have submitted the records to FCRA), most of the organizations, often termed as NGOs, have withheld this information regarding their foreign funds. Karnataka received INR 12,734.50 crores during the last 10 years (2006-17) and India received INR 17,650.92 crores during the FY 2015-16. Ayana Charitable Trust (formerly Gospel For Asia) received INR 826.27 crores in 2015-16. Anybody can visit FCRA portal and analyze the data for themselves (fcraonline.nic.in).
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:
Indian Society Of Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints
CBCI Society for Medical Education
India Campus Crusade for Christ
Ved Vigyan Maha Vidya Peetha
Helping Hand Welfare Society
The Bible Society of India
Sri Sri Ravishankar Trust
Dhyana Peeta Charitable Trust
Youth with a Mission
The Bangalore Salesian Society
Karnataka Jesuit Educational Society
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.