Delhi NGOs choke as govt freezes foreign funding

The union home affairs ministry has cancelled the FCRA registration of as many as 299 voluntary organisations in the capital. Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, deals with the manner of using foreign funds.

While the ministry claimed that it took the step as these organisations failed to file tax returns, the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) said they had updated their records and given all information to the ministry.

There has been a surge of voluntary organisations in India in the past two decades.
With strict regulations like FCRA, 2010, tax law and visa regime, the sector is going through the phase of cancellation of registration of a total of 4,138 organisations and also harassment by the local administration, according to a study.

Voluntary Action Network India (VANI), an apex body of NGOs, with the support of ActionAid conducted the study ‘Status of Voluntary Sector in India’. The study says the Indian voluntary sector has been engaged in various development work in the remotest locations of the country for upliftment of the marginalised.

The study also provides a list of recommendations such as sectorial identity for NGOs by weeding out organisations that have stemmed from corporate bodies to re-emphasise the values of voluntarism and not-for-profit institutions.

“There should be a nodal ministry for the voluntary sector based on the guidelines of the steering committee report of 2012. This ministry will help foster an enabling environment for the sector, and assist in regulation and monitoring of effective implementation of social development programmes,” said the study.

“The ministry will also facilitate communication between the voluntary sector and the government. It can also liaise with the corporate sector through corporate social responsibility (CSR).”

CSR is a process that aims to embrace responsibility for a company’s actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and other members of the public sphere, who may also be considered stakeholders. VANI said a proper legislation should be made exclusively for not-for-profit organisations and separate from all other types of organisations that stem from other profit making bodies.

“The government needs to be careful and sensitive towards NGOs working to safeguard the rights of the poor and marginalised,” it added. “The sector also needs to improve itself by bringing and following good governance practices towards greater transparency and accountability before demanding the same from the government and administration,” said the study.

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