What needs to be done to regulate the foreign funded NGOs which strive to derail the Government from its development agenda?
In a recent event, PM Narendra Modi spoke about the opposition uniting with certain foreign funded Non Governmental Organisations to destabilise his government. This charge does not come as a surprise given that the mandate 2014 elections has made many NGOs worry about their future and their relevance in Bharat. There is a single most important reason of worry for the political opposition, will the new government set new standards of governance thereby creating higher expectations in voters’ mind? The worry for non-governmental organisations is what the strong leadership of Modi will do to their existence in this country. In Bharat large foreign led NGOs have been working on two major aspects – question governments development agenda, take in their fold those who are facing social discrimination and lack of basic facilities, food etc and entice them to feel secure and convert them to Christianity.
The Modi government entertains the same degree of suspicion and paranoia exhibited by the previous governments regarding NGOs espousing environmental concerns in the development projects undertaken by the government. The previous government, while publicly giving expression to its suspicion of the NGOs, stopped short of taking action against them for fear of alienation, public opinion and losing allies in its coalition.
Then there are charges that have been levied on Modi Government that it is in alliance with corporate interests. This pitch will become even shriller as Modi takes the development agenda forward quelling all opposition whether from political parties or from NGOs. But the question to be asked is why are the NGOs trying to push the government of the day to feel ashamed for not being socialist rather than being capitalist. Is the new socialism not about a capital led inclusive growth as can be witnessed in Russia and China who have whole heartedly without a hitch embraced capitalism.
While studying NGOs in Bharat one has also to understand that they are undergoing the most important evolution. It is no longer is a static organisation sticking to one issue. In fact it is forced to operate across a number of issues and themes – human rights, ecology, education, health, women and importantly information. Given their hybrid approach most NGOs have defended their receipt of foreign fund. They have even defended their funding with the counter argument that governments have no moral right to question their foreign funds as they themselves are foreign funded with capital flowing from abroad enabling changes in country's policies. With increased globalisation the battle of various issues will have to be faced by the governments and will have to be tackled satisfactorily. What needs to be understood is that NGOs are increasing their space aggressively and more dynamically with more resources, when actually the size of governments that they are
opposing are actually shrinking and losing strength.
Besides strengthening government action it is time that Modi government looks in minute details the functioning of the NGOs and their funding pattern, their connections with foreign funding to understand their intent. Most NGOs claim that they are service and empowerment oriented. This tall claim needs to be looked into carefully and the sustenance of these organisations needs to be studied. There needs to be a closer review of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) 2010 also. A deeper look should be given to the links of various NGOs and individuals to bigger think tanks which are the actual laboratory of ideas. It is amply clear that there are various interests that do not want Bharat to develop as they do not want another China with a bigger demography in the region. What also needs to be reviewed is how the development NGOs, human rights NGOs and missionary NGOs are inter-linked.
Finally it is about who wins the future and gets to govern successfully. Will government of the day let Bharat be impeded by the machinations of self serving NGOs and its nefarious and at times obnoxious designs or will it hand hold majority of the people to bring them in the fold of development. Will the Modi government be able to defeat the purpose of NGOs and take on the development challenges successfully or will it buckle under pressure from them as they oppose every project and try to create a perception of monstrosity of its government, which road Shri Modi takes, is what needs to be seen.
Bhagyashree Pande (The writer is a freelance journalist)