Time to de-recognize non-democratic not-for-profits

    The India Day Parades in celebration of India’s Independence in New York and New Jersey are left behind and the season ahead will witness various Dessert and Diwali celebrations. Most of these events are organized by not-for-profits, with the funds coming in from the public and the corporate world which includes the government of India undertakings.

    Government of India undertakings support the Indian events ostensibly out of their desire to strengthen the organizations of NRIs engaged in preservation and promotion of Indian cultural values. Otherwise, they probably are not obliged in any way to part with the money of the public.

    However, at the end of the day, it is found that many of these organizations are not truly representative of the public at large. These are either individual centric, or at the best coterie centric. Take the case of Federation of Indian Associations, NY/NJ/CT. It claims to be the largest umbrella organization of Indian Associations. But the FIA has never made public the list of the associations which are the members of the FIA. Look at the people who run the FIA. It is a small coterie of fewer than twenty persons of a closely knit group, belonging to one region of India, professing mostly one faith, and possibly one political ideology, and   owing allegiance to one man.

    The coterie which runs the FIA is being fed on the money of the people of India which comes to them through Air India, Tourism department of government of India, and the government owned banks. It is estimated that together government of India enterprises and departments pay close to $200,000 towards organizing the India Day Parade in New York City. According to the Income Tax Return of 2012 (from 3-1-12 to 2-28-13), FIA claimed to have a total revenue of $332,220.00, with the expenditure of $316,772.00. It is for GOI “outlets” to weigh their contribution in supporting the coterie.

    It is time people told the coterie to make FIA a democratic body, with representation to NRIs from all parts of India and from all faiths. If the coterie fails to do so in the coming months, let the democratic government of India withdraw its support to FIA. Let the Consulate here not recognize the FIA. Let the government of India departments and enterprises withdraw their support to FIA, for the sake of democracy and equality.

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    We will, in time, come up with more examples of undemocratic not-for-profit organizations and prick the conscience of those managing them, to democratize and be truly representative of the NRIs.

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