NEW DELHI (TIP): Non-governmental organisations will soon have to start furnishing details of foreign funds received and utilised by them for ‘civil rights advocacy’, a new category created by the home ministry to ascertain whether NGOs are using funds specifically for issues such as human rights, democratic rights, natural resources and religious discrimination.
In addition to this, every NGO in the country will have to put out details on its website within a week of getting foreign contribution of any value while banks will have to report all such receipts to the government within 48 hours of the transfer from abroad.
These requirements are part of the proposals under an exercise initiated by the Prime Minister’s Office to tighten monitoring of NGOs. A fortnight after ETfirst reported on June 4 the planned move on PMO’s instructions to amend the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules (FCRR), 2011, the home ministry has put in public domain the proposed changes to these rules following the Intelligence Bureau’s inputs to it to “improve oversight and increase transparency” in the working of the NGO sector in India.
As per existing norms, NGOs are required to inform the government through their annual returns under 55 heads of ‘purposes’ for which foreign aid has been received and utilised by them. There was a 56th ‘purpose’, ‘of activities other’ than the 55 purposes. The home ministry has created a new category of such ‘purposes’, Civil Rights Advocacy, increasing the total number of purposes to 84.
Under the new category, NGOs will have to specify whether they received any funds and utilised them for purposes such as “human rights, caste/religious discrimination, tribal/indigenous people’s rights, democratic rights, public accountability, issues regarding natural resources, climate change, cyber security, internet freedom, criminal justice system, communication strategy etc”.
The ministry has created yet another category, ‘Research’, under which NGOs will have to specify spending of foreign funds on research, seminars, conferences, publications and lectures. “The effort is to ascertain specifically for what a NGO is getting foreign funds and what is it being spent on rather than leaving it uncertain,” a senior home ministry official said.
The government has a provision to act against an NGO if any false information or concealment of material facts comes to light. The ministry had earlier suspended Greenpeace India’s foreign funding saying the NGO derailed the Mahan coal project and would indulge next in “protest-creation” to target eight other plants, potentially impacting 40,000 mw of power generation.
hat also reflects in another proposed change in FCCR rules in the form which has to be filled up online for registration or renewal of licence for NGOs. The government has introduced a new declaration that NGOs must make that the foreign aid received by them will not be used for any activities “detrimental to national interest, likely to affect public interest, or likely to prejudicially affect the security, scientific, strategic or economic interest of the state”, leaving it to the discretion of the state to determine a violation.
NGOs will have to also submit details of any social media account on Facebook or Twitter that it is operating, an apparent effort to keep tabs on social media campaigns.