Hyderabad: According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, foreign funding for non-governmental organisations in the country between 2006 and 2018 has increased by Rs 5,400 crore. It is especially relevant in the context when the Indian government recently banned over 1,800 NGOs from accepting foreign funds for not complying with the Foreign Fund Regulations Act (FCRA) 2010. In 2006-2007, NGOs across the country received total foreign funding of Rs 11,502.34 crore, and the amount grew to Rs 16,902 cr in 2017-2018.

Padmanabha Reddy, Secretary, Forum for Good Governance, Hyderabad, told NewsMeter that the FCRA has some internal defects. “According to the 2010 amendments of FCRA ‘any organisation of a political nature’ was forbidden from taking foreign funding. It is a vague definition. Some NGOs receive foreign funds in the name of religion and use it to propagate their religious agenda. The purpose for which the money is spent has to be defined.”

He adds that once the funds are received, a large-scale internal evaluation has to be done. “Foreign funds might be used for extremist ideas or savage activities. Hence, there needs to be an account of why NGOs are spending foreign money. However, that’s not currently happening. Annual returns are not being uploaded on the FCRA portal. For the last two years, the Government of India has been giving notices. However, the NGOs are not responding to it,” Padmanabha Reddy said.

In the south alone, around 600 NGOs were banned for not uploading their annual returns. Around 90 NGOs in Telangana, 168 in Andhra Pradesh, 217 in Tamil Nadu, 94 in Karnataka, 53 in Kerala, and eight in Pondicherry were banned.

In 2018, the Centre had cancelled the licence of nearly 20,000 NGOs that received foreign funds under FCRA. Meanwhile, according to the data available from the Home Ministry, in 2018, the foreign fund had increased by Rs 1,548 cr.

Padmanabhan opined, “At least now the banned NGOs should submit their accounts so that they can renew it. Moreover, the NGOs that are looking for foreign funding should look for funding from the Centre and their respective state governments. NGOs are not functioning to spend. They are here to motivate and show, in a pilot-scale, how things have to be done. They are supposed to work with the government and set examples to the public. When NGOs are involved, things are expected to move smoothly without corruption and nepotism.”

Dheeshma Puzhakkal

Dheeshma Puzhakkal is currently a Reporter with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University, she has interned with Greater Kashmir newspaper and NDTV. Dheeshma has also made short films and documentaries. Her documentary ‘Still I Rise’, which is based on sex-trafficking in Hyderabad’s Old City, has earned accolades in several film festivals, such as International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kerala (IDSFFK). An avid foodie, she loves to travel and listen to stories that others tell. Photography is one of her all-time interests. She has extensively written on satellite-based journalism, health, consumer, and data stories besides covering anti-crime investigative agencies.

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