Monday, May 20, 2013

India Closes Funding Door for Grassroots Organizations Aimed at Protecting the Environment and Human Rights

Rama Lakshmi Activists bristle as India cracks down on foreign funding of NGOs. The Washington Post,
[Excerpted] The government stepped up its campaign this month, suspending the permission that Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), a network of more than 700 NGOs across India, had to receive foreign funds. Groups in the network campaign for indigenous peoples’ rights over their mineral-rich land and against nuclear energy, human rights violations and religious fundamentalism; nearly 90 percent of the network’s funding comes from overseas.

In its letter to INSAF, the Home Ministry said the group’s bank accounts were frozen and foreign funding approval suspended because it was likely to “prejudicially affect the public interest.” [end]

Majia here: Foreign funding can be complicated, but the truth is that the large corporations wanting to build nuclear plants in India or strip indigenous people's land have plenty of funding and influence, while poor farmers and indigenous people do not.

Take a look at the home page of the Indian Social Action Forum here.

The group criticizes the carbon-trading scam, arbitrary arrests, infrastructural developments that displace indigenous people, etc. The concerns expressed on the site are those of Indian people.

I'm not saying that NGOs don't get compromised. What I am saying is that its absurd to ban funding for NGOs in India, while still allowing large corporations in the country to lobby for their interests.

NGOs have the capacity to support local people's battles for voice against powerful, ruthless, and often predatory, national and multinational corporations.

Sometimes it is through international alliances and NGO funding that local people have the financial and legal support to take a stand at all.

It appears to me that the Indian government is representing the moneyed interests in trying to shut down the Indian Social Action Forum.


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