NEW DELHI: Amid the outcry over Modi government’s alleged “crackdown” on NGOs and their foreign donors, there is one charitable organization that has got its bill of health. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the TOI has learnt, was on Friday assured by the Union home ministry that its funding to Indian NGOs was not under the scanner and that it could pursue its philanthropic activities here without any worry.
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Senior representatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation met Union home secretary L C Goyal here on Friday in the wake of reports in a section of the media that the outfit’s funding to Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), based on a complaint received earlier, was being looked into for possible violations of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. The reports were later denied by the home ministry.
During their meeting with Goyal, the foundation’s representatives sought to clarify for themselves if there was any issue pending in the Union home ministry regarding their grants to Indian entities, including PHFI. Not only did the home secretary set their fears to rest, but he also assured them that the government was not out to block funding of any genuine or bone fide charitable/philanthropic activity in India. “The recent actions initiated by us against foreign-funded NGOs or their donors were strictly in furtherance of objectives of the FCRA, and in keeping with our remit to track and prevent those violating its provisions,” a senior home ministry official told TOI when asked about the message conveyed by Goyal to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Interestingly, given the negative perception created by blacklisting of Greenpeace International and suspension of FCRA registration of Greenpeace India as well as the recent move by the Union home ministry to cancel the FCRA licences of around 9,000 NGOs, there was some trepidation among the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation functionaries whether the home ministry brass would agree to meet them or would they be redirected to the official handling the FCRA wing. Their doubts were put to rest when the home secretary insisted on meeting them directly to convey that the government was for a frank dialogue with the NGOs.
Bill Gates and Melinda Gates were awarded the Padma Bhushan this year for their philanthropic work in India. Their foundation’s scope of our work in India includes maternal and child health, health and nutrition services and vaccines and routine immunization.