Laws concerning NGOs hazy, says Supreme Court

New Delhi, Sept 14: The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that it is alarming and mind boggling that out of the 29.9 lakh NGOs only 2.9 lakh file IT returns. While appointing an amicus curae to suggest guidelines on how to regulate the NGOs ,  court adjourned hearing on the matter to Sept 23. A petition was filed seeking a directive to regulate NGOs in the country. It was pointed that there was no regulation and hence directions to this effect be issued.

image source: oneinda news

image source: oneinda news

“The Supreme Court said that the laws relating to the regulation of NGOs is hazy. It is mind boggling that 29.9 lakh NGOs function in India and very few file the details of how they used the funds. There is a need for a legal framework to monitor NGOs,” the Supreme Court said. The Supreme Court was told by the petitioner that only 2.9 lakh out of the 29.9 lakh NGOs file IT returns. SC said that it finds the need to refer this issue to the law commission. The Law Commission may consider regulating NGOs across the country, the Supreme Court observed. There is no legislation to ensure accountability and timely audit of NGOs, the court also stated. While adjourning the matter to Sept 23, the court appointed Senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi as amicus curae to suggest what measures can be taken to regulate NGOs.


Government bars Zakir Naik’s NGO from receiving foreign funds

NEW DELHI: Invoking a rare provision of law, the government today issued a gazette notification to ban an NGO, run by controversial preacher Zakir Naik, from receiving foreign funds directly and asked RBI to seek prior permission from it before releasing any money to it.

Issuance of a gazette notification under Section 11(3) of the FCRA 2010 is a rare instance and such an act could also be done through an official order, sources said. Image

Issuance of a gazette notification under Section 11(3) of the FCRA 2010 is a rare instance and such an act could also be done through an official order, sources said.

The gazette notification, issued by the Home Ministry, said that Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) has violated certain provisions of Foreign Contribution Regulations Act and therefore “would obtain prior permission from central government before accepting any foreign contribution”.

Issuance of a gazette notification under Section 11(3) of the FCRA 2010 is a rare instance and such an act could also be done through an official order, sources said.

The Home Ministry said the decision has been taken after a preliminary inquiry conducted by it found that the NGO was carrying out activities contrary to the provisions of the FCRA under which it has to function.

The Reserve Bank of India, henceforth, has to inform the Home Ministry about all funds coming to the NGO and permission has to be taken from the ministry before releasing them to IRF.
Sources said last month the Home Ministry had renewed the FCRA licence of IRF despite several ongoing probes against the NGO and its founder Naik including one by the Home Ministry itself.
Taking strong exception to the goof-up, the Home Ministry suspended Joint Secretary G K Dwivedi, who was heading the foreigners division of the ministry looking after the FCRA-related issues, and three other officials.
Naik was accused of radicalising and attracting youths for terror acts.
Naik has come under the scanner of the security agencies after Bangladeshi newspaper ‘Daily Star’ had reported that one of the attackers of the July 1 terror strike in Dhaka, Rohan Imtiaz, ran a propaganda on Facebook last year quoting Naik.
He, in a lecture aired on Peace TV, an international Islamic channel, had reportedly “urged all Muslims to be terrorists”.
Naik, a popular but controversial Islamic orator and founder of Mumbai-based IRF, is banned in the UK and Canada for his hate speeches aimed against other religions. He is among 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia.
He is popular in Bangladesh through his Peace TV, although his preachings often demean other religions and even other Muslim sects.

Source- Economics Times

Greenpeace India’s Registration Gets Cancelled, NGO Calls It ‘Assault On Free Speech’

NEW DELHI–The Tamil Nadu Registrar of Societies has reportedly cancelled the registration of Greenpeace India, the environmental NGO.

The NGO that has been campaigning against air pollution and the unsustainable use of natural resources in India claimed the Ministry of Home Affairs was behind the move and called it “the latest assault on free speech in India” and a demonstration of the government’s “intolerance for dissent”.

It further stated that the cancellation of registration has come at a time when several international leaders, including the United Nations Secretary-General, have upheld the importance of civil society in healthy democracies.

Greenpeace India’s interim executive director Vinuta Gopal said in a press release, “The MHA’s clumsy tactics to suppress free speech and dissenting voices are turning into a major national and international embarrassment for this government. This is an extension of the deep intolerance for differing viewpoints that sections of this government seem to harbor.”

“The RoS is clearly acting under directions from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi, which has been trying to shut Greenpeace India down for over a year now,” Gopal said.

The development comes two months after the central government had cancelled the registration of environmental organisation under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act, thereby barring it from receiving funds from abroad. The government had said that the registration was cancelled as the NGO allegedly worked against the country’s economic progress.

On 1 October, The Madras High Court has asked the NGO to keep the government informed on its day-to-day expenses. “…It is also made clear that the petitioner shall not receive any foreign remittance until further orders. If any expenditure has to be made, that has to be accounted for by giving appropriate particulars to the respondent,” read the judgment by justice MM Sundresh.

The NGO will now challenge the order in the Madras High Court.

The NGO has said that they are confident that they are on “strong legal ground.” “We have faith in the legal process and are confident of overcoming this order,” Gopal said.


The NGO that aims to ‘reinstate divine kingdom’: All you need to know about Sanatan Sanstha

On Monday, senior journalist Nikhil Wagle allegedly received a death threat from the Sanatan Sanstha. He told PTI that he had received threats of this sort from the organisation in the past. “Four years ago, Abhay Vartak of Sanatan (Sanstha) walked out of a programme I hosted. Even as recently as last week, Sanatan Prabhat (a publication of the outfit) carried an article warning me,” he added.

In response, the Sanatan Sanstha’s managing trustee Virendra Marathe dismissed the notion, telling PTI that it was probably a ‘stunt to get sympathy’. “He (Wagle) has always been projecting us as terrorists. We have ignored him. We have not threatened him,” he said

On 16 September, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the February murder of Communist leader and social activist Govind Pansare, made its first arrest in the case: Sangli-resident Samir Gaikwad. According to Inspector-General of Police Sanjay Kumar, who was quoted by The Hindu, “Gaikwad and his family are associated with the Sanatan Sanstha”.

Marathe responded the very same day with with a press release emphatically titled ‘Police ploy to implicate innocent Samir Gaikwad!’. “Gaikwad… is a full-time seeker of Sanatan Sanstha and we are sure that he is innocent. The police have purposefully arrested him… due to pressure from the anti-Sanatan elements,” read the statement.

So just what is this organisation?

The Sanatan Sanstha (in a sincere effort to avoid any associations with a very different right-wing outfit, we’ll avoid abbreviating this to SS) is a registered non-government charitable trust that, as per its website, seeks to ‘impart spiritual knowledge to the curious in the society, inculcate religious behaviour in the masses and providing personal guidance to seekers for their spiritual uplift(ment)’.

Established in 1990 by ‘internationally renowned hypnotherapist’ Dr Jayant Balaji Athavale, the raison d’être of the organisation is ultimately, the ‘reinstatement of the divine kingdom’. It endeavours to achieve this goal through activities that include free-of-charge lectures and weekly satsangs, moral science classes for children (not clear if these are also free of charge), and through VCDs, DVDs and printed literature.

As Marathe told The Indian Express, “Our ultimate aim is to build one nation with one identity… We are confident that under Dr Athavale’s guidance, we are ready to be a ‘Hindu nation’.” In addition, the report notes that in its monthly publication Sanatan Prabhat, the organisation also expounded on the strife of Nepalis trying to have their country declared a Hindu nation.

The Sanatan Sanstha’s message that precariously straddles the line between Hindu supremacy and Hindu nationalism notwithstanding, more worrisome are the organisation’s brushes with the law.

What sort of brushes with the law?

In 2008, Ramesh Hanumant Gadkari and Vikram Vinay Bhave, both of whom were allegedly associated with the Sanstha, carried out a blast at a Panvel cinema screening Jodhaa Akbar and another at a Thane auditorium staging the Marathi play Aamhi Pachpute. Low-intensity explosives were recovered from a Vashi auditorium that was also staging the same play. The duo was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in 2011, but was released on bail two years later.

In 2009, Sanatan Sanstha members Vinayak Talekar, Vinayak Ashtekar, Dilip Mangainkar, Dhananjay Ashtekar, Prashant Juvekar and Vinay Patil were arrested in connection with the 16 October blast behind Margao’s Grace Church. As it turned out, the IED detonated accidentally, killing two persons — Sanstha members Malgonda Patil and Yogesh Naik who were ferrying the device. In December 2013, the six accused were acquitted by a special court.

In December 2011, a PIL was filed by a group of social activists from Raigad, in which the Sanstha was accused of indulging in terrorist activities, waging war against the nation and practicing Ericksonian Hypnosis. The third charge refers to a form of hypnosis where individuals as well as masses can ‘lose (their) prudent wisdom and only (work) according to the directions of the hypnotist’.

Earlier that year, the Maharashtra government had submitted a 1,000-page dossier seeking a Central ban on the organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. And while enacting, never mind enforcing, such a ban would have been difficult, the process never got off the ground. Then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan contended that Maharashtra and New Delhi exchanged ‘a lot of correspondence’ over the matter, while former Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde questioned Chavan’s sincerity. “If he (Chavan) was serious about banning Sanatan Sanstha, then he could have called me up. We are both from the same state, it would have been done,” Shinde told The Economic Times.

The Sanstha continues to maintain that it is a ‘spiritual organisation’ that doesn’t kill.

Life lessons Sanstha-style

And before you are misled by ‘self-styled liberals and progressive people’ into thinking that the Sanatan Sanstha is some sort of evil and murderous propaganda machine, it’s worth noting that the organisation’s official website is actually chock-full of handy-dandy tips for a healthier life.

For instance, did you know that long hair symbolises fickleness in an average man — and can eventually lead to ‘reduction in the sperm count’, while ‘at greater spiritual levels, the length of hair doesn’t matter’? Or that an ‘individual that wears clothes with variegated, predominantly black and bright colours… eventually turns into a ruffian’?

Food for thought indeed.


Greenpeace staff denied entry into India, claims NGO


Months after one of its campaigners was “offloaded” from a flight, Greenpeace India today claimed that a member of its international staff was denied entry into India despite having valid documents.

According to the NGO, Aaron Gray-Block, a member of Greenpeace International, had flown in from Sydney on Saturday to take part in a series of meetings with staff here. He was travelling on an Australian passport.

In a statement here today, Greenpeace India claimed that no formal reason was given by immigration officials in for the decision to turn back Gray-Block, who was not officially deported.

“Our colleague has a valid business visa, and yet he was prevented from entering India with no reason given.

“There is absolutely no reason why one of (Greenpeace International’s) staff members should be treated in such an arbitrary way, and we expect the Ministry of Home Affairs to offer a full explanation,” said Divya Raghunandan, Programme Director, Greenpeace India.

The NGO claimed that as Gray-Block was denied entry, his passport was seized and he was later put on a flight to Kuala Lumpur. His passport was returned to him after he landed in Kuala Lumpur, said Greenpeace, adding that Gray-Block is now back in Australia.

The NGO further claimed that “this is not the first time Greenpeace staff from other countries have been denied entry into India”.

“Denying entry to a Greenpeace International employee with a valid visa is yet further proof of the extent to which the Indian government is prepared to go in violating Greenpeace’s right to freedom of expression under international law and under India’s Constitution,” the NGO said.

Greenpeace India activist Priya Pillai was controversially offloaded from a flight to London in January. She was stopped at by immigration officers in New Delhi airport from boarding her flight to the UK capital, where she was to address British parliamentarians.

Delhi High Court later overturned the action by the Home Ministry and Pillai’s “offload” passport stamp was formally expunged in May.

“The treatment of Gray-Block is just the latest in a series of attempts by the Indian government to obstruct the work of the environmental group,” the NGO said.

The Centre had in April blocked Greenpeace India’s bank accounts following which the environmental group had to seek interim relief from Delhi High Court.

Source- Business Standard

Uplift Humanity, American NGO for juveniles in India, opens center in New Delhi


NEW YORK: Uplift Humanity, an NGO founded in 2011 by Indian American Anish Patel, and that works towards enabling American youth to empower juveniles in India through education, has launched its fourth chapter in New Delhi.

Since its launch in Vadodara, Gujarat, Uplift Humanity has established centers in Indore and Hyderabad too. The NGO strives to empower juveniles in India to break the cycle of recidivism and achieve their full potential through education.

Its founding motto epitomizes the method by which it seeks to empower youth through hands-on education, mentoring, and technology training. Uplift Humanity’s goal is to spread its specialized curriculum throughout the continent to give youth opportunities to flourish once they reenter society.

“I started Uplift Humanity with no idea that it would become a growing and sustainable non-profit organization. I founded it as a summer program where we would take a few American teenagers to India to volunteer and work with juveniles behind bars for a few weeks. Now, it has grown tremendously and we are educating hundreds of orphans and juveniles in India throughout the entire year,” said Patel, in a statement.

Through various programs, Uplift Humanity India seeks to aid juvenile development, instill ambition and provide these children with the resources to materialize their ambitions.  One such way is Uplift Humanity’s summer rehabilitation program through which the organization takes 75 volunteer students from the United States to one of the four rehabilitation facilities in India.

Volunteers teach orphans and juveniles life skills such as moral decision-making, self-esteem development, self–maintenance, daily etiquette and public speaking.

“Most importantly, we work to build close relationships with the juveniles and show them we care, something these juveniles are not accustomed to,” said Patel.

As part of the summer rehabilitation program, Uplift Humanity introduced a social media challenge for the 75 volunteers traveling abroad with the organization, titled ‘Uplifting the Veil: A Look through the Corrective Lens.’

The purpose of this challenge was to convey life inside the rehabilitative and transitory facilities located in India. Volunteers were asked to create a video using their smartphones and document their experience within the facilities. The videos, not to exceed more than three minutes, urged volunteers to be creative, impactful and send a powerful message.

Videos were judged by British singer-songwriter, Arjun, the brand ambassador for Uplift Humanity. Arjun selected Ruchir Nanavati as the title winner along with a $2000 scholarship. His video was picked for its impactful story and its sentiments. He creatively developed the video to effectively connect with other teenagers in the United States making his video impactful and ultimately go viral.

After successfully running the summer programs for two years, Uplift Humanity launched a Continuation Program that makes a larger impact by educating juveniles and orphans throughout the entire year by providing English and technology literacy through local volunteers.

The continuity program is perhaps the most crucial element of the on- site work at juvenile centers, according to a press release. As a part of the program, local Indian educators make weekly visits to the juvenile facilities, in order to administer lessons on a year round basis. The continuity program provides the NGO with a year-long period of evaluation of the juvenile class, allowing making more informed decisions about scholarship grants and educational sponsorships for program graduates. In fact, each year, Uplift Humanity awards those juveniles who have transformed the most with scholarships totaling over Rs. 150,000 ($2500) across all of its locations.

In March 2015, Uplift Humanity also released A Look Inside, narrated by Hollywood actress Janina Gavankar. This short film brings to light the injustices occurring in India’s institutionalized facilities, and highlights what Uplift Humanity is doing to combat this problem.

You can view Ruchir’s Uplifting the Veil video here:

NGO demands ban on sale of Maggi

After a ban on use of Maggi Noddles by Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments, an NGO today sought an immediate ban on the sale and advertisments of Maggi noddles in the state.


Ban on Maggi

After a ban on use of Maggi Noodles by Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments, an NGO today sought an immediate ban on the sale and advertisments of Maggi noddles in the state.

Umang Foundation, a public welfare trust, today urged the Himachal government to immediately impose a ban on sale and advertisments of Maggi Noodles.

The Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments have already initiated action against the product being harmful to children’s health.

“But in Himachal, no action has been taken by the government so far,” Surinder Kumar, trustee of the foundation said.

“Maggi has poisonous contents which can lead to serious ailments in kids but now it has been proved that Maggi Noodles are harmful for health due to its poisonous ingredients,” he said, adding that the samples collected from

UP and Uttarakhand by the government officials were tested in a prestigious laboratory.

The test result showed that Maggi contained 17 parts per million lead (PPM) of MSG, where as the permissible limit is 0.01 PPM, he claimed.

He said, “As per medical experts, such addictives are harmful to human beings, especially children.” It is a very serious matter because the main consumers of Maggi are children.

“He has asked the government to take immediate steps to collect the samples from the market, send them to laboratory for testing and put an immediate ban on the sale and advertisements of Maggi.

Source- dna

Greenpeace India Employees to Work for Free Following Delhi’s NGO Crackdown


“The government has made it impossible for us to operate, but our employees are willing to work without pay”

Weeks after Greenpeace India said that it might have to shut down owing to regulatory action to block its bank accounts, the environmental group’s employees have pledged to work for free to keep the organization going.

“The government has made it impossible for us to operate, but our employees are willing to work without pay for one month because they see that the larger commitment has always been to fight against injustice,” Greenpeace India head Samit Aich said on Thursday.

In a letter to Aich, more than 200 Greenpeace India employees said they would support the organization by continuing to “work for at least a month, without pay, starting June 1.”

Citing irregularities in the accounting of foreign aid, India’s Home Ministry took the action against the local arm of the international environmental group as part of a wider crackdown on nongovernmental organizations, Reuters reports.

Separate from the action against Greenpeace India, Indian officials have also placed the Ford Foundation on a security watch list, thus increasing scrutiny of its activities in the South Asian nation.

Among those who have spoken out against the Indian government’s moves targeting nongovernmental groups is the U.S. ambassador to India, Richard Verma, who in a speech in New Delhi earlier this month expressed concern about the regulatory steps against such organizations.

“I read with some concern the recent press reports on challenges faced by NGOs operating in India,” he said.

“Because a vibrant civil society is so important to both of our democratic traditions, I do worry about the potentially chilling effects of these regulatory steps focused on NGOs.”

Source- TOI

Google grants $500,000 to three Indian NGOs for child safety

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New Delhi: Internet giant Google Inc. on Monday threw its weight behind three non-profit organizations NGOs in India, announcing support in the form of $500,000 in grants, to promote child safety in India.
“Technology can play a significant role in transforming lives, and we are delighted to provide support to three of India’s NGOs such as Childline India Foundation, Bachpan Bachao Andolan and Tulir which have been doing a phenomenal work,” Google India and South-East Asia managing director Rajan Anandan said in a statement.
With the grant, Google aims to further the cause with smart applications of technology and help scale up initiatives aimed at child safety programmes and campaigns. Grants have been made through Google.Org to Childline India Foundation that provides a free phone service, 1098, for children in need of help or protection, Bachpan Bachao Andolan that protects and rescues children from slavery, trafficking, and forced labour, and Tulir which works to prevent and heal child sexual abuse across India.
Globally, Google has donated over $100 million in grants, $1 billion on technology resources, and 80,000 hours of Google volunteering to NGOs in 2014 around the world
Source- Livemint

NGO to equip anti-poaching camps in Khanapur forest

BELAGAVI: Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT), an NGO engaged in conservation of tigers and other wild species across the country, has planned to equip the anti-poaching camps of the forest department in Khanapur forest, by providing different handy, useful and eco-friendly materials, which can help them to do their job more efficiently.

Khanapur forest houses the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary, which is the territory of tigers and many wild animals besides many rare species. Recently, forest department officials came to know with the sensor cameras it had installed in the different areas of Khanapur forest that, there are around 6-7 tigers in this area including two cubs. In order to protect those tigers and conserve other wildlife, WTC has come forward to equip the forest staff.

Already NGO has donated two jeeps to the forest department and shortly it will hand over other equipments to the forest guards who reside at anti-poaching camps. It gives a kit of 20 items like sleeping bags, mobile charger, solar torch, health related materials etc., which help the guards to work more easily and use in emergencies. WCT has refurbished over 1,800 anti-poaching camps so far across the country.

Anish Andheria, president of WCT who visited Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in Khanapur forest recently, realized the need of strengthening anti-poaching camps here, especially at Jamboti, to strengthen wildlife conservation activities in this area.

Speaking to the TOI, Andheria said government deploy anti-poaching camps usually in tiger reserves. But it’s unfair that not deploying such camps at other sensitive forests just because of it is not a tiger reserve. Forest attached to the Karnataka- Maharashtra and Goa borders is sensitive and need to conserve, he said.

WCT is also engaged in educating the students and teachers about the wildlife. Apart from equipping anti-poaching camps, it has donated over 3,750 vehicles to the forest staff across the country so far.