24 Dec 2008
NEW DELHI: Indian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have not only been getting money from big donors like the US, Germany, the UK, Switzerland and Italy, but are also receiving contributions from Pakistan. In fact, Islamabad has consistently been donating money to various associations in the last three years.
Although the amount contributed by Pakistan is quite small when compared to that given by the bigwigs, it has put Islamabad in the august list of donors. The contributions by Pakistan and the other big donor countries have gone to NGOs engaged in carrying out cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programmes in different parts of India.
Statistics released by the home ministry regarding 'foreign funds to NGOs' show that India, which has a total of 33,937 registered associations, received Rs 12,289.63 crore in foreign contributions during 2006-07 as against Rs 7,877.57 crore in 2005-06, a substantial increase of nearly Rs 4,400 crore (56%) in just one year.
The US, Germany, the UK, Switzerland and Italy were the top five foreign contributors during 2006-07. These five countries have consistently been the big donors since 2004-05. Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and France are the other countries which figure prominently in the list of foreign donors.
The US has been the biggest donor to Indian NGOs in the last several years. It contributed over Rs 2,971 crore in 2006-07 alone. As far as Pakistan is concerned, the country contributed Rs 43.28 lakh in 2004-05, Rs 71.70 lakh in 2005-06 and Rs 21.99 lakh in 2006-07.
In response to a query on whether NGOs getting money from outside had been known to divert the funds for illegal work or to spread terror activities, the home ministry, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, said, "There are no specific inputs to indicate misuse of foreign contribution by the registered associations (under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) for terrorist activities."
The ministry pointed out that no association having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme could accept foreign contributions without registration or prior permission under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 1976. "However, as and when complaints relating to the violation of the provisions of the FCRA against associations come to the notice of the government, appropriate action is taken," it said.
Such activities may include prohibiting the NGOs from receiving foreign contributions, freezing their bank accounts and prosecuting them in a court of law. On the basis of various complaints, as many as 44 NGOs have been prohibited from receiving foreign contributions whereas the bank accounts of 11 others have been frozen. Besides, the cases of 17 organisations have been referred to the CBI for detailed investigation.
Among the states, Tamil Nadu has the distinction of having the highest number of registered associations (3,009) and getting the highest amount of foreign contributions in India. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Gujarat and Rajasthan are the top ten states which received major foreign contributions in 2006-07.