The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Delhi loads law to keep tabs on NGO funds

New Delhi, July 6: The Centre is proposing a new law to keep tabs on whether foreign funds received by non-governmental organisations, charitable trusts and educational institutions are used for the purposes for which they were meant and not diverted for anti-national activities.

The home ministry wants to rope in state governments to monitor the utilisation of these funds by outfits receiving the contribution. The ministry is alarmed at the mushrooming of madarsas in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and along the India-Nepal border in the last few years.

Education at many madarsas is not regulated. It is believed that the teachers are often fundamentalists who condition students’ minds in such a way that they are ready to join Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence for anti-national activities. Many terrorist organisations operating in India have recruits from madarsas. But there is no independent confirmation of this.

With many chief ministers, including Bengal’s Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, sharing the home ministry’s concern, the Centre expects all states to cooperate while preparing the legislation.

Currently, all charitable trusts, non-governmental organisations and educational institutions receiving money from abroad are required to register with the home ministry and are governed by the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976. The government rules are clear about the criterion to receive foreign funds.

“An association having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme, after it obtains the prior permission of… or gets itself registered with the central government, can receive foreign contribution,” the rules state.

But before this clearance is given, the ministry does its own investigation to ensure there is no fudging of facts. The registration is done only after investigations clear the association.

All associations permitted to accept foreign contributions are required to submit annual returns, duly certified by a chartered accountant, giving details of the receipts and purpose-wise utilisation of the funds. Despite this, the Centre can order a probe in cases where an association is suspected of diverting funds.

The home ministry now wants states to regularly monitor the accounts and open books for inspection, if necessary.

Officials say organisations which are functioning according to government rules have nothing to fear.

Despite the Centre’s fears that madarsas receive large contributions from abroad, mainly from the Gulf, available figures of foreign funds flowing into India during 2000-2001 show that the largest recipient of foreign contribution was the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, Andhra Pradesh (Rs 88.18 crore).

World Vision of India, Tamil Nadu, received Rs 85.42 crore while the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society India, Maharashtra, got Rs 74.88 crore.

Officials say most of the funds making their way to madarsas are received through hawala channels.

Email This Page