Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Money or Mission: What Drives NGOs?
Recent statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on western-funded NGOs that are hell-bent on sabotaging India's nuclear power project has triggered a debate in the country. Close on the heels, the Union Home Ministry released a list of NGOs which received a whopping Rs 10,000 crore fund from foreign donors in 2009-2010. It is not a new development. For decades, NGOs have been benefiting from foreign funding. Those in the Home Ministry would tell you how NGOs are being used as conduits for money laundering. Many NGOs with dubious credentials were receiving huge amounts of donations from foreign agencies. But never before has the government showed any determination to control the flow of money. Then, why now? This raises the suspicion that the government is trying to stifle the voice of dissent through other means. NGOs have done commendable work in awakening the conscience of the country. Moreover, many NGOs, without any foreign help, are undertaking philanthropic activities. But there are thousands of black sheep among them. These money-minting organizations are giving a bad name to the voluntary sector. There is a trust deficit in some quarters. Government controls on the sector may be counter-productive. However, there is a need for a regulator at the national level to oversee the voluntary sector, accredit NGOs, make rules for the better of the sector.