Rajiv Malhotra serves on the board of governors of the India Studies Programme at the internationally famed University of Massachusetts and served as chairman for the Asian Studies Education Committee of the state of New Jersey. Besides his work, he has co-authored “Breaking India” an inside account of the role of global NGOs that is a must read for the government officials who have plans to make the whole business of running NGOs more transparent.
What is the role of NGOs in nation building in India and worldwide?
NGOs play a very important role in building nations and societies. The true spirit of an NGO should be local community organisation for self-help, with links to groups elsewhere only for large projects. But this should not be driven by foreign-based NGOs. India ought to be self sufficient in the NGO sector or else will outsource its sovereignty to others.
Does the Indian government have a policy on NGOs?
It does not do enough due diligence on direct and indirect foreign funds. It gets involved only after a problems is at hand, like treating a heart patient only after the attack and doing nothing preventive.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accused US-based NGOs for engineering protests against nuclear reactors in Koodankulam.
It was good that the government finally woke up. But why only in isolated cases and why only after it has happened?
Do you think some NGOs are misusing foreign funds?
Yes, my book, “Breaking India” goes into detail. Its not just the money, but the ideological spin, anti-national training camps and building foreign-inspired vote banks in the country’s vulnerable sectors.
Some NGOs are divertingmoney and using it for anti-national purposes in Maoist areas, Jammu and Kashmir other insurgency-prone regions. These reports are true. But the problem is far worse and no longer isolated to a few places. You find this in the rich farmlands of Punjab as well.
What about the new law?
Its a reporting requirement. Reports of activities get slanted to make them look benign. If the report says `education’ or `youth empowerment training”, how does it indicate whether the education is one filled with hatred towards fellow Indians? How does it indicate that youth training is aimed at promoting separatist identities? These reporting requirements are easily fooled.
They should read my book and appoint a commission to start investigations. But that will be tough because there are many spoiled brats.
The Indian government should put on the table all diplomatic dealings with western nations connected to NGOs and set up its equivalent of the Ford Foundation. Get these neo-rich billionaires to start funding along the lines of what the big Americans did for their country. All foreign supported NGOs(including churches and madrassas) should be de-listed as minorities because they should be classified as branch offices of foreign MNCs. That is the way ahead.