The Ministry of Home Affairs has put Ford Foundation, a powerful international NGO, under the “prior approval category” and also on its watch list in the interest of “national security”.
The move came weeks after the Gujarat government in its report to the MHA last month said that the US-based NGO funded “anti-India” activities of Teesta Setalvad’s two NGOs — Citizens for Justice and Peace and Sabrang Trust. Gujarat’s MoS for Home Rajnikant Patel had claimed that Ford Foundation had donated more than $5 lakh to Setalvad’s NGOs.
With the crackdown on Ford Foundation, the government has now put 16 international associations under the prior approval category. There have been allegations that the funds sent by these groups were not being used for the sanctioned purposes.
The Home Ministry order said that all funds coming from Ford Foundation have to be routed only after its nod due to “national security concerns” and that it has decided to keep a watch on all the activities funded by the US-based NGO.
The order also said that by exercising the powers conferred under Section 46 of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010, the MHA has directed the Reserve Bank of India to ensure that funds coming from Ford Foundation be brought to the notice of the Ministry.
“The RBI is requested to instruct all the banks and their branches to ensure that any fund flow from the above mentioned agency to any person, NGO, organisation in India may be brought to the notice of the (Home) Ministry so that funds are allowed to be credited into the accounts of the recipient only after clearance of of this Ministry,” the order said.
The MHA said it wanted to ensure that funds coming from Ford Foundation were utilised for “bonafide welfare activities without compromising on concerns of national interest and security”.
The move came after the Gujarat government asked the Home Ministry to take action against Ford Foundation, alleging the US-based organisation was “interfering in the internal affairs” of the country and also “abetting communal disharmony” through the two NGOs run by Setalvad. There have been allegations that the recipient NGOs have not filed mandatory annual reports and balance sheets with the government.
The Home Ministry in its order also said that government organisations could avail of foreign funding from Ford Foundation only with the clearance of the Department of Economic Affairs. “Any instance of government organisation receiving funds directly from this agency may be withheld and brought to the notice of this Ministry,” the order said.
Earlier this month, the Home Ministry had frozen seven bank accounts of Greenpeace India and barred it from receiving foreign funds for allegedly violating the FCRA and “prejudicially” affecting the country’s public and economic interests.