Can’t allow NGOs to impede India’s growth: Center to NHRC

Women from the Mahan region celebrate after cancellation of coal blocks.Greenpeace helped organize protests against open coal mining in the area.

The home ministry has written back to the National Human Rights Commission that non-governmental organizations cannot be allowed to work against India’s strategic or economic interest.

In it’s response to the NHRC, the home ministry said it cannot allow organizations that take money from outside India to conduct “activities detrimental to national interest ,including security, strategic, scientific or economic interest of the state or the public interest.”

The center’s response came after the NHRC asked the center for its reply on a complaint that the government was refusing to renew funding credentials of activist organizations “in a draconian manner”.

India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act allows organizations with “definite cultural, economic, religious or social program” to receive foreign funding. Without registration under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, these NGOs cannot receive money from their headquarters and donors abroad.

The most famous of such organizations that were denied registration under India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act was Greenpeace, also perhaps the most prominent environmental NGO in the world.

Off the record, home ministry officials have maintained that Greenpeace was found to be working against India’s economic progress.

The NGO frequently organizes protests against mega projects — such as in mining — if it feels that the projects threaten the environment.

It has threatened big industrial groups, such as Bharti Airtel, Hindalco and Essar, while also opposing entire industries such as Nuclear Energy. It has also opposed the import of toxic waste in India and tried to promote solar energy in the country, calling India’s upcoming mega coal power plants ‘a waste of money’.

While Greenpeace was allowed to carry on its activities in India before the present National Democratic Alliance government came to power in 2014, the new administration has been suspicious of the NGO’s activities.

In its formative years, Greenpeace took help from the Central Intelligence Agency to locate and embarrass Soviet whaling vessels, and at least some in the Indian government seem to suspect that the agency could have an agenda to impede India’s rising economic prominence in the world.

The organization, like the others that were struck off the FCRA list, continue to function in India with locally raised funds.