Foreign-aided NGOs are stalling development
As a first step to fast-tracking development high on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has submitted a classified document identifying several foreign-funded non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are “negatively impacting economic development”.
“A significant number of Indian NGOs (funded by some donors based in the US, the UK, Germany, The Netherlands and Scandinavian countries) have been noticed to be using people centric issues to create an environment which lends itself to stalling development projects,” says the IB report marked to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
“The negative impact on GDP growth is assessed to be 2-3 per cent per annum,” says the June 3 report, identifying seven sectors/ projects that got stalled because of NGO-created agitations against nuclear power plants, uranium mines, coal-fired power plants, farm biotechnology, mega industrial projects, hydroelectric plants and extractive industries.
While detailing what it calls “anti-development” activities by the NGOs during 2011-13, the 21-page report highlights their plans for 2014 and the areas that would come under pressure. These include a campaign against palm oil imports from Indonesia and disposal of e-waste of Indian IT firms, organising construction workers in urban areas, protests against identified projects such as Gujarat’s Special Investment Regions, Par Tapi Narmada River Interlinking Project and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.
The report says that while caste discrimination, human rights and big dams were earlier chosen by international organisations to discredit India at global forums, the recent shift in the choice of issues was to encourage “growth-retarding campaigns” focused on extractive industries, genetically-modified organisms and foods, climate change and anti-nuclear issues.
According to the report, the funding for such campaigns came from foreign donors under charitable garb for issues ranging from protection of human rights, violence against women, caste discrimination, religious freedom etc or to provide a “just deal” to the project-affected displaced persons or for protection of livelihood of indigenous people.
The NGOs become the central players in setting the agenda, drafting documents, writing in the media, highlighting scholars-turned-activists and lobbying diplomats and government, it says. “These foreign donors lead local NGOs to provide field reports which are used to build a record against India and serve as tools for the strategic foreign policy interests of the Western government,” adds the report.
“The strategy serves its purpose when the funded Indian NGOs provide reports, which are used to internationalise and publicise the alleged violations in international fora. All the above is used to build a record against a country or an individual in order to keep the entity under pressure and under a state of under-development,” says the IB report.
Four NGOs were put under the scanner in 2012 for allegedly fuelling protests against the Kudankulam nuclear project in Tamil Nadu. The accounts of several Indian NGOs were put in the watch list with regard to allegations of funds diversion, after a discreet probe by security agencies with the help of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and Central Economic Intelligence Bureau.