The Home Ministry has ordered that all the funds coming from Ford Foundation for any agency or NGOs in India will first need to be cleared by the Ministry
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), led by Rajnath Singh, has placed Ford Foundation under a watch list in national interest and security, say reports.
"Putting Ford Foundation on prior permission list, MHA has ordered that all the funds coming from Ford Foundation, US, for any agency or NGOs in country will first need to be cleared by the ministry. The action has been taken under section 46 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA)," a report from the Economic Times says.
According to the report, the MHA has asked Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to instruct all banks and their branches to ensure that any fund flow from Ford Foundation will first be cleared by the ministry.
"About $5 million in grants by the Ford Foundation, arguably the biggest such international funding agency, have been blocked by the Indian government in the past few months. The ostensible reason is that the recipient non-governmental organisations (NGOs) haven't filed annual reports and balance sheets with the home ministry. This also includes about $100,000 in grants to the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)," the report says.
New York-based Ford Foundation is one of the largest and most influential foundations in the world. For FY2011, the Foundation reported assets of $10 billion and approved $413 million in grants across the globe. According to reports, the Foundation had also funded non-governmental organisations (NGOs) related with Aam Admi Party (AAP) leaders Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Meera Sanyal and Yogendra Yadav. AAP, however, had denied receiving any funding from Ford Foundation.
According to the report from Economic Times, the Foundation has been on the radar of Indian intelligence agencies for decades, because of which the Finance Ministry was mandated to clear each grant that it made to NGOs. “This scrutiny intensified after it became known that the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption movement of 2011 got a boost from the Foundation with Arvind Kejriwal's NGO Kabir getting about $400,000,” the report says.
Earlier, the Gujarat government has accused Ford Foundation of violating Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) norms and directly interfering in internal affairs of the country and abetting communal disharmony in India.
The Gujarat government, in a letter sent to the MHA on 10th March, has stated, “It is revealed during the course of investigation (in the riot relief fund embezzlement case) that Ford Foundation, established with the stated goal of promoting communal harmony, democratic principles and social justice, has been indulging in covert activities of promoting interests that are completely contradictory to the said goals.”
The Gujarat government’s case was built on the use of two grants totalling $540,000 given by the Foundation to organizations connected with Teesta Setalvad, a social activist who has been actively pursuing court cases for victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots, says a report from LiveMint.