Steps against NGOs may have chilling effects: US Ambassador Richard Verma

His comments come days after the US government had red-flagged the issue in its public comments.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: May 7, 2015 9:37 am

The US ambassador to India Richard Verma on Wednesday expressed “concern” on the “potentially chilling effects” of the regulatory steps taken against NGOs in the country.

His comments came in the backdrop of the regulatory action taken against several NGOs, including the Ford Foundation.

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Verma said, “Both of our countries are home to vibrant and vocal civil society organizations seeking change in every conceivable area. India is home to a vibrant community of over 2 million legally registered non-governmental organizations. The United States also has a robust civil society community though I doubt the number is 2 million. With so many voices engaged in the debate, there are sure to be some whose views others find objectionable. That is part of the beauty of the vibrant, thriving democracies we have chosen. I read with some concern the recent press reports on challenges faced by NGOs operating in India. Because a vibrant civil society is so important to both of our democratic traditions, I do worry about the potentially chilling effects of these regulatory steps focused on NGOs.”

His comments, made in a prepared speech at a think-tank, come days after the US government had red-flagged the issue in its public comments.

However, this is almost certain to create some controversy as the parliament is in session.

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