September 2, 2012 1:41:16 am
Citing intelligence reports,the home ministry has barred an organisation closely linked to a think tank tracking the functioning of Parliament from receiving contributions from US-based NGOs Ford Foundation and Omidyar Network.
According to the ministry,the receipt of funds from these NGOs compromises national security,because the intent of the promoters of such organisations is shrouded in mystery.
The Institute of Policy Research Studies,Mumbai,had applied for prior permission from the home ministry to receive US $ 5,55,000 (nearly Rs 3.1 crore) as donation from Ford Foundation,and $ 10,00,000 (about Rs 5.6 crore) from Omidyar Network.
The ministry refused permission after concluding that research analysts belonging to the institute were in direct engagement with legislators and members of parliament (MP).
IPRSs parent organisation is the New Delhi-based PRS Legislative Research,which,according to its web site,provides a comprehensive and credible resource base to access Parliament-specific data,background information and analysis of key issues.
According to the home ministry,PRS Legislative Research provides research support to over 300 MPs from various parties. Research analysts from PRS/IPRS have served as legislative assistants to 46 MPs from 19 political parties.
The ministry says that by virtue of being MPs,their offices are privy to many secret and top secret documents,by accessing which these research fellows might compromise the countrys integrity and sovereignty.
When contacted,M R Madhavan,a member of the core team of PRS Legislative Research,declined to comment on the matter.
An official source said that the receipt by MPs of services provided by an organisation funded from overseas was in violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA),2010.
IPRS provides these services free of cost to MPs. Section 3 (D) of FCRA prohibits a member of any legislative body from accepting any foreign contribution, the source said.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Mullappally Ramachandran told The Sunday Express: It is not fair to receive money from abroad for such work which entails direct contact with people in Parliament of India. We do not need foreign money to educate our MPs. When the file was put to me I decided that the MHA will have to look in detail,and after considering all the aspects we decided to stop the payment from the US-based NGO.
The minister added that MPs should be careful before engaging such research analysts. At least they should do a thorough investigation (on) who runs the NGO and from where the funding is being done.
An intelligence report that the ministry considered said: Though there was no direct evidence to suggest that the Ford Foundation has any link with security agencies but it has often been criticised for counter insurgency and other activities in some countries indicating that it may have some links with the government and some intelligence agencies in USA.
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