Either the government is coming down heavily on bureaucracy or may be there are some vested agendas. But there is no denying that all eyes are on foreign funding.
The latest FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) Amendment Bill 2020, introduced recently in the Parliament bars public servants from receiving foreign contributions. However, those who stand to be actually affected by the proposed amendments are not just public servants as defined in Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code.
The bill, if passed, will also significantly affect the NGOs across the country. As per the current provisions of the FCRA, the NGO's can use foreign funding to meet 50 per cent of their administrative expenses. However, under the new provisions, this limit will be brought down to 20 percent.
Further, the NGOs can receive foreign funds only in the designated FCRA account opened for the said purpose. In the initial statement of the objects section, the bill cites the need to strengthen the act because of several organizations outright misappropriately utilise funds, which has led to the government cancelling 19,000 such registrations in the past few years.
Aadhar card - mandatory
In sync with almost all the data being finally linked to Aadhar card, the proposed bill also makes Aadhar cards a mandatory identification document for all the office bearers/ key designatories, functionaries of NGOs, associations, entities eligible to receive foreign funds.
Therefore, any person making a fresh application or seeking registration under FCRA or applying for the renewal of FCRA license will now have to mandatorily furnish the Aadhar card details of all its office bearers, directors, and/or other key functionaries.
Those objecting the amendments
The bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai, came in for sharp criticism from NGOs. The bill also seeks to prohibit any transfer of foreign contribution to any association/person.
Several NGOs have come down heavily against the bill calling it mainly directed at minority organisations and one that will hamper civil society work. As for the leaders of the opposition, they said the proposed amendment would give "unbridled power" to the government and be used against those, "who speak against the government".
Voice of the people
While a couple of social media comments have lauded the bill as a welcome step, calling foreign funding as a very big source of black money, several others questioned, "why are political parties allowed to do the same thing."
Many also felt that eventually, it won't matter since the loopholes in the bill galore. Posts a user, tagging Amit Shah and PM Modi, as to what would the proposed as several NGOs are actually in the name of spouses/children of the public servants.
Dear @AmitShah ji and @PMOIndia ji. You have barred public servants from NGO but how can you ignore the fact that these NGOs are mostly in the names of their wives/sons/close relatives? If you are doing something, do it properly. Make it water tight with strict punishments.— Kshatriya (@BornKshatriya) September 20, 2020