Millennium Post

Scrutiny isn’t bad, but why crush it?

If there’s anything worthwhile that has tumbled out of the intentionally leaked Intelligence Bureau (IB) report, it is the well-taken point on transparency and accountability by which to measure a private (or semi-private) sector that is the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

Notwithstanding its pilfering of crucial lines and phrases verbatim from a 2006 speech by Narendra Modi, what the IB report rightly notes is that money to the tune of thousands of crores has been squandered by government-sponsored NGOs in paying bribes and expanding political clout of ruling parties in various states of the country. Much to the detriment of the larger public, particularly the disenfranchised,  which the NGO sector claims to give voice to and work for, staggering amount of the tax-payers’ money goes down the drain because of corruption and ineffectiveness of the overlapping zone between the bureaucracy and this ‘non-profit-making’ sector.

That there is an immediate and urgent need to rectify this and bring the NGO sector under closer scrutiny, especially in the matters pertaining to handling of funds and eliminate fraud, couldn’t be more stressed upon. Naturally, NGOs too are corporations which must be audited and be made as accountable as any other civic or private body working in tandem with the state, and their ‘prophet motive’ and hankering for ‘people-based development’ must not be assumed as reason enough for them to avoid periodic and legal invigilation by regulatory bodies to that end. Moreover, there are enough instances when rival governments and corporate lobbies have erected fronts in NGOs, flooding them with foreign funds, only to orchestrate unrest or fan existing dissent, and hurtling regions and entire countries into extreme turmoil.

    That said, what the IB report did not talk about, for reasons obvious, is how the NGO sector has merged and fused with the wider civil society and has galvanised people’s movements over the last ten years or so. In fact, intrepid NGOs have systematically and scientifically put together the confounding violations of and damages to environment, labour relations and legal parameters by the unholy nexus of bureaucracy and the national and multinational corporate. Activists, in collaboration with NGOs and academic organisations, have over the years collated how the minority communities in India and elsewhere have been brutalised and violently repressed by majority populations with either direct or implicit connivance of the state.

If not for NGOs, there wouldn’t be any congealing of the voices of dissent simmering within the fractured fabric of this multiethnic, multireligious nation.    

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