Dhanya Rajendran | The News Minute| June 13, 2014| 12.20 pm IST
The role of NGOs in India has come under intense scrutiny after Indian Express first put out portions of an Intelligence Bureau report submitted to the Prime Minister recently.
The Intelligence Bureau report dated June 3, 2014 on “The concerted effort by select foreign funded NGOs to “take down” Indian developmental projects” names seven protest movements as significant “anti-developmental activities”. The report was commissioned by the previous government and has been submitted to the new government.
The 21 page report names seven agitations as pursuing ‘anti-developmental activities’:
1. Nuclear infrastructure
2. Coal fired power plants
3. Genetically modified organisms
4. Posco in Orissa
5. Vedanta in Orissa
6. Narmada Bachao Andolan
7. Agitations against extractive industries in the North East.
The report begins prominently by saying that negative effects of such anti-developmental activities on GDP growth is estimated to be at 2-3%. The IB does not give sources for the statistics its quotes in a consistent manner. For instance, when it quantifies the negative impact on the GDP, it does not mention how it arrived at the percentage. For some of the financial data, the IB quotes FCRA figures - but there is no mention of any money that has come through illegal means.
The News Minute has simply reported on significant portions of the IB report as it is. A reading of the report shows that most of the ‘conclusions’ have been arrived at on the basis of funding, seminars and dharnas organised by various organizations.
The report is split into three parts - Part A, B and C.
The part B of the report mainly consists of brief reports on specific agitations and NGOs. This part talks about foreign funded activism and two pages in this sections have been devoted to the Kudankulam movement.
Agitation against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project
Here, accusations have mainly been made against S P Udayakumar, the man who led the movement. It describes him as an “US educated” person. Eight of the 11 NGOs involved in the protests were funded by Europe based foreign donors, the report says. The total money received from these donors by the NGOs for 2006-2011 is 80 crore says the report.
The report says that that Udayakumar received an unsolicited contract from Kirwan Institute for Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University and prepared a report on ‘Group, Race, Class and Democracy issues through NGOs’.
The IB report says that pan-Indian organizations including National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) and Greenpeace coordinated for various anti-nuclear agitations across the country. The network was guided by eminent persons including Praful Bidwai, Medha Patkar, Admirial Ramdass, MG Devasahayam and Karuna Raina.
A portion of the section on Anti-Coal Activism states: “the issue has not attained high visibility, but massive efforts are on to take down India’s coal fired power plant and coal mining activities”. It also says that Greenpeace is mainly against Coal India Ltd, Hindalco, Aditya Birla group and Essar. To encourage Indian-ness of its anti-coal approach, Greenpeace also financed Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to study health, pollution and other aspects of Mahaan, Madhya Pradesh.
The IB report also talks about a documentary film - Coal Curse by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and an IIT-Delhi study on reduced irrigation potential in Maharashtra due to coal plants.
The Greenpeace office has had a foreign expert installing sophisticated software in its computers, the report says. Further, Greenpeace is also in talks with the Aam Aadmi Party which declared its activist Pankaj Singh as a candidate from Mahan.
Anti Genetically Modified Organisms
The IB has named five Indian activists and six NGOs as being in the forefront in the agitation against genetically modified organisms. The donors who funded these NGOs included Greenpeace International, EED, Bread for the World and Misereor among others. It says the manner of free funding for these NGOs is observed from the fact that ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Culture) and its IFSH (India for Safe Food) campaign are headquartered with prominent anti-nuclear NGOs at a single adress. The report says all the 6 NGOs were active facilitators of news articles, liaison with other activists and social media activism.
Association for India’s development, a US-based NGO drafted a plan for Posco Prathirodh Sangarsh Samiti. An NGO called Insaaf, is accused of actively helping the movement and also being involved in the Jaitapur movement. There are about two to three paragraphs on Insaaf, followed by the donations done by Insaaf. .
Resistance to Vedanta Aluminum Ltd
As proof that the Opposition to the Vedanta movement was getting funding from foreign donors, the IB reports quotes from an interview given by Sajjan Jindal, Chairman and Managing Director of JSW Steel to the Economic Times and says that the element of corporate funding for the VAL movement gained credence when Jindal stated in the interview that corporate rivalries are in play in promoting the movement. In this they prominently mention the Amnesty International. They have also mentioned Survival International, Action Aid UK and Open Society Foundations.
Activism against extractive industries in the North-East
Netherlands based Dutch government funded donor CORDAID has recently added “Extractive industries in the NE as a forth focal point for its interventions in India”. The IB report talks about a seminar in Geneva in 2012, with Swami Agnivesh as a prominent speaker. It also says senior policy officer of CORDAID, Eelco De Groot had planned a visit to Manipur in March 2013, but visa was denied. The IB report says that De Groot planned to visit under the cover of an organization called “Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative”
When the event did not happen in India, it was instead conducted in Bangkok in 2012 and eight NGOS from the North East took part in the event. The IB report says De Groot emphasized at the seminar that, “Instead of fighting the government, it was best to make it so difficult for the company that it would be unable to meet the required international standards involved in oil extraction”.
There was one more seminar in Shillong, as a follow up in October 2013. Three trainers, two Dutch and an American reminded participants that oil reserves in the area were as large as large as those in the entire gulf and these belong only to the tribals of Manipur.
The report says that the trainers told the participants that the Government of India along with multi-national companies (MNCs) was refusing to remove the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, to steal the resources in the region.
Part C – Future plans to take down fresh Economic Development Project
This is divided into 7 parts – activism against Palm oil export, the report mentions Greenpeace’s campaign of importing Palm Oil from Indonesia, organizing construction workers- it says Greenpeace also plans to focus on migration patterns of construction workers to urban areas in India. The IB report says this is to develop a cadre of field level protesters.
To undermine the image of ITES firm, Greenpeace has initiated a campaign against E-Waste and it is under the leadership of Benjamin David Hargreaves, a UK national that this campaign is going on, it says. Interestingly, Greenpeace Bangalore only focuses attention on Indian IT firms, the report adds.
Narmada River Interlinking Project in Gujarat and Maharashtra
It says that many NGOs together received 12.72 crores from 2006- 2013, from various countries. These organizations include Parthi Poorna Adivasi Sanghatan, Sarvodaya Parivar Trust, Gujarat Vidya Peet, Deevalaya Fulwadi and Raj Pipla Social Service Society. It also alleges that the Parthi Poorna Adivasi Sangatan also receives support from the Adivasi Ekta Parishad, Jai Maha Adivasi Sangh, PTNRIP.
Gujarat Vikas Manch Lokadhikar Andolan
Under the section it says that NGOs like MARAG, PUCL, Movement for Secular Democracy are making efforts to debunk the Gujarat model of development. GVMLA apparently organized a two day seminar in which these NGOs participated. The leaders in the seminar also criticized the state government with regard to Statue of Unity, Special Investment Regions, Mithi Virthi nuclear Power Project, Industrial Development, employment and health issues
Special Investment Region (Gujarat)
Under this section the report says that the participants of the GVMPLA seminar alleged that the plain and fertile land of the farmers go to the industries which will affect that farmers basic livelihood. Laljhibhai Desai, director of an NGO, Maldhari Rural Action Group (MARAG) and the President of Azad Vikas Sangatan has been named for instigating and managing agitations against the SIR of Dholera and Mandal Becharji.
It says that a “sammelan” was organized under the name of “Bhal Khesut Sangathan” in which Laljhi Desai also participated.
MARAG received foreign funds amounting to 5.53 crore rupees between 2006-2011. It came mainly from Save the Children, Biodiversity, Tibet, and International Fund for Agricultural Development, Child Relief and You, Oxfam and Canadian India Village Aid.
Delhi to Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC)
National Alliance of Peoples' Movement (NAPM) organized a Mumbai Delhi Sangharsh Yatra in March 2013 from Mumbai under the leadership of Medha Patkar protesting against the propsed DMIC. The yatra traversed through Maharashtra, Gujarat. Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and ended at Delhi. NAPM alleged that DMIC would impact approx 180 m people (14% of lndian population) adversely both from an environmental and agricultural angle. Also NAPM predicted that this would turn out to be the biggest disaster for people in the coming 10 years.
Corridor Virodhi Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti also organized a dharna to protest against the forcible encroachment of farmers land for the DMIC. INSAAF, also organized a meeting in which it remarked that after the government takes over the farmer’s land in the name of DMIC, one day the farmers in this country will be left landless.
Farmers of 31 villages in Vadodara district organized a meeting under the Ekta Gramin Praja Vicharman Samiti to protest against the DMIC. The leaders of EGPVS appealed to the farmers to not give their land for the proposed corridor. They said that the farmers will end up suffering huge financial loses and also that the move will affect the environment adversely.
Read an analysis of this by The News Minute: Leaked Intelligence Bureau report on NGOs is a red herring