Activists rue shrinking space for dissent

Modi urged to create mechanism to strengthen relationship between govt. and CSOs.

May 09, 2015 04:57 am | Updated November 17, 2021 02:01 am IST - NEW DELHI

In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 175 voluntary and not-for-profit organisations have expressed their discomfort with being labelled as ‘anti-national’ and ‘anti-development.’

Releasing the letter here on Thursday, Enakshi Ganguly, co-Director Haq said: “We are extremely uncomfortable about the kind of messaging the government is putting out about Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).”

Differences of opinions over paradigms of development have resulted in extreme hostility and distrust between the government and CSOs, which is why the NGO fraternity felt the need to communicate their concerns through the open letter, she said.

This is not only in the hope of a response but also to urge his office to create a space and mechanism to strengthen the relationship between government and CSOs, she said.

Anjali Bharadwaj from Satark Nagarik Sangathan said she was not opposed to the government holding NGOs accountable to the highest standards of scrutiny, referring to recent incidents of the Home Ministry cracking down on Greenpeace India.

However, the government itself was not living up to its promises of transparency and accountability.

For the last one year, agencies mandated to promote transparency and accountability such as the Central Information Commission, the Central Vigilance Commission and the Lokpal have either remained without a head or haven’t been constituted at all.

For the first time in ten years since the RTI Act was passed, the CIC had remained headless for 10 months. Further a search committee had been constituted for appointing a CIC but minutes of the government meetings were not being recorded or shared, she said.

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