The Ford Foundation, a U.S.-based funding agency which has been accused by the Gujarat government of interfering in the country’s internal affairs and fanning communal disharmony, was put on the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) watch list on Thursday.
Citing “concerns for national interest and security,” the MHA informed the Reserve Bank of India that Ford Foundation had been included on the list of foreign funding agencies which required prior approval from the Ministry for each transaction.
It invoked Section 46 of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
Agency funding Setalvad’s NGOs in Gujarat
The Centre’s move against the Ford Foundation has been taken to ensure that its funds are allowed to be credited into the recipients’ accounts only after Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) clearance.
The Ford Foundation is yet to issue a formal statement on this development.
The action is being viewed as part of the Central government’s policy to tighten the noose around advocacy groups, which, according to the government, have been funding campaigns with an objective to stall the country’s economic growth.
Ford Foundation is the 16th agency to have been put on the watch list. The MHA had recently taken a similar action against Bertha Foundation of the Netherlands on allegations that it consistently backed “anti-development” campaigns in the country, including those involving Greenpeace India.
Earlier this month, the MHA had suspended Greenpeace India’s registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) for six months and frozen its bank accounts.
The action against Ford Foundation comes weeks after the Gujarat government accused the organisation of encouraging the Sabrang Trust and the Citizens for Justice and Peace, run by social activist Teesta Setalvad, to indulge in acts prejudicial to communal harmony.
In response to the State government’s request for a probe into alleged irregularities by Ms. Setalvad’s NGOs, the MHA had recently sent a team to Gujarat for verification. A report was submitted to the authorities concerned for appropriate action.