GS Paper II –International Relations.

India not in race with China in Africa outreach: Ansari

What’s Happening-
“Our development partners decide where they want to use Indian knowledge and expertise”.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari on Sunday differentiated between the relationship India and China have with Africa, en route Rwanda and Uganda on a four-day visit.

Key Points discussed were:

Mr. Ansari Speaking at a press conference on board the special aircraft-

  • India is not in competition with China or anybody else as far as our development cooperation with foreign countries especially Africa is concerned.
  • They have their own style of work, they have their own capacities, which are different from us.
  • India left it to our development partners in Africa, and they decide where they want to use Indian knowledge and expertise.
  • we transform it into concrete projects of assistance.
  • Of course, we have financial constraints, that goes without saying, but, the experience so far has been satisfactory.

To boost interaction:

  • He said that his visit to the countries was “part of the conscious effort of the [Indian] government to strengthen our interaction with the countries of the African continent”.
  • He said that both Rwanda and Uganda had overcome great political difficulties in the past to emerge as important states in the continent.
  • “Rwanda is a country that has, in living memory gone through some tough times of internecine warfare and genocide, and now have a growth rate that hovers at 8%, its economic policy is welcoming to business and in fact this is one of the places where we hope to further business ties,” he said.

Background-
In 2013 trade between India & Africa stood at US$ 72 billion making India the fourth largest trading partner of Africa.
The India–Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) is the official platform for African-Indian relations.
The IAFS is held once in every three years. It was first held from April 4 to April 8, 2008 in New Delhi.

On Uganda:
On Uganda, Mr Ansari pointed out the fact that here too “the clock had turned 360 degrees” where under former rule Idi Amin, nearly 80,000 members of the Asian community had left the country, many have now returned and the country boasts an Indian diaspora of around 30,000 people. In both countries, Mr Ansari will be attending events hosted by the Indian diasporic community.

GS Paper III –The role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, 

Foreign funds surge under NDA rule

What’s Happening-
2015-16 saw NGOs receive a whopping ₹17,208 crore from foreign donors.
Foreign donations to Indian NGOs have surged since the NDA government came to power.

Key Points discussed were:

  • Home Ministry, which regulates the flow of foreign funds to NGOs and associations in India, the 2015-16 fiscal saw a flow of ₹17,208 crores from foreign donors, the highest in five years.
  • Of the 16 major donors, at least 14 are Christian organisations, most of them based in the U.S.

Clean-up exercise:

  • Soon after the NDA government came to power in 2014, a massive clean-up exercise was taken up against NGOs registered under the FCRA.
  • In 2015, the Home Ministry notified new rules, which required NGOs to give an undertaking that the acceptance of foreign funds is not likely to prejudicially affect the “sovereignty and integrity of India or impact friendly relations with foreign states and does not disrupt communal harmony”.
  • Under the annual returns category, the NGOs were asked to give an undertaking that the foreign funds were utilised in such a way that it did not affect the “security, strategic, scientific or economic interest, public interest, freedom or fairness of election to any legislature or harmony between religious, social, racial, linguistic group, caste or communities.”
  • The registration of Greenpeace International was cancelled on the premise that it compromised the country’s “economic security”.
  • The MHA also cancelled the registration of Sabrang Trust, an NGO run by Gujarat-based social activist Teesta Setalvad’s and that of noted lawyer Indira Jaising’s Lawyers Collective.

Background-
There are 33,000 NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) that are required to file their annual returns with the Home Ministry, but only 19,000 received funds last year.
Last year, the Home Ministry put Colorado-based Christian NGO Compassion International on its “watchlist” as it was accused of funding Indian NGOs involved in religious conversions.
The crackdown against the Compassion International, which also figures in the list of the largest foreign donors, led to a diplomatic standoff with the United States.
The U.S. Embassy wrote to the Centre, asking it to share evidence to support the allegations.
The Home Ministry has cancelled the registration of over 10,000 NGOs in 2015 for not complying with the norms.

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu. Page 14