New Delhi: In a fresh crackdown on foreign fundings to non-governmental organisation (NGO)s, the Union home ministry has put the Ford Foundation of the USA on its "watch list" and ordered that funds coming from the international organisation to be routed only with its nod because of "national security concerns".
The home ministry said it had decided to keep a watch on all activities funded by Ford Foundation and by exercising the powers conferred under Section 46 of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010, directed Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to ensure that funds coming from it be brought to its notice.
"RBI is requested to instruct all the banks and their branches to ensure any fund flow from the above mentioned agency to any person, NGO, organisation in India may be brought to the notice of the (home) ministry so that funds are allowed, to be credited into the accounts of the recipient only after clearance of of this ministry," the order said.
The ministry said it wanted to ensure that funds are utilised for "bonafide welfare activities without compromising on concerns of national interest and security".
The move came after the Gujarat government asked the home ministry to take action against the Foundation, alleging the US-based organisation was "interfering in the internal affairs" of the country and also "abetting communal disharmony" through an NGO run by social activist Teesta Setalvad.
Setalwad has been accused of embezzling funds meant for a museum for the 2002 Gujarat riot victims in Ahmedabad. She and her husband have for years fronted the campaign for justice for riot victims.
There have been allegations that the recipient NGOs have not filed mandatory annual reports and balance sheets with the government.
The ministry order also said government organisations can avail of funding from Ford Foundation only with clearance of the department of economic affairs.
NGOs and lobby groups have been under scrutiny since last year after a report by the Intelligence Bureau said they had been preventing economic growth by campaigning against power projects, mining and genetically modified food.
Early this month, the home ministry froze seven bank accounts of Greenpeace India and barred it from receiving foreign funds, for allegedly violating Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and "prejudicially" affecting the country's public and economic interests.
In a statement, the Ford Foundation said it has "officially learned that the Ministry of Home Affairs is reviewing information related to their ongoing investigation of Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt Ltd."
The Foundation said: "We are confident in our work and compliance with the law and look forward to the outcome of this inquiry."
(With agency inputs)