The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Inclusion of non-governmental organizations under Lokpal purview is a debate that was always there and is gaining ground after Anna’s Fast on the ‘Jan Lokpal’.

And it has its practical reasons though the same is not echoing in the reasoning of political parties and some members of the larger civil society as it is being seen a sort of targeting and vindictive propaganda against the Lokpal Civil Society members almost of whom are operating through or belonging to this or that NGO.

And, this perceived bias is being used by the proponents and pro-NGO lobbyists to dismiss or dilute the demand of including NGOs under the corruption watchdog purview, therefore, shielding a widespread malaise of misuse of funds by a larger section of the NGO fraternity in India. (Though the malaise of misuse of funds is a global phenomenon).

Agreed, all of the current Lokpal Civil Society members are from NGOs with transparent operations but even this whole formation initially was not without any controversy. Can we deny the controversy surrounding Swami Agnivesh’s NGO?

A recent media report says, “The Congress-led Delhi government had in year 2006 allocated fund worth Rs 18 lakh to Swami’s NGO, Bandhua Mukti Morcha, for a survey on bonded labourers. According to reports, the Delhi government released Rs 18 lakh to Swami Agnivesh’s Bandhua Mukti Morcha (Bonded Labour Liberation Front) for a survey on bonded labours by flouting the norms. The NGO also hurriedly prepared a 60-page report and submitted it to the government.” 1 The report states many flaws in the report that clearly show misuse of funds.

Here it is not about blaming and name-calling. Sincerity of Anna Hazare and his cause cannot be questioned and so his followers who are fighting with him for the cause are to be taken seriously and so here, issues like Swami Agnivesh can be dismissed as an aberration. But the issue remains.

Issue that clearly tells us operations of NGOs must come under the Lokpal purview.


Million of them are here – we may call them by names like ‘non-governmental organizations’, ‘not-for-profit agencies’, ‘self-help groups’, ‘religious charities’ and so on. In ideology, they have just one agenda –working for social empowerment and change. Their aims, objectives, prerogatives, methodology might be different. But, they all need to follow the sole dictum of ‘social empowerment’ through their acts. Alas! That is not the case. Across the world - millions of such agencies and billions of needy people!

Their millions keep on adding! The needy billions keep on swelling.

There are many who are honestly working to bring the change but still the proportion is like an iota in the sea of aid agencies. The singular concern of every funding agency should be how its funds are being utilized but that is not the case. Let’s have a look on some figures in Indian context.

By 2009, India was estimated to have around 3.3 million NGOs, i.e., one NGO for every 400 Indians, largest count in globally. This figure is many times some of the indicators of basic civic amenities like primary health centers, schools, and maternity centers. 2 Had it been a case where majority of NGOs would be working professionally, we could have much better social equations through the wide-scale coverage of these ‘grassroots’ organizations as they can directly touch the lives socially and emotionally.

It is said NGOs work with governments and donor agencies to facilitate, plug-in and correct the process of development. In India, more than 80 percent of NGOs are in larger and most populous states with Maharashtra topping the chart with 4.8 lakh registered entities followed by followed by Andhra Pradesh (4.6 lakh), UP (4.3 lakh), Kerala (3.3 lakh), Karnataka (1.9 lakh), Gujarat (1.7 lakh), West Bengal (1.7 lakh), Tamil Nadu (1.4 lakh), Orissa (1.3 lakh) and Rajasthan (1 lakh). 3

  • Yet UNICEF report says one in every three malnourished children in the world lives in India. The report further says, “In India, around 46 per cent of all children below the age of three are too small for their age, 47 per cent are underweight and at least 16 per cent are wasted. Many of these children are severely malnourished. The prevalence of malnutrition varies across states, with Madhya Pradesh recording the highest rate (55 per cent) and Kerala among the lowest (27 per cent).” 4
  • In 2010, the government revised its poverty rate from 27.5 percent to 37.2 percent of the population. 5
  • 2009 Global Hunger Index puts India at 65th position out of 84 countries studied. Here India lags behind countries like North Korea and Zimbabwe. 6
  • Malnutrition in India is roughly around 46 percent. It has fallen only six percentage points since economic reforms started gaining pace in 1991 while the GDP per capita boomed by 50 percent during the same period. It clearly shows increasing social disparity with majority still living at the bottom of the pyramid. 7
  • A UNESCO report puts India to be the home of largest number of illiterate adults in the world. 8
  • Government of India defines coverage area of a primary health centre to be 100 villages and 100000 of population by one doctor. 9 According to a report, 64.9 percent of community health centers report lacking specialists while 68.6 percent of PHCs function with only one or no qualified doctor. Also we can understand the negligence by the government machinery as public expenditure has stagnated at just 1 percent of GDP over the last two decades against WHO’s recommended 5 percent. 10

These are just some of the basic indicators that show the pathetic state of the huge demand and supply gap for basic life sustaining activities akin to the Fundamental Rights in the world’s largest democracy.

Government should be shown the mirror for its shortcomings but at the same time, in a country like India which is ranked 87th on the Corruption Perception Index of the Transparency International and where, it seems, public is in mood of taking to streets to tackle corruption in every walk of life, nothing much is to be expected alone from the official cadres of polity, bureaucracy and their appendages until social action and pressure groups realize and act honestly and efficiently to become part of the supply chain system that distributes state resources as well resources from other donor agencies aimed at bringing smile at the face of the last member of every social formation.


A Time magazine December 2010 reports highlights it so precisely. It says, “With 3.3 million registered NGOs, India's nonprofit sector raises between $8 billion and $16 billion in funding every year. According to Home Ministry statistics, foreign funding to Indian NGOs saw a 56% increase in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 fiscal years. In 2008, the latest available data, the total official foreign aid to India was $2.15 billion. But according to NGO watchdogs, almost half of that money is misused, mostly to support high administrative costs of running organizations. NGO accountability — or the lack of it — is, of course, not India's problem alone. A 2008 assessment of 30 of the world's most powerful global organizations cites transparency as one of the least developed dimensions of accountability. In India, the problem is compounded by the highly unorganized nature of the NGO sector: organizations are often required to register under multiple laws without any uniform accounting policy or reporting framework. It's a problem driven both at the organizational and the donor levels.” 11

This report clearly states that almost half of the aid amount is misused but on carrying out a qualitative analysis, this figure could come out much higher. Apart from organizations established only on papers with sole aim to liquidate the funds mobilized, we see the biggest cost overhead is in running the organizations that’s requires serious attention. The fund generated by India’s NGOs is huge but equally huge is the mismanagement in redistributing the resources to maximize the output in real accessible terms.

Then there are other serious issues. Serious concerns are being raised on role on NGOs being conduits for terror money flow. Al Qaeda, Taliban, LeT/JuD, many other Islamic terror organizations, back home the right-wing terror groups – they get significant funding channelized by non-governmental organizations. In 2009, Indian Intelligence agencies started collaborating with the US, France, China, Brazil and South Africa to zero-in on such organizations. 12 Money laundering is another anathema that is polluting the whole working environment of the development sector organization. Many NGOs exist only to work as ‘Hawala’ channels or for making black money white or reducing the amount of taxable income of organizations/persons by charging certain sum of the donation as commission while returning the rest amount.  As earlier as January this year, a news channel had reported that Indians might have used offshore NGOs to stash their black money in Swiss banks. 13 Though, the government amended the ‘Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 (PMLA)’ in November 2009 to include non-profit organizations (NPOs) - registered religious bodies, charitable trusts, NGOs, educational institutes or societies, that made for such organizations to disclose their source of funding and make records available for large monetary transactions, 14 nothing significant has been the outcome. It has not come out to be effective given the millions of such registered entities as well as the non-existent monitoring mechanism of their ways to utilize funds.

Some unconfirmed reports put the fund misuse by NGOs as high as 97 percent of the total funds mobilized in a particular year. In the prevailing set-up, NGOs are virtually unaccountable and a large chunk of NGOs receiving foreign aid do not even file annual report under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act. 15 This is major concern area for terror money flow as the source of funding remains suspicious or vague.


For they are maligning the whole atmosphere; for they are vitiating the atmosphere by raising empty hopes and therefore killing emotions; for they are shadowing the real good work done by many of the good NGOs though they can be handpicked from this confusing conundrum of 3.3 million strong mess.

NGO consulting is still nowhere in India and most of the NGOs are established only to end up as defunct money making machines parking black money, providing tax havens, siphoning off valuable donor funds. And mind you, when this is the majority mindset of such organizations as clearly stated above, it is only other-worldly to think of professional or self-initiated NGO audits until it is forced. Again, it is to be kept in mind here there are still some NGOs doing remarkably well and they will certainly welcome it as the overall image kill by on-paper NGOs badly affects their prospects by hurting their chances of fund raising.

The time is opportune..  

The Lokpal debate on including NGOs under its purview is a never-to-be missed opportunity. An ordinary Indian, irrespective of where he belongs to, needs the honest audit of the process that may make him available the largely missing life sustaining means.

The sentiment is in the air and it has to be strengthened. With masses mobilized across the country against one particular issue of corruption, it is the high-time that leading pack of NGOs and opinion leaders come forward spontaneously to pave for the way for their inclusion under the Institution of Lokpal to check and control the unabashed greed of money making NGOs. Agreed, we need to work out the modalities to prevent unnecessary harassment of the genuine ones but that is only possible after a healthy debate, an opportunity that even the Lokpal Civil Society, it seems, has missed. But, let India do not miss the bus again. In a country where, according to 2006 figures, doctor to population ratio was 60:100000 (.24 dcotors per 400 of the population), 16 even an organized and efficient 10 percent section of the 3.3 million unorganized mess (and so one NGO per 4000 of the population) can bring qualitative change at the grassroots level.