NGOs’ Going Anti – National?

Centre to states: Track NGOs for ‘anti-national’ activities

Following a crackdown on NGOs over alleged violations of norms related to foreign funding, the Centre has written to state governments and union territories to “monitor” the activities of such organisations that indulge in “anti-national activities”.

The communication sent by Daniel E Richards, Joint Secretary, Home Ministry, reads: “It has come to notice that some NGOs and organisations are involved in anti-national activities… The States/UTs are requested to take urgent action and ensure that state police also monitor the activities and funding of such NGOs and other organisations.”

Government officials said police have also been asked to track activities of NGOs engaged in protests against various “development projects” in states.

“A protest at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu in May led to the loss of 11 lives where the role of an NGO was suspected,” an official said. The issue of NGOs indulging in “anti-development” and “anti-national” activities will be taken up during the DGP-IGP conference in December, he said.

“An action point emerging was for the state police to monitor funding of such NGOs,” said the Home Ministry’s note.

In 2014, an Intelligence Bureau (IB) report had identified several foreign-funded NGOs that were “negatively impacting economic development”. Subsequently, according to Home Ministry records, the FCRA licences of more than 13,000 NGOs were cancelled, including Greenpeace, Compassion International and Ford Foundation.

Investigations were also launched against several top NGOs, including one set up by activist Teesta Setalvad and preacher Zakir Naik who was booked by the National Investigation Agency for “anti-national acts”.

Last week, the Enforcement Directorate raided the Bengaluru office of Amnesty International in connection with a case of alleged violation of norms under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).

Also read | Govt treating rights groups like criminals, says Amnesty

In May, Pune Police arrested several activists and raided NGOs for their alleged involvement in Bhima-Koregaon violence. Police claimed that there was a plot to kill PM Narendra Modi and later arrested activists Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves.

In its reply to a Parliament question this year, the Government informed Rajya Sabha that the FCRA licence of 18,864 associations and institutions had been cancelled since 2011 leading to a sharp dip in foreign contribution coming to India. “NGOs received Rs 6,499 crore in 2016-17, as compared to Rs 17,773 crore in 2015-16. The amount received during 2014-15 was Rs 15,299 crore,” read the Government’s statement.

Govt. Platform to integrate technology and Civil Society efforts

The Prime Minister also launched a portal and app, Main Nahin Hum, which will enable IT professionals and organisations to bring their efforts towards social causes and service to society on one single platform.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday underlined the importance of the people’s involvement and their social responsibilities for the success of any government initiative. He said that every effort of the people, however big or small, must be valued. Prime Minister Modi said this while interacting with IT professionals in Delhi. The Prime Minister also launched a portal and app, Main Nahin Hum, which will enable IT professionals and organisations to bring their efforts towards social causes and service to society on one single platform.

During an hour-long address, the Prime Minister touched upon various subjects such as the role of technology, child education, corporate social responsibilities, manual scavenging, and Swachh Bharat. He praised youngsters for leveraging the power of technology wonderfully. “They are using technology not only for themselves but also for the welfare of others. This is a great sign,” he said.

The Prime Minister shared multiple anecdotes from his time as the chief minister in Gujarat. He praised Wipro Chairman Azim Premji for his contribution to the society. PM Modi said that when he used to meet Premji for investment and for other summits in Gujarat, the Wipro chairman never asked about the investment schemes but always enquired what was there in the programmes for the people.

Commenting on a question of climate change, the Prime Minister said that it is our responsibility to save the nation’s natural resources. “What we are doing today is not our culture. We have borrowed it from other countries,” he said. PM Modi also addressed the concerns of farmers in drought-hit areas and said that the country needs to focus on water harvesting. “We need to reduce the input cost of farming to double the farmers’ income,” he added.

At the event, the Prime Minister took questions from volunteers who have been involved in various social activities across the country. While asking a question, industrialist Anand Mahindra congratulated the Prime Minister for winning Seoul Peace Prize 2018. The Prime Minister won the prize for improving international cooperation, raising global economic growth, accelerating the Human Development by fostering economic growth through various anti-corruption and social integration initiatives.

Food for thought – 10% hold most Wealth!

10% of the richest Indians have 77.4% of the wealth in India; the poorest 60% have 4.7%. Graphic: Mint

While wealth has been rising in India, not everyone has shared in this growth. There is still considerable wealth poverty, says Credit Suisse’s India wealth report

The richest 10% of Indians own 77.4% of the country’s wealth, says Credit Suisse in their 2018 Global Wealth Report. The bottom 60%, the majority of the population, own 4.7%. The richest 1% own 51.5% (chart 1 above). And it’s not some bleeding-heart NGO that’s arrived at these figures, but a blue-blooded Swiss bank.

The exact numbers are not important. In the 2016 Credit Suisse report, the share of the richest 1% was higher and in 2017 it was lower. Estimating wealth is not quantum physics and year-to-year changes in wealth shares are dependent upon asset prices and exchange rates. What is remarkable is that, in a democracy, the top 1% has been able to keep its share very high, while the majority meekly accept destitution.

Such a high level of disparity raises several questions, not the least of which is the extent to which it subverts democracy. While everybody talks about development these days, a legitimate question from the Credit Suisse data is: whose development are we talking about? Is it development for the top 1%, or for the top 10%, or the poorest 60%?

The cornering of the fruits of development by the wealthy and the stark disparity in wealth shares provide fuel for social unrest and rising crime. It increases disaffection and threatens to tear apart the fabric of the nation—it puts enormous strain on nation-building if the share of the majority in the nation’s wealth is less than 5%.

But is India an outlier in wealth distribution? Chart 2 compares India with some other countries. It shows that India is among those countries where the rich own a much higher share of wealth. But it also shows that economies vary widely in their levels of wealth inequality. Nations have very different levels of inequality, implying that societies can choose the levels of inequality they can tolerate and there’s no inevitability about it.

Has inequality gone up in India in recent years? The Gini coefficient is one way of measuring inequality, with a reading of 100% denoting perfect inequality and zero indicating perfect equality. According to Credit Suisse, the Gini wealth coefficient in India has gone up from 81.3% in 2013 to 85.4% this year, which shows inequality has risen.

Another way of seeing who has benefited the most from economic growth is to consider the difference between growth in median wealth and growth in mean wealth. Mean wealth is skewed significantly by the wealth of the top 1%. The data show while mean wealth per adult increased at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.3% between 2013 and 2018, the growth in median wealth per adult was at a much more sober CAGR of 4.4%. So the rich have benefited far more.

As the Credit Suisse report says: “While wealth has been rising in India, not everyone has shared in this growth. There is still considerable wealth poverty, reflected in the fact that 91% of the adult population has wealth below $10,000. At the other extreme, a small fraction of the population (0.6% of adults) has a net worth over $100,000.”

Of course, wealth inequality between countries, too, is enormous. The report says median wealth in North America is currently more than three times the level in Europe and China, 50 times the level in India, and almost 200 times the level in Africa. Median wealth per adult is $1,289 in India, $4,263 in Brazil, $16,133 in China, $61,667 in the US and $191,453 in Australia.

Manas Chakravarty looks at trends and issues in the financial markets. Respond to this column at manas.c@livemint.com

India is world’s most depressed country with most numbers of anxiety, bipolar disorder cases

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Most of us still don’t like to talk about mental health in public. It is imperative that we do because according to a World Health Organization report, India is the world’s most depressed country, closely followed by China and the US. According to the 2015-16 National Mental Health Survey (NMHS), every sixth person in India needs mental health help of some sort. Of all the age groups, it is the adolescents who need it the most.

At least 6.5 per cent of the Indian population suffer from some form of the serious mental disorder, with no discernible rural-urban differences. Though there are effective measures and treatments, there is an extreme shortage of mental health workers and experts.

Although there have been several campaigns on mental health in the country, the count of suicide attempts due to depression hasn’t gone down much. Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone who has battled depression in the past, with her The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF) has been trying to spread awareness. The actor in a statement said, “When we were talking about more celebrities coming out and speaking and when we were talking about stigma, there is a lot of miscommunication that depression happens to people who are successful.”

TLLLF had released a report in 2017, based on views of 3,556 respondents across eight Indian cities that highlighted the importance of focused stigma-reduction programmes. It said that as many as 87 per cent of the respondents in the survey felt mental illness was a disorder.

WORLD SIGHT DAY Blind walk shows the way

Blind walk shows the way

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 12

Over 500 persons experienced “life without vision” during a ‘blind walk’, which was organised to celebrate World Sight Day.

The walk was organised to raise awareness about the problems faced by persons with visual impairment.

Those are born with the gift of vision were blindfolded during the walk and were led by 50 visually impaired students from Institute for the Blind, Sector 26, here.

Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu flagged off the walk. He also walked along with the aspirants.

While appreciating the efforts of the Dialogue Highway, Navjot Sidhu said: “I am happy to be a part of this unique initiative, which keeps humanity alive. I am of the opinion that visually impaired people do not need sympathy. They need to be respected and given equal rights. I announce a grant of Rs 5 lakh to the Trust that has been doing great work. We will give this grant every year till I stay in the ministry”.

The walk witnessed the participation from volunteers, social activists, doctors and students from local schools and colleges. Prominent among who joined the walk included state president of the Chandigarh BJP Sanjay Tandon, PGI Director Jagat Ram, Punjabi actress Japji Khaira, Punjabi singer Pammi Bhai, Hardeep Gill and Gurkirpal Surapuri.

Sanjay Tandon gave away the prizes to the organisations that are working for the welfare of visually impaired people.

Dialogue Highway’s managing trustee and well-known food policies analyst Devinder Sharma said: “Figures show that there are 4 crore visually impaired people across the globe, while the tally stands at 1.5 crore in India. As per the Census 2011, there are 2,852 visually impaired persons in Chandigarh. Millions of people have joined hands in spreading awareness across the world by carrying out blind walks at different places across the globe. Such initiatives will go a long way”.