It’s a business, plain and simple for many people who run Non-Government Organisation (NGO) and for many being associated with an NGO is a fashion statement. A place to go and eat snacks and gossip. But the real intent of helping those who are marginalized in our society, those in need of help the most is sadly forgotten. But that does not mean all NGO’s and people who are associated with it are not doing their job. Many people have dedicated their lives helping others and fighting for those who cannot fend for themselves. But something has to be done about some of the NGO’s who are in it just for the money. Even the Honorable Delhi High Court has called for toughening of licensing norms for NGOs observing that 99% of them are “fraud” and “merely money making devices” back in 2013.
The High Court Bench headed by Justice Pradeep Nandrajog said “Most private run so called philanthropic organizations do not understand their social responsibilities. 99% of the existing NGOs are fraud and simply moneymaking devices. Only one out of every hundred NGOs serves the purpose they are set up for”. If this is not an indictment of the state of affairs of how NGO’s function and run in this country then there is no other explanation required.
If someone wants to open an NGO, first the most important thing in this entire process is how well are you connected? The motive and the particular cause for which the NGO is created are last. Getting an NGO registered is not a difficult task and if one has a competent lawyer an NGO can easily be established. The main purpose to set up an NGO is to get a tax exemption because in India the NGO’s are exempted from corporate income taxes of the income of certain NGOs carrying out specific types of activities, with unrelated business income being subject to tax under certain circumstances which is used as a loophole.
Also since it is very easy to register an NGO, people set up multiple organizations with no infrastructure to support it. One does not even need a starting capital because NGO is one business which required no investment. As mentioned in the beginning if someone wants to be successful, they must ensure they have proper contacts. Usually, a local politicians or a senior bureaucrat retired or otherwise will be handy. In India, almost all politicians have an NGO’s which helps them keep in social light and the day to day business is taken care of by a close relative or “Man Friday”.
Too many people owning an NGO is a status symbol and in this line of work, the accountability of the person who is running the institution is also very less. In the name of helping people, one can earn and spend money in money ways.
- Buy a motor vehicle registered in the name of your NGO.
- Buy property registered under the umbrella of NGO
- Show personal travel expenses as work-related and go on holiday under the pretext of conference
- Receive funding for program with falsified and manufactured data
- Under staff your organization and have relatives work for you
All this can make the life of an NGO owner very rosy and in India, we just love to leave an inheritance for our children and one can understand if this is property or jewelry, but NGO’s are also transferred from father to son. According to Societies Registration Act 1860, societies might be formed by a memorandum of association by any seven people associated as long as there is no blood relation among the board members. However, we are a land of finding loopholes in our laws and in many NGO’s some of the key positions within the organization are held by close relatives.
Resistance to change
There has been in recent times a moment to bring about change in how an NGO is registered, who should be allowed to register and what is the true motive behind establishing an NGO. Those who are genuine and want to help and make difference in the lives of others and also seeking transparency in how many of these so-called NGO’s perform are having their efforts throated by vested interest. Because running an NGO for the betterment of society was not the true motive. Easy money with almost zero accountability has made many people afraid of any laws which will bring more transparency which means the end of the business.
Why do we need NGO’S?
All is not lost because the organizations which are truly involved in improving our society and help the socially marginalized have gained trust and momentum. We need NGO’s in our society who are helping sex workers and their children, counseling rape victims and help bring more accountability in our political system. NGO’s keep society honest and brings forth issues which we have no idea are happening around us. Our effort must be to force our government to make the registration of NGO’s very strict and proper audit and compliance should be put in place. In India many people who are in need for help have received a lot of support like education, giving training on various trade and providing small loans to start businesses. If we take all this into consideration one can conclude and decide which NGO one should support and which ones should simply be ignored.
This rampant spawning NGO’s started by people in the name of helping our society is mushrooming all over our country like someone opening a tea stall on the roadside without a license must be stopped and action needs to be taken.
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