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Who will regulate the Human Rights Business?

New Indian Express, Sep 11, 2009 R. Vaidyanathan, Prof. of Finance IIM-Bangalore
When a group of my MBA students couple of years ago wanted to join some NGOs I was bit surprised. This was before the global melt down. I was surprised since the dream jobs in those days were from global consulting firms and investment banks. But my students are always ahead of the curve. They know about sunrise industries. They were right. The NGO industry is one of the biggest in our country and one of the business sectors within that is the human rights business. First about the main industryNGOs. They are supposed to be independent from Government and they are organizations not meant for making profit. They are also expected to be Value based organizations. The type of activities they are involved is mind-boggling which can extent from Caring for the Aged to Waste Management. One of the major business sectors is Human Rights. According to Ministry of Home affairs website there are nearly 34,000 NGOs registered under Foreign Contribution Regulation act [FCRA] 1976. In all an amount of Rs 65000 crore was received from abroad during 1994 to 2007. Annual receipts have gone up from Rs 1865 in 1994 to Rs 12290 crore in 2007. More interestingly around 50 % of the associations do not file reports. The web site of most of the large NGOs do not provide details of Balance Sheet etc even though many of them call themselves as Civil Society [ as if others are criminal society!!] and insist on transparency by everyone .Perhaps it does not apply to them. This author has tried for many years to collect the Annual financial reports of major NGOs without success. Many of these NGOS spend according to the Home Ministry website maximum amount on overheads including foreign junkets. One of the largest Human rights NGO is called Narmada Bacho Andolan [ NBA for short] which is led by Medha Patkar. It is suggested that millions are affected by the dams on that river but not even an MLA is elected to represent their cause in that affected villages. NBA itself does not have web site but if you type Narmada Bachao Andolan you get one site called Friends of Narmada which proclaims that --First, we want to make it clear that we are NOT the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

2 It is having a solidarity network which includes the International Rivers Network which received donations more than a million USD each from eight organizations including from Ford foundation during 2008 according to its web site. Why cannot the Friends of Narmada publish voluntarily their balance sheet and other accounts in their web site? The same is true of all top notch civil society groups who day in day out harangue us on TV talk shows about transparency and disclosures for Government , corporate sector etc. One of the major business groups under the NGO industry is Human rights business. They are of different varieties-- from saving Dam oustees to harassed daughter in-laws to children in matches industry, to supporting /protecting naxalites. The last business group is in the news in the last few weeks. Their arguments are insidious and sometimes bordering on naivet. One group headed by that one book wonder and one night Tihar jail convicted criminal Ms. Arundhati Roy after analyzing the infinite algebra of Indian State terror declares that Maoist violence is justified. It is appropriate that the one who got the prize named after the Booker brothers who made their fortunes using slave and indentured labourers in the sugar cane fields of British Guyana [the earlier Demerara] in the 19th century. Justifies violence by Maoists. The blood soaked prize of the black indentured labourers perhaps justifies bloodletting of common citizens of India. There is another group of bleeding heart liberals [BHL] who claim that the means adopted by the Naxalites do not justify their ends. As if the ends of the Maoists are anything better! Their means are barbarous and end is gruesome. My colleagues in Shangai University in China even today shudder at the thought of their days spent in the rectification camps during the Cultural Revolution. [CR]. Many of them were insulted, tortured and ridiculed and their only crime was that they were professors and thinkers. Maoist sympathizers in academia and outside perhaps do not know what they are supporting. To slightly change the Lenins saying they are useful idiots of the highest order When some of these JNU types [I mean Maoist defenders ] are taken for rectification campaign after the fall of Delhi they will know what end they are supporting. Another argument of these BHL is that the global and domestic capitalists [comprador bourgeois in the language of Maoists] are trying to grab the land of tribals in the name of development. Actually the arguments can be other way.

3 Namely the Western powers do not want India to be a global power and to prevent it they are using these Naxal groups to create anti-development agenda with the support of these Human rights business financed by global powers. Another point of CPI and CPI [M] is that the Maoist should be dealt with politically. Unfortunately neither party has succeeded in doing do for the last forty years. The only language Naxalites understood was that of Siddhartha Ray in the seventies but for which CPM could not have come to power in West Bengal. There are media editors who get carried away about London educated Ghandy or poor oriented Dr. Binayak Sen. No questions about their sources and uses of Funds. There are other vaguely progressive broadly liberal groups-- many a congress leftists fall in to this categorywho subscribe to the root Cause theory which suggests that poverty alleviation will be a panacea for Maoist problem. Unfortunately they have not read the manifesto of the Maoist party which categorically rejects the current democracy and wants a violent revolution to establish a proletarian dictatorship. The root cause wallas can spend more on poverty projects but it will help only in getting guns by Maoists since they tax the contractors and traders. Why should we worry about these Human Rights business? Because it provides

respectability to Maoists who does not deserve it since they are for violence at any cost and ideologically and financially supported from abroad. Not even once these human rights activists have asked Naxalities to contest elections and test their strength. Talks with Maoists will only enhance their holdlike last time they came for talks with Andhra Pradesh Government the only result was huge collection of medicines and associated medical materials by the Naxalites along with dental work for their leaders at Hyderabad. Perhaps they can smile better before TV anchors! They will use talks to acquire more arms and induct more men into their ranks. It is incumbent on the media and so called experts not to romanticize the killers and provide them space. When there is such a major internal threat and also threat alert about Jihadi terror by the Home Ministry we have a sad spectacle of three state Governmentsnamely Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra -- in disarray and the media going berserk in discussing ad nauseam the agenda of these bleeding heart liberals to hand over the government to these Maoist elements.

4 It is imperative that the NGO industry and the Human rights business is made accountable in terms of revealing their sources and uses of funds to justify the transparency and clean disclosure they expect from all organs of state and other components of civil society. Otherwise the de-stabilisers and romanticizers --otherwise called as useful idiots by the revolutionaries-- will inflict unimaginable damage to our constitutional set up and functioning democracy. The author is Professor -Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore. The views are personal and do not reflect that of his organization.

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