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Non-glorious Organs of Society

By P. Kharel
pkharel1In Nepal, INGOs and their minions among NGOs script for everything peopleshould do!Although their declared purpose is to serve the needy, many of them work as intruders, overstaying their welcome and operating with far less transparency than what they recommend the local institutions and people. Identity and independence in decisions are thus at stake for the hosts.
In an editorial, The Himalayan Times recently commented: “The political parties and government must show determination to eliminate or minimise the evil influences of foreign money.” Whether the concerned authorities will read it for such sane advice is extremely doubtful. For the pervasive reach and influence of the funding agencies is too wide and deep.
The New York Times laments that Compassion International, a Colorado-based Christian charity, one of India’s biggest donors, had to down its shutters in India after 48 years, on suspicion of engaging in religious conversion.  In fact, 20,000 non-governmental organisations have been stripped of their licences since India’s Prime Minister NarendraModi took office in 2014. They included the multibillionaire Soros’s Open Society Foundation and National Endowment for Democracy, which were prevented from transferring funds without permission from Indian officials. Soros has already spent $12 billion Open Society Foundation’s activities. Open Society digs its heel in Nepal.
LOST IN LAMENTATION: Funding agencies cannot forget the dictum: when in India, do as the Indians do. What say you? South Korea was predominantly a Buddhist country in the early 1950s; today Christians are a dominant religious group. Western media care little to carry stories and analyse on the phenomenon and do not report on soaring religious conversion rates.
Nepal is an example where the past ten years have recorded a dramatic rise in the conversion, with churches dotting all over the country targeting especially those financially vulnerable.  During the Maoist decade of insurgency in Nepal, when the outfit was a “terrorist”, some INGOs routed funds through fronts to pirate radio stations.
The press need not worry much on I/NGOs being checked. There are so many billions of poor and needy that they have vast expanses to work with the sincerity they profess. And there are enormous numbers of people far worse off than those in India and Nepal, for instance.
Without funds from foreign agencies, it would mean massive hibernation or drastic shrinkage in for NGOs in Nepal, as there would be no seductive prospect to the 5-star lifestyles that some of their operators have developed a taste for. There are no candid debates on INGO activity because of their penetration in the media and major political parties.
In Nepal, the Social Welfare Council is unhappy with the way the Ministry of Children and Social Welfare distributes as much Rs 250 million a year to NGOs, in a country with 100,000 NGOs, of which only 44,000 are affiliated with the SWC. Some INGOs are believed to be operating clandestinely.
The parliament on September 9could not pass a number of crucial bills because of lack of quorum, which created stories that were prominently presented in the news media. Actually 366 MPs had signed the attendance book but most of them “bunked” the sitting thereafter. The quorum required was 149 that went unmet by about a dozen. More than 30 MPs had been attending a three-day residential seminar at a multi-star hotel that day.
It was not known whether the participants at the seminar were paid attractive allowances for the orientation on conflict, negotiation and resolution.
ALL-PERVASIVE: News reports have it that INGOs and UN agencies pay up to Rs 180,000 a month to hire Bolero Jeep. The cost of hiring Scorpio Jeep is up to Rs 300,000 a month. A single international agency hires several such expensive motor vehicles.  Like their funding patrons, NGOs, too, are not far behind.  Quoting sources at the Commission for Investigating Abuse of Authority, a leading daily newspaper reported that one NGO showed expenses to the tune of Rs. 5 million for alcohol consumed at receptions/dinners alone.
Some INGOs circumvent the laws of this land by not operating through local organisations in both letter and spirit of the regulations. Such misuse of funds would not be tolerated in the countries of origin of these funding agencies that, however, have no qualms of baiting local individuals and institutions with inducements whose disclosure would shock their taxpayers. Half of the total budgetary allocations are gobbled up by staff salaries, house rents and such other “administrative” expenses.
However, several of the mainstream political parties have NGO activists as their members who are fed funds liberally by INGOs with all sorts of agendas through the influence they thus exercise. That is why Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhi Pd. Yadav the other day alerted NGOs not to do anything that would influence the outcome of the local elections.

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