Just days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to America, the international US-based donor agency Ford Foundation has been taken off the ‘watch list’ of the Union Home Ministry.
“It has been decided to remove Ford Foundation from the prior reference category with immediate effect. Now any fund flow from Ford Foundation to any person, NGO or organization in India need not to be referred for clearance to this ministry,” the Home Ministry’s letter to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said, according to Hindustan Times. The letter also asked the RBI to inform all banks about the decision.
In April 2015, the Indian government had put the organisation onto a security watch list as it had donated huge sums of money to Modi critic Teesta Setalvad's NGO, Sabrang. The Home Ministry had said that it was exercising the powers conferred under Section 46 of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010, and had directed the RBI to ensure that funds coming from Found Foundation be brought to the notice of the ministry.
The Ford Foundation, on its part, froze all the donations and funding that they were slated to make to several NGOs and individuals in India for developmental work. "We don't want to move ahead until the time we are clear about the rules and nothing we do is viewed as illegal," a spokesperson had told Reuters.
Ford Foundation, which has been operating in India since 1952, was not registered either as an NGO or under any other category like the Indian Society Act. It applied under FEMA and got registered as a branch office by the RBI in December 2015.
"Over the past 60 years our office in New Delhi has made more than 3,500 grants totalling more than $508 million to nearly 1,250 diverse institutions," says the official website of the Ford Foundation.
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