Why FCMC Bill isn’t the answer

This has reference to Pooran Chandra Pandey’s article on the Foreign Contribution (Management & Control) Bill 2005 (Sunday Oped, March 5). Though we support the Centre’s initiative to promote transparency and improve the management of funds in the voluntary sector, this should not be to the detriment of credible voluntary organisations doing valuable work across the country.

We do not see either the new FCRA or FCMC of 1976 as the answer to the issue of transparency and management of funds in the sector. Consequently, the FCMC should be discarded and NGOs should be brought under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (with certain changes like the provision of multiple bank accounts by an order or notification). We believe that there is no need to bring out another piece of legislation that controls and regulates the voluntary sector.

Along with the Voluntary Action Network of India (VANI), we believe that the government’s claim that funds coming to the voluntary sector are used for anti-national activities does not hold true. Until conclusive evidence can be presented that justifies this perceived threat, there is no need to put in place more restrictive legislation, further limiting the work of credible NGOs.

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The new FCMC Bill is also inconsistent with the standards of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1998.

SWATI KAPOOR, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi


Under the new Bill, the controls have become more stringent, infringing on the democratic space enjoyed by NGOs. The voluntary sector would welcome any accountability mechanism brought in by the government, but increasing controls would prove detrimental to their work and vision which is primarily to serve the poor and marginalised sections of society. Therefore, the ethos of the proposed Act should be that of a “compliance” mode rather than “controls” mode. NGOs work with small budgets and few staff. So they can only have one-time registration and then comply with the necessary reporting requirements as in practice now.

NGOs may be required to report on the sale proceeds to the government as they are doing now, in the event of any sale of assets.

SANJAY PATRA, Executive Director, Financial Management Service Foundation, Noida


The article is very informative. Mr Pandey rightly argued that instead of repealing the FCRA and replacing it with the FCMC, it would be better to make some changes in the existing Act or bring some necessary changes in FEMA so that equal opportunity is provided to all sectors.

SHIV KUMAR, Development Cell, Gandhi Gram (Tamil Nadu)


Many provisions of the FCMC Bill are illogical. For example, re-registration of already registered organisations is, certainly, not required and will interfere with the smooth operations of development work. Secondly, limiting the administrative expenditure in the voluntary organisations to only 30 per cent is not a very practical approach.

I agree with the writer that the FCRA could only be made more effective by inviting the NGOs for an open discussion and active participation on this issue.

Dr N.K. Perumal, Executive Director Rural Development Organisation Gramaya Bhawan (Tamil Nadu)


The FCMC Bill should be repealed at the earliest. The Union Government should systematically consult NGOs at all levels and across the country before finalising any new Bill for the voluntary sector. Mr Pandey rightly said that the government should keep the FCMC Bill suspended on the proposed national policy on the voluntary sector.

MAZHER HUSSAIN, Director, Confederation of Voluntary Assn., Hyderabad (AP)

Kaifi’s poems intelligible and impressive

The poem, “Uth meri jaan merey saath hee chalna hai tujhey” of which has been quoted by Khushwant Singh (Saturday Extra, March 18), is one of the best poetic works of Kaifi Azmi. It has reminded me of Jan-nisar Akhtar’s poem “Kaun sa geet suno gee Anjum” and that of Majaz, “Naujawan khaatoon sey” (Terey maathey pe yeh aanchal bahoot hee khoob hai lekin / Tu is aanchal sey ik parcham bana leti to achchha tha). Majaz’s sister, Safyah, was married to Akhtar, whose son, Javed Akhtar’s wife is Kaifi’s daughter Shabana Azmi.

Avoiding extravagant verbal padding and straining, Kaifi couched verses in simple, but impressive language, intelligible to common people. Despite being paralytic he pursued literary activities. He was a staunch protagonist of communal harmony and social unity.

He lamented: Basti mein apni Hindu-o-Muslim jo bas gaye / Insaan kee shakl dekhney ko ham taras gaey.


Unspoken thoughts

This refers to “Talking Images” by Surendra Miglani (Spectrum, March 26). Cinema depends upon technology that advances so rapidly that films become antiquities very fast. The silent films’ scenes depended on photography that held interest. Some of their sets were so carefully composed with an imaginative and aesthetic appeal that they are suggestive of paintings on celluloid.

However, sometimes silence speaks for itself. Remember character actor Rehman’s intense glance or the lifting of an eyebrow by Ashok Kumar? They successfully conveyed unspoken thoughts.

Roshni Johar, Shimla


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