Narendra Modi ascension to power came with a good bit of apprehension about freedom of speech and the right to criticise the government. Though ministers like Prakash Javadekar sought to allay such fears by announcing the government welcomes criticism, arrests of people who put up anti-Modi posts on social media soon sent alarm bells ringing -- fairly or otherwise.
There was no evidence that Modi or his government was personally involved in ensuring police action in any of these incidents. But now we have the new IB report claiming NGOs like Greenpeace being 'a threat to economic security', and are a manifestation of the infamous 'foreign hand'. And this one has Modi sarkar written all over it.
The Indian Express reports that sections of the IB report have actually been directly copied from a Modi speech from 2006.
"On September 9, 2006, then Gujarat chief minister Modi had lashed out in a speech at a 'wealthy' and 'influential' class of NGOs that 'hire PR firms to continually build their image' with 'money coming from abroad.' The occasion was the release of the first edition of NGOs, Activists & Foreign Funds: Anti-Nation Industry edited by Radha Rajan and Krishen Kak — a collection of articles on what they called the anti-Hindu agenda and corrupt practices of certain NGOs."
The IB report not only mirrors the same sentiments, but also lifts a paragraph directly from the book: "Another conspiracy — a vicious cycle is set up. Funds are obtained from abroad; an NGO is set up; a few articles are commissioned; a PR firm is recruited and, slowly, with the help of the media, an image is created. And then awards are procured from foreign countries to enhance this image. Such a vicious cycle, a network of finance-activity-award is set up and, once they have secured an award, no one in Hindustan dares raise a finger, no matter how many the failings of the awardee."
It is evident, therefore, the IB report is certainly 'inspired' by what Narendra Modi's views of NGOs -- which have long been his favored nemesis. In the early days of his campaigning, Modi slammed NGOs for raising questions about the Gujarat model, and highlighting thorny issues such as the Naroda Patiya massacre and the environmental impact of the Narmada Dam.
The authors of the IB report seem to share the Prime Minister's view of such activity, noting, “A consortium of NGOs like Maldhari (herdsmen) Rural Action Group (MARAG), People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Movement for Secular Democracy, Gujarat Sarvodaya Mandal, etc are making efforts to debunk the Gujarat model of development.” None of them have any foreign connection. Neither do the Movement for Secular Democracy or the PUCL which have actively lobbied for justice for the victims of the 2002 riots.
As Modi made clear in his campaign speeches, he views NGOs not only as opposition, but also as in cahoots with the Congress party, telling the audience, "Normally, political opponents get together to remove the ruling party but it is for the first time that the ruling party in association with NGOs and others has run a one-point programme not to save the government or form the government but only to stop Modi from coming to power."
Of course, much of this ignores the fact that Manmohan Singh was warning against foreign-funded NGOs back in the days of the anti-Kudankulam protests. And that many of the right-leaning organisations that support Modi are also NGOs by definition.
What is notable is that this maybe the first time the nation's premier intelligence agency has decided to take a leaf so openly and directly out the Prime Minister's political agenda -- and so soon after he's been sworn into office. There are no achhe din on the horizon for NGOs -- or at least NGOs of a certain kind.
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Updated Date: Jun 13, 2014 18:45:27 IST