A report titled ‘Impact of NGOs on Development’ on the threat posed by ‘foreign funded NGOs’ to India’s national economic security and the ‘Gujarat model of development’, supposedly submitted by the IB to PM Modi, was ‘leaked’ to the Indian media. And a storm broke over the bogey of ‘foreign-funded’ activists supposedly paid to derail India’s development engine. The IB ‘report’ was supposedly begun at the behest of the UPA Government, and has now been submitted at the beginning of Modi’s tenure, coinciding with protests against the raising of the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
Now, one might ask, are the UPA and NDA, Congress and BJP, not faithful advocates of globalisation? They advocate FDI and foreign funding in every aspect of India’s economy – so how come they suddenly see ‘foreign funding’ as dangerous?
Reading the so-called ‘IB Report’, the matter becomes clear. The report has nothing to do with security. It is no ‘investigative report’, and has no ‘facts’ that are not readily available publicly. The ‘Report’ seems to have been prepared for the express purpose of being ‘leaked’ – to create a bogey of ‘foreign-funded activists’ in the public mind. The Report is so shoddy that portions of it are actually copy-pasted from a published 2006 speech made by Modi in Gujarat! And in fact, the ‘IB Report’ is very much a political narrative, peddling political opinion, rather than an investigative exercise.
Ironically, if one reads the ‘IB Report’, one cannot escape the conclusion that the IB equates ‘development’ with the projects of foreign MNCs in India. Mining MNCs Vedanta, POSCO, the Russian-funded nuclear reactor in Koodankulam, the French company Areva’s nuclear reactor in Jaitapur, MNCs like Monsanto that have an interest in GM foods: these are some of the entities whose interests the IB equates with India’s development. And likewise, it brands critics of these foreign corporations and foreign-funded projects as ‘threats to national economic security and development’! In a strange inverted logic, critics of foreign corporations that plunder land, resources, livelihood and environment in India, are branded as threats to ‘national security’.
Actually, the funded NGOs named in the report are only an excuse. The real aim is to throw dust in our eyes, to brand people’s movements against corporate loot and corporate agendas, as anti-national and anti-development. Manmohan Singh himself tried to do this when he suggested that the Koodankulam movement was foreign-funded; Modi is carrying forward that legacy.