By: Gautami Srivastava
Dharamsala (May 20): Following recent incidents of friction between the Indian and Tibetan communities due to lack of understanding of each other’s needs and limitations, the Tonglen Charitable Trust in Dharamsala has now taken a new initiative to create awareness among the Tibetan NGOs regarding Indian laws. The trust last Wednesday held a seminar on ‘Legal aspects of running an NGO’ at the Tibetan Library near Dharamsala where renowned financial expert and international consultant Martin Pinto was the key speaker. Representatives of the Dalai Lama’s office and two members of Tibetan parliament-in-exile were among the 90 participants from 40 NGOs of the community who took part in the seminar.
Monk Jam yang, director of Tonglen, said that His Holiness the Dalai Lama often advises to follow honest, transparent and correct legal procedures in order to better serve the society. He said, “By gathering and participating in the seminar we are together practicing the advice of The Dalai Lama. Tibetans have always been grateful to the Indian people and the government for their constant support to the community and it is our primary duty to abide by the rules and regulations as laid down by the host country.”
Martin Pinto, in his key note address focused on Foreign Exchange (Regulation) Act 2010, which came into existence on May 1, 2011. He said that ignorance of law was no excuse and one can invite trouble by taking foreign aid without registration or prior permission under FCRA. According to him, only those NGOs can apply for registration that is already registered under the Society’s Act, Trust Act or Company Act. Their annual turnover should be at least Rs 2 lakh or 6 lakh in three years. Individuals working in religious, social, economic or cultural sector can also apply for FCRA registration. He categorically said that no NGO or individual can get FCRA registration if it is indulging in activities that are considered political.
Explaining the procedure for applying for registration under the new law, Pinto said that only online application is entertained by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Apart from it, a hard copy of the application must be submitted within a month, along with a fee of Rs 2000. If the hard copy or the fee is not submitted with in the set time limit, it shall be deemed rejected and no further application will be entertained for a minimum of 6 months. The similar procedure should be followed for seeking prior permission to get foreign funds without registration under FCRA.
Quoting the provisions of the new law, Martin Pinto clarified that the donation, from any foreign source is categorised under foreign funding. Whereas, the donations received from any Indian citizen living abroad will be not be termed as foreign fund. He also discussed at length about various legal aspects of maintaining the record of foreign and Indian funding.
Kirti Dolker and Nawang Lamo, both members of parliament of Tibetans in exile also clarified their queries regarding the latest laws and practical problems. Various Tibetan NGOs working in the field of education, health and economic empowerment participated in this seminar.
(Writer is a student of media studies at Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune)