e-VANI




- A Monthly Newsletter from VANI

January-February, 2011

Archive eVANI
 
In this Issue:
  • From editor’s Desk
  • Interview on Union Budget 2011-12
  • VANI news
 
Highlights  
The Handbook on Good Governance has been released. Write to us to get a copy
VANI appeals for the fair trial of Binayak Sen
Read more>>>
VANI congratulates Ms Sheela Patel as she has been conferred with Padma Shri award
Read more>>>

 

News

Planning Commission of India launches a new website for 12th Five Year Plan, invites inputs to the approach paper…
Read more>>>

Details of the remitter mandatory for the electronic bank transfers
Read More>>>

Voluntary Organizations share inputs with the Finance Minister during pre-budgetary consultation Read more>>>

Case Laws in favour of NGOs engaged in Micro Finance" – By FMSF
Read More>>>

Preliminary Report from the Special Rapporteur from United Nations on the situation of human rights Read here>>>

 

About e-VANI
e-VANI is published monthly and provides updates on VANI’s programmes and activities, news in the development/voluntary sector and useful resources to strengthen the capacity of development/voluntary organizations.
 
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Web Development by : Amarendra Kumar
Edited & Written by :
Binu Sebastian
Designing & Layout by: Rajkumar Sharma
 

From Editor’s Desk

Accreditation of Voluntary Organizations

One of the significant contributions of the Planning Commission of India towards the voluntary sector was the formulation of “National Policy on Voluntary Sector (NPVS)”. Unfortunately, neither state governments nor the national government took it seriously. In fact, almost all the rules, regulations, and policies made by government contradict the very spirit of the NPVS. However, without loosing heart, the Planning Commission initiated two task forces; one for the national law for registration and second for formulating National Accreditation Council of India (NACI) for Voluntary Sector. The report of the second task force, convened by the CAPART, is already made public. Although, the intention of the report is to be appreciated, it raises some serious questions about the objective of forming the NACI. Some of the observations are as follows:

The report of the task force quite elaborately mentions the effect but fails to analyze the cause. It takes reference of the study conducted by Central Statistical Organization (CSO) about the existence of 3.3 million NPIs in India. We all know that the current registration act, i.e. Societies Registration Act, 1860 is not only old but varies from state to state. It is like the birth certificate that does not make any mention on how many of them are still active. The projected high number of registered NPIs is also due to a mix up of all entities under the same category. Today we have almost all NPIs registered under same act which makes it very difficult to analyze how many of them are Voluntary Development Organizations, and how many are corporate hospitals, public schools, maritime trusts, housing societies or even NGOs registered by the government. There is a need to re-look the law of registration in the country and need to have something in line with Companies Act. Before making such analysis, it is necessary to look at the holistic picture.

The task force report visualizes NACI on the lines of Press Council or Bar Council, but its proposed composition does not reflect its independent nature. The total number of members in Press Council is 28 out of which 20 belong to the press, 5 nominated Members of Parliament and 3 from UGC, ICSSR and Sahitya Academy. On the contrast to this, NACI proposes to have 51 members, 20 from VOs, 10 from State and Central Ministries, 10 again from various government commissions, then rest from industrial associations, ICAI, ICSI, etc. Such a proposed composition needs to be debated as VOs are in minority and that too elected whereas majority is nominated. There is no membership for the networks of VOs rather Industrial associations are included. In the absence of any executive ministry, an overarching law, or department anchoring VOs in India at national level, as compared to Law ministry anchoring Bar Council or Press Council by Information and Broadcasting Ministry, Companies by Ministry of Corporate Affairs, its legitimacy will be questioned.

It is also important to have clearly defined roles and responsibilities of NCAI. Currently, it is very easy to impose another layer of regulatory regime on VOs, but it is very challenging to take a small step to facilitate development of voluntary sector.  We hope that this effort of planning commission does not add to the list of another regulatory chain around the voluntary sector. Rather than becoming the tool for facilitating the progress of the sector, the NACI is projected as another layer of compliance by the VOs. The onus of proving its innocence is again with the voluntary organizations, and in spite of filling mandatory returns, like Income Tax, FCRA, the NACI demands not only duplication of information but also proposes penalties parallel to the statutory laws.

The document is also silent about benefit which a VO can get through this accreditation. This process does not provide relief of routine compliance, questioning, or even harassments by the routine line departments. Rather adds another layer to be followed. In fact, nomination of persons from Ministry of Finance or Ministry of Home Affairs could provide some relief if accreditation is recognized by them. There is also need to add a representative from the private sector to help VOs in raising resources domestically. Unfortunately in the current form, this document looks like another “Agni Pariksha” for the voluntary sector to prove their innocence, but getting no relief from the system.

Lastly, we suggest that the proposed framework of NCAI needs to be shared and consulted with the VOs at national and state levels, to ensure the component of ‘independent, self-regulatory and facilitating mechanism’ as suggested by the National Policy for Voluntary Sector. 

Warm Regards,

Harsh Jaitli
CEO, VANI

Interview

(Subrat Das, Director of Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) is in conversation with Binu Sebastian from VANI on Union Budget 2011-12)

1.      Please tell us what were your expectations from Union Budget 2011-12?
 Ans: Considering the tremendous significance of the Union Budget, I expected that it would address some of the pressing issues that our country is confronting at present.

First is the issue of food insecurity. It has reached at an alarming proportion wherein the poor and marginalized sections of the population have been affected strongly due to the persistent rise in prices of food articles. Further, there is a growing consensus among the experts now about the need to strengthen and expand the coverage of the Public Distribution System (PDS) for ensuring food security.

Secondly, I was looking forward to some concrete measures in the budget to effectively address the issue of general price rise. We should keep in mind that the problem of price rise has gone beyond food articles, although it has been driven largely by rising prices of food articles. Essentially, this needs to be tackled with a two-pronged approach wherein adequate relief measures are put in place while also addressing the causes of the problem. The Union Budget has enormous potential to initiate concrete actions along these two lines.

Thirdly, going by the underlying philosophy of UPA where ideologies of “pro-poor approach’ and “inclusive development” are usually emphasized, I expected the budget to place higher thrust on the social sector. United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had paved way for some transformative legislations like Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009. The draft bill on Health is also being discussed. I expected that such legislative measures would be adequately backed up by corresponding step up in the allocations.

Finally, I anticipated greater emphasis and responsiveness on the concerns related to the disadvantaged and weaker sections of our society like scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, children, and women.

 2.      What is your initial response to the union budget?
Ans: The UPA II, through its budget for 2011-12, does not exhibit any strong sense of urgency to tackle the most pressing issues of today- price rise and food insecurity. I feel that the UPA II is trying to evade these challenges. This is evident from the allocations earmarked in the budget. The allocation for Food Subsidy does not show any increase as compared the budget for 2010-11. The Food Subsidy in revised budget for 2010-11 is  Rs. 60600 crore and in the budget for 2011-12 it is Rs. 60573 crore.

Further, the government has drastically reduced petroleum subsidy in the budget for 2011-12. Given that petroleum prices have been deregulated in the country and the international prices of crude oil are predicted to rise in the coming months, the drastic reduction in petroleum subsidy by the Union Government raises a serious concern. A rise in the prices of petroleum products can aggravate the rise in prices of other commodities, since petroleum products are used for the transportation of most kinds of commodities.

The present budget has also failed to address the main causative factors underlying food insecurity in the country. The budget has not done anything substantial to make agriculture more viable as an occupation for the farmers. It is disappointing to note that the budget has failed to initiate any major step to revive this sector. One exception to this could be the fact that access to credit for agriculture is expected to become easier in the next fiscal year, although the onus for implementing this would be on the banking sector.

I also feel that the allocation for social sectors should have been much higher if the government were serious enough to meet its stated objectives. For instance, the allocation for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has had an increase of just Rs. 2000 crore which is quite inadequate to meet the requirements of enforcing the Right to Education Act 2009.


 3.      What do you think is the overarching ideology running through the budget?
Ans: Reducing the fiscal deficit of the government seems to be the overriding tenor running through the budget. The Union Government is trying to bring down the magnitude of its borrowing in the fiscal year 2010-11 and also in 2011-12. In this regard, the Government is resorting to a check on the growth of public spending, as it is not being able to raise its revenue significantly. As compared to the country’s gross Domestic Product (GDP), the total size of the Union Budget is projected to fall from 15.4 percent in 2010-11 to 14 percent in 2011-12.  


 4.      There have been comments from across the corners that this budget is essentially catering to the priorities of the private sector. What are your thoughts on these?
Ans: I feel it is unfair to say that the budget is completely a lop-sided one where only the views of the corporate sector have been taken into account. It does try to pay some attention to several sectors. However, one can say that it is more sensitive and responsive to the demands of the corporate sector. The Union Budgets over the last several years have not raised the tax rate for the private sector and nor have they withdrawn the tax exemptions extended to them. Of all these, the financial services sector seems to be benefiting more out of these freebies. Due to all these, one can opine that the budget is more inclined in favour of the corporate sector.


 5.      What do you think are the pressing needs of the country today and how best are they reflected in the budget?
Ans: To me, price rise, food insecurity, agriculture becoming increasingly unviable for farmers, enforcement of Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, public provisioning for healthcare, and addressing the critical shortage of human resources in the social and economic sectors are some of the pressing needs that require urgent attention. The critical shortage of human resources is one of the reasons why desired result is not achieved in many of our public programmes.

The second part of your question as to how far they are reflected in the budget merits special attention. I feel that the budget has fallen way short of expectations. The problem of price rise seems to have been ignored in the budget as the present government tends to believe that if public spending is checked, it will automatically take care of inflation. This could be a flawed assumption. As far as public provisioning for food security is concerned, the government is at the best maintaining the status quo. Only incremental changes are made in this year in the allocations for education, health, and agriculture.  

6.      What message is being sent out by UPA II to the people of India by this budget?
Ans: ‘Growth comes first and then the concern for inclusive development’ seems to be the philosophy underlying this budget. Also, the latest budget does not make any effort to redesign the pattern of economic growth in the country. There is an implicit message in the budget that a sense of complacency has crept into UPA II. UPA I was more responsive to the challenges and opportunities for significant improvement in the social sectors. However, UPA II does not show any similar sense of urgency. For instance, in MGNREGA, despite the wages being linked to Consumer Price Index for agricultural labourers Rs. 40000 crore has been allocated for 2011-12, which is slightly less than the allocation of Rs. 40100 crore for 2010-11.

 7.      Do you think that the concerns of the voluntary sector are effectively addressed in the budget?
Ans: I would like to share with you that all is not that bad. There are some positives that we can carry. One of the significant developments has been that the present Finance Minister has institutionalized the practice of meeting the representatives of Voluntary Sector during the pre-budget consultations. This year, the finance minister even provided a separate appointment for the representatives of People’s Budget Initiative (PBI). On a different note, the present budget has increased the wages of anganwadi workers and helpers. There is also a positive development in relation to the budgetary processes pertaining to Scheduled Caste Sub Plan and Tribal Sub Plan. These are welcome signs from the side of union government. However, it is no doubt the case that we have miles to go.

 

VANI News

January 14, 2011: VANI, in collaboration with SAHAYI and KOVAL, organized a one-day consultation at in Trivandrum, Kerala. The objective of the workshop was to deliberate on the proposed changes in FCRA and Income Tax Act and their implications to the voluntary sector. Read more >>>

January 24, 2011: Challenges faced by the Voluntary Sector at Raipur, Chhattisgarh

January 28, 2011: Challenges faced by the Voluntary Sector at Bhubaneshwar, Orissa.  The consultation jointly organized by VANI and CYSD in Bhubaneshwar. The main objective of the state consultation was to discuss the challenges faced by voluntary sector at the national level in the form of new regulatory changes such as FCRA and DTC as well as the state level such as harassment by local authorities. About 40 representatives from all parts of the Orissa participated in the consultation. Read more >>

February 1- 11, 2011: CEO from VANI attended the World Social Forum at Dakar, Senegal

February 14, 2011: CEO from VANI attended a meeting convened by the Planning Commission of India. The meeting was to discuss the report of the  task force constituted by the planning commission to examine the feasibility of a new Central Law to serve as an alternative all-India statute for registering voluntary organisations.

February 21, 2011: Round Table Meeting on Capacity Development of Civil Society in India at PRIA was attended by the CEO of VANI

February 22nd & 23rd:  National Consultation on Voluntary Sector in India: Perspectives and Challenges.

February 28, 2011: CEO from VANI meets with SIRPA from Helsinki University, Finland.

 


Voluntary Action Network India (VANI)
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New Delhi – 110048
Email : info@vaniindia.org , Phonec : 011- 29228127 & 29226632 , Website : www.vaniindia.org