Hewlett Foundation will need prior government approval to fund Indian NGOs: officials


The Hewlett Foundation, one of America’s leading philanthropic institutions, has been barred by the Home Office from donating funds to an Indian NGO without prior government approval after recipients allegedly broke laws , officials said. The US-based donor has given more than $465 million to dozens of organizations around the world, including India, in 2020.

The Hewlett Foundation provides funding to NGOs working in various fields of education, environment, gender equity and governance. The US donor has been placed in the “advance reference category (PRC)” under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act of 2010 (FCRA), an Interior Department official said.

Being on the PRC or MHA watch list means that the foreign donor will not be able to send funds to an NGO in India without prior government approval. Funds donated by the Hewlett Foundation were used by Indian NGOs for purposes not authorized by the FCRA, the official claimed, without disclosing details.

The foundation was established in 1966 by engineer and entrepreneur William R. Hewlett and his wife Flora Lamson Hewlett with their eldest son Walter Hewlett. William R. Hewlett was the co-founder of global technology giant Hewlett-Packard (HP).

Under the new rules, all NGOs registered with the FCRA must have an account at the Parliament Street branch of the State Bank of India in New Delhi. Once an NGO is placed under the PRC, the bank must inform the MHA if there is a transfer of funds from abroad before it is credited to the relevant account.

It is the MHA that makes the final decision whether the foreign fund will be allowed to be credited to the account of the Indian NGO concerned, another official said. The prohibitive action against the Hewlett Foundation has been taken since November 2021.

The government revoked the FCRA registration of nearly 1,900 NGOs for violating various provisions of the law over the past five years. There were 22,762 organizations registered with the FCRA through the end of December 2021.

Officials said that 18,778 organizations’ FCRA license expired between September 29, 2020 and December 31, 2021. Among them, no less than 12,989 organizations applied for FCRA license renewal between September 30, 2020 and December 31, December 2021. Since 5,789 organizations failed to apply for FCRA license renewal last month, they were deemed to have ceased to be FCRA-registered organizations, an official said.

Registration with the FCRA is essential for any NGO wishing to receive funds from abroad.

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