Speaking at the investment summit in Goa recently, Union Minister Piyush Goyal has opined that a mass movement against Non-Governmental Organisations who protest against developmental projects is needed. Citing the example of the halted airport project in Goa due to the litigation of some NGO, he reportedly said, “it is the worst form of obstructing justice for the poor of India, for providing a better quality of life for the poor people.” And, Congress has problem with Piyush Goyal’s comment on NGOs.
On social media, Congress has called it an act of threatening the activists with ‘dictatorial action’. It has linked this to Aarey issue in Mumbai and blamed the BJP for destroying the environment with unsustainable development.
To know why the environmental concerns raised by the protestors over Aarey have no factual basis, you may read our previous post.
But the fun fact here is something else. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had taken on these so-called environmentalists and NGOs back in 2012 on a very similar line to that of Minister Goyal.
The instance may be different at that time, but Manmohan Singh was angry for the same reason that Some NGOs are creating an obstruction for India’s development.
In an interview to a journal, Manmohan Singh had unambiguously attributed the ‘motives’ for NGOs protest against Kudankulam plant. His words as reported back then:
“The atomic energy programme has got into difficulties because these NGOs, mostly I think based in the United States, don’t appreciate our country to increase the energy supply.”
Back then, the UPA government had cancelled the licences of 3 NGOs for diverting funds. Congressman Narayanaswamy had even alleged that NGOs administered by Tuticorin church leader, Bishop Yvon Ambroise, had received foreign funds to the tune of Rs 54 crore.
The Larger Issue
The fact that a large number of NGOs and the ‘activists’ in India have a dubious background can’t be refuted in its entirety.
Ever since the Modi government came to power as many as 20,000 NGOs have shut the shop because they couldn’t provide the necessary documentation under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
A year back, some activists forced the shutdown of Sterlite plant in Tamil Nadu on the ground of environment and health fears. A year’s later Swarajya reported how India has turned a net importer from being an exporter as the shut Thoothukudi Sterlite plant contributed 40 percent of the country’s total refined copper production.
So, Congress or any other Indians for that matter, needs to seriously think over this subject instead of resorting to a fake outrage. If it becomes difficult for Congress to see the reality on this issue because a Minister in the present government has raised this, it can always go back to the wisdom of former PM Manmohan Singh.