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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Germany’s Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, its FCRA connections, and beyond

According to Encylopedia Brittanicathe Poland-born Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) was a German revolutionary and agitator who played a key role in the founding of the Polish Social Democratic Party and the Spartacus League which grew into the Communist Party of Germany. As a political theoretician, Luxemburg developed a humanitarian theory of Marxism, stressing democracy and revolutionary mass action to achieve international socialism. The world celebrated her 150th birth anniversary last week.

The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (RLS) was established in Germany in 1990 and seeks to represent democratic socialism with an unwavering internationalist focus. It is one of the six political foundations in Germany. [Note: Stiftung=Foundation in German].

RLS is affiliated with the German Left Political Party, Die Linke. Its chairperson is the Marxist intellectual and politician Dagmar Enkelmann. A Leftist organization (RLS) formed immediately after the reunification of Germany, this may have been to accommodate the various intellectual and activist elements of the erstwhile Communist Party and direct their energy outwards, that is, focus them outwards instead of causing internal dissent.

One may compare this with the strategy of a middle Eastern country exporting its most extreme ideological elements for global jihad and direct their energies outwards.

Among the many causes in Asia that the RLS supposedly supports are: Social Justice, Climate Justice, Food Sovereignty and Migration. Among RLS’ sources of funds are: European Union and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany.

Given the above causes and the increased noise on these matters being raised by NGOs in Bharat, it is vital that we examine the funding from RLS to Bharat’s FCRA-NGOs.

This Post is devoted to such an examination.

We thank the FCRA Wing of the Ministry of Home Affairs for providing the FC4 returns online for anyone to view. This Post collates data from such returns as well as from websites of donors and donees and to a small extent from mainstream media. The Post makes no judgement on any entity or individual mentioned here. Deep insights on an earlier version of this Post offered by a well-wisher are also gratefully acknowledged.

Table 1 below, lists the recipient FCRA-NGOs of ‘donations’ from RLS-Germany over the last five years. Our observations on some of them are based on news articles as well their official documents. Through these and the nature of foreign funding, we attempt to understand RLS and its agenda for Bharat.

Foreign ‘donations’ sent by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung-Germany via FCRA during 2015-2020. Data for the year 2020 is in part. All amounts are in INR. Names of Chief Functionaries are as per 2018-19’s FC4 return. Data from http://fcraonline.nic.in

Observations

1. Programme for Social Action (PSA) is an important entity, although it has received ‘donation’ from RLS only once in the last five years. Its Chief Functionary, Xavier Dias is a well known ‘activist, humanitarian and writer who is known for his work among Vanvasis in Jharkhand’, according to this piece in IDR. Xavier Dias is also the founder of the Bindrai Institute for Research and Social Action (BIRSA), which too is a FCRA-NGO, JH/337820004 whose current Chief Functionary is a Philan Horo.

After his college education, Xavier Dias was “working with AICUF – a national student organisation, as their National Programme Secretary, travelling to different universities across the country organising students”, which eventually took him to Jharkhand. In the above interview, he did not elaborate what AICUF is, but we note that AICUF stands for All India Catholic University Federation.

Later, Dias worked with people in Jharkhand against mining in general (and uranium mining in particular). According to this wonderful report produced by Vidya Prasarak Mandal, Thane, Xavier Dias is a very close friend of Pradip Prabhu (alias Fr. Peter d’Mello) who is well known for his work done through his organization, Kashtakari Sanghatana in Palghar and surrounding areas.

In 2018-19, PSA received Rs. 3.17 Crore as total foreign contributions. Its donors were: Misereor (Germany’s Catholic Secular Organization), AID-India (USA) (yet another entity which funds non-benign FCRA-NGOs, see our earlier Post), National Foundation of India (secondary transfer), Transnational Institute-Netherlands (recall that the Delhi-based Achin Vanaik, the so-called anti-nuclear activist was a long time Fellow of this Institute), Heinrich Boell Foundation-Germany, and American Jewish World Service.

This selection of a Catholic led ‘Liberation Theology’ NGO for funding by the German Catholic Church, by German Marxists and by Heinrich Boell Foundation, the international activist arm of the German Green Party, demonstrates the co-ordination between different arms of the German body politic in how they engage with foreign nations.

2. Sanchal Foundation too has received ‘donations’ from RLS. In mainstream media, it is always referred to as ‘Hazards Centre’ and not as Sanchal Foundation. Its chief functionary is a famous Anubrotto Roy (popularly known as ‘Dunu Roy’). For further details, refer to this Post.

3. Centre for Workers Management, whose chief functionary is a Dithhi Bhattacharya has also received ‘donations’ from RLS once. CWM receives foreign ‘donations’ from Unitarian Universalist Association, Fund for Global Human Rights-Washington DC, Action Aid etc.

The postal address of New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) matches that of CWM. Both appear to have common or revolving functionaries. Note that FCRA-2010 forbids Trade Unions from accessing FCRA. Yet, this charade continues. In this document produced in 2015 by the Centre for Development Innovation, part of the Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek Foundation, The Netherlands, it is stated that “Barring Gautam Mody, CWM’s director until 2012, and who is now NTUI’s General Secretary, none of the other CWM board members are on NTUI’s board which indicates that the separation between CWM and any one other organisation, recommended since 2008, is slowly materialising.” Thus, at least at some point in time, NTUI and CWM could have been considered as one and the same. Some of the famous names of NTUI are: D. Thankappan, Sailen Bhattacharya, Gautam Mody, Sujata Mody etc.

4. A quaint FCRA-NGO, World Comics India has received a small one-time ‘donation’ from RLS in 2019. WCI is founded and run by Sharad Sharma. WCI calls itself as a “Collective of grassroots activists, cartoonists, artists, development journalists who use comics as a communication tool”. It taught Rohingya ‘refugees’ in Delhi to draw comics, per this news item https://twitter.com/TimesNow/status/1235701121433456646 .

5. Indian Institute of Dalit Studies has been a longstanding recipient of ‘donations’ from RLS. Although its FCRA Registration belongs to that of Delhi (231660773), its Darpan entry mentions it as being located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. A Prof. Raosaheb K Kale signs as its Chief Functionary, although Darpan lists Prof. Sukhadeo Thorat as the Chairman of the Board (Darpan data is likely to be outdated — not surprising.

When Planning Commission was dissolved/rechristened, this Darpan work should have been disbanded). RLS collaborates with IIDS in organizing workshops and conferences, including on ‘Studying inequality in India’.

6. INSAF (Indian Social Action Forum) used to receive ‘donations’ from RLS. INSAF’s FCRA registration was ‘cancelled’ by the Ministry of Home Affairs, a few years ago. The same was contested by INSAF in the Supreme Court (iirc, in the Delhi High Court first), and the SC ‘read down’ the relevant clause of FCRA, based on which the registration was cancelled. Notwithstanding these, the FCRA website continues to mention that INSAF’s FCRA is ‘deemed to have ceased’.

7. Next up in our list is Society for Labour and Development (SLD), Delhi. SLD works for the rights of women workers etc. We have no issues with that. In the past, it appears SLD has documented gender based violence and harassment of workers in factories (supply chains) supplying to leading international fashion chains such as GAP, H&M etc.

SLD is not alone in such work. Several FCRA-NGOs in Tamil Nadu and Bengaluru carry out such work, on behalf of their foreign donors. It is anybody’s guess whether such gender based violence etc. are brought to the formal attention of local law enforcement agencies and whether closure is achieved.

Given the lack of evidence for such a legal and local approach to alleged harassment at work (and bad working conditions), makes one suspect the handiwork of these FCRA-NGOs.

8. Harsh Mander’s Centre for Equity Studies has been regularly receiving ‘donations’ from RLS. They work ‘together’ on labour rights, organize webinars on ‘pandemic and equity’, and on the political education of vulnerable groups’. RLS elaborates the work to study ‘sections of society that are being excluded or adversely included from equitable access to public goods.’

We are sure that neither RLS nor CES have ever worked on Article 30 of our Constitution which places non-minorities at a lower footing in terms of institutional autonomy with regard to laws of Government. So much for equity and inclusivity that RLS and CES scream about.

9. Kislay is in Delhi and its website says that Ramendra Kumar and Anita Juneja are part of it. It supposedly produces studies focusing on unorganised, understudied and new forms of production, labour and social action. However, SRUTI (which itself is a FCRA-NGO, about which we have a lot to write, but that has to wait for another day) mentions these two individuals as founders of a Delhi Shramik Sangathan which supposedly works for the ‘empowerment’ of slum dwellers.

The 2018-19 FC4 of Kislay mentions the RLS grant as one towards ‘examining the impact and political discourses on women migrants in India’. Kislay is known for its 2018 ‘report/book’ titled “Migration and Women Casual Workers: A Study in Superexploitation”, which among other topics, discusses ‘Access to Public Distribution System (Food Ration)’ (page 16) and how migrant workers may hold Ration Cards of their home states and thus are unable to receive subsidised food in the locations of their work.

The NDA Government has introduced and is pushing hard for the implementation of the ‘One Nation, One Ration’ scheme across all States, through biometric verification, which will *precisely* solve the issues that KISLAY has discussed. Yet, to the best of our knowledge, neither KISLAY nor their ilk have welcomed this enabling technology and its ability to enable migrant workers.

Well, if the problem is solved, how can such reports to foreign ‘donors’ be produced? May be, that is the reason. KISLAY is no small FCRA-NGO. In 2018-19, it received Rs. 1.7 Crore foreign contributions from entities such as Unitarian Universalist Association (USA), RLS, Human Capability Foundation (UK) and American Jewish World Service.

10. Action Aid Association is a well known entity. After a long hiatus, it has started receiving ‘donations’ from RLS in 2019-20. Going by this tender, it appears that the purpose is to study migrant workers.

11. Centre for Labour Research and Action, Ahmedabad, run by Sudhir Kumar Katiyar is a FCRA-NGO to watch out for. Although it has started to receive ‘donations’ from RLS only since 2019, its work is being increasingly covered in mainstream media. Its first FCRA return was for the year 2015-16 when it reported Rs. Zero inflow.

In 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, it reported inflows of Rs. 10.2 lakh, Rs. 15.7 lakh, and Rs. 17.7 lakh as total foreign ‘donations’. These amounts are very small, relatively speaking. However, it received windfalls of Rs. 25 lakh, Rs. 25 lakh, and Rs. 20 lakh in the three quarters of 2020, i.e., Jan-March, July-September and October-December; Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung being a major contributor.

Just in the first half of 2020 alone, Sudhir Katiyar and his FCRA-NGO were featured in major mainstream media such as The Wire, New Indian Express, Times of India, Straits Times etc. in stories with headlines such as these: “Brick kiln workers suffer under debt”, “Coronavirus: Migrants want to return home, worried”, “Experts bat for states rescuing migrant workers stranded”, etc.

12. Foundation for Agrarian Studies, Bengaluru has been regularly receiving ‘donations’ from RLS. It publishes a journal called ‘Review of Agrarian Studies’. This Foundation is run by Prof. VK Ramachandran. He is currently the Vice-Chair of the Kerala State Planning Board (the Chairperson being the Chief Minister of the State).

In the Jan-Jun 2011 issue of the magazine ‘The Marxist’, published by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Prof. Ramachandran has written an article titled “The State of Agrarian Relations in India Today”. In a recent issue of his Foundation’s Review journal, Prof. VKR’s editorial on the farm laws appears to be incoherent with no substantive points against the farm laws.

Consider these sentences: “Freedom to sell produce exists already. Only 44% of wheat produces is sold by farmers to mandis.” Again, not unexpectedly, no word on the fact that the farm laws have not banned (state-run) Mandis! In both 2017 and 2018, the Foundation’s sole foreign fund ‘donor’ was RLS, effectively making it indistinguishable from RLS (He who pays the piper ….).

13. We shall skip TISS, as it is well known. We shall also skip discussing Agragamee, Institute for Motivating Self Employment and Jadavpur University for various other reasons.

14. Equal Community Foundation (ECF) in Pune is a new FCRA registrant. Its first FC4 return was filed only in 2015-16. In 2015 and in later years, it received total foreign ‘donations’ of Rs. 69 lakh, Rs. 1.6 Crore, Rs. 1.5 Crore and Rs. 1.6 Crore. Its donors include: Equal Community Foundation (UK), Social Initiative (Sweden), Free A Girl (The Netherlands), Fund for Global Children (USA) and very recently, RLS.

The objectives of ECF-Pune appear to be very similar to that of ECF-UK which is the prevention and relief of gender based discrimination and violence. ECF-Pune goes a step ahead and proclaims that “its mission is to raise every boy in India to be gender equitable”.

15. Prayas in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan is a mega FCRA-NGO in which Sudhir Katiyar is listed as Project Director, although a Preeti Oza signs its FC4 returns. Prayas received total foreign funds anywhere between Rs. 2.4 Crore to Rs. 3.3 Crore each year between 2015 and 2018. Its ‘donors’ include Oxfam-India (whose CEO is the famous Amitabh Behar), Sudwind Institut for Okonomie and Okumene (Germany), British Deputy High Commission (Chandigarh), Open Society Foundation (Soros), Paul Hamlyn Foundation, National Foundation for India (a humongous FCRA-NGO in Delhi), Tides Foundation, HRLN/SLIC etc.

The grant from RLS is to ‘document working conditions and migrational profile of tribal workers’. We have learnt that Narendra Gupta, listed as the longest serving member of the Executive Board of Prayas, stood as a Candidate of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Chittorgarh Parliamentary constituency in the 2014 General Elections.

16. Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (MCRG) was founded in 1996. The founders were a group of researchers, trade unionists, feminist thinkers and women’s rights campaigners, academics, journalists, and lawyers. MCRG appears to be working on esoteric academic issues and not on activism, advocacy or social reformation etc.

17. Focus on the Global South (FGS), (Mumbai/Delhi) is an important ‘partner’ of RLS. Until a year or couple ago, it was headed by Syed Afsar Hussain Jaffri who, it appears, has moved now to head a Spanish Organization called ‘Grain’FGS website mentions that “it works closely with broad National and International networks such as the Indian Forum against FTAs, Indian People’s Campaign against the WTO, National Working Group on Patent Laws and WTO, Political and Non-political Farmer Unions, Right to Food Campaign, India Climate Justice Network, People’s SAARC, National Alliance of People’s Movements, La Via Campesina, Reclaiming Public Water and many others.

FGS’ headquarters is located in Thailand (A Shalmali Guttal heads it) and it too sends substantial amounts to FGS-Mumbai via FCRA. The well-known journalist, Seema Mustafa serves on the Board of FGS-Thailand. Although the entire list of ‘donors’ to FGS-Thailand are not known, what is known for sure is that it received a ‘donation’ of USD 209,635 from Foundation to Promote Open Society (#Soros) “to study the links between Development Pathways, Rights, Peace, Justice, Democracy And The Exercise Of Power In Asia Through Monitoring, Research, And Outreach; Forums, Workshops, And Events; And Media Outreach And Community Partnerships” in 2017 (likely a 3-year grant).

Between 2009 and 2020, FGS-Mumbai has received a total of Rs. 8.92 Crore foreign ‘donations’, 54% of which has come from its headquarters in Thailand. As noted above, FGS-Thailand is a donee of Foundation to Promote Open Society Foundations (FPOS), which makes FGS-India to be an indirect recipient of FPOS #Soros funds. 20% of FGS’ donations from abroad came from RLS-Germany.

report entitled “India Compromises its WTO Strategy: A critical look at the 2020 agricultural market reforms”, published in January 2021 and authored by Prof. Biswajit Dhar, JNU was sponsored by RLS (with funds of the German Government’s Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development) and FGS-India.

The study examined the recent farm laws and concluded that the stand in WTO fora held by Bharat so far, of protecting its farmers for the goal of food security is being compromised and that these farm laws would force Bharatiya Government to open its agricultural markets.

What is interesting to note in all these is how foreign Governments fund such ‘research’ into how the laws enacted by our Government would affect their countries, using our own people and resources.

On February 9, 2021, RLS organized an online discussion entitled “Rural Protests in India – A glimmer of hope for progressive alliances?” wherein Prof. Jayati Ghosh, Kavita Krishnan and Seema Kulkarni were advertised to speak, on supposedly the farm laws and the so-called farmers’ protests. (Prof. Ghosh had to withdraw, the webpage added, on the day of the event).

The RLS page mentions (translated using Google): “Yet, this is only the most recent wave of resistance in a heterogenous sequence of nationwide mass protests against the Hindu Nationalist Government of BJP under PM Modi which have been occurring since 2019”. Clearly, RLS portrays a Bharat which is far removed from our reality and describes us using the language of the other.

The above two instances exhibit RLS’ interests in the Bharatiya farm sector and its role in pushing its agenda of Luddism through its FCRA donees.

In the section on FGS above, we learnt that it works closely with La via Campesina (LvC), among others. What is LvC? LvC started out as a farmers collective in Western Europe, protecting the interests of local farmers. It is fairly strong in Brazil now. LvC has members from Bharat as well, including Rakesh Tikait, Gopal Papegowda, Sellamuthu, S. Kannaiyan and Yudhvir Singh, all of whom attended the WTO Ministerial Conference held in Buenos Aires, December 2017, as representatives of LvC.

In the infamous #toolkit released (& deleted later) by the Swedish Child Greta Thunberg, LvC finds mention. See https://twitter.com/sidhant/status/1356991778717503490 ; Under more ways to participate, the Toolkit had recommended a hashtag, #ShineonIndiaFarmers and added “Light a candle. Digital Campaign info from Via Campesina; here are some of their posters”).

The above analyses demonstrates the relationship between a Marxist entity, RLS and the various organizations and causes it supports in Bharat. The range and score are wide, from farmers’ movements, funding trade unions to engaging in deep social re-engineering by manipulating gender behaviour of children. Some of the donees are even quasi-political in character.

(The story was published on fcraanalyses.blogspot.com on March 10, 2021 and has been reproduced here with minor edits to conform to HinduPost style-guide.)


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