Pounds, Dollars, and Dinars

A large destitute population notwithstanding, J&K receives only a fraction of the foreign contributions coming into India every year. Kashmir Life profiles some of the major groups that have mobilized the most from charities abroad in last few years.

Recession or not, millions of people make charities across the globe and part of it also makes way into India every year. The foreign contributions to Indian non-governmental organizations and institutions are becoming substantial as it gets poured into rural development, gender empowerment, literacy, advocacy and preaching. But J&K is able to mobilize just a fraction of it. In 2008-09, for instance, when 20,088 associations across India reported foreign contributions worth Rs 10,802.67 crore, the 69 groups operating in J&K could barely secure Rs 24.22 crore, a mere 0.22 percent.

For the last five years ending 2008-09, total charity money that came into India was of the order of Rs 47,156.54 crores. But J&K, despite being in a position to woo the charities across the globe owing to massive destitution because of the prevailing situation, could only attract Rs 193.69 crores. This does not even make half a percent of the total money.

Why J&K is consistently fails to bag a proportional part of this charity would be an interesting aspect of a scholar’s research. Insiders in the social sector of the state suggest that it involves two major problems. Primarily, there might not be many initiatives that would be well versed with the systems involved. Secondly, they might be finding it increasingly difficult to get registered under the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act (FCRA), the law that permits and monitors foreign funding for specified purposes. A third factor could be that some of the NGOs working on various fronts might actually be satellites or extensions of the larger ‘Kashmir malls’ that sprang up in Delhi and elsewhere in the plains well before somebody in Jammu and Srinagar would know.

The number of organizations reporting donations along with the list of donors changed every year, but in last five years it has never been below 50 (see table). Among these organizations, there are quite a few groups that have been reporting substantial donations from abroad that went into the implementation of their specified activities within the state.

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) which regulates FCRA believes the below-profiled groups have remained the top most recipients of foreign contributions in the last five years. They have reported foreign donations to be more than one crore rupees in one calendar year or every year during the past five years. If they have received less than one crore in any year, it is not listed with the ministry.

Kashmir Evangelical Fellowship
Udhampur, J&K

Nothing much is known about this group, at least in Kashmir. But a website (http://www.kefm.org/) offers some insights. “Proclaiming Christ to Muslims and Hindus in Kashmir Valley,” is the sentence that introduces its existence in the state. “When people accept Christ from Muslim and Hindu backgrounds,” the site refers to a post in the site, “they are thrown out of their families.”

The website informs that the group has inaugurated the first Kashmir Bible College in Kathua in two buildings, one each for girls and boys. Pastors and evangelists from different churches and organizations, it says, volunteer weekly to teach the four classes to the “promising students”.  The organization set up Brooklyn Mission School in April 1991 for “the people of Kashmir valley who were displaced because of the war.”

In last eight years, the group says it has set up small women’s groups at 15 locations and in one of its posts, it mentions a gathering of 325 of these women – many former Hindus and Muslims – in the Fellowship. It talks about the missions and missionaries at great length and seeks donations for missionaries at the rate of $100 per month per head to help them “taking the gospel to where it has never been heard.”

Lamdon Model Senior Secondary School

Set up in 1973 by Marup Namgyal, the Lamdon School is aimed at providing equal educational opportunity facilities to all children, particularly to poorer ones. Marup took the local singers across north India to raise donations for laying the foundation of this school. Now, its website suggests, its main campus with 1700 students runs in Leh besides seven branch schools across the Himalayan town in the state. Students are taught Ladakhi, Hindi and English. Off late, the society running the school is in basic medicare in certain areas. Its main campuses are fully computerized.

Kargil Educational Society
Kargil, Ladakh

This society received foreign donations of Rs 12054767.00 in the financial year 2006-07.
Basically, Mutahhary Education Society, this Kargil based educational venture started with a primary school in the main town in 1984. It later expanded in the length and breadth of the arid desert and by the end of 2009 it has a network of 14 schools, many of which are middle and high school level. These include (according to its site www.meskargil.com) a school at Baroo (started in 1995), Baroo colony (1998), Goma (1994), Pashkum (1994), Saliskote (1993), Kanoor (1997), Drass (1995), Akchamal (1996), Foker (2001), Sanjak (2004), Stikchey (1996), and Choskore (2000).

Mahabodhi Intermational Meditation Centre
Devachan, Leh

The Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre (MIMC) was set up by Bhikkhu Sanghasena in 1986 to offer “spiritual instructions” and humanitarian services to impoverished people in remote Ladakh. Its main campus is based at Devachan where (http://mahabodhi-ladakh.org) it claims it provides “comprehensive care” to all segments of society. Apart from the multi-disciplinary Mahabodhi Karuna Charitable Hospital that it built with the sponsorship of South Korean Mother Park Sung Soo since 1996, MIMC has a major educational project that includes many boarding schools for girls and boys.

Iqbal Memorial Trust
Iqbalabad Bemina, Srinagar

A Srinagar based educational initiative that was launched with a high school in Bemina in 1981. In 1999 it was upgraded up to twelfth class and a separate girls wing was also started. Over the years, it has reached the status of frontline educational institutions of the city. In 2006, the Trust started Iqbal Institute of Technology and Management (IITM) in the periphery of Hyderpora with world-class basic infrastructure including 75,000 sq ft of built-up area.

Catholic Social Service Society
Seva Niketan Kunjwani Bye Pass, Jammu.

Started in 1981 with the vision of “establishing of just social order wherein every human person enjoys equal human dignity”, the Catholic Social Service Society (CSSS) was initially operating in Srinagar and later it was shifted to Jammu. Its website (http://csssjk.org) suggests through its first full-time director Fr Alphonse A that the group is following the philosophy of “teach fishing instead of giving fish” since 1995. It has a varied set of activities that include education, healthcare, community development, income generation plans, vocational training, literacy programmes and relief and rehabilitation. It reaches out to the people in 172 villages of J&K including Baramulla where it helped rehabilitate some of the earthquake populations of 2005.

Save the Children Fund North West India
Leh Ladakh.

The organisation received Rs 3,97,00000.00 in 2006-07.
A British charity, Save the Children Fund is one of the oldest NGOs that operated in the deserts of Ladakh. Initially, it was associated with improving the nourishment of certain impoverished sections of the society and now it is busy in various other activities.

Diocese of Jammu – Srinagar St. Mary’s Church
Jammu Cantt, Jammu.

One of the major Christian (Catholic) organizations in the state, it has massive infrastructure in health and educational spheres of life. It operates in the state since 1868 (http://www.jammusrinagardio.org) when the Church thought, “Kafiristan and Kashmir were the areas of possible missionary endeavours.” It runs 33 schools, three hospitals across the state besides various institutions specifically for special children and is socially one of the most influential organizations in the state.

Jammu & Kashmir Yateem Trust Srinagar
Red Cross Road, Maisuma, Srinagar.

One of Kashmir’s oldest institutions the Yateem Trust takes care of the orphans since 1972. Post-1990, when destitution became a crisis, it – alongside scores of other institutions – worked overtime to extend help to the orphans. Currently, it runs eight orphanages including one exclusively for girls. Cumulatively, it has 400 children inmates in these orphanages. Besides, it is engaged in some other social activities including helping marry off poor girls and setting up income generation units for the destitute. The FCRA details suggest it to be a major recipient of foreign funds – Rs 76.47 crores in last five years. It recieved a major grant of Rs 73 crores from Action Aid in 2005-06. It seems the grant was supposed to take care of the requirements of the earthquake flattened areas for which it had a tie-up with the Action Aid. Its site (http://www.jkyt.org) lacks the details of the extent of its operations and the deployment of funds to particular categories of its operations.

Rizong Cultural and Welfare Society
Lanlcing, Leh- Ladakh.

Nothing much is known about this initiative other than that it is operating in social welfare sector in Lalncing, Ladakh. It seems to be operating closer to a famous monastery of the area. The MHA has listed it in organizations that failed to offer accounts in 2005.

Ladakh Ecological Developmental Group
Karzoo , Leh – Ladakh.

It received Rs 1,07,63909.00 in 2008-09.
One of most talked about NGOs in the arid region, the Karzoo (Leh) based Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDEG) was set up 1983 with an objective to promote ecological and sustainable development of the region that harmonizes with the local culture. It was initiated by Helena Norberg-Hodge, a Swedish linguist who first came to Ladakh in 1975. Over the years, it has been implementing ecologically and socially sustainable projects. Its successes include setting up of Rs 7.32 crore solar photovoltaic power plant at Tangtse that replaced 250kVa Diesel Generator and is supplying energy to 350 houses for five hours a day. It also implemented a project for improving living conditions of some people living in structurally disadvantaged areas by offering them seeds and training for organic farming. Besides, it set up a solar community cooker at Skidmang Nunnery (Nyoma). It has a number of similar initiatives in the pipeline.

Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board
Katra, Udhampur.

Received Rs 1,34,54132.00 in 2008-09.
One of the richest Hindu shrines in north India, the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi gets around one crore pilgrims a year. The pilgrim economy has changed the socio-economic profile of the Katra region and has fetched it a world-class university and a hospital. Led by the governor of J&K, the Board registered with the MHA for getting foreign contributions in June 1995 after a devote volunteered to offer one lakh US dollars. Though it initially defaulted in submitting its accounts to the MHA under the law, it is managing the account successfully.


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