What are the best NGOs in India

Greenpeace under pressureIndia takes action against NGOs in its own country

The Indian government is trying to drive the environmental organization out of the country with dubious methods. Courts had to intervene several times to declare the government's actions illegal. 150 employees have already left Greenpeace in India because they ran out of money or simply could no longer withstand the pressure from the government. According to an intelligence report, foreign-funded organizations are damaging the country's economic security.

Real life, writes Greenpeace India on its website, is sometimes stranger than a Bollywood film. With posters from the Indian film industry, the environmental organization in India now wants to point out that the government is trying to silence them, says activist Priya Pillai: "Most of our employees hardly have time for anything else. They are constantly working to ensure that Greenpeace can survive. "

150 Greenpeace activists have already left India

At the beginning of this year, Priya Pillai found out firsthand how much the Indian government's environmental organization is a thorn in the side. She wanted to travel to London to report on how India is violating the rights of indigenous people in order to develop even more coal fields. She was stopped at the airport. Her name appeared on a list of people who are not allowed to leave the country. The Supreme Court in New Delhi lifted Priya Pillai's travel ban weeks later.

"Whenever Greenpeace wins a case in court," says Pillai, "the government finds something new to take against us." Sometimes it is about Greenpeace not managing its finances correctly, sometimes the organization has to submit to the accusation that it violates the national interests of the country. Also because money from abroad is involved. For this there is a separate law in India that regulates who is allowed to receive donations from outside and what these are used for.

Completely legitimate: India wants to protect itself from foreign countries influencing opinion-forming and politics in their own country. Especially if it could harm the Indian people's own well-being. However, this law allows the Indian government a lot of leeway, says Professor Jagdeep S. Chhokar from the Association for Democratic Reforms in India:

"So what does the common good of a nation mean. For example, is nuclear power for or against the well-being of a society ?! That is neither black nor white. Nuclear power is controversial all over the world, including here in India."

Foreign-funded organizations are said to harm economic security

India is currently building a nuclear power plant that will be the largest in the world. The government intends to double coal mining in the next ten years. Because every third Indian today has no electricity. Campaigns against nuclear power or the mining of coal are not well received. In addition, Greenpeace is known worldwide as a militant organization, says Sanjay Kaul, of the ruling BJP party:

"Greenpeace is not a sensible organization that meets the standards. The government has to act sensibly. If we could negotiate sensibly with Greenpeace, we could achieve a lot. The extremism does not come from the government, but from the other side."

Last year a report from the Indian secret service hit the media. It said that foreign-funded organizations would jeopardize the country's economic security. Even the otherwise well-balanced Professor Jagdeep S. Chhokar has to laugh at this assessment:

"From my point of view, the secret service is not exactly the competent size to judge how exactly a country's economy is growing and who is presumably influencing it."

Government wants to restrict citizens' rights

The Greenpeace activists have not been able to laugh for more than a year. 150 employees have since left the organization because they could no longer stand the uncertainty and the pressure. The government has been more aggressive since the change of power and tries to restrict the rights of the citizens, says the activist Pillai: "You scare the big fish", by which she means the world-famous organization Greenpeace, "and then the small fish get even more afraid".

Sanjay Kaul from the ruling BJP party says they are only doing their job and are not targeting Greenpeace in particular: "They just shouldn't feel special," he added afterwards. While Greenpeace India is still stumbling, the Indian government has revoked the licenses of over ten thousand organizations in the past few months.