Thursday, April 30, 2015

US Again Raises Ford Foundation Issue with India

After the US state department protested against the Indian government's action of putting global NGO, Ford Foundation, on its watch list, the issue was raised during the just concluded foreign office consultations.

The US side, led by under secretary for political affairs Wendy Sherman, is believed to have quizzed the Indian delegation on two key issues — why was the Indian government going after one of the biggest US NGOs, and that India should do more to support former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed.

India has denied any suggestion of a witch hunt against Ford Foundation or any of the big NGOs that are currently under the scanner. Sources said Ford Foundation, as an NGO donor, is not allowed to make donations for political causes to 'companies', which is a violation of FCRA regulations. They also point to other discrepancies of the organization which may have been shared with the US side.

On Nasheed, India ploughed its standard line that it would not "interfere" in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries, but would continue to deal with the government of the day in Maldives. Nasheed enjoys a great deal of popularity in the West, but India has always regarded him with a pinch of salt.

India-US strategic dialogues tend to be a long laundry list of ambitious projects. But with two back-to-back summits, India and US have another job — to fulfil the list of projects.

Sherman, who is in Delhi for preparatory talks with her counterpart, foreign secretary S Jaishankar, said on Friday that the forthcoming dialogue will focus on "completed projects".

Assistant secretary of state Nisha Biswal said US secretary of state John Kerry had asked the Pakistani authorities to make sure they tried to re-arrest LeT chief Zaki-ur Rahman Lakhvi after he was set free by a Lahore court.

The rebadged India-US dialogue, which will now include the foreign and commerce ministers on the Indian side and secretary of state and commerce secretary on the US side, is likely to be held around September this year. "We will focus on completed projects, business agreements done, regional activities ...," she said indicating that counter-terrorism cooperation will be taking a greater space in the India-US relationship. 

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