A recent Intelligence Bureau (IB) report has claimed that some well-known NGOs are working to stall economic development at the behest of their foreign donors. Activists and rights groups have been up in arms ever since the report was leaked. In an interview with Fawaz Shaheen, Colin Gonsalves, eminent Supreme Court lawyer, constitutional expert and founder of the Human Rights Law Network, discusses foreign funding and the fears of India's civil rights activists:
The leaked IB report claims that under the garb of "people-centric issues" certain NGOs are working to stall development projects, resulting in a loss of about 2-3 % of the GDP. Do you agree with this assessment?
Not at all, this is an issue of environmental protection. Let's take the nuclear energy issue. There are some sections of society that point out its adverse effects. These are not people who are anti-national. It is their point of view, in the nation's interest, that India should go towards renewable sources of energy and that nuclear power is dangerous. We must recognize that these activists are doing a public service, which many people may disagree with. But they don't have the state power to enforce their point of view, all they can do is they can write and talk. That is a constitutionally protected activity.