India-US defense logistics pact stuck under red tape
The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) is currently stuck in regulatory quagmire with bureaucratic bottlenecks on both sides, particularly within the Indian defense ministry.
While the US has an existing framework to implement such bilateral pacts, the decision-making process in India is convoluted given the multiple agencies involved. For instance, in the specific case of LEMOA, the pact is confronted by separate budget and accounting procedures for the army, navy, and air force due to an absence of a unified military command.
The logistics pact signed between the two countries on August 29, 2016 allows mutual access to each other’s military bases for refueling, repair, and maintenance of warships and aircrafts.
Christian NGOs in India are top recipients of foreign funds
Religious groups dominated last fiscal year’s list of top funded NGOs. Three evangelical Christian NGOs showed the highest foreign funding for 2015-2016. Ayana Charitable Trust, Believers Church India, and World Vision India were first, third, and fourth on the list, respectively, while. The second-highest recipient was the Hindu Param Shakthi Peeth, which is an NGO that is associated with the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) nationalist group.
Ayana Charitable Trust and Believers Church India, which are both Kerala-based NGOs, received US$126.34 million (Rs 826 crore) and US$52.31 million (Rs 342 crore) in total funding, respectively, for fiscal year (FY) 2015-2016. Chennai-based World Vision India came in fourth in the list, declaring US$48.79 million (Rs 319) crore in 2015-16 in its Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) returns; it was the highest recipient in the preceding two years.
Interestingly, Gospel for Asia is a prominent funder of the Believers Church India, while Ayana Charitable Trust is considered a rebranded version of the Texas-based Gospel for Asia. Meanwhile, the government announced last week that all FCRA accounts of NGOs would be integrated with the online banking system for easy access and monitoring purposes.
Government pitches ‘Clean India’ projects to companies for CSR spend
The government is creating an online marketplace for its cleanliness projects in order to increase private sector participation in its Clean India (Swachh Bharat) program.
Projects on offer include construction of household, public and community toilets, waste management infrastructure and information, education, and communication initiatives. Accordingly, companies can ‘shop’ for the project of their choice, which will qualify for their corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending plan.
The Ministry of Urban Development has also roped in industry bodies – Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), and Assocham – to promote corporate interest in the government’s national cleanliness drive.
In order to become a part of this initiative, companies will need to connect with urban local bodies – a move that will need some reassurance for corporates looking to avoid the usual delays in the decision-making process of such bodies.
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