GuideStar India's CEO, Pushpa Aman Singh, was invited to speak about NGO Accountability in India at the International conference on NPO Accountability in Taipei, Taiwan. Pushpa could not go to Taipei due to last minute glitches at the Mumbai airport. However, she addressed the conference via Skype. Thanks to some smart use of technology by GuideStar India and the Taiwan NPO Self Regulation Alliance, the audience had a virtual presentation followed by Q & A. Seen in the picture is Mr Richy Li, Director (News Products, Media Products & Solutions) Yahoo responding to Pushpa's address.
Pushpa gave a brief introduction to the size and structure of the Indian voluntary sector. She pointed out that statutory requirements for NGO accountability and their administration in India was not sufficient for stakeholders to be assured of NGO credibility. She described the various initiatives of the Indian voluntary sector towards promoting NGO transparency and accountability. Chiefly, she described the role of GiveIndia, GuideStar India, Credibility Alliance, the Joy of Giving Week and CSO Partners' Annual report Awards. Pushpa emphasised that NGOs voluntarily participated in initiatives that required them to be transparent & accountable if these resulted in tangible benefits. She also mentioned that several thousand NGOs that were keen to participate in these initiatives could not do so for want of resources to build their capacity. There is also the need to bring thousand of NGOs in remote areas into an electronic database so that they could be made aware of the numerous opportunities that exist. She emphasised the need to make donors (individuals, corporates, foundations and government) aware of the existence of these mechanisms so that they could direct their resources towards NGOs that voluntarily demonstrate accountability.
Pushpa stressed on the need to have easy (low entry barrier) mechanisms such as GuideStar India to allow NGOs to make public disclosure of as little or as much information they could share. GuideStar India allows NGOs to start reporting with just 2 documents (registration certificate and address proof). At the same time, the site (soon to be launched with NGO data) would reward NGOs that report more information and make frequent updates through search results ranking.
Pushpa welcomed the Planning Commission's NGO Partnership System that has over 22,000 NGO records. She expressed concern about some of the government moves such as making FCRA permission for a limited duration, the IT Department stating that 12A could be withdrawn any time and its stand on income earning activities of NGOs. These seem to be quite contrary to the positive tone of the Voluntary Sector Policy, 2007. She welcomed the Planning Commission setting up task forces and committees with NGO representation for implementing the Voluntary Sector Policy, 2007.
The concluding part of the address was devoted to her views about the need for the voluntary sector in India to convert, its various initiatives for transparency & accountability, from small disjointed steps into a coordinated and concerted movement to transform the sector. While NGOs had been successful in pushing for electoral reforms to make politicians accountable, played a key role getting the Right to Information Act passed towards making the government machinery accountable, it has become very critical for the sector to pursue its own accountability with the same passion and zeal.
Reacting to Pushpa's address, Professor Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao, Department of Sociology, NTU, expressed the desire to interact with Indian organisations as Taiwan makes its progress towards self-regulation of its voluntary sector.
Thank you, Chi and Regina of the Garden of Hope Foundation for inviting GuideStar India and providing all the relevant material on Taiwan's NPO sector. A big thank you to the team at Taiwan NPO Self Regulation Alliance.
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