Shocking revelations over the past couple of days have shown us that over the past many years, the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) had continuously received funds the Prime Ministers National Relief Fund (PMNRF); from various governments from around the world ranging from China to Ireland to Luxemburg; from various central ministries; from industries ranging from Reliance to TVS to GVK; from banks ranging from SBI to Standard Chartered; from private individuals; from private trusts; and what not!
With such a humungous network and funding, I was very interested to check out the work that the RGF had done over all these years. Their website has a lot of verbose and little numbers. Since I don’t want you to go through the yawning verbose, allow me to walk you through their projects, timelines and numbers.
Program 1: INTERACT Scholarships
The aim of the program is to provide scholarships for children affected by violent conflict in various part of our country. The claim is that since the year 1993, across 11 states and 2 UTs, a total of 2,115 children were provided scholarship at their school level & 134 of these pursued higher education and vocational courses. With all the donors at their disposal, the RGF thought it fit to support 80 students a year, starting in the year 1993!
Program 2: Rajiv Gandhi Access to Opportunities Program
The aim of the program is to “Award specially designed vehicles” for the physically challenged young people. The claim is that since the year 1992, across 25 states and 5UTs, 2900 such vehicles were awarded. That’s about 100 per year. With all the donors at their disposal, the RGF thought it fit to award ~100 vehicles a year, starting in the year 1992!
Program 3: Rajiv Gandhi Cambridge Scholarship (ha!)
Through this program, they collaborated with another trust (oh the maze!) – Cambridge Commonwealth Trust. What did they do since 1994? The sponsored tickets (fancy name – “travelling scholarships”) to 140 students of UK universities to visit India! And then they funded 60 Indian students to pursue a 2nd degree in B.A (Honors). And since 2014: they provided full scholarships for 6 PhD students who got selected from India to Cambridge. You would think that’s awesome. The catch is that this cost is shared by three different trusts! There are no details available on how the cost has been split.
Program 4: Natural Resource Management
According to their website, this was established in 2001. And then they immediately jump to what they did in the year 2011. So that should only mean that this program did nothing till 2011 (Yes, 10 full years! I wonder how the donors feel about that). They then decide to be 1 of the 3 donors of “Gram Gaurav Sansthan” NGO working on the Rajasthan-Madhya Pradesh border. Their site claims that 1760 families have been impacted. But they give no clarity if this is the NGOs overall impact or just the families impacted by RGF’s funding alone.
Program 5: Heritage – Archives & Gallery
The purpose is to maintain “Archives on Shri Rajiv Gandhi’s life and work.” All his photos, videos, speeches have been archived. No one has any problem if they did this on their own dime. Instead, they get government money to do what is essentially a family project!
Program 6: Schools program
Click on their link that reads “Schools program” and you get “Coming soon”!
Program 7: Wonderoom
This is a library-cum-activity centre in Jawahar Bhavan, Delhi. They claim that they have over 6000 books for children to read. Their FB page shows activities facilitated by this program and claim that over 400 children and parents attend these programs. The only meaningful statistic in this is the 6000 books in the library!
Program 8: Relief and Rehabilitation
The confusion created in this page is mind-boggling. There is no proper timeline or details of relief efforts carried out. There are details of some disasters that have rocked India since 1991. After all this, we are told that 5000 families have received help. And that free medicines have been provided to 9000 patients. Oh, and 1200 blankets also. With all the donors at their disposal, the RGF couldn’t even give out 1 blanket a year? With all the donors and power at their disposal, RGF could not even support 200 families a year?
Who will answer for Rajiv Gandhi Foundation?
Take a look at their donor page of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation for just one year. With such a massive reach, not even 200 students per year benefited from RGF; not even 500 families per year benefited from the RGF. Many of us would have easily known smaller NGOs with lesser funding that have created a bigger impact. Their financial statements show us that crores are spent on these projects. Is this the impact one can see with crores of money at their disposal? Instead of doing juvenile videos, perhaps Rahul Gandhi must explain why RGF performs so disproportionately to the funds they receive!