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Author attempts to defend Hemkunt foundation on receiving foreign donation without FCRA registration: Here is how she is wrong

The FCRA rules and Ketto terms of use made it clear that Hemkunt Foundation is violating rules by collecting foreign funds through a different NGO

A few days ago, OpIndia published a report on how Hemkunt Foundation and others are possibly breaking the FCRA law by collecting foreign funds via fundraisers. Notably, the organization has not explained the situation, but their supporters have come from every direction to defend them. One such case was also covered by OpIndia, where activist and media consultant Yuvraj Pokharna has been facing abuses and threats from Hemkunt Foundation’s followers.

On May 13, author Aparna Jain posted a series of Tweets in which she defended Hemkunt Foundation. She claimed that the organization is authentic. They are a small team, but they are doing all the work with the help of “volunteers whom they recruit openly on social media.”

She further claimed that Hemkunt was the first to provide free oxygen, and they went to “underserved areas went there when there was no one else.”

She further claimed that as the organization does not have FCRA, they do not take foreign donations, and they have not partnered with any NGO for this either. “But they are doing incredible work, and Indians have been sending them money via fundraisers.”

They are doing the work, which the government should have been doing, she added. She also cautioned people of “fake” Hemkunt Foundations, whatever that means. In the end, she asked people not to fall for the “Khalistani” agenda some media houses are creating against Hemkunt. This is something we will talk about later.

No, Aparna, you are wrong about FCRA!

Aparna wrote that Hemkunt is not getting foreign funds, and they have not tied up with any other NGO to collect foreign funds. If we go back to our initial report on FCRA, we had posted screenshots of the fundraisers where it was clearly mentioned that Hemkunt Foundation has tied up with another organization for foreign funds.

There was a slight possibility that someone at Hemkunt woke up and realized they were breaking the law and modified the campaign. But, to our not-so-much-surprise, the primary fundraiser that has been running on Ketto under Hemkunt Foundation’s name is still collecting foreign funds. They have raised over 10.73 crore so far from the fundraiser and their target is Rs.12 crore. The last time when we checked, the target was 10 crore.

The disclaimer towards the end of the fundraiser’s description states that they have tied up with another NGO to collect foreign funds was still there. It reads, “Hemkunt Foundation has tied up with United Way of Bengaluru to accept foreign donations on this campaign. The funds will be transferred to the vendor assigned by Hemkunt Foundation.” We made sure to include the URL and date and time of the screenshot so that no one can question the authenticity of the screenshot.

This time, we decided to roughly calculate some of the foreign funds they collected from this one fundraiser. This is what we found.

There are 27,753 donors so far in the campaign. It is obvious that we cannot scroll through the whole list of donors so we decided to check the recent 100 donors and see how much foreign funds Hemkunt Received via this particular fundraiser on Ketto.

27,753 donors have donated to Ketto fundraiser by Hemkunt Foundation

Out of 100 recent donors, as many as 63 were foreign donors. Here is a currency-wise breakdown of the funds received. (We used XE.com for currency conversion.)

  • AED 97,575 (Emirati Dhirams) which makes roughly Rs.19,55,501.63 as per today’s exchange rate.
  • USD 73,473 (United States Dollars) which makes roughly Rs.54,07,660.85 as per today’s exchange rate.
  • SGD 9,153 (Singaporean Dollars) which makes roughly Rs.5,04,558.09 as per today’s exchange rate.
  • GBP 17,908 (British Pounds) which makes roughly Rs.18,48,746.17 as per today’s exchange rate.
  • EUR 6,900 (Euro) which makes roughly Rs.6,13,082.07 as per today’s exchange rate.

That makes a total of Rs. 1,03,29,548.81 (One Crore Three Lakh Twenty Nine Thousand Five Hundred And Fourty Eight Rupees And Eighty One Paisa) in foreign funds just from the last 100 donors out of which 63 were foreign donors. If we generously deduct 10% as conversion charges, it still makes Rs. 92,96,593.93 (Ninety Two Lakh Ninety Six Thousand Five Hundred And Ninety Three Rupees And Ninety Three Paisa) in foreign donations from the last 100 donors out of 27,753 total donors till date.

One may ask, Hemkunt Foundation is collecting fund via Ketto and not directly in their bank account. So how are they liable to answer? We have explained the same in our previous report in detail. We will explain it briefly here as well. According to the Terms of Use and Guidelines published by Ketto, Foreign Funding is DISABLED by default. The organization is responsible for submitting FCRA certificate if they want to accept foreign funding. It can be read here and here.

Now, as Hemkunt Foundation does not have FCRA registration, they mentioned that they have tied up with United Way of Bengaluru, which is FCRA registered. If their fundraiser is accepting foreign funding, that means Ketto is transferring foreign funds to United Way of Bengaluru. Interestingly, the name of the organization is NOT mentioned in the beneficiary name but only in the description. How is this illegal? According to the recent amendments in FCRA laws, no FCRA registered organization can collect foreign funds for a non-FCRA organization. We had approached Ketto for answers, but they did not reply. We had approached Hemkunt as well but did not get any response. The only thing we are noticing is their followers coming out in their support and those who talk against them getting threats and abuses.

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Anurag
B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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