Wednesday, December 22, 2010

“Maharashtra is the worst state to start an NGO”

Gautam Shah, chartered accountant and expert working with charitable institutions, asks non-government organisations to be scrupulous about the rules, if they want to avoid harassment at the hands of the authorities .

Civil society organisations have come to play an increasingly important role in our lives. While the government struggles to implement laws and schemes, non-government organisations (NGOs) have, in many cases, effectively filled in these gaps. From cleaning the neighbourhood to taking care of stray dogs, educating slum children to providing relief during calamities, they are everywhere. But while NGOs ensure effective implementation of rules and help other people, their own affairs are often alleged to be badly managed.

The zeal for charity is not enough. Institutions should be equally diligent with their financial accounts and must comply with laws to be more effective and inspire trust in the public. This was the advice of Gautam Shah, managing partner of Gautam Shah & Associates, Chartered Accountants, to NGO workers at a workshop hosted by Moneylife Foundation on Saturday.

“We feel very good when we donate something for a noble cause, but is it enough,” Mr Shah asked the participants attending the programme. “We have to see that the money is utilised properly, and have to ensure that the support continues even when the donor is no more. Moreover, not some family member, but the public at large should be the beneficiary. That defines the purpose of a charitable institution. And for a good NGO to continue you have to stick to every norm, notify the authorities of every single development and most importantly, maintain detailed verifiable financial records. ”

Mr Shah began with the process of setting up a charitable institution. While elaborating on the mechanism for formation and registration, Mr Shah explained why a Section 25 company was an ideal format over a charitable trust and society. He said, “People think that setting up an NGO is an easy thing. It is not. Several clauses are to be included in the constitution and many documents and certificates are required. If these are not in place at the registration, the institution will be unable to make any amendments in the future and could face many problems.”

He gave an example of a charitable trust which had two persons as trustees. It did not mention what was to happen if one of the two quit or died. As a result, the trust suffered much difficulty. Many institutions face similar difficulties because of a lack of technical knowledge.

NGOs should not only get registered under Section 12(a) and get an 80G certificate, they should also know how to channelise funds properly. NGOs who accept contributions from abroad, should source the money from an NRE account (non-resident external) and get registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). “Just think”, said Mr Shah, “if the Tirupati temple does not have an FCRA registration, it cannot do anything with the huge amount of donations it gets from NRIs and foreigners. Then, the only other way is to convert this money to ‘white money’, which is definitely not preferable.”

Also, it is very important to have proper accounting in a fixed format. Mr Shah recommended that accounting should be intensive and done by professionals, and that it is a must to have at least four meetings annually as well as maintain a minute book to present to the supervisors.

Mr Shah warned that the proposed Direct Tax Code (DTC) “is going to be very bad for NGOs.” Earlier, NGOs could accumulate 15% of their funds for some future big project, for five years. But that feature is to be changed considerably under the DTC. The new rule will only allow for 15% of surplus or 10% of gross earnings (whichever is greater) to be accumulated for five years. Also, exemptions will be more basic in nature, like that of individual tax exemptions.

While sticking to the rules is good in itself, it also helps to avoid many legal hassles and interferences from the authorities. In Maharashtra, NGOs are to be formed under the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950, and are under the scrutiny of the charity commissioner. “The charity commissioner is the Supreme Court,” Mr Shah said. He mentioned the elaborate red-tape process and an astonishing amount of paperwork that an NGO has to suffer before, during and after the registration. Every financial and administrative detail is to be notified, otherwise, the NGO could be threatened with de-registration and may even be closed down.

Mr Shah gave the example of an exclusive high-end association which had to undergo a lot of trouble because it had not notified the charity commissioner of some changes. To their horror, they were told that they had conducted “illegal activities” for a decade, and their work was suspended. They were unable to get relief even after many phone calls to higher-ups. After meek submission and several apologies (and some payments), the association was allowed to operate again.

Mr Shah described how some of these officials abused their position for personal gain. The law, while making many procedures mandatory towards ensuring accountability, is giving NGOs nightmares. “We do good for society, and then we are harassed. The process should be such that the authorities should be accountable and NGOs should be allowed to function freely,” Mr Shah said.

Mr Shah had some specific advice: “Do not start an NGO in Maharashtra. Get it done somewhere else. That way, even if your operations and property are in Maharashtra, the charity commissioner cannot interfere with the operations.” This sparked the question, about the ideal place to start an NGO. “New Delhi,” Mr Shah answered promptly. “In Union territories Central laws are applicable, which are more simplified and the process is hassle-free. Delhi, being the capital, will provide the best infrastructure and ensure better access to resources.”

Questions from NGO representatives attending the workshop ranged from tax exemptions to legal issues and validation certificates. Mr Shah answered most of the questions and promised to answer more on email.

For Mr Shah, social duties comes before private gain. He holds a PhD in business finance for which he submitted a thesis on “Management of Charitable Institutions—a Financial Perspective”. His association utilises 80% of the funds to help NGOs with their finances. “For me, charity is not a hobby. I am where I am because of somebody’s contribution. And so, I think it is very important to help other people.”

It all started for him many years ago, when he decided to sponsor the education of his maid’s daughter. He decided to establish his association about a decade back, when a school with more than 600 students approached him for help with their accounts. The charity commissioner had threatened to close it down because the accounts showed discrepancies. Mr Shah helped the institution out, and decided to start an association which would help charitable institutions with financial management and legal advice.

The workshop was second such programme for NGOs held by Moneylife Foundation. The first was held in July.


Source: “Maharashtra is the worst state to start an NGO” - Moneylife: Personal Finance Magazine : http://www.moneylife.in/article/78/12455.html


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Violence and Abuse against Senior Citizens on Rise in INDIA, We can’t be mute spectator


Nearly every day we hear case of Elder Abuse. There is increase in Atrocity against Senior Citizens in India the country of so called ‘Joint Family’ & Culture and Tradition. See this s the way we treat our Elders.

Its Abuse of Human Right. A Human Right Violation against Human Being, but our Government is mute spectator, NO LAW TO STOP ELDER ABUSE. NO organized mass civil society movement to STOP Abuse AND Neglect of Our Elders.

REQUEST ALL SOCIAL ACTIVIST , SENIOR CITIZENS , ORGANISATION WORKING FOR & WITH SENIOR CITIZENS , HUMAN RIGHT ACTIVIST TO COME AHEAD and STOP ELDER ABUSE.

THIS IS SHAME TO OUR CULTURE AND SO CALLED TRADITION. WAKE UP AND RAISE YOUR VOICE !!!!!!!!!!!!! TAKE ACTION .

Wake up Senior Citizens, Jago Senior Citizens and RAISE YOUR VOICE against this growing cruel incidents of Elder Abuse by Civil Society and Governess agency .

We demand Government should take action on concern Police Station, SP Police , District Collector ;whenever there is any such incident occurred.

Silver inning Foundation demand an inquiry by National Commission of Human Right and Ministry of MOSJE to immediate initiative action and also demand UN department of Aging ,INPEA to ask Indian government to protect Elderly and give show cause notice - why it has not implemented Madrid plan of aging and International convention which country is signatory.


See some case of Elder Abuse:

108-year-old raped by neighbour and then Victim starves self to death : http://silverinnings.blogspot.com/2010/12/108-year-old-raped-by-neighbour-and.html


Mother, shall I put you to sleep? MERCY KILLINGS - STOP Killing our Elders:

http://peopleforsocialcause.blogspot.com/2010/11/mother-shall-i-put-you-to-sleep-mercy.html

Senior citizens age 81 yrs suffering from Dementia ,waiting for the hangman since 1996 : http://silverinnings.blogspot.com/2010/06/senior-citizens-age-81-yrs-suffering.html

Senior Citizen age 75yrs hanged to a tree to get confession by Rajasthan cops : Elder abuse by Law protector: http://peopleforsocialcause.blogspot.com/2010/06/senior-citizen-age-75yrs-hanged-to-tree.html

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fight against dementia: Awareness programs in Mumbai

Sailesh Mishra gave up his well paid marketing job in the corporate sector in 2004 to work full-time in the area of elder care, Alzheimer’s and development of less fortunate children. He is based in Mumbai. Because of his passion to work with elders he has started a social enterprise, Silver Innings, and later formed an NGO called Silver Inning Foundation, and also began a forum called People for Social Cause. Sailesh is actively involved with ARDSI and is Founder Sec. of ARDSI Greater Mumbai Chapter. He is also a consultant and advisor to other NGOs.

Sailesh utilizes his marketing and PR skill to market the issues of our elders through various forums and ICT /social Media. In this way he tries to reach the young and the old to sensitize and empower civil society with regards to elder care. As he works in elder care, he is very concerned about dementia and conducts regular awareness programs for it. He describes some of his experiences in the interview below.

For whom do you conduct these awareness programs?

Every year, in September, we go in for highly visible programs for a week to coincide with the World Alzheimer’s Day function. But this is not enough for the “Fight against Dementia.”

In addition to that, we try to arrange programs all through the year at various locations over Mumbai. Our target audience is mainly the elderly and their family members.

To effectively reach this audience, we work through local associations that have a sizable number of senior citizens, such as senior citizen clubs, bhajan mandals, and mahila samitis. Many of these associations are part of FESCOM (Federation of Maharashtra Senior Citizens), and our organization, Silver Inning Foundation, is also a member of this federation.

Many associations are very active and meet every week or every month. We volunteer to come for these meetings and present topics related to the elderly. We get audiences that range from 20 persons to as many as 120 persons.

Please describe the structure of your program.

Typically, our program spreads over two hours.

We use the first hour for an interesting audio-visual presentation where we explain Alzheimer’s and dementia to the audience. This includes showing them the excellent story prepared by Dr. Samuel which describes a case of an old lady who starts showing the symptoms of dementia.

The next hour is reserved for audience questions. If some of the persons present are interested, we also conduct a mini-screening for them. We also distribute reading material to the audience, and set up any further meetings for those who want them.


Read More: http://dementia-care-notes.in/sailesh-interview/



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Workshop on Good Governance for NGOs: Getting your Activism and Advocacy Right


Today, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are playing an increasingly important role in crucial areas of our day-to-day lives. From initiating activities to improve our neighbourhoods, to leading initiatives to help disadvantaged sections, even raising the flag about wrongdoings by government departments and business entities, NGOs have made a significant difference in several areas. As the activities and influence of these groups grows, it is crucial that they adopt rules and practices that will help them to be more effective and transparent in their work. Dr Gautam Shah, a practicing Chartered Accountant who has dealt with charitable institutions for several years, will give a financial perspective on accounting, tax, audits and related areas for NGOs at a workshop hosted by Moneylife Foundation.

This will be conducted by Dr Gautam Navin Shah . Gautam Shah is a 46-year-old practising chartered accountant. He also holds a PhD in Business Finance where the topic of his thesis was "Management of Charitable Institutions - a Financial Perspective". He is Managing Partner of Gautam Shah & Associates, Chartered Accountants. His key areas of practice are tax, audits and issues related to charitable NGOs.

This workshop will benefit all NGOs as well as their employees and volunteers. This is our second workshop for NGOs, after the one in July which was a resounding success. You might want to share this invitation with friends in other NGOs so they could benefit from this initiative also.

Admission: FREE

Date: 18th December 2010

Time: 3:30 – 6pm . followed by high tea

Venue: Moneylife Foundation Knowledge Centre,305, Hind Services Industries Premises, Off Veer Savarkar Marg, Near Chaitya Bhumi, Shivaji Park, Dadar Mumbai 400028

RSVP: Dione/ Pritika/ Judith on (022) 2444 1058 – 60 or mail us at mail@mlfoundation.in



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

CITIZEN JOURNALISM :3 days certificate workshop in Mumbai Jan 2011


The JM Foundation for Excellence in Journalism (JM stands for Journalism Mentor) is partnering with The American Center and KC College to host a special Citizen Journalism 3 days Workshop for college students in January. From 7 to 9 January 2011.

The three day workshop is a Certificate course which will be conducted by eminent Journalists from India and abroad apart from experts who will cover subjects like news gatheriing, Civic, Press Police and Consumer Laws, RTI, basic writing skills and technology.

What participants will be taught:

· Skill-sets to gather and verify facts

· Laws which impact their life and newsgathering (Civic Law, Police law, Press laws, Consumer and Human Rights laws)

· Basics of Right to Information Act (RTI)

· Writing skills

· Hands-on training on use of technology in writing

· Session on ethics and values.

· International and Indian perspective/practice of Citizen Journalism


HOW TO REGISTER: log on to www.citizensreport.in ; Send your CV to citizenjournalism@journalism.org.in or call on 022- 40158250/9820985853

REGISTRATION FEE: Rs.1250/-(per student); Rs.750/- (per student if a group of five students or more)

FEE INCLUDES: Reading material, a permanent email id and access to the citizens initiative website www.citizensreport.in and food on all days

REGISTRATION PROCESS: Send a draft or cheque favouring “JM Foundation for Excellence in Journalism” and a hard copy of your CV to 302, Shubham centre “A” CHSL, Cardinal Gracias road, Chakala, Andheri East, Mumbai 400099.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: December 22, 2010

VENUE: K. C. COLLEGE, CHURCHGATE

NO AGE OR QUALIFICATION BARRIER

ABOUT JM FOUNDATION
JM Foundation for Excellence in Journalism is a not for profit institution. JM stands for Journalism Mentor. The Foundation is an initiative of senior journalists Shishir Joshi and Aloke Thakore who are also the course directors. JM also conducts a one-year mentorship program: www.journalismmentor.in.

We believe that India needs vigorous citizen journalism since it is well nigh impossible, for various reasons, for the news media organizations to cover all issues that need to be brought into the public eye.The citizen journalism initiative will train citizen journalists and also provide them with a forum where they report. JM is committed to taking the citizen empowerment programme across India.For further details visit: www.citizensreport.in / www.journalismmentor.in / www.journalism.org.in



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.