February 23, 2021

Candid to launch ‘Philanthropy in India’ portal on February 24th

Philanthropy & CSR: On February 24th, Candid, an international nonprofit organisation that provides data tools on nonprofits, foundations, and grants, will launch ‘Philanthropy in India’, a website that will provide comprehensive information on Indian philanthropy.

The website, which has been set up in partnership with Ashoka University’s Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy (CSIP), will make funding data on India’s social sector publicly available, free of cost.

“This website supports the robust philanthropic work that’s already occurring in the country. It will help people and organisations make informed decisions and efficiently work together to promote the causes that matter most to the Indian philanthropic community,” said Bradford Smith, President, Candid.

The Philanthropy in India website will include a dashboard that gives a high-level snapshot of how funding flows; a funding map that shows in-depth data; reports, insights, and other resources that highlight philanthropic work in India. This will enable funders both within and outside India to find other funding organisations that support the causes they care about, and learn about their work to make a change or collaborate.

From 2015 through 2018, Candid has identified 155,192 grants serving India totaling about USD 10.7 billion and tracked 11,004 grants in bi/multilateral aid totaling USD 14.1 billion.

Other key findings from data collated on Indian philanthropy by Candid and CSIP include:

  1. Private donors invested most heavily in health (30 percent of total grants), followed by education (21 percent), and community and economic development (20 percent).
  2. The top foundations supporting programmes in India are based outside the country.
  3. More than 70 percent of bi/multilateral aid is designated towards community and economic development.

Read this article to understand whether philanthropy in India is really growing.

February 26, 2021

Centre withdraws widely-criticised order on international webinars and conferences

Advocacy & Government: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has withdrawn its order that required academic and scientific institutions to seek prior approval before organising any international online seminar or conference.

In a fresh order issued two days ago, the MEA said that the November 25th guidelines regarding political clearance for international conferences, seminars, and training would no longer be applicable in view of the easing of restrictions on travel and assembly of people. All such events would, however, continue to be governed by the same rules and regulations that were applicable to political clearances prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, going forward such webinars will fall under the purview of the home ministry. So far, this ministry has not issued any directives on webinars. There is also some confusion regarding this handover since home ministry guidelines restrict themselves to face-to-face conferences, not online events. They also deal with issuance of visas to international delegates, which is immaterial in case of webinars.

The fresh order comes in the wake of objections to the November 25th order by the scientific community. Two leading academies in the country—Indian Academy of Sciences and Indian National Academy of Sciences—had written to the government seeking withdrawal of the order, saying such restrictions could halt all topical scientific discussions.

Read this article to learn about how to put together a great webinar.

February 26, 2021

Centre opposes same-sex marriage, says it’s not the same as an ‘Indian family unit’

Rights: The central government opposed petitions seeking recognition and registration of same-sex marriages in the country and stated that same-sex marriage was not a fundamental right in the country. It also submitted that same-sex couples living together as partners and having a sexual relationship could not be compared to an ‘Indian family unit’ of a husband, wife, and children.

“In our country, despite statutory recognition of the relationship of marriage between a biological man and a biological woman, marriage necessarily depends upon age-old customs, rituals, practices, cultural ethos, and societal values,” the centre told the Delhi High Court in response to three petitions seeking recognition and registration of same-sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act, the Special Marriage Act, and the Foreign Marriage Act.

The affidavit submitted by the government in response to the petitions said that despite the Supreme Court decriminalising Section 377 under the Indian Penal Code, the petitioners cannot claim a fundamental right to same-sex marriage under the laws of the country. It said that such relationships can be governed, regulated, permitted, or proscribed only by a law made by the competent legislature.

The PIL seeking the recognition of same-sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act had been filed by Abhijit Iyer Mitra and three others. In October 2020, the Delhi High Court observed that the statute is gender-neutral and must be interpreted in favour of the citizens of India. Meanwhile, four more people from the LGBTQ community approached the Delhi High Court seeking similar provisions.

The matter will next be heard on April 20th, 2021.