The Russian Duma voted last week with an overwhelming majority in favour of the «foreign agents» law which placed the NGOs funded by foreign countries under state surveillance. The Duma promised to increase state support to NGOs that truly contribute to national welfare.
Such a legislation is heartily resented by the Western countries that resort to NGOs in foreign countries with overt and covert funding for subversive politics. The ongoing Arab Summer is one such illustration. The imprisonment in Egypt of various highly linked US funders was widely publicized and resolved through arm twisting by the Americans. The Egyptian military surrendered to pressures because it could not do without the US financial assistance to continue in power.
In India, the NGOs, especially those linked with the Christian Churches receiving Western funding, have since long been viewed with distrust. The control of entry visas to foreign missionaries or Western researchers working on themes related to religion is well-known, and this policy goes back to early years of India’s independence.
This policy is often associated with the Hindu fundamentalism in India, but it is also shared by many Indian citizens who accompany the Western methods of post-colonial strategic operations internationally. Trying to avoid overt military interventions, the West resorts to the so-called «civil society» as a paradigm of democratic society.
In the West, its civil society has been utterly domesticated. Governments maintain data bases that keep their citizens under near-total surveillance. The freedoms that their societies apparently enjoy can rarely surprise the governments with subversive activities. The so-called Third World or emergent powers have a long way to go to reach that level of manipulating their societies.
A minister of the Goa government was cited recently affirming that it cannot prevent Shree Ram Sena from entering and functioning in Goa because the Indian Constitution gives the right to any citizen to reside and work anywhere in India. The minister seems to have boasted about his government’s capacity to handle the social movement if it decides to start operations in Goa aimed allegedly at protecting the Goan culture against the evils of westernization.
Shree Ram Sena Chief admitted that his organization follows an aggressive approach towards dealing with cultural issues. He cited Bhagat Singh and Netaji (Subhash Chandra) Bose as patriotic heroes and models, not (Mahatma) Gandhi. The chief of Shree Ram Sena is not the first, nor will be the last to think that he can protect Goa against westernization. Five hundred years ago, Timoja thought he could become a jagirdar under Afonso de Albuquerque who sought his help to conquer Goa.
The Ram Sena too will have its political agenda in coming to Goa. The Indian administration has to respect the democratic principles, but it does so by resorting to all the usual tools of any modern state. Intelligence agencies do their part. India hardly requires lessons from the West, including the Russian Duma, in such administrative chores.
There is an interesting debate launched by Swapna Banerjee-Guha through an essay entitled “Contemporary Globalization and the Politics of Space” (EPW, Mumbai, 24 December 2011). Countering the concept of «absolute space», Aditya Mohanty opts for reflexive modernization and «differential spaces», that have recently gained political momentum.
Thus in the contemporary era, if neo-American imperialist interventionism, ruth-less evacuation of indigenous spaces are emblematic of “absolute space”, then the transnationalisation of social struggles across the globe and innovative models of participatory governance, are the hallmarks of “differential spaces”.
To conclude, it is more than common knowledge today that even the minutest of exogenous transnational intervention cannot bypass a scrutiny by local communities. Also within the boundaries of the nation state, the resurgence of parastatal agencies like Government Organised Non Governmental Organisations (GONGOs) indicates the entangled relations of multiple stakeholders in a “differential space. We need to rethink as to whether “participation” is all that innocent a term.