By Ashok Kumar
Sydney, September 20, 2018
It was intriguing to come across a poster in the email inboxes of many, seeking people’s participation in a political dialogue “Modi, a transformative figure” conducted by the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) with one of the panelists being Mr. Rahul Jethi, mentioned as Director, India Foundation P/L, an apparent pass off as India Foundation formed by Mr. Ram Madhav, national General Secretary of the ruling party of India, the BJP.
The CIS is a public policy research institute in Australia, which is right-leaning. The CIS seeks to encourage and provide independent, fact based practical research and encourage/provoke debate that promotes liberty, the rule of law, free enterprise and an efficient democratic government. Since 1976, it has produced valuable research that has shaped and influenced public policy, as claimed by CIS.
The 6 March, 2018 dialogue was participated by Mr. Sadanand Dhume, Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Manoj Sheoran, National President of the Indian Overseas Congress, Australia, Rahul Jethi, Director of the India Foundation Ltd, and Balesh Singh, President OFBJP Australia, and was moderated by Tom Switzer, an Executive Director of the CIS and a presenter at ABC’s Radio National.
The mention of India Foundation raised curiosity. The IST researched the details of India Foundation and found that India Foundation was formed by Mr. Ram Madhav, national General Secretary of BJP and is a prominent non-government organisation (NGO) in India (https://twitter.com/indfoundation www.indiafoundation.in. Its Board of Directors and advisers are prominent political leaders, who are linked with Indian Government and BJP. India’s Government ministers ie Suresh Prabhu, Nirmala Sitharaman, Jayant Sinha and Hardeep Singh Puri, are in its Board of Governors. The ‘about us’ section of Mr. Ram Madhav’s India Foundation website says that it is an independent research centre focussed on the issues, challenges and opportunities of the Indian polity. “Our mission is summarized in three Key words i.e Analysis, Advocacy and Awareness. We analyse the actions of public institutions affecting the lives of common men and women of the nation.”
There’s no mention of Jethi or his India Foundation anywhere in Ram Madhav’s India Foundation website. Digging deep into Google, The IST found no mention of Rahul Jethi’s India Foundation or its activities since its inception anywhere until the meeting moderated by Tom Switzer in March 2018. There is no website, Facebook page or twitter account for Jethi’s India Foundation in Sydney either.
Since Jethi and his India Foundation took part in an activity of public interest, information about Jeth’s entity is a matter of public interest. The IST sought clarifications, through email, from Mr. Jethi and asked the following questions:
- Is your India Foundation Ltd. different from Mr. Ram Madhav’s outfit?
- Is your India Foundation Ltd. based in Sydney or also operates in India?
- Is your India Foundation Ltd.linked or affiliated with India Foundation of Mr. Ram Madhav?
- We could not find any website of your India Foundation Ltd on Google.
- Why there is no Facebook page of your India Foundation Ltd ?
- What are your India Foundation’s activities?
- Is your India Foundation formed for people to believe that it’s the same as that of Mr. Ram Madhav’s Foundation?
- Who are the other Directors of your India Foundation in addition to yourself?
With no response coming from Mr. Jethi and no clear indication of its objectives, activities and the people associated with it, The IST approached and obtained an extract and info from Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which details that it was registered on 2 September, 2015.The India Foundation Ltd from ASIC
The community concerns are about why there is secrecy about the reasons of registration of India Foundation by Rahul Jethi. People wonder whether India Foundation P/L has been set up in Australia to give an impression of its connections and relations with the renowned India Foundation entity in India. People wonder whether Jethi’s India Foundation is a brazen attempt to pass off the reputation of Ram Madhav’s India Foundation. Many say that it may also be an attempt by Mr. Jethi to project his clout.
It won’t be out of place to mention that Mr. Jethi was part of the Indian Australian Community Foundation (IACF) team that was involved in the collection of funds from community members and associations for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public rally in Sydney on 14 November 2014. It is worth noting that IACF has yet to produce the financial details of the Modi Rally to public, when the money was collected for the rally, using Prime Minister of India’s name. http://www.theistimes.com/deafening-silence-by-iacf-creating-haze-over-funds-for-modi-rally-in-sydney/
Transparency is a great and desirable concept, which people in public space are required to follow and practise. Rahul Jethi too is a public person, operating in public space. Not only it is incumbent on Jethi to publicly explain what his India Foundation is about and why it was formed, but it is equally important for Ram Madhav to quiz Jethi regarding the purposes and agenda of Jethi’s entity. It is unethical and wrong to pass off somebody else’s organisation as your own. It becomes a more serious matter, when the one involved in passing off phenomenon has connections with BJP.