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(21) And the FCRA registration was next!

August 29, 2009

Now that we had successfully registered Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement and secured all the needed Income Tax exemptions, I thought that it was time to focus on some real activities. The Thumnerale weekly clinic was working smoothly and we had just started blood donation services. We had started maintaining a registry of volunteer blood donors who were willing to donate blood in the event of an emergency on a voluntary basis. The idea for this had come from Dr.P.S.Ramanujam, whom I had met at his office when he was the DIG of Police for the Southern Range, Mysore. Vinayak (who is now a successful doctor and hotelier at Hospet) was in charge of this activity. One of the donors asked me if we were getting any foreign funds. Not familiar with this, I stared enquiring and came to know that one had to register with the Ministry of Home Affairs to be able to receive foreign contributions. Now-a-days things are so easy with the Internet, but enquiry in those days was indeed an uphill task and many times we had to depended on well meaning people who were ready to share information. With great difficulty, I managed to get a template of the FCRA application form and the address to which it had to be sent. The person who provided me the info also warned me that the FCRA registration would take a long time and we would get it only if we had the right contacts in New Delhi.

I remember sharing this with Dr.Shekar, who was my senior at the medical college. He told me that he would introduce me to Mr.Ashokananda KAS, a good friend of his who had just joined the Government service and was the Tahsildar of Mysore. The same evening he took me to this friend’s house. Our first meeting itself was very impressive. Ashokananda was another committed idealist who sincerely believed that he could bring in change and development through the Government. He has remained a very good friend and advisor, and his idealism and integrity through the years has not diminished one bit. He is one of the most practical idealists I have known!

Ashok heard me and said he was keen on helping me out and told me that he would introduce me to a politician friend of his. He called up this friend and spoke to him as though he had known him for years. I came to know later that they were part of a group, who as students had opposed the Emergency in 1975. This politician was Srinivas Prasad and was a Member of Parliament. Ashok took me to Prasad’s house, whereupon Prasad told me that Ashok bringing me along was the proof of credibility he wanted and gave me his letterhead, asking me to type out a letter addressed by him to the concerned Ministry to expedite the registration process. I did that at once and he told me that he would sign it and personally take it to Delhi and hand it over to the person concerned. True to his word, Prasad not only gave a strong recommendation, but also personally followed up our application. Within the next few months and without any hassles, SVYM got the formal FCRA registration certificate. Of course, the ministry with due diligence did all the verificatory checks! But without Prasad’s help we may have not secured the clearance so quickly and easily.

Balu

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