Category Archives: Collective Giving

UPDATE ON Er. ZAHAN TUREL – who suffered from Burns Injuries

WZO TRUST’S

UPDATE ON Er. ZAHAN TUREL

WHO SUFFERED FROM BURNS INJURIES.

 

– Team WZO Trusts.

 

Community members are aware that 15 year young Mobed Zahan Turel suffered from burns injuries on 24th October 2020 when his jama caught fire whilst performing the Rapithvan Geh boi ceremony at Goti Adarian, Surat.

 

Since WZO Trust’s used their good offices to raise funds from institutions and individuals, details of injuries, treatment, donations and expenditures are being shared in the public domain by way of accountability towards donors.

 

Injuries & Treatment:

 

After a short stint of a few hours at a local hospital at Surat for immediate treatment Er. Zahan was transferred to Masina Hospital at Mumbai on 25th October 2020 under the care of burns & plastic surgery specialists – Dr. Suhas Abhyankar and Dr. A. M. Vartak.

 

Er. Zahan was found to have suffered 48.50% severe and deep burns on his entire upper body, neck, both hands, ears. Doctor’s informed that first 3 weeks were critical and saving Zahan from any sort of infection was the only priority. Fortunately his face and legs were not damaged. Doctor conveyed that probably the entire affected body would need skin grafting which would be a very long haul process. Three graftings were expected to be done.

 

At the time of admission Er. Zahan tested Covid Positive and was immediately moved to Covid ICU for isolation. This hindered treatment for a few days as the plastic surgeon and burns specialist were not allowed to enter COVID ward. After intense treatment his Covid report came negative and was again shifted to Normal ICU on 5th November 2020.

 

During his stay at Masina Hospital, Er. Zahaan was given treatment which included two skin grafting surgeries performed on 21st November 2020 and 16th December 2020. Er. Zahaan was discharged from Masina Hospital on 4th January 2021.

 

Post discharge his daily massage and dressings are being done in Mumbai. Currently there are few patches left to be healed which are expected to heal in due course of time.

Daily dressing is still to be done till the skin stabilizes, which is expected to continue for 2 months from the date of discharge.

 

In the near future Er. Zahan will have to wear pressure garments for two to three years.

Daily occupational therapy is presently being undertaken at Masina Hospital’s Occupational Therapy Centre. He continues to receive regular counseling.

 

There is every possibility that Er. Zahan may also require reconstructive surgeries and / or cosmetic surgery sometime in the future.

 

Though Er. Zahan is unable to sit for long period of time, he has decided to appear for his school board exams and has started gradual preparations for the same.

 

Expenses as on 22nd January 2021:

 

Rs.     53,000: initial treatment at Surat Hospital.

Rs.30,34,000: treatment at Masina Hospital.

 

Rs.30,87,000: Total.

 

Donations & Insurance:

 

Rs.   6,00,000: From a donor who has paid directly to Masina Hospital.

Rs.    6,00,000: From insurance company.

Rs.    9,00,000:  From various donors who have paid directly to Er. Zahan’s family.

Rs.  43,78,781: Raised by WZO Trust’s from donors within India.

Rs.  53,47,941: Raised by WZO Trust’s from donors overseas.

 

Rs.1,18,26,722: Total

 

WZO Trust’s are holding Rs.77,26,722 on behalf of funds raised by them and will be handing over the amount soon to Er. Zahan Turel’s family for his continuing treatment, as well as possible further treatment at Shriner’s Children Hospital at Boston (USA) modalities and logistics of which are being worked out.

 

WZO Trusts profusely thank institutions and individuals who have collectively contributed towards this humanitarian effort and pray that young Zahan will quickly overcome the set back, rejoin the mainstream, continue to serve the community, and be blessed with a sound future.

 

 

 

 

Marzy Parakh Launches 24/7 Outreach To Make Hospital Beds, Ambulance Available

Marzy Parakh, 36
Restaurateur And Founder Of Live To Give

Inida has just five hospital beds per 10,000 Indians, according to a study by the Human Development Report. The results show that out of 167 countries, India ranks 155 in access to healthcare. No surprise then that there was a mad scramble for expert medical treatment a month into the Coronavirus infection outbreak. Marzy Parakh, a restaurateur and philanthropist, remembers the time all too well. As the founder of a WhatsApp group called Live to Give (LTG), which encourages users to participate and donate to the source directly, he was flooded with enquiries. “The outbreak was too sudden. People were clueless about which hospitals were admitting COVID-19 patients. If they’d call on the hospital number, there would be a long wait.”

In April, he launched a helpline by tapping his network of doctors, hospital staff and citizens, with 15 volunteers from LTG. “We divided city hospitals amongst us; one person would be in charge of, around 10. Whenever someone would call in with a request, we would check with our sources and get back in five minutes.” They also had a dedicated team for ambulance bookings. All a caller had to do was send their details, and Parakh’s team would be able to book a bed, an ambulance and even ascertain whether the individual would need a cardiac or a regular ambulance. It did not stop at booking alone. There was a special team handling follow-ups. “We had two groups, one called SOS for hospitalisation, and the other, which we christened, Here To Stay, for follow-ups. The volunteer would call up the hospital every day, speak with the doctor to find out how the patient was faring and then inform the relatives, because there were times when family members weren’t able to get through to the hospital,” he says, adding that they have even facilitated video calls between doctors and family members. Being a 24×7 helpline, Parakh says, they would receive calls in the wee hours. “We had to wake up hospital trustees and doctors to get things done. There were cases when patients needed ventilators and critical care, and you can’t afford a delay.”

With the infection cases in Mumbai under control, the group is now focusing on adopting destitutes. Through the LTG group, they raise funds for their admission in elder care facilities. “Similarly, the volunteers periodically make calls to the person. The family has abandoned them, but there’s a volunteer, who is a stranger, caring for them. It restores your faith in humanity.”

https://www.mid-day.com/articles/mumbai-restaurateur-launches-outreach-to-make-hospital-beds-ambulance-available/23164213

Triibute to our dear friend Shahpur Captain

Our dear Shahpur was introduced to us by our aunt Ruby Contractor in 1983 when they visited India with others to create awareness about the establishment of WZO.

Since then our friendship with Shahpur blossomed into a very close and fulfilling relationship. It was Shahpur’s vision that WZO undertake community welfare work in India and it was solely due to his enthusiasm, support and guidance that we took the first tentative steps to establish the WZO Trusts in India.

It was our good fortune that in the initial years we had Shahpur to fall back on whenever we needed guidance and support. He regularly visited India once every year till 2007 to visit with us, villages in Gujarat, meet beneficiaries and view the transformation taking place in their lives.

The humble Parsi farmers remember Shahpur even at present and consider him to be one of their benefactors. Their prayers will resonate with those of many others for the smooth transition of his soul from the physical to spiritual realms.

We extend to Shahpur’s wife Inderjit and daughter Armaity our deepest and sincere condolences.

Rest In Peace Dear Friend.

From Bachi & Dinshaw Tamboly

 

============================================

I had known Shahpur from my early years of the 1960s in London. At that time, Shahpur was the youngest Treasurer Trustee of the Zoroastrian House (The Incorporated Zoroastrian Association of Europe). As an astute Chartered accountant, he brought order to the funds at the Zoroastrian House. And this helped the Zoroastrian House move from 11 Russell Road in Kensington to Compayne Gardens in Finchley Road/Hampstead area.
He encouraged Zoroastrian Youth to actively participate in the activities at the Zoroastrian House. And these activities did not stop at fun and enjoyment but in helping our community and others. I remember going to Brookwood cemetery each year during the Farvandian days and cleaning out the areas around where our ancestors’ remains are buried. I am not sure who had started this annual picnic-like event but each year Shahpur encouraged youth to participate in it.
May his noble soul rest in eternal Peace and May Ahura Mazda bless his soul in Grothman Behest! My sincere condolences to Inderjeet and Armaity and other members of Captain family.
Homi D Gandhi

The IranShah Initiative  Donation With Vision 2020 (Part 2 of 2)

We Are Grateful To All 
For The Gift Of Their Donation And Selfless Dedication
 
 
The IranShah Initiative 
Donation With Vision 2020 (Part 2 of 2)


Honorary President, Religions for Peace
Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor, 
High Priest Of IranShah Atash Bahram, Udvada
 
When courage and generosity hold hands everything is possible. Human contribution is an essential ingredient of a life well lived; for it is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live. The greatest use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast you.
The Iranshah Initiative is established to ensure that the legacy of Iranshah not only as an edifice but as a powerhouse of spirituality continues to provide faith, comfort and devotion amongst its devotees for eternity.
It falls upon us to maintain this timeless treasure.
The community is indebted to the magnanimity of M/s Shapoorji Pallonji Group for painstakingly restoring the Iranshah premise, structurally and aesthetically, to regain its originality. It is our duty to maintain it in this state for as long as we possibly can.
The mobeds and boiwallas who serve Iranshah follow strict rules of purity, discipline and seclusion; they are our pillars, our asset. Their devotion and commitment while in service to Iranshah is noteworthy and commendable. Looking after them and their families, who are their support system, is of paramount importance.
A Full time, round the clock, staff is employed to maintain cleanliness and provide 24-hr security.
Foresight is the keyword in the quest for preservation of this timeless heritage. Equipped with funds for unforeseen circumstances along with a steady stream of funds will help meet and keep the purpose of this mission buoyant.
For those who have the will to offer volunteer service for Iranshah can do so via this medium and coordinate with like minded brethren to make a valuable, noble and gracious contribution.
It is believed that Ahura Mazda said to Zarathushtra that “for the sake of all men I say to you, Zarathushtra, that Garothmān, the Paradise, belongs to those who give charity to righteous men.”
———————————————————————————————————
FOR YOUR VALUABLE DONATION PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW
YOU CAN DONATE FROM ANY PART OF THE WORLD

VERUSHKA KARL SHROFF’S CAMPAIGN TO BUILD HOMES FOR TRIBALS IN PALGHAR, MAHARASHTRA

I am VERUSHKA KARL SHROFF, 14 years old & in Grade 9 at JNIS, Mumbai. This campaign of mine aims to build “Pakka houses” for tribals at WADA, Palghar district (1.5 hours from Mumbai).

THE PROBLEM

#Barely 100 km away from Mumbai, in the villages of Wada, Palghar Taluka is a tribal settlement.
#They live in huts made of wood, thatch, and mud. The homes are very flimsy.
#Their washrooms are a structure that has 4 small bamboo sticks that are thatched.
#These homes give way during the monsoons & offer no protection against rodents, snakes, etc.
#Their quality of life and health also suffers.

THE SOLUTION

They need better homes like the one above. Let us come together and make it happen. The cost to make a proper house is INR 2.25L. Net of govt subsidies and funding from Rotary clubs a deficit amount of INR 40000 is needed.

  • The Rotary District 3141 has taken up a target to build 500 houses in the village.
  • The families will get a concrete house made of brick & mortar and a separate toilet.
  • Government of India, under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Gramin (PMAY-G),’ has offered INR 1.2L as a subsidy for them to construct houses and toilets.
  • The houses will be made with the assistance of the panchayat and the DC’s office.

Rotary is now building low-cost homes with an area of 290 sq feet. It has a room, a kitchen and a toilet. This will dramatically change the lives of tribal families in Palghar.

The above picture shows a house being constructed.

EXPENSES :

ABOUT ME 

I am VERUSHKA KARL SHROFF , 14 years old & in Grade 9 at JNIS, Mumbai.

I was surprised to learn about the plight of tribals located just 1.5 hours from Mumbai.  They live in poverty and also in extremely deplorable conditions. They are financially not in a position to make proper homes. This was their plight before COVID-19 and now it must be far worse. By building concrete homes, we’re ensuring they at least have a proper shelter and a proper toilet for life. This will dramatically change their lives.

What also motivated me was the cost. Just INR 40000 is what is required to change their lives as the balance amount is being taken care off by the govt and Rotary clubs. Let’s come together and give them a secure future with a home. Please fund and support my campaign. Pl also do share this on your social media and spread the word – it matters.

A HOME THAT IS BEING FINISHED: 

LOCATION:

Click Here to Donate : https://www.fueladream.com/home/campaign/36026?fbclid=IwAR39K7QoSg6nRAbJYQgPB7B_hQu8zWC5uq47XemhUWhvSQSr95ftDz1KFXk

CHAMPIONS OF PHILANTHROPY

The ongoing Novel Corona – 19 Virus known as Covid Pandemic has since late March 2020 been playing havoc with lives of millions in India and rest of the world.

 

We Zoroastrians too have not been spared. A few thousand of our minuscule community have suffered tremendously, by way of loss of loved ones, loss of livelihood, be it in form of employment, business, loss of agriculture, dairy, poultry produce; with places of worship remaining shut on account of lockdown, our Priests too have suffered immense hardships due to loss of incomes.

 

Fortunately for our community, we have a very solid history embedded in our psyches that has always brought out at all times, the finest spirit of compassion and philanthropy which has once again manifested during the current pandemic as well.

 

On requests sent by World Zoroastrian Organisation Trust and WZO Trust Funds to donors worldwide to provide support for Zoroastrians affected by the Pandemic and those in various forms of economic distress, the response has been phenomenal, with a total of Rs.4,31,14,532 having been received as on September 09, 2020.

 

Of the total of Rs.4,31,14,532, five donors have contributed Rs.10,00,000 and above viz: 

 

 

Principal Donors

 

Amount

Rs.

1

Pervin & Jal Shroff, Hong Kong

    Date                     Amount (Rs)

23.04.2020                75,90,000

04.06.2020                75,29,000

21.08.2020                74,66,000  

 

          

2,25,85,000

2

Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong Canton & Macao

     Date                     Amount (Rs)

29.04.2020                43,75,000

02.06.2020                37,00,000

24.07.2020                30,00,000

04.09.2020                30,00,000

 

1,40,75,000

3

Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America (FEZANA), USA

      Date                     Amount (Rs)

19.05.2020                 5,65,875

03.06.2020                 7,11,030

15.06.2020                 7,17,767

  

19,94,672

4

Bai Maneckbai P. B. JeejeebhoyDeed of Settlement Fund, Mumbai

       Date                    Amount (Rs)

15.05.2020                 10,00,000

 

10,00,000

5

Perin & Noshir Pavri, Hong Kong

      Date                     Amount (Rs)

29.06.2020                 10,00,000 

 

10,00,000

 

 

4,06,54,672

 

 

The balance amount of Rs.24,59,860 has been received from multiple donors who have contributed towards the humanitarian effort.

 

WZO Trusts’ extend their heartfelt and sincere gratitude to each and every one of our donors for the munificent support they have extended for this humanitarian cause and continue to do so. 

 

It is such largesse that has enabled the WZO Trusts’ to reach out to assist community members in various forms of distress due to the pandemic, and will continue in the months to come. 

 

Without the support of donors it would not have been possible for WZO Trusts’ to undertake multifarious community centric welfare activities over the last 29 years.   

 

The real measures of men are not determined by what they have done or achieved, but by what they have given. In this regards our Zoroastrian philanthropy has proved time and again that it is second to none.

 

The true spirit of the words of John Wesley, 18th century theologian:

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can” are aptly reflected by the indomitable energy of Zoroastrian philanthropy that has persevered over centuries. 

 

Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. 

 

WZO Trusts’ are very grateful to all donors, big & small, for the confidence reposed and continuous support extended in diverse facets of community welfare.

 

Our Donors are truly the ‘Champions of Philanthropy’.

 

 

– Dinshaw K. Tamboly

 

Food Scheme Run By Mancherji Edalji Joshi Memorial Trust For Poor And Infirm Zoroastrians

Dear Members of our respected Zoroastrian Community,

 

The Managing Trustees of Mancherji Edalji Joshi Memorial Trust Wishes all our dear Zoroastrian Brethren A Very Happy and Healthy Navroze and Khordad Sal, in health and happiness with your dear ones.  And may DAADAAR keep Covid-19 at safe distance from you and your dear ones. The last 5 months have been extremely difficult for the entire human race in general and our community in particular. Never ever human beings  have gone through such terrible, terrifying and challenging times. I am sure, DAADAAR has been and will be kind to our brethren and the community comes out of the pandemic safely. Friends.  It has also been very difficult times for the MEJMT.  Due to lockdown, we were unable to reach out to Members of the Food Scheme, as travel to most areas in city was prohibited.  And also taking into consideration the safety of the delivery boys.

 

However, we are pleased to inform that the Food Scheme has picked up in the month of July, with delivery to near locations.  And we are sure, by end of July we will reach 100% of our Food Scheme Members. Also Food Distribution, monthly ration to needy families has also started from May / June 2020.

 

We are once again approaching all Zoroastrian Brethren for donation towards the ‘FOOD SCHEME’ which we run for old and infirm Members of our Community.

 

There are many old and infirm members in our community, neglected by the Society, some of them by their own children and family, and who are fighting for their survival. Who need your attention.  Most of them are frail, weak and bed ridden and do not have even strength to go to the roadside food stall to eat, and depend on their neighbours to bring some food for their survival.  The Food Scheme is run by Mancherji Edalji Joshi Memorial Trust, to feed such old and poor infirm of our community, which not only supervises the cooking of the food, but also deliver the same to the community members through Dabbawallas.

 

We are fortunate enough to get good donations past many year, which has helped us run the above Facility for deserving Zoroastrians.

Today the Trust provides 74 Old and Infirm, 6 Parsi Girl Students in J B Vachha School and 5 Parsi Boys from Gujarat, staying in Modi Hostel with daily meals to 23-26 Nassessers / Khandias with Breakfast, and 34 families are provided with monthly Food Grain Ration.

 

The annual expenses of running the Food Scheme for above deserving members of the community comes to Rs 38 Lakhs.

As on 31st December 2019, the cost of feeding all the members of the Food Scheme for one day comes to Rs 10,500.

 

Your generous contribution will help us in reaching out to our poor brethren.

Our Trust is a Public Registered Trust, registered with the Charity Commissioner, under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act 1961.

The Trust Accounts are duly audited and filed with the Charity Commissioner and every donor, small or big, is issued a receipt.

We also provide 80G Tax Exemption certificate so that Donors can avail of IT reduction towards the donated amount, while filing their tax returns.

 

On behalf of the Trust, I appeal for your generous support to our Food Scheme.

Your donations can be made by Cheque in favour of “MANCHERJI EDALJI JOSHI MEMORIAL TRUST.”

For further enquiries, you are also welcome to contact us on hndaruwalla@gmail.com and mejmtdadar@gmail.com

 

Donation can be sent to:

 

Mrs Mithoo Jesia

Jesia  Building,

797 Jam E Jamshed Road

Parsi Colony, Dadar (E),

Mumbai 400 014

Ph : 2414 9571

Mrs. Tina Patel

623,  Marker Mansion,

Lady Jehangir Road

Parsi Colony, Dadar (E)

Mumbai 400 014

Ph : 2415 1354

Mr H N Daruwalla

Sethna  Building

2/689,  Dinshaw Master Road

Parsi Colony Dadar (E)

Mumbai 400 014

Ph : 2411 2330/ 91 98200 94243

Email. hndaruwalla@gmail.com

 

Request all to kindly give widest possible publicity to this appeal, by forwarding the same to your family members and friends, to get maximum support to this noble cause.

We have now added a new scheme into our Food Scheme.   We have started a facility now, where in, Donors desiring to donate food on a particular day, may be a happy occasion in the family, Birthday, Navjote, or a Lagan, or a remembrance day, can do so.   We will distribute the Food to the Food Scheme Members, on a particular day from your donation and communicate the members accordingly.

 

Hoping to receive favourable response from you to our appeal.

Wishing you all once again Happy Navroze and Khordad Sal.

Thanking you and With Kind Regards.

 

Homi N Daruwalla.

 

Mob No + 91 98200 94243

A GLOBAL URGENT MEDICAL APPEAL FOR Mr. Cawas S. Panthaki TO HELP DEFRAY HOSPITALIZATION COSTS

A GLOBAL URGENT MEDICAL APPEAL FOR 
Mr. Cawas S. Panthaki 
TO HELP DEFRAY HOSPITALIZATION COSTS 
My Dear Global Zarathushti Donors, Leaders & Community Members:
We need your prompt help to urgently reach out to a Zarathushti in India who has dedicated 20-plus years of his life towards serving our Zarathushti community including our youth with impeccable integrity.
Mr. Cawas Panthaki, has been hospitalized with serious medical condition for the past 7-months.
He was admitted in the Reliance Foundation Hospital in Mumbai and has undergone multiple surgeries with a variety of complicated procedures and invasive medical treatments.
To-date, the cost for surgeries, hospitalization and medical treatment have exceeded over
25 lacs (Indian Rupees).   That is $33,352.00 US Dollars
Cawas has exhausted the maximum cap of his medical insurance as well as all his personal and family savings.
The hospitalization bills and medical expenses are still piling up at a rate of 35,000 Rupees per day. Charitable Trusts including the BPP too have extended financial help to the extent they could.
Our Goal is To Raise $10,000 US Dollars
Out of which we have already raised $5,401 US Dollars
Through the kind courtesy of 
$3000.00 USD.   FEZANA 
$1,400.00 USD   Mehernosh Pithawalla from California
$1,001.00 USD    Shehnaz and Dorab Mistry, ZTFE (United Kingdom)
We are looking forward to raise the remainder of $4,599 USD
through the kind courtesy and magnanimity of our generous community.

You can donate online from anywhere in the world at

https://fezana.org/donate/

On the above link select “Welfare Funds”,  then “Critical Assistance” 
and in the Honor/Memory field notate ….   Cawas Panthaki
so the donation can be earmarked for this cause.

Note: All Donations To FEZANA are tax deductible ONLY for USA residents

For Zoroastrian Associations Outside of North America who prefer to send their donations directly to India
For proper guidance, Please feel free to contact Dinshaw Tamboly, Managing Trustee WZO Trust Funds at
WZO TRUST ADMINISTRATION   admin@wzotrust.com

FOR INDIAN DONORS

Indian Citizens / Residents who wish to pay by Indian Debit / Credit Cards / Rupay Cards / NetBanking / Payment Walets / UPI, etc., please Click Here to contribute instantly.
For those who wish to pay by PayTM may contribute on 9892219340 – Please mention the purpose in the details.

Those willing to donate for Cawas’s treatment we would prefer if you could donate through NEFT. The details of the Beneficiary are as under:
Name: Cawas Sorabji Panthaki.
Address: 6A Hongkong House, Malcolm Baug, Jogeshwari (West), Mumbai – 400102.
Mobile No: 9820081832.
Dena Bank, Jogeshwari West Branch
Saving Account No: 020910007396
Reason: Donation.
IFSC: BKDN0460209.

After giving your donation, please inform by sending whatsapp message on mobile number 9820081832 of Cawas, your name and amount. Pl also furnish NEFT UTR NO and TR IMPS NO. to check whether payment recd.

Those who wish to get 80G exemption may pay directly to WZO Trust Funds, as mentioned above.
It is said that:
A ZARATHUSHTI IN NEED IS A ZARATHUSHTI INDEED
We are grateful for the gift of your kindness and graciousness to Cawas and his family. 
Incidentally Cawas’ wife too suffers from multiple ailments and until Cawas took ill, he was her caregiver.
Thank you for reaching out to Cawas with your valuable donations.
With Love, Light, Appreciation And Gratitude from
Meher Amalsad
Westminster, California, USA
LETS RAISE THE VIBRATION
AS WE RAISE THIS DONATION
BY KEEPING CAWAS IN OUR PRAYERS

17th building at Navsari called ‘Dasturji Meherji K. D. Meherjirana Memorial House’

WZO Trust Funds are happy to announce that their 17th building at Navsari called ‘Dasturji Meherji K. D. Meherjirana Memorial House’ has been completed, Jashan performed on July 26, 2020 and flats allotted to needy members of our community.

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The building has been constructed after demolishing the old building that was received by us as a bequest as per the Wills of Late Dasturji Meherji K. D. Meherjirana and Mrs. Mehru Meherji Meherjirana.

The generous Trustees of Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong, Canton & Macao funded the entire cost of construction.

Warmly,
Dinshaw Tamboly

 

 

A partner for nation-building

India’s voluntary sector does much more than fill gaps in the government’s service delivery system, and deserves to be recognised and treated with respect – says Noshir Dadrawalla

 

India’s voluntary sector, noted for its vibrancy, innovation and research-based advocacy, is an important nation-building partner for our government. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the social impact work of our NGOs has become even more visibly vital — not just in providing relief, food, clothing and shelter to those affected by the coronavirus and lockdown, but also creating a sustainable ecosystem for long-term rehabilitation of vulnerable communities.

It is rather unfortunate, therefore, that the government seems to perceive the corporate sector as enhancing the country’s economic growth and the voluntary sector as fomenting dissent and thwarting development. This erroneous perspective does not reflect the facts — voluntary organisations (VOs) contribute enormously to India’s GDP and provide livelihood to millions. Yet, as described by two new research studies from Ashoka University’s Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy in partnership with NITI Aayog, the rigours of legal compliance that VOs must currently go through in comparison to businesses create unnecessary hurdles to progress.

These reports — “A Study on the Legal, Regulatory, and Grants-in-Aid Systems for India’s Voluntary Sector” and “Regulatory Frameworks for India’s Voluntary Sector” — provide valuable insights based on the months leading up to our current time of crisis. Now, COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for VOs to further demonstrate the scope of their work and worth. Will India’s government take notice?

Instead of treating the voluntary sector with mistrust, the government should seek to empower it to promote public welfare by establishing mechanisms to consult, fund and collaborate with VOs — starting with a more enabling legal environment to enhance effectiveness.

While corporate laws have seen significant reform aimed at simplification, improving transparency and governance in sync with global trends in recent years, the voluntary sector has not seen any similar movement. India’s business startups get a number of benefits; VO startups face numerous obstacles under FCRA and CSR regulations. While the national mantra is “ease of doing business”, the government does not seem to recognise the importance of “ease of doing good”.

Instead, VOs are overregulated, facing compliance requirements so complex and multi-layered as to confound do-gooders entirely. At the state level, the regulator is the Charity Commissioner (for trusts) or Registrar of Societies (for societies) or Registrar of Companies (for Section 8 companies). At the Central level, the Income Tax Authority determines if an organisation exists for charitable purpose or not, and accordingly grants registration under section 12AA (for tax exemption) and section 80G for tax deduction (enabling a donor to enjoy 50 percent tax deduction). Additionally, the Ministry of Home Affairs is the central regulator granting registration or prior permission to any VO wanting to receive funds from any “foreign source” for a “definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme”. Depending on the size, nature of work and scope of activities of the VO (e.g., the Shops and Establishments Act, GST, POSH), additional regulators have additional requirements.

All the registration and processing time to obtain tax exemptions and deductions can take up to a year. Moving processes online has helped simplify some of this work while dramatically reducing opportunities for corruption, but procedural delays remain rampant.

At the state level, India’s lack of uniformity and standardisation becomes even more confusing. Some states have excessive regulations; others have virtually none at all. For example, in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat the charity commissioner requires regular “change reports” to be filed and prior permission for buying and selling of immovable property. In contrast, the National Capital Region (Delhi) does not have a charity commissioner, nor do several other states. Therefore, it is no surprise that many new nonprofits attempt to seek registration in New Delhi or such territories, as an effort to bypass at least one regulatory authority on the list.

A trust can be registered within a matter of a few days in Delhi or Karnataka. However, in Maharashtra or Gujarat, the process could take months. Trusts registered in states other than Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan can legally bypass at least one regulating authority because most other states including the National Capital Region does not have a Public Trusts Act (a state legislation) nor the office of the charity commissioner. And societies, registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860 in Maharashtra and Gujarat, are by default required to also register as trusts under the Trusts Act.

Companies seeking registration under the Indian Companies Act are required to go through a name approval process. This process ensures that there is no other company registered in India under a similar name. However, there is no such process or procedure laid down at the state level for trusts or societies. As a result, there are instances of several trusts and societies registered under the same or similar name.

Financial Year 2020-21 and beyond will be very challenging for VOs. Most public and private funding will go towards COVID-19 relief and rehabilitation; most CSR funding has been committed to the newly established PM-CARES fund. Companies or individuals opting for lower tax rates will not be able to enjoy tax deductions offered by VOs under section 80G.

Under such circumstances, should VOs consider strategies for generating income through fees for services, rather than depending solely on grants and donations? Current tax regulations, however, discourage any such efforts to pursue more sustainable funding mechanisms.

Two suggestions for the government to consider:

One, Finance Act 2020 will require every organisation registered u/s 12AA (tax exemption) and u/s 80G (tax deduction) to apply to income tax between October 1 and December 31, 2020 to revalidate existing registrations; such revalidation shall be valid for a period of five years. Considering current pressures on all sectors — government, corporate and voluntary — it would be best if the government would drop this idea, saving both voluntary organisations and the income tax authorities this unnecessary exercise.

Two, under the draft Companies (CSR Policy) Rules 2020, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has proposed that companies may carry out CSR activities through their own foundation or implementing agencies. In either case, however, the entity should be a company registered u/s 8 of the Indian Companies Act 2013. If this proposal is notified and comes into force, it will effectively eliminate the role of public charitable trusts and societies registered under the Act of 1860 in implementing CSR projects, programmes and activities on behalf of companies. Some of the oldest and the most well-known corporate foundations are registered as trusts, not as nonprofit companies. In fact, the bulk of voluntary organisations in India are registered as trusts and societies. Considering the stellar role being played by hundreds of trusts and societies across India even right now towards COVID-19 relief and rehabilitation, the government should not consider implementing this proposal.

India’s voluntary sector does much more than just fill gaps in the government’s service delivery system, and deserves to be recognised and treated with respect. By all means, the government has the right to regulate voluntary organisations. However, the regulatory laws should be uniform and enabling. A stronger voluntary sector strengthens India.

(The writer is CEO, Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy)

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/a-partner-for-nation-building-6450822/

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