In Part 4 of the series, India’s ‘Soft’ Enemies, The Lede unravels the complex web of men & women who have impacted Indian policy at the behest of the regime-changer billionaire
By Sandhya Ravishankar
“Modi and business tycoon Adani are close allies. Their fate is intertwined. Adani Enterprises tried to raise funds in the stock market but failed. Adani is accused of stock manipulation and his stock collapsed like a house of cards,” said billionaire hedge fund investor and philanthropist George Soros at the Munich Security Conference on February 17.
Soros then turned to the next page of his speech.
“Modi is silent on the subject but he will have to answer questions from foreign investors and in Parliament. This has significantly weakened Modi’s stranglehold on India’s federal government and opened the door to push much needed institutional reforms. I may be naive, but I expect a democratic revival in India,” he concluded.
Well known as a regime changing agent who funds anarchists and lobbyists to wield ‘soft’ power on various countries, George Soros’ pointed claims of a “democratic revival” did not go unnoticed.
Soros’ interference in the affairs of the former Soviet Union countries, in Israel as well as in some African nations, to force his idea of politics on the citizens of those nations, is well documented.
Soros has been ruthless in his pursuit of wealth and now, in his sunset years, is equally ruthless in his pursuit of power.
Soros’ modus operandi is to identify talents and fund them to set up complex, tangled and inter-linked networks of “do-gooders”.
Thousands of such individuals are roped in to carry out his ideas about what democracy should be. Lawyers, non-profits, activists of every hue, politicians, educational institutes are all roped into this web.
Team Lede spent days following the money trail of prominent and not-so-well-known NGOs in India and zeroed in on the most insidious foreign funder of them all – George Soros.
The Lede’s series – India’s ‘Soft’ Enemies – has tracked several aspects of George Soros, the billionaire hedge fund investor, and his activities in India.
You can read more about Soros and his global regime-changing methods in Part 1.
You can read about how Soros’ philanthropic arm – Open Society Foundations – has circumvented the FCRA restrictions and continues to fund Indian NGOs in Part 2.
The Lede also dug deep into the organised protests in Tamil Nadu post Jayalalithaa’s demise and who funded the NGOs and activists who led them, in Part 3.
In Part 4, we delve into the key individuals who dance to the tunes of Soros and appear to now be trying to effect a change in regime in India.
Salil Shetty, Bengaluru born and 62 years old is George Soros’ lieutenant and his pointsman in India. He currently works as Vice President – Global Operations in Open Society Foundations.
Shetty is in India ahead of the 2024 elections. He even joined Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on one leg of his Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Here’s a short background of Salil Shetty.
As is evident from Shetty’s background, he appears to be very close to the UK government and has a phenomenal network in at least two continents – Europe and North America.
Shetty is also the mentor and architect of India’s organised non-profit sector, moulding next rung regime change agents within India and helping place them in key positions on the managements of mega NGOs, both foreign and domestic.
From the fount of Shetty flows the money through convoluted routes to a variety of large and small NGOs which feed off and fund each other.
This tony clique has used many social causes to their advantage – from women’s rights, to education and Dalit empowerment. Little real work has been done on the ground though with the funds that have been allocated for specific projects.
Fancy annual reports boasting of claims of having saved thousands, even lakhs of Indians from poverty and distress are just those – claims.
The real intent of these funds is to mobilise the masses for protests for or against the Soros sepoys’ ideology, to impose legislation on the country and now, work towards regime change.
Behar is the CEO of Oxfam India and was a former Executive Director of the National Foundation for India. A mentee of Shetty, the organisations led by him have been the recipients of major funding from Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF) as well as other foreign NGOs that are funded by the OSF.
We will take you through some of the Indian NGOs which have received funding from Oxfam India.
- Centre for Equity Studies led by Harsh Mander, a former member of Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council who was also recently in the running for a Nobel. This organisation has received Rs 1.2 crore from Oxfam.
- Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) which was founded by advocate Ritwick Dutta. This was also highlighted in our Part 3 series as he was counsel for Fathima Babu, one of the leaders of the anti-Sterlite protests in Thoothukudi in 2018.
- Association for Rural and Urban Needy (ARUN) in Telangana which is run by Bezwada Wilson. Partners of Oxfam in ARUN include the Fund For Global Human Rights, a Washington DC based organisation for building activism and protest groups across the world.
- Swadhikar or National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), founded in 1998 and now led by Paul Divakar Namala.
- Oxfam India has also granted Rs 1.4 crore to the Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion (CSEI) between 2016-17 and 2020-21 as shown in their FCRA filings with the Indian government.
Oxfam India itself has, as its donors, the Malala Fund. The Malala Fund is another well-known fund that donates to promote education for girls and is funded by Soros’ Open Society Foundation.
Paul Divakar Namala and Annie Namala
This couple are active in the NGO space and lead and mentor numerous non-profits. Annie Namala, in fact, was one of the brains behind the Right to Education Act which was enacted under the UPA rule in 2009.
It was under Annie Namala’s watch that the much celebrated RTE legislation was drafted to state that the Act was not mandatory for schools run by and for minorities. This exemption has come under criticism from many quarters for being divisive and sectarian. Not only this, questions were raised as to how an individual flooded with foreign funding could be allowed to tweak legislation at her will.
Both the Namalas run organisations that are heavily funded by Soros-affiliated NGOs from across the world.
As a sample, The Lede analysed the foreign funding of Annie Namala’s CSEI from 2016-17 to 2020-21. The details are available on Darpan, a site for NGO details, maintained by the Niti Aayog.
CSEI is funded by GCAP (Global Action to Call Against Poverty), a UN Millennium project helmed by Salil Shetty. GCAP, in turn, funds the Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (WNTA) which is a loose collaboration of activists and NGOs in India. Annie Namala is a Convenor of the WNTA, while Amitabh Behar is a founding member.
Another funder is the Goodwill Community Foundation which is funded by World Vision. World Vision is, in turn, funded by the Open Government Partnership. The Partnership has Soros’ Open Society as one of its biggest donors.
Other donors to CSEI are Oxfam India, National Foundation for India (NFI), both of which are Soros-funded. Another donor is the YP Foundation, which is funded by the American Jewish Service, which in turn is funded by OSF. The American Jewish Service also directly funds CSEI.
Similarly Acumen, another donor, is a charity whose biggest donor is Andreas Soros Colombel, the daughter of George Soros. The Malala Fund, a Soros-affiliated entity, also contributes to CSEI.
One more donor of note is I Partner India. This is a non-profit aimed at helping other non-profits get donations and funding, especially from abroad. It is led by Bina Rani, wife of Salil Shetty.
The final funder of note is called Commutiny – The Youth Collective. This NGO is funded by donations from Dasra and Pravah. Dasra is funded by Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, while Pravah is funded by the American Jewish Service and Commutiny, both of which are backed by Soros’ charity.
Sethi is a key embedded mentee of Salil Shetty and he is now also a trustee at the National Foundation for India (NFI), a non-profit based in Delhi. Apart from this, he is also the founder of Janvikas. Sethi is also a Governing Board Member at Oxfam India. He is also Vice Chairperson of a non-profit called the Centre for Social Justice.
Sethi has actively helped set up organisations, mostly in Gujarat. The Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan, Sahjeevan, Drishti, HID Forum and Transform Rural India are all his initiatives, among others.
As The Lede had already revealed in Part 2 of the series, NFI continues to receive funding from Soros’ foundations, despite severe FCRA restrictions. Funding from the Soros entities are routed through multiple other foreign NGOs and end up in NFI.
The Lede analysed NFI’s funding from 2015-16 to 2021-22. The total amount received from Soros-affiliated NGOs in this period is Rs 10 crore. Of this, Rs 27 lakh was donated directly from Oxfam India.
“Patnaik is another mentee of Salil Shetty, just as Amitabh Behar is. He was Amnesty International’s South Asia Director. Now he executive director, National Foundation for India”
George Soros is a well known benefactor of Amnesty International and has been accused of using the organisation to organise protests, lobby and push legislation through in various countries. For instance, Ireland ordered Amnesty to return 137,000 Euros to Soros which was its funding to overturn the abortion law.
In 2018, when Hungarian President Viktor Orbán launched his ‘Stop Soros’ campaign, Amnesty published a statement in Soros’ defence.
Amnesty International has also been accused of having jihadi links by several governments and critics. The Israeli research firm NGO Monitor provides evidence for the same and also details how Amnesty backed controversial protests in Israel with intent to change the regime.
Patnaik is a high flyer, speaking at global conferences about the poor state of human rights and basic necessities as he perceives them.
Rohini & Nandan Nilekani
The IT power couple from Bengaluru have pledged 50% of their wealth to charity and are supporting a number of NGOs which are believed to be fomenting trouble and anarchy within India using foreign funding.
Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies had, in the past, been a donor for one such non-profit – Amnesty International India Foundation Trust. As we already saw, it is an entity funded by George Soros.
Rohini Nilekani also funded and launched a campaign called ‘No Voter Left Behind’ in early 2019. Salil Shetty is part of this campaign or unregistered entity (it is not clear which).
As we have seen earlier, Rohini Nilekani also funds a non-profit called Dasra which in turn funds the CSEI and the Namalas.
It is also worthy of note here that Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani had got a ticket from the Indian National Congress in 2014 to fight the Bengaluru South seat in the Lok Sabha polls. This move was immediately after his stint with the UPA government as Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), better known as Aadhar.
Anurag Behar & Azim Premji
Behar is the brother of Amitabh Behar, whose connections and network we have witnessed earlier in this piece.
Anurag Behar is the CEO of Azim Premji Foundation and is also the Founding Vice Chancellor of Azim Premji University.
As noted earlier, non-profit Dasra is funded by Azim Premji Foundation among others.
Both Premji and Nandan Nilekani together have provided funding of Rs 9 crore in 2020-21 to CSEI. The reason for funding is stated in the filings – “Humara Bharat goal is to seed a movement by and for young people of all gender An unstoppable force that will galvanise communities, the marginalized, to stand up for our constitution.”
It is not clear as to why so much money from abroad was coming in to support Humara Bharat, a campaign started by Salil Shetty.
A Little Known Experiment
Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, a number of the aforementioned individuals and their NGO colleagues got together to attempt to change the direction of the election in India. As narrated by a former NFI employee (who did not wish to be named), the small constituency of Kalpi, in Uttar Pradesh was chosen for the pilot.
Yuva Shakti, a “movement” helmed by CSEI to mobilise youth and spread awareness, became the tool for the experiment instead. Youngsters were asked to campaign and influence the voters. However, these efforts came to naught.
This episode, however, gives the reader a glimpse into the intent behind the laborious methods used to set up networks of people and money.
It is clear that the 92-year-old billionaire and his Indian sepoys have set their sights on India a year ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
What is unclear is to what level anarchy and chaos will be taken to, for the regime change agents to get their way.