Diaspora : Philanthropy

The India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians

The India Development Foundation (IDF) of Overseas Indians has been set up as a trust under the aegis of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA). It aims to serve as a single window for the Overseas Indian community to engage in philanthropic activity in India. It is well recognized that the Indian Diaspora represents an important economic powerhouse with the ability and willingness to invest time, knowledge and resources in the socio-economic development of India. It is this diasporic capital that IDF seeks to engage.

The High Level Committee for Indian Diaspora also had strongly recommended specific efforts to tap the philanthropic propensities of Overseas Indians. The IDF is in line with these recommendations. The IDF will be exempt from the provisions laid out under Section 31 of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). It is headquartered in Delhi. One of its main objectives is to encourage credible partnerships in philanthropic activities while weeding out the less credible organizations. International accounting standards would apply. 

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Mr Vayalar Ravi, is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the India Development Foundation

The IDF was inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh on January 8, 2008 during the 6th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. Explaining its need and rationale, the Prime Minister said: “This Foundation will serve as a credible institutional mechanism to direct Overseas Indian philanthropic propensities into human development efforts in India. The Foundation will assist overseas Indians to contribute to the cause of education, health and rural development in their erstwhile home villages, districts or states. It will also partner with credible NGOs and philanthropic organizations actively engaged in social development, thus providing a strong public-private partnership bridge between overseas Indians and their target beneficiaries”.

All foreign contributions will be received in an exclusive designated bank account only. Due diligence would be exercised to ascertain the bonafides of the contributors prior to receiving any contributions.

The Foundation is a not-for-profit trust under the Indian Trust Act, 1882.

The MOIA is in the process of registering the IDF as a non-profit organization in USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany and Gulf to qualify for exemption from federal income taxes. A portal for receiving online donations is also under development.

The first meeting of the Foundation’s board of trustees took place on November 4, 2009. The board is chaired by the Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Mr Vayalar Ravi. The Vice Chairman of the board is the Secretary, MOIA, Dr A Didar Singh. The CEO is Mr G Gurucharan, Joint Secretary (FS) in the MOIA. There is a provision for 12 members, four each from amongst eminent Overseas Indians, resident Indians and from the Government.

At present, the prominent Overseas Indians include Mr Yusuff Ali M.A., Managing Director of EMKE Group from UAE, Mr C.K. Menon, Chairman of the Behzad Group from Qatar, Mr Bicky Chakraborty, CEO Elite Hotels from Sweden, and Professor C K Prahalad from the University of Michigan, USA. Prominent resident Indians include prominent economist and former Indian Ambassador to the USA Dr Abid Hussain, Vice-Chairperson and Editorial Director of The Hindustan Times, Ms Shobhana Bhartia, CII President Mr Venu Srinivasan and Mrs Sudha Murthy of Infosys Foundation.

The day-to-day functions are looked after by the managing committee that is chaired by Secretary, MOIA, Dr Didar Singh. Members include former Secretary to the Government of India, Dr Sarala Gopalan, former CEO of the Clinton Foundation, Mr Deepak Verma, former Indian ambassador, Mr T. P. Sreenivasan. The first meeting of the managing committee took place on August 24, 2009.

Key objectives

1. Lead overseas Indian philanthropy into India and facilitate partnerships through a single window facilitation by building public-private partnership.

2. Establish and maintain a “Social Capital and Philanthropy Network” in India that can provide a list of credible institutions, projects and programmes.

3. Function as a clearing-house for all philanthropy-related information.

4. Promote accountability and good practices in Diaspora philanthropy.


Overseas Indian philanthropy in India has systemic constraints which need to be addressed through an appropriate institutional arrangement. It is observed that:

a) Diaspora philanthropy has been sporadic with a few groups or individuals participating, primarily through individual networks such as alumni groups, and family trusts rather than through a sustainable and credible institutional arrangement.

b) Philanthropic capital has been fragmented and dispersed across several social causes and geographies with less than optimal outcomes. Often these flows do not match national social sector development priorities as reflected in the Eleventh Five Year Plan.

c) For want of a credible single window, several less than credible private institutions with poor accountability have mushroomed, seeking Diaspora philanthropy. This has often eroded the confidence of the Overseas Indian in engaging more proactively in philanthropy in India.

d) The larger or wealthier Overseas Indian philanthropic organizations or individuals are able to comply with the regulatory framework of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) that governs philanthropic activities and institutions in India. The vast majority of the Overseas Indian middle class, however, despite strong philanthropic inclinations and the ability to individually commit smaller resources, find it difficult to fulfill FCRA requirements and often choose not to participate. Consequently, the large Overseas Indian philanthropist middle class remains out-side this engagement.

One of the focus areas of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) is the promotion of philanthropy by overseas Indians through innovative projects and instruments, such as micro credit for rural entrepreneurs, self-help groups for economic empowerment of women, ‘best practice’ interventions in primary education and technology interventions in rural health care delivery.

For further details, please contact: 

Shri G. Gurucharan
Joint Secretary (Financial Services) 
Room No.916, Akbar Bhawan Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs 
Chanakyapuri, New Delhi - 110021 
Phone: +91-11-24676210 / 24197936
Fax: +91-11-26882431
E-mail: jsfs@moia.nic.in 

Shri Shiv Ratan
Director (FS & Budget) 
Room No. 914, Akbar Bhawan Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs Chanakyapuri, 
New Delhi - 110021 
Phone: +91-11-24676841 / 24197914 
Fax: +91-11-26874249
E-mail: dirfs@moia.nic.in  

April 2010

click here to enlarge

 >> Cover Story
 >> From the Editor