In the News:
Legislative Panel Finds No Fault With ISKCON

by the Deccan Herald

Posted January 19, 2011

BANGALORE — The Karnataka Legislature committee which inquired into the alleged irregularities in the implementation of the Akshara Dasoha scheme by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness has suggested the society project the scheme as being implemented in association with the State and Central governments.

The committee has expressed its inability to check the veracity of video CDs through which Iskcon allegedly attracted donations from across the globe by projecting India's poverty. The committee said it could not land at any conclusion based on the CDs and decided to refer it to the Home department for further investigation. The committee's report records that Congress member D. K. Shivakumar had said he would be ready to face punishment if the documents he submitted were found to be doctored. The committee also found nothing wrong in the foundation being involved in real estate business.

The House constituted the committee after Shivakumar made allegations against ISKCON in July 2009. Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Yogish Bhat headed the committee, which also comprised Shivakumar as a member, yet none of the allegations made by him was proved in the inquiry.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation of ISKCON has been providing food under the Akshara Dasoha programme for about 513,000 children in Bangalore, Hubli, Bellary, Mysore and Mangalore. The allegations made against ISKCON included misuse of government grants released for the programme and raising of donations by projecting India’s poverty.

Chanchalapati Das, ISKCON vice president, in his submission to the committee said the foundation had received Rs 54 crore (about 9 million Euros or $12 million US) as a grant from the government, while it spent Rs 113 crore (19 million Euros or about $25 million US) for the programme.

More spending

The report said the committee verified audit reports of the foundation and it found that it had been spending more money than what was granted by the State and Central governments. “There are no evidences to show that the foundation misused the funds meant for the programme,” it said.

The committee, after verifying the guidelines issued by the Centre for Akshara Dasoha programme, concluded that there was nothing wrong in raising donations from the public for effective implementation of the programme. The foundation had submitted before the committee that it raised Rs 77.34 crore from the public in cash as per the norms fixed by the National Committee for Social and Economic Welfare of the Finance Department. It said the amount collected was spent only for the programme.

The commissioner of the Education department attracted the wrath of the committee for making contradictory statements before it. The department in its submission on January 25, 2010, had said the foundation was not entitled to raise funds for the programme. But in its revised submission on September 22, 2010, the department said there was nothing wrong in collecting funds for effective implementation of the programme.

Reposted from the Deccan Herald, 13 January 2011.

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