Thanks for writing & finally opening up to the community on this topic. Let me add some more to this, so that the global community can understand the actual situation Wikimedia India (WMIN) is in now right now, in a more in-depth way.
Ofcourse, before going forward I need to mention very clearly that the contents of what, I am writing below, is in my personal capacity as a volunteer.
While Affcom continues to claim, India Chapter lacks capacity, WMIN would continue to contest all its reports are in order (https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_chapters/Reports/Wikimedia_India#Wikimedia_India) and let's not forget they are zero-budget.and also self-financed. Your letter further says that the board had abdicated from communication and handed over to Abhinav. The board had also previously communicated with the Affcom on their suspension notice stating it has been on flawed basis and made in secrecy. What Abhinav has essentially asked is to put all information in public domain and let it be for the community to review. Everyone might not know, but Abhinav has been a board member earlier & everything has been briefed to him with facts as cited in previous mail. Affcom initially in their private mail and now today continue to ignore facts on transparency and continue to blame change in communication leadership
Why can't Affcom reply on facts and evidences and also be transparent ?
To make our global audience more aware on the situation of not-for-profits organisations in India, I would want them to see this article <https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/06/07/democracies-need-a-little-help-from-their-friends/>.
There are truckloads of many more such information, on trouble with the government. Since 2015, not-for profit organisations are under severe scrutiny and I myself have had police officials doing check up on me at my work place. Of course, as volunteers , we are ready to undergo these hardships, for the betterment of the movement. But when we don't receive basic mutual respect as an organisation from WMF, that's when it becomes discouraging.
I was communicating with AffCom since we received the suspension notice in November 2018 and I was also leading the April 2019 Con-call . I honestly think that the any communication that happens between two individuals or groups, goes ahead with mutual respect for one another. When we provide justifications on mail, they don't reply us and ask us to be on Con-Call, on con-call they hear us but don't take anything in action and our responses on con-call remain not documented.
I did not see that respect from WMF to WMIN and I don't blame them, since they have the other affiliate Centre of Internet & Society (CIS-A2K) , an affiliate who has all paid employees , working full time on Wikimedia projects in India.
If it were any other country,where WMIN was the sole affiliate, our voice would have been better heard better and we would have been treated better. Our annual reports were only delayed by 3.5 months due to government bureaucracy which was delaying submission of our final financial results (although we don't have enough funds, Chapter is mandated to share its financial statement).
In the meantime, our quarterly reports were in line and also shared with the wider community. There are so many affiliates who delay their submission, so many of those affiliates have an annual budget and also staff, WMIN had no such comfort but still it received this treatment.
I dont know what is the future of WMIN, but I can say one thing for sure that as a board member, WMIN has been treated in bad faith by Affiliations Committee. When thousands of NGOs struggle with a crisis and Affcom comes up with statements, 'no evidence that the current organization’s leadership will be able to drive this problem toward resolution”.' Why can't they see that the same Chapter has been undergoing activities in such hard circumstances without any funding.
Affcom should know that even after suspension notice, WMIN is indulging in programmatic activities and they should know till 13th September they would find us working & serving our purpose.
Dear Wikimedia-l readers,
AffCom understands the complexity and sensitivity of the circumstances
surrounding the decision to de-recognize Wikimedia India as a chapter, and
we would like to share more information around it. This decision was not
taken lightly, and only came after consistent warnings, including
suspensions of the chapter, and continued attempts by AffCom to bring the
chapter’s activities in line with the requirements for chapter status. We
understand that volunteers would like more information about this decision
and past actions that influenced its outcome. We will attempt to provide an
overview of the factors and history that led to this decision.
Wikimedia India has been given ample time to address their lack of
compliance with minimum chapter expectations since their initial signs of
non-compliance in 2015 and concerns presented to them during their 2015
site visits, initial 2016 suspension, and most recent 2018 suspension last
November. The Wikimedia India Executive Committee (EC) has repeatedly
failed to respond in a timely and complete manner to call requests, annual
reporting timelines, and remediation deadlines for demonstrating
It is worth noting that there may be issues related to incomplete
information regarding the current relationship between WMIN and AffCom.
Abhinav is a current WMIN representative, but he was recently appointed to
the EC on June 14, 2019  following the EC’s receipt of the final
revocation notice sent on June 13, 2019. He was not informed of, nor did he
participate in, our communications regarding the current suspension process
before that time, so he has had to rely on second-hand knowledge of the
situation. The remaining four members of the EC appear to have fully
abdicated their responsibility for communications leadership and as such
further confirm the chapter’s lack of capacity at this time.
Suspension notices give explicit requirements for what and how to
communicate with respect to a chapter’s capacity and provide a timeline for
addressing gaps to meet requirements. We’re providing a table reflecting
the most recent suspension notice, the requirements included, and the date
they were to be delivered below for the community’s context:
According to the suspension notice, Wikimedia India was to:
Submit an Action Plan. By January 15, 2019, the chapter was to submit an
updated Action Plan including a timeline with dates for completing the
Submitted past deadline.
Received on March 4, 2019.
Insufficient response; awaiting new action plan for potential
reorganization as outlined in April call.
Complete and submit the required overdue chapter activities and financial
reporting. The chapter was to submit the reporting by December 1, 2018.
Submitted past deadline.
Received Activities Report on December 3, 2018 and Financial Report on
December 22, 2018.
Develop a strategy and timeline for addressing the following potential gaps
in meeting the basic criteria for chapter status in terms of Legal
Structure, Open Governance, Active Contributor Involvement, and Capacity. By
January 15, 2019, the chapter was to submit a plan, via email or posted
online, demonstrating how the chapter meets the specific chapter
requirements outlined. If the chapter does not currently meet the
requirements, they were to provide a plan and timeline for how to address
these issues before June.
Submitted past deadline.
Received on March 4, 2019.
Insufficient response as detailed in April call.
Resolve concerns related to organizational best practices. By May 1, 2019,
the chapter should be able to demonstrate that it is following the
Wikimedia Foundation Board’s recommendations for organizational best
Submitted past deadline.
Received on June 4, 2019.
More information on chapter requirements is also available on Meta:
Although the Affiliations Committee has decided not to renew this chapter
agreement, this does not reduce the importance of the Republic of India to
the Wikimedia movement. We regret that this action has become necessary due
to the chapter’s failure to meet the requirements of continued recognition,
as outlined in the table above. We would also like to reaffirm the
committee’s deep and continued commitment to support affiliates in India
across geographies and languages.
As we have previously indicated, all rights and permissions granted by the
Wikimedia Foundation to Wikimedia India in the Chapter Agreement will be
revoked as of the termination of the agreement on September 14, 2019. In
the meantime, we will continue to engage with Abhinav and the executive
committee of Wikimedia India privately until we can align on a public
communication plan and process to transition the chapter from its current
recognition status. We will continue to discuss whether and how we can
share the outcomes of these discussions on Meta once we have agreement
between the executive committee and the AffCom on the best way to do this.
Chair, Affiliations Committee
On Sun, Jul 7, 2019 at 4:50 AM Abhinav srivastava <email@example.com>
> Dear Friends From Affcom,
> I am posting an open public request for your notice of Suspension moved at
> Wikimedia India (WMIN) which we continue to contest and to our ignored
> demand of having a public hearing as shared with you all over mail and
> shared again here under Annexure [A]. You have taken an official position
> on suspension without even hearing us even once, unexplained accusations
> have been provided and we continue to believe Affcom has been
> insufficiently investigating facts before making judgements. We repeatedly
> over and over again provided justifications over Mail but you never took
> them to your notice and only over calls you heard us, provided your
> rationale for expectation gaps but never took our oral commentary which
> refutes your claims,in any action, anywhere. Now you say WMIN won’t remain
> a Chapter after 14th September and be transformed into a User Group.
> Republic of India happens to be one of the only few countries where besides
> volunteer driven Chapter and User Groups has a full-time staff based WMF’s
> Allied Organisation CIS-A2K . Wikimedia India activities  may be less
> due to no source of funds  however, Community Members from India put
> their efforts, strive hard to take the movement ahead. Whether it be the
> previous financial year or the present, no Wikimedia Foundation Grants like
> Rapid Grant, Project Grant etc have been applied by Wikimedia India members
> to support any Chapter activity. They remain self-financed. We received
> your notice last year when Wikimedia India was contesting a dispute with
> CIS-A2K over attribution grabbing for our self-financed projects and
> ignoring Chapter at important National level initiaves . While working
> with virtually no source of funds and struggles with WMF’s Allied
> Organisation, your notice of suspension was the least bad we could have
> We continue to contest your suspension notice. It was Suo Moto (on its own)
> decision making and as found and re-stated above and below in detail, there
> were gaps and misunderstanding in your basis. We also continue to contest
> there has been a Rush-to-decision making. No written responses via Mail to
> Chapter’s clarification are being provided and invitation for calls are
> initiated where brief responses are shared on a Cloud Document. It has been
> subsequently found by both parties on there being gaps in communication.
> However, even after clarity during call, Affcom has not taken any action
> over them.
> The basis of your suspension notice has been shared here for the wider
> Legal Structure : Affcom asked Wikimedia India to resolve and obtain its
> necessary license in order to obtain funds. At present, as per
> of India restrictions it is difficult to obtain foreign funding.
> India informed the Affcom on roughly 13,000 Non-Government Organisations
> (NGO)s  are struggling with a similar crisis to which Affcom
> responded, “reconsider applying for a User Group.” and “no evidence that
> the current organization’s leadership will be able to drive this problem
> toward resolution”. Chapter efforts and commitment in resolving the said
> crisis cannot be dusted in few words. A Government restrictive policy
> has an impact on 13,000 NGOs and Affcom finding flaws in WMIN Board
> capability. WMIN would leave it for public interpretation.
> Why not a capability audit for hosting zero-budget activities? While most
> of the time are being spent on resolving the said crisis, WMIN continues to
> undertake activities as listed. Taking the Open Knowledge Movement forward
> remains a commitment for the Chapter irrespective of whatsoever political
> climate may remain. Affcom was asked two questions respectively in this
> regard however no response has been attained. The questions are
> Would zero-budget activities, those self-financed not meet sufficiency ?
> Please elaborate for us to stand better and to improve upon.
> Would resolving Legal Structure and being able to receive WMF Grants be
> a necessary criteria for WMIN to meet sufficiency or continued
> not meet the fulfilment criteria?
> (2) Open Governance : Affcom informed Chapter that a member needs to be in
> physical presence at the Chapter Assembly to cast vote and raise voice and
> asked The Chapter to change its bylaws. This information is anything but
> false. This was communicated during the Call but Affcom did not bring
> anything in action. Also, as per the Chapter Agreement between WMF and
> WMIN, a copy of bylaws was provided in English Language to WMF. The bylaws
> were approved by the then Chapter’s Council. No evidence has been brought
> to notice on WMIN violating the Clause 7.2 of the Chapter’s Agreement,
> “The Wikimedia Chapter shall be required to advise the Foundation of any
> planned or actual change in the bylaws or status of the Chapter which might
> affect the Foundation or the continued existence or effectiveness of this
> (3) Active Contributor Involvement :The November 10 email carried the
> statement, “The chapter lacks broad and diverse membership, community
> representation, as well as buy-in and involvement “ and “Membership seems
> to be sourced through university leadership rather than through open
> community participation and representation.” Chapter till date received no
> evidence or logic construction on how the said argument was reached. Later
> during the call, Affcom did acknowledge that there has been a communication
> gap. Chapter further floated the idea of sharing the Member’s data base
> (4) Capacity : WMIN was able to submit its annual reports on 21st December,
> 2018 (3.5 months late) due to a notice by Income-Tax department which
> caused delay in preparing our Financial reports. Although we do not have
> any annual grants or use any money to support any activity, as per
> Chapter’s agreement, affiliate is required to submit Financial Results.
> Meanwhile, WMIN reported its activities on every quarterly basis and shared
> it with the wider Indian community via India Mailing List and also other
> channels , , ,. Annual activity report is a compilation from
> the quarterly reports.
> Affcom claimed via Cloud document that no high level response submitted and
> repeated delay is not accepted. WMIN informed Affcom that previous delay
> needs to be looked at independently from earlier financial period and
> suspension notice (WMIN then had a grant), but we received no response.
> (5) Organizational Best Practices : Affcom asked us to ‘Resolve’ issues
> relating to Organizational Best Practices, however, no information had been
> received on respective deliverables not been met. The November 10, email
> carried the statement, “There are concerns about whether” referring that
> Affcom was also not sure themselves. WMIN shared the best practices after
> placing it in front of the community on member’s mailing list for more than
> 15 days. To this Affcom responded that you are late with your submission
> hence we are terminating your contract. They never shared an evidence and
> when WMIN took its time placed it in-front of the community and then
> submitted, they said delayed and instead of sending their response in
> writing over mail they again invited us for a call. We continue to insist
> on providing a written response via Mail but no action.
> (6) Action Plan : Affcom asked us to submit an Action Plan and we kept
> asking what deliverable are needed. We cannot commit on resolving
> Government restrictions within a said timeline as more than 13,000 NGOs
> struggle with the similar crisis. We emphasised again and again we have
> been running zero-budget activities and working for the movement. We asked
> them to review Organizational Best Practices, based on gaps we could have
> taken things into consideration. They rather said, you have missed the
> deadline, so WMIN has to be closed now.
> To sum up, Affcom friends, you made up your own decision, you made up you
> own hearing and you made up your own decision. It was a monologue masked in
> the name of a dialogue.
> I encourage you all to be in our boots someday, hosting activities on
> zero-budget, fighting with the Government bureaucracy to attain some
> funding as a help, the challenge of having a staff-based organisation in
> parallel, struggle with self-financing activities and most importantly
> working with Affcom to save yourself from their de-recognition threats.
> If you believe you are correct, please abide to the request made under
> Annexure [A] and put everything in public domain. Let community read for
> themselves and decide. If Affcom is more transparent about its
> investigation and actions then community would be able to better understand
> the work and provide an opinion.
>  https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/CIS-A2K
>  Foreign Currency (Regulation) Act, 1960 compliance do not permit India
> Chapter to receive money from its primary fiscal sponsor, Wikimedia
>  Board of Directors at CIS, acknowledged in March, 2019 for a compliant
> made in August, 2018 for CIS-A2K Staff not doing their duty to the order.
> [A] Reallocating the Affcom - WMIN Communication To Meta : No
> communications over email, video call, social media, instant messaging, or
> anywhere but wiki! While this would not just be aligned with the editing
> spirit, it would promote greater transparency and also helpful for us to
> communicate the message to our community members. While, we understand
> Affcom had been advocating the same, however, taking care of privacy
> concerns, do let us. Once we hear from Affcom on having no privacy
> concerns, we may reallocate the discussions.
> If there a consent to this, would request a green light also for
> Archiving the entire email conversation over a cloud document and
> linking it to the relevant Meta page.
> Documenting Internet Calls in an attempt to resolve communication gaps
> and linking them to Meta page for greater transparency.
> Based on Principal of Free Speech, allowing anybody to use the
> discussion page for expression of their views.
> Any Volunteer is free to translate the text into the language of their
> Upload All PDF sent via Mails to Commons and link them to the Meta Page.
> All relevant customs and procedures which exist for any Meta page to be
> in action.
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and
> New messages to: Wikimediafirstname.lastname@example.org
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l
New messages to: Wikimediaemail@example.com
Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=unsubscribe>