US announces USD 500K grant for increasing ‘societal tolerance’, ‘religious freedom’ in India

Washington: The United States announced a grant of USD 500,000 to non-governmental organizations in India which will come up with ideas and projects to promote religious freedom in the country, reported the Press Trust of India.

The US state department on Thursday said that they want to ‘increase societal tolerance’ in the country with those grants.

The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, in a notice, had said that it seeks to “reduce religiously-motivated violence and discrimination in India” through its USD 4,93,827 grant programme.

“The goal of the programme is to increase societal tolerance and improve civilian security to reduce religiously-motivated violence and discrimination, and the funds will support activities that work toward that end,” a State Department spokesperson told PTI.

This programme is funded by the US government foreign assistance funds, he said.

“We do not disclose implementers of programmes,” said the spokesperson when asked about the recipients of such a programme.

The recipients would be announced later after screening of successful applicants, he added.

Among other things, the state department wants the organisations, applying for the grant, to come up with proposals to develop and implement early warning systems to mitigate large-scale violence and implement conflict mitigation programmes between minority and majority groups, the spokesperson said.

He said an applicant also needs to ideate successful programme activities to counter hateful or discriminatory public messages with positive messages using all kinds of media.

Meanwhile, the State Department on Thursday announced an open competition for organisations interested in submitting applications for projects that support expanding youth civic participation in India.

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor said it anticipates having USD 650,000 to support at least one successful applicant.

The State Department said it seeks projects that will strengthen a youth leaders’ knowledge of basic principles of transparency, accountability, inclusivity, non-violent civic participation and minority protection laws.

It also seeks projects that incorporate a small grants mechanism that change leaders can leverage to work with relevant stakeholders to address pressing community issues.

For this programme, the youth leaders should be between the age group of 18-35 years, according to the notice of funding opportunity.

“Competitive proposals will target Dalit, Christian and Muslim communities individually in Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, and Maharashtra to ensure that the programme is situated in the relevant cultural context, and ensure gender representation among participants,” it said.

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