Wikimedia Café/minutes 2019 10

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These are minutes from a Wikimedia Café meeting. During the meeting notes are at

After the meeting the archiving of notes happens in a subpage of Wikimedia Café.

Anyone can correct or edit these notes to reflect the meeting.

Join[edit]

24 October 2019 at 1 PM Eastern / 5 PM UTC (13:00 Eastern / 17:00 UTC)[edit]

Proposed agenda[edit]

  • Introductions, including usernames and/or realnames, affiliations, interests in attending the meeting, and one thing for which you're grateful
  • The main topic of the discussion will be Wikimedia activities and organizational affiliates in India.

Planning to attend[edit]

# WereSpielChequers (talk) 14:49, 27 September 2019 (UTC)

  1. ↠Pine () 01:58, 13 October 2019 (UTC)
  2. naveenpf (talk) 05:42, 13 October 2019 (UTC)
  3. Manavpreet Kaur (talk) 07:49, 13 October 2019 (UTC)
  4. Sankoswal (talk) 15:52, 13 October 2019 (UTC
  5. Rajeeb (talk) 07:14, 23 October 2019 (UTC)
  6. Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:31, 23 October 2019 (UTC)
  7. Abhinav619 (talk) 12:15, 24 October 2019 (UTC)
  8. Ainali (talk) 14:02, 24 October 2019 (UTC)

Attendees[edit]

  1. Abhinav619 - primarily a part of Wikimedia India and the Hindi Wikimedians User Group. The recent success of Hindi User Group has been getting Hindi Wikisource out of incubation. Lives in Delhi, it is a gas chamber these days, very toxic air pollution.
  2. Pine - close supporter to the Cascadia Wikimedia user groups in Seattle and Portland - grateful for sunshine in Seattle, where there is not normally sunshine this time of year
  3. bluerasberry (taking notes)
  4. Jan Ainali - member of Wikimedia Sweden, also of Wikimedia Belgium, soon Wikimedia Netherlands. grateful for Swedish people in Wikidata who are editing politician data
  5. Karthik - former board member of Wikimedia India, along with Abhinav and Sanket
  6. Sanket - former board member of Wikimedia India, along with Abhinav and Karthik
  7. Manavpreet Kaur (WMF)
  8. Krishna Chaitanya Velaga (KCVelaga)
  9. Abhijeet Safai
  10. Naveen Francis
  11. Ferdi2005

Notes[edit]

Happy Diwali!

  1. Introductions, including usernames and/or realnames, affiliations, interests in attending the meeting, and one thing for which you're grateful
    1. (see above)
  2. Request for the Wikimedia Foundation to report its investments by region
    1. Lane expressed a wish for regional reporting of financial investment by the WMF. For example, all the money by continent or perhaps by region.
    2. Pine said that he was interested in getting financial information and program information
    3. Pine said that he asked for this kind of information, but the idea has not gotten traction to get reported.
    4. Pine said that he expected that it should be easy to determine what percentage of various people's time is getting divided by region.
    5. There could be privacy concerns.
    6. Abhinav said that he recently saw the fundraising report which was by region but only by income. Foundation said privacy issues and they cannot share country-specifc. After community spoke, they said would look into it.
  3. Wikimedia Foundation divides India into two parts: the community versus an NGO loyal to the WMF
    1. Karthik said that the Wikimedia Foundation has never worked with India as a region in any central way. India is a huge country, so people cannot people travel to any central location to meet in person. Also it is very diverse, with people speaking different language. When the WMF has engaged with India, they have not been knowledgable about how diplomacy and society works. India does not work A->Z, which is how things work in the United States. Instead projects in India have multiple social networks which all need engagement, and collectively these networks accomplish things. Too often, people at the Wikimedia Foundation come in and say, "You guys need to do things this way..." or "If you do not do things this way, then." and they ask for the American way of doing things.
    2. Sanket: The Wikimedia Foundation is running a parallel body in India, Centre for Internet and Society. This organization has hired many of the most active Wikimedia community volunteers in India, which created tension because they selected certain volunteers over others instead of allowing the local community to set their own agenda for prioritization.
    3. Pine asked to learn about the relationship between CIS and WM India.
    4. Abhinav: CIS is an FDC-funded organization. Their MOU is not public (https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimediaindia-l/2013-November/010627.html), which is required for Wikimedia chapters and usergroups, but CIS has a special arrangement. Their leadership is unknown to the Wikimedia community as is their process for deciding programs. Everyone out there is a paid-staff with no volunteers in any role, which is fine, but also the Wikimedia Foundation directs the national community to look to CIS as the point of contact for Wikimedia Foundation interests in India. CIS takes certain positions and opinions which are not universal among all the regional Wikimedia community. They have always had grants..
  4. Chaos in planning: WMF uses money to greatly change and disrupt Indian community activities every year
    1. Karthik said that the Wikimedia Community would like to know the WMF's near future investment plan in India to be able to make its own decisions. It is challenging to plan when people get surprised with WMF investments and calls for community attention to sudden new projects. We do not know WMF's strategy in India.
    2. Pine mentioned the ongoing Wikimedia Strategy process for 2030. He remarked that the current publication seems messy. An organizer for the process, Nicole, has committed to better publishing but next steps are uncertain. Supposedly the WMF grants process will get a reform - not sure what that means for India. Also it seems that the Funds Dissemination Committee is suspended and it may not be re-banded. The FDC in the past has stood up to the WMF, saying that the WMF should report its funding in the way that the chapters do.
    3. Naveen - In India the problem is that there was a chapter. There is a challenge getting the FCRA. Previously this standing was there, then the chapter got a grant from the WMF. This registration is very strict, and getting charity status requires a lot of political power. When the chapter applied for the status, the government response was that we should establish a school or university to maintain the status. Wikimedia India never wanted this and it was a misunderstanding, but it is the sort of understanding which Indian government had. Also in the case of Wikimedia India, the WMF gave subdomain status, and for India, this matters a lot to show respect and legitimacy. For some reason the WMF did not permit this to Wikimedia India, when for other chapters, they gave this quickly without much trouble. Globally the WMF encourages offline events to go through partner organizations. 10 years back all of this was driven by the Wikimedia community, and lately, the WMF has been wanting to run offline events and community program itself with staff who are tied to the WMF.
    4. Karthik: The WMF has continually treated every outreach activty in India as a pilot and not taken anything seriously. India is a big country and what applies in one place or community does not apply to another. We cannot expect that what works in one place should apply everywhere, so doing small pilots with the expectation that they should apply everywhere will not work. The WMF does not acknowledge the diversity in India.
  5. Legal registration of NGOs in India
    1. Abhinav: India has always had a strict foreign investment policy and the FCRA applies. In 2014 there was a regime change to Prime Minister Modi, and Modi became even more strict about this. Local people know this, but the WMF does not take this seriously. Getting foreign money is a big deal in India. AffCom has put pressure on Wikimedia India to make sure this registration is in order. They do not realize that getting charity status can involve visits from the Mafia raj.
    2. Abhinav: Ever since 2014 with change in leadership, not-for profit organisations in India have been under scrutiny for receiving any foreign funding <https://www.firstpost.com/india/fcra-licences-of-20000-ngos-cancelled-act-being-used-as-weapon-to-silence-organisations-3181560.html>. India Chapter is also its culprit.
    3. However, WMF views things differently and Affcom says flaws in leadership initially and then later summons Chapter inquiring what efforts it has been taking to resolve, else face de-recognition. Affcom forcing Chapter to work in difficult condition
    4. Pine: Yes, I have heard in various places that getting charity status is a long complicated process which requires money. In other places the WMF has sponsored that.
    5. Lane: What does it mean to get FCRA approval?
    6. Abhinav: It depends on an organization's relationship with the government. If the government wants to grant it then they can do it in hours. If the government does not have a relationship with an organization it may never happen.
    7. Abhijeet: One thing that I could understand about the FCRA issue is that there have been many bogus NGOs operating in India. The present government identified many of these and penalized them. In the case of Wikimedia India, we have been very transparent in accounting, as we publish our intentions, spending, and everywhere we spend the money. There is a popular idea that money for terrorism goes through NGOs receiving foreign funding, and that NGOs are at risk of this kind of illegal activity. The strictness has good intentions, but also genuine NGOs have suffered. We have good reports to show the Indian government about what we have done, the community activities, and the rest. I think that the Indian government would accept these reports, but they work at their own pace and we cannot suddenly come to compliance with WMF requests which we do not expect. Many people in India support this strictness because they know about the problems with corruption and black money.
    8. Naveen: If the Wikimedia community is to be supported then there needs to be a way other than through the FDC. The FDC moves slowly and we cannot pause Wikimedia community development in India while we wait for all these things.
  6. How to make things better
    1. Pine: What would be useful? Should the Wikimedia community ask the WMF to sponsor the legal support to get the FCRA?
    2. Abhinav: Yes, we asked for this. There are some other problems - people who have objected to Wikipedia over content in India have filed lawsuits against the chapter, which is not anything to do with the chapter, but still a challenge for the chapter to address. When the WMF sends any representatives to India, they only talk with paid staff of CIS and they never contact Wikimedia India or the Wikimedia community. Whatever news the Wikimedia community in India gets from the WMF they get from CIS, and CIS is unable to communicate everything.
    3. Sanket: When the FDC committee was visiting India, my personal experience was that for some reason, they were very rude to Wikimedia India, when they were not rude to Centre for Internet and Society.
    4. Abhinav: WMF should give a clear accounting - how much money are they sending to CIS, how much money are they sending to India in total, how much are they sending in grants, and much money they pay their own staff to do projects in India.
    5. Naveen: They used to publish information based on country, now they publish by continent because of privacy. Sometimes this makes sense and sometimes it is not enough. India needs information about itself and not for all of Asia.
    6. Sanket: The WMF does not report how much fundraising they do in India, and they do not report how much money they invest in India. They should report both.