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Rajiv Gandhi Foundation
Founded21 June 1991 (32 years ago)
TypeCharitable Institution
(exemption status): 80(g)[1]
FocusEducation, Disability, Natural resource management, Libraries
HeadquartersNew Delhi
Area served
MethodDirect Implementation, Grant Making, Working with Partner Organizations
Key people
Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson
Manmohan Singh, Trustee
P. Chidambaram, Trustee
Rahul Gandhi, Trustee
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Trustee
Amitabh Bachchan, Trustee
Rajiv Gandhi along with Sonia Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi along with Sonia Gandhi at The Doon School Founder's Day in the 1970s

The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation was established on 21 June 1991. The foundation works on a range of issues including development of knowledge, health, disability, authorization of the destitute, livelihoods and natural resource management. Its current focus areas are community welfare, literacy, health and special programmes for children and women.[2] All donations to the foundation are tax deductible to the extent of 50 percent under section 80G of the Income Tax Act.[1]

The foundation is headed by Sonia Gandhi, who is also the leader of the Indian National Congress Party. In October 2022, ministry of home affairs cancelled the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 license of Rajiv Gandhi foundation over allegations of violation of laws.[3]


The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation was set up to carry forward the legacy of former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi. The Jawahar Bhawan Trust, led by Sonia Gandhi met in July, 1991 and passed a resolution inviting the foundation to work in the Jawahar Bhawan.[4]
The foundation constituted a group of 8 founding Trustees. They were Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Amitabh Bachchan, Suman Dubey, N.K. Seshan and Sunil Nehru. In 1992, P. V. Narasimha Rao, P. Chidambaram, V. Krishnamurthy, Sam Pitroda, Dr. Sekhar Raha, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and R. P. Goenka[citation needed] were also inducted as Trustees.[5]

Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies (RGICS)

Nelson Mandela speaking at the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Lecture

In August 1991, the foundation setup Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies (RGICS) to provide research based ideas, analysis, policy and practical programmes into contemporary problem. RGICS programmes cover economic reform, science and technology, social problem, public affairs and international relations. The Institute organizes conferences, lectures, workshops, short studies and projects and invites experts to lend their insight into the contemporary issues. It also encourages research scholars, scientists, economists and social scientists to undertake projects which can provide inputs towards policy framing and decision making.[citation needed] Some of the speakers include Robert McNamara,[6] Nelson Mandela,[7] Hillary Clinton,[citation needed] and Edward Said.[8]

Initiatives taken



Ongoing initiatives

Access to opportunities

The foundation enables physically challenged young people to access better opportunities by awarding motorised vehicles.[11][12] It was initiated with the support of corporate bodies and concerned individuals in 1992 and has helped over 2400 individuals access higher education and attain financial independence.[citation needed]


The Interact scholarship program supports children affected by conflict across the country. After 2005, it included another 160 children affected by the tsunami in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Puducherry. As of 2016, the foundation supports 2086 children across Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Nagaland, Jammu & Kashmir, Gujarat, Puducherry and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. In addition to scholarships, on-going psycho-social support, orientation in and exposure to, various professions, placements, academic support, and internships are also provided.[citation needed]

Natural resource management

The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation has been working on issues of livelihoods and Natural Resource Management since 2001.[2][9] This programme was implemented in backward villages in Jaipur, Pali and Karoli districts of Rajasthan which faced serious environmental degradation. A third party evaluation revealed the significant impact in the lives of the targeted families.[citation needed] In order to scale up this transformative work, RGF set up Gram Gaurav on 19 December 2011. Gram Gaurav currently works in 74 villages located in Dang region of Karauli and Dholpur districts to augment water resources, conserve soil and enhance agriculture production.[13]

Rajiv Gandhi Cambridge Scholarship

The foundation, in collaboration with Cambridge Commonwealth Trust offers two scholarships for Indian students to pursue MPhil and LLM at the University of Cambridge.[14][15]


Since 1993, the foundation has set up 1648 libraries in villages and slums across 22 states in India. In 2013, RGF partnered with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and worked with the public libraries in Barabanki and Rai Bareilly districts of Uttar Pradesh.[16][17][18] It plans to open a library in each village of India.[19]

Transformative learning

The foundation has been working with ten partners across the country to introduce a capability based learning approach for children. This initiative has focused on redefining the assessment frameworks and learning approach and focusing on continuous comprehensive evaluation. A cluster approach has been adopted in selecting schools (covering 15-20 schools in a cluster) and works on capacity building of teachers.[citation needed]


Diversion of Funds from the Ministry of Finance

In 1991, Manmohan Singh the then Minister of Finance had tried to allocate the foundation a sum of 100 crore rupees. The Budget Speech of 1991-92 by Manmohan Singh presented on July 24, 1991, has the detail.

"As a homage to the late Shri Rajiv Gandhi and in support of the laudable objectives of the foundation, Government has decided to contribute Rs 100 crore to the foundation at the rate of Rs 20 crores per annum for a period of five years beginning from the current year," the then Finance Minister said in the Budget speech.

After huge political uproar, the decision was overturned. In the subsequent discussions that followed, Manmohan Singh had read a letter from the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, that stated that the foundation appreciates the generous sum but it thinks that the government should itself invest the funds in suitable projects.[20]

Diversion of Funds from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund

The UPA government led by Congress has also been accused of diverting funds from Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to the foundation while members of the Gandhi family and other senior Congress leaders sat on both board.[21][22]

In 2005-6 and 2007–8, while Congress led UPA was in power, it received funds from several ministries, public sector banks and PSUs.[22]

It have also been criticised for receiving funds from Sonia Gandhi led PMNRF, a fund set up by public donations.[22]

Donations from Zakir Naik

In September 2016, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation had received donations from Zakir Naik in 2011 despite the government having had expressed security concern with regard to Naik's TV channel.[23] Later, a congress spokesperson claimed that the Rs 50 lakhs were returned.[24]

Donations from the Chinese government

In June 2020, the BJP accused the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation of accepting a donation of $300,000 from the Chinese government during 2005-06 and questioned whether it was a “bribe” for lobbying for a free trade agreement between India and China which, according to Ravi Shankar Prasad, lead to a 33% increase in trade deficit between India and China under the congress government.[22][25][26][27][28] The foundation also had links to a Chinese united front organization called the China Association for International Friendly Contact.[29][28][30]


Inter-Ministerial Committee

In 2020, Ministry of Home Affairs set up an inter-ministerial committee headed by the special director of the Enforcement Department to coordinate investigation into violation of various legal provisions of PMLA, Income Tax Act, FCRA and other provisions by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation along with the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust. The committee will consist of the representatives from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation and Income Tax Department..[22][31]

In 2022, the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation's Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence has been revoked by the Central Government.[32]


  1. ^ a b "Indian Tax clause 80G allows tax savings through donation". 80G.
  2. ^ a b MADHU JAIN (15 September 1994). "Confident Sonia Gandhi streamlines Rajiv Gandhi Foundation programme". India Today. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  3. ^ "Home ministry cancels FCRA licence of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust". The Indian Express. 23 October 2022. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  4. ^ YUBARAJ GHIMIRE (15 July 1992). "Jawahar Bhawan in New Delhi is as controversial as it is ugly". India Today. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Rajiv Gandhi Foundation Established with Sonia Gandhi as Chairperson". India Today.
  6. ^ "Robert S. McNamara Papers" (PDF). p. 30.
  7. ^ HARINDER BAWEJA (31 January 1995). "Helped by advisers, Sonia Gandhi presides over a virtual empire of trusts and committees". India Today. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  8. ^ Kumar, Ajay (17 December 1997). "Palestines Soldier Of Word And Passion". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  9. ^ a b c DNA (20 August 2008). "RGF in Pursuit of Rajiv Gandhi's Vision and Ideals". DNA India. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  10. ^ "Courses in Civil Aviation". Directorate of Training & Employment, Govt. of Uttarakhand (India).
  11. ^ "Twenty Motorized Vehicles Distributed to People with Disability through Rajiv Gandhi Foundation".
  12. ^ "Freedom on wheels! Rajiv Gandhi Foundation distributes three-wheelers to disabled people - Volume 3 Issue 17: Disability News and Information Service for India". Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  13. ^ "An Insight into the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation".[dead link]
  14. ^ "Rajiv Gandhi Foundation". Cambridge Trust.
  15. ^ "Rajiv Gandhi Foundation Annual Report 2006-07".
  16. ^ "Beyond the Primer by Arvind gupta" (PDF).
  17. ^ Ahuja, M. L. (1998). Electoral Politics and General Elections in India, 1952-1998. ISBN 9788170997115.
  18. ^ "Amway Opportunity Foundation partners Rajiv Gandhi Foundation". Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  19. ^ Patel, Jashu, 1939- (2001). Libraries and librarianship in India. Krishan Kumar, 1933-. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 86. ISBN 0-313-00714-4. OCLC 51551058.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ "Rajiv Gandhi Foundation got funds from PMNRF during UPA regime, says BJP chief Nadda". The Hindu. 26 June 2020. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  22. ^ a b c d e "Home Ministry sets up panel to coordinate probe into 3 Gandhi family trusts". Hindustan Times. 8 July 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  23. ^ "Zakir Naik's donation to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation a bribe, says BJP". The Hindu. PTI. 10 September 2016. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2 August 2020.((cite news)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  24. ^ Anindya Banerjee (10 September 2016). "Zakir Naik gave Rajiv Gandhi trust Rs 50 lakh. Congress says returned, Naik says no". India Today. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  25. ^ "Rajiv Gandhi Foundation को funding करता है China". Zee Hindustan (in Hindi and English). 25 June 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  26. ^ Varma,Anuja, Gyan (25 June 2020). "BJP says Rajiv Gandhi Foundation took money from China". Livemint. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  27. ^ "Ladakh face-off | BJP attacks Congress over Chinese funds". The Hindu. 25 June 2020. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  28. ^ a b "PLA front CAIFC which made donations to Sonia Gandhi-led Rajiv Gandhi Foundation was under FBI's radar". Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  29. ^ Desk, Sentinel Digital (27 June 2020). "Rajiv Gandhi Foundation had links with the Chinese Embassy - Sentinelassam". Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  30. ^ "ख़ुफ़िया चीनी संस्था संग राजीव गांधी फाउंडेशन की मिली-भगत का खुलासा". Zee Hindustan. 27 June 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  31. ^ Tripathi, Rahul. "Government widens probe into trusts named after Rajiv, Indira". The Economic Times. Retrieved 8 April 2022.
  32. ^ "Home ministry cancels FCRA licences of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation & Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust". Deccan Herald. 23 October 2022. Retrieved 19 July 2023.