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The Wikimedia India Program Trust

by Prasad Krishna last modified Nov 13, 2011 07:58 AM
A new entity, the “Wikimedia India Program Trust”, has now been formed and registered (in Delhi.) This will be the organization that will eventually drive India programs and house the team in India.

For some time, efforts have gone into creating an organization that would provide an appropriate structure to support Wikimedia program activities in India.  Aspects such as the current regulatory framework (regarding funding, taxation, etc.) as well as the legal protection for the India team have been considered to determine this structure. In this context, a host of options (e.g. subsidiary, branch, Section 25) were evaluated and a determination was made towards an independent non-profit public trust. Legal advice has been taken at every stage in this decision. 

Why an Independent Public Trust?

The Trust will provide an effective vehicle within India to marshal resources to support programs and partner with local institutions. The objective of the Trust is to promote the objectives of the Wikimedia movement and work closely with the Wikimedia community on various projects with an India focus. It is important to understand that the Trust will not have any editorial control over content on any of the Wikimedia projects. The Trust is a not for profit organization.

Introduction of Trustees

Trustees have been identified based upon their support for Wikimedia movement's principles and plans in addition to having reputations for good governance and management. Sunil Abraham and Rahul Matthan have been requested to be the initial Trustees.  Both are friends of Wikipedia and have extensive experience.

Sunil is Executive Director of the Centre for Internet & Society (CIS), is a long term advocate of free software and IP reform and has been supporting the Wikimedia community and movement for some time now.

Rahul is a partner and heads the technology practice at Trilegal. He brings deep expertise and relationships that will be valuable for the Trust.

These initial Trustees will serve for a term of three years at the maximum.  All additional or subsequent Trustees will serve on rotation in accordance with a trustee selection plan that will be prepared.

Trustees will not be compensated for their services. Governance, Funding, Financial Standards & Communications of the Trust. The Trust will be governed by Trustees who will provide oversight and guidance regarding the operations and governance of the Trust. Since the Trust is an independent organization, it will require funding for its operations which is in compliance with the legal and regulatory framework in India. It will seek funding from private donors within India as well as external sources.

The Trust has the support of the Wikimedia Foundation which is a United States based non-profit foundation. However, in India all non-profit organizations need to be in existence for 3 years before they can receive funding from sources outside India. In the interim, they can apply for prior-permission under the FCRA regulations to help expedite the process. As a result, the Trust will shortly be applying for approval to receive funds from the Wikimedia Foundation in the future.

As a Trust, we are required to have an independent external auditor. We have appointed KPMG. KPMG is experienced in auditing non-profit companies and are also auditors for the Wikimedia Foundation. Annually, the Trust will publicly disclose it's independently audited financial statements.

The Trust will publish a monthly newsletter outlining its current activities and future plans. This will commence in December 2011.

Operations of the Trust

The trust deed under which the Trust must operate clearly states that the purpose of the Trust is to independently promote the growth of volunteer activities within India in support of effective and unrestricted dissemination of free knowledge to the public. Hisham will serve as the Executive Director of the Trust. Once it is possible, additional employees will be brought on to the Trust. The Trust will eventually have an office in Delhi. In the interim, a temporary office space has been set up to facilitate establishing the Trust and its mission. It is located at Top Floor, G-15, Hauz Khas, New Delhi - 110 016. It's a couple of minutes walk away from IIT Flyover and Hauz Khas Metro. Do drop in! It's a small but cozy place and we'd love to have you over!

Conclusion

We continue to make progress in setting up program activities to support the growth of Wikimedia in India. We have a long way to go, but are glad that we are starting to build a solid foundation. The following link is for FAQs on this (and related) topics: 
http://goo.gl/8Rdr2

As always, do reach out if you have any comments or questions.

 
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