I'm writing to share an update with you on certain developments of relevance to
the Wikimedia movement in India.
Announcement of Wikimedia India Program Trust
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
I 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, I have personally secured temporary office space 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!
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:
As always, do reach out if you have any comments or questions.
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