Local human rights organizations (LHROs) in the global South are increasingly keen to raise funds from cocitizens and local businesses to diversify their funding, to increase their political legitimacy, and to bolster their resilience to fluctuations in international donor trends. This concern with local funds has assumed new urgency today following the global governmental crackdown on foreign aid to domestic civil society. This article focuses on the potential for local human rights fundraising in Mumbai, one of India's most important economic centers, as well as a hub of social movements and human rights organizing. Like other governments, India has launched a crackdown on foreign aid to local NGOs. Interviews with a representative sample of Mumbai's LHRO leaders indicate that they depend on foreign aid, worry about government regulation, and are keen to raise funds from the city's booming corporate sector. Our representative survey of 1,680 adults living in Mumbai and its rural environs, however, shows that LHRO fundraising among Mumbai businesses could pose an acute reputational challenge. While Indian human rights groups do enjoy some public support in Mumbai, the public's trust in these groups is statistically associated with greater mistrust in local businesses. LHRO leaders in Mumbai face a critical dilemma: The city's booming corporate sector presents a tempting fundraising target but any attempt to access these funds risks undermining the local rights sector's reserves of public support.
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