Although the Indian government has decided to relax its vigilance over the US-based NGO, Compassion International, in terms of disbursing funds to Indian NGOs, there is still a lot of muddy water in this foreign funded NGO-affair, giving rise to social unrest in the country.
The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) 2010 in India regulates and exercises a close watch on the nongovernmental organisations (NGO) receiving foreign financial aid. This was a precautionary measure to restrain radical organisations in the country from indulging youth in terror activities and unscrupulous religious conversions. Despite the initial actions against some of the dubious NGOs by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), cases such as ‘Compassion International’ still pop up.
Curious case of Compassion
Compassion International (CI), headquartered in Colorado, US, was put on prior referral category on March 28, 2016 owing to the reports from security agencies that the funds disbursed to ten NGOs in India were used for religious conversions. Moreover, investigations have revealed that all the 250 NGOs that are in the list of probable beneficiaries of CI are Christian NGOs.
In a recent turn of event, the US Secretary of State John Kerry took this matter to Sushma Swaraj, the Minister of External Affairs, during his visit to India last month. Previously, the senators from Colorado along with the a few Congressmen addressed a letter to the Indian Embassy in Washington and copied it to the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on the same issue. The latter, after taking the reins of the central government, has cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licences of around 10,000 NGOs. The earlier UPA government in India had put 8 foreign donors under the prior-permission category while the NDA added 13 more to the list. There are 21 foreign donors under the government scanner right now, allegedly carrying out unscrupulous religious activities leading to radical transformation and terror threats in the country.
In a recent move, the MHA had issued a journal notice banning Islamic evangelist Zakir Naik’s NGO from accepting remote assets. The MHA had before set the NGO — the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) — under the earlier authorization classification through an official request and later issued an additional notice, which is beyond the challenge of the FCRA.
The warning had said the IRF had damaged certain arrangements of the FCRA and hence, should get earlier authorization from local government before accepting any external commitment. The warning said the choice to place it under the earlier authorization classification was taken after the Centre was persuaded that it had damaged FCRA rules.
Under these conditions, the India government chose to fix the noose around reprobate NGOs. The MHA is looking at changing the FCRA rules, making it compulsory for every voluntary association to have dedicated records in banks with core banking facilities for real-time access. The home ministry is additionally making guidelines to guarantee that no NGO is permitted to get outside assets under the earlier authorization class more than once.