India: Government Restores Foreign Funding Licence To Missionaries Of Charity

Adams Peter

Adams Peter

India’s Ministry of Home Affairs renewed the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence of Missionaries of Charity (MoC) on 7 January, after indicating on 21 December 2021 that they would not do so.

The FCRA regulates access to foreign funding for individuals, associations or companies, including non-governmental organisations, in India. A licence is initially valid for five years, after which an organisation is required to apply for renewal. The MoC, whose licence was initially valid until 31 December 2021,  had an application for renewal refused when the government said they ‘did not meet the eligibility criteria’. No reasons were given for the refusal.

The decision sparked widespread criticism both within India and internationally amid concerns that the cancellation would have a severe impact on the charity’s ability to function, and the Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik pledged to support 13 institutions that are run by MoC using the Chief Minister’s relief fund.

On 7 January, the MoC was removed from the list of NGOs whose FCRA accounts have ceased to exist and was included in the list of NGOs whose FCRA accounts were active. The decision will allow the charity to continue receiving funds from abroad.

Sister Alexina from the MoC in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, told CSW: “We have been trusting divine providence all these years and we will continue to do so. Of course, we are happy about the FCRA account being renewed. It is God’s work that we are doing here on earth, so God will always provide.”

As of 1 January 2022, an estimated 5,968 organisations have had their FCRA licence cancelled.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “We are pleased to hear that the government of India has decided to allow the Missionaries of Charity to receive foreign assistance, which will enable them to continue with the important work of caring for some of India’s most marginalised communities. CSW urges the Indian government to conduct an independent review of FCRA legislation and ensure that it is in line with India’s constitutional provisions and international human rights obligations, so that the important work of so many vital civil society organisations can continue.”

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