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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The ‘secular work’ of Germany’s Catholic Church in Bharat: Funding from Misereor and KZE to FCRA-NGOs

(This article was first published in May 2017 on this blog and is being reproduced with consent)

Who or What is Misereor?

Misereor Super Turbam – I have compassion for the multitude (Jesus Christ’s words – Gospel of Mark). The first word of this Biblical phrase is used for this organization – Misereor German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation.

In its own words, “MISEREOR supports the weakest members of society: the poor, the sick, the hungry, and the disadvantaged. To love one’s neighbor is a basic attitude of Christian life, and MISEREOR’s vocation is to translate this attitude into concrete action; The mandate given to MISEREOR by the German Bishops rules out the promotion of pastoral or missionary measures.”

To sum it up, Misereor is an Organization run by the Catholic Bishops of Germany which pursues secular work. Misereor works in many countries, including Bharat. The missionary work of Catholic Bishops of Germany is conducted via another organization called Missio, also located in Aachen, Germany.

What does Misereor do?

Again in its own words, “MISEREOR prefers to rely entirely on its local partners: Church-based institutions, non-governmental organizations, social movements and research institutes with which the agency cooperates closely, and in some cases has done so for decades. Together with the beneficiaries, the partners involved help shape local development processes and implement the projects. They receive support from MISEREOR in the form of advice, expertise, and funds.”

Thus, Misereor does not get directly involved but contributes in the form of funds and direction to local organizations across the world.

How is Misereor funded?

Misereor gets substantial funding from the Federal Government of Germany via a mechanism called “Church Tax”. Typically, members of a given Church pay to the Government there, about 8-9% of their income tax as Church Tax, over and above their routine Income Tax. This Church Tax is then distributed by the Government among the various Church Groups. The Catholic Aid Group which receives such funding is Misereor. Misereor also receives funding from other sources, including donations from individuals and Dioceses. In 2012, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation & Development, Germany (BMZ) granted a total of 216 Million Euros to KZE and EZE (Catholic & Protestant Relief/Development Organizations respectively). The BMZ document goes on to add “Churches are able to mobilize sections of civil society worldwide, and can thus exert a strategic influence on political awareness building.”

Misereor Germany Catholic Church FCRA NGO mafia
Pictorial Summary of the Post

Misereor’s funds to Bharatiya FCRA-NGOs

In 2008, Misereor’s Head, Monsignor Sayer visited Bharat. In his meeting with Conference of Catholic Bishops of India’s (CBCI)’s Bishops, he reassured them that Misereor’s grants to Bharat (which amounts to 40% of their grants to Asia) would continue, despite Germany’s perception of the increased development of Bharatiya economy. The following remarks by CBCI to the visitor is insightful:

After Monsignor Sayer´s talk, some bishops asked him whether Misereor has decided to stop supporting projects in India. Such a move, they said, would adversely affect the poor, especially dalit and tribal people, who do not benefit from India´s economic progress. Dalit are members of low castes once considered “untouchable.”

In this Post, we shall study the names of FCRA-NGOs funded by Misereor. Since both Misereor and Katholische Zentralstelle fuer Entwicklungshilfe (KZE) share the same postal address (in Aachen, Germany), we have combined the receipts from both these entities to Bharatiya FCRA-NGOs, in this List.

We reemphasize that this Post is devoted purely to ‘donations’ for ‘secular’ work to FCRA-NGOs. The Catholic Mission work of Germany in Bharat is carried out through donations from Missio to FCRA-NGOs in Bharat. The latter is not within the purview of this Post.

Who does Misereor fund?

The list of FCRA-NGO recipients of donations from Misereor & KZE and the amounts they have received is presented here. Please go through the same. That is the main contribution of this Post.

Here is a word cloud of names of FCRA-NGO recipients of Misereor’s funds that could provide some sense of its fund usage.

Word Cloud of names of FCRA-NGO recipients from Misereor, Germany. Common words: Bharat, Social, Trust, Foundation, Society, Development, Organization, Association, and Centre have been removed from the Word Cloud. Wordle is acknowledged for this resource.

A study of the recipient List allows us to make the following observations.

Observations on the List:

  • Misereor sends ~Rs. 70 Crore p.a. to various FCRA-NGOs. This amount is higher than that sent by Ford Foundation to FCRA-NGOs. In 1998-99, Misereor sent ~ Rs. 36 Crore to FCRA-NGOs. So, the inflow has doubled in about two decades (in Rupee terms).

  • Misereor’s recipient organizations are secular, i.e., they are social organizations either run by the Clergy (mostly Catholic) or those which do not exhibit any explicit religiosity in their Constitution/Board etc. Among the top recipients, only The Catholic Health Association of Bharat and Ranchi Jesuits are registered as ‘religious’ organizations under FCRA.

  • “Empowerment” of women, of Scheduled Castes and Rights of Children and Domestic Workers constitute a significant part of the activities of Misereor’s recipients.

  • Although the list of Misereor’s recipients is around 475, just the top-50 recipients together receive 70% of its ‘donations’.

  • Thus, an examination of some of these alone should be sufficient to gauge the work of Misereor in Bharat. However, the long tail (400+ FCRA-NGOs) which receive less than Rs. 20 lakh p.a. from Misereor should not be dismissed lightly. Such FCRA-NGOs are spread all across Bharat and have a significant say in local affairs. However, an examination of their activities is beyond the scope of this current Post, due to the magnitude and complexity of the work.

  • Blank spaces in the Table could imply either of these two possibilities: (i) the FC6/FC4 return of the NGO is not available on the FCRA website, or (ii) the FCRA-NGO did not receive any ‘donation’ from Misereor that year.

A look at some of Misereor’s prominent recipients

We have attached an exhaustive list of recipients and the amounts they have received in a separate page here. Please go through the same. *That* is the main contribution of this Post.

  • Caritas India (DL/231650203) is ranked #1 in the Misereor recipient List. It is located within the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CBCI) Centre. In FCRA records, Caritas describes its nature of work as Economic and Social. Caritas International is a conglomerate of nearly 160 Catholic Caritas affiliates across the world involved in relief and social work. Note that CBCI itself has another FCRA registration, DL/231650714 whose nature is Religious. Bishop Monteiro is Caritas India’s Chairman while Fr. Frederick d’Souza is its Executive Director. Caritas India has teams working on Human Trafficking, Health, Advocacy, Tribal Development, Disaster Relief, etc. In 2015-16, Caritas India received Rs. 7.9 Crore from Misereor.

  • Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) (DL/231650067) too is registered as a social organization in FCRA and ranks #2 in the List. Its Executive Director is John Peter Nelson. It works on sustainable livelihood, disaster relief, urban poverty reduction, Gender issues etc. It used to be the ‘Trustee’ of Misereor in Bharat until 1990. IGSSS is part of the advocacy group National Forum for Housing Rights.

In a workshop held at Ahmedabad in 2016 which IGSSS organized, it was decided that “partner organisations will extend their support towards formulating strategies against eviction, addressing seasonal migration, working on policy level advocacy and contributing towards basic facilitation of services to Urban Poor.”

IGSSS recently organized a Consultation Meeting for the Rights of Domestic Workers in Lucknow. The meeting resolved the following: “Besides fighting for social security, minimum wage, fixed working hours and leave provision for domestic workers, one of the major recommendations was to create a group of representatives for advocating the issues of domestic workers at State Level.”

In 2015-16, IGSSS received Rs. 13.98 Crore from Misereor.

Note that big FCRA-NGOs such as Caritas India or IGSSS in turn, ‘donate’ the money they receive from abroad to other FCRA-NGOs all over the country. This is a permitted activity* under FCRA, unfortunately. We cannot obviously analyse the activities of these secondary recipients (of Misereor funds) here, due to the magnitude and complexity of the work.

  • Founded by Martin Macwan, Navsarjan Trust (GJ/42040075) in Ahmedabad lost its FCRA registration recently. It is ranked #3 in the List. It works on behalf of Scheduled Castes. Based on a recent interview of its Director, we can deduce that 85% of its total annual revenues were from foreign ‘donations’, via FCRA. In the past, it has conducted surveys on ‘untouchability’, temple entry, etc.. In 2015-16, Navsarjan Trust received Rs. 1.15 Crore from Misereor.

  • Butterflies (DL/231650603) is a Child Rights NGO. Its chief functionaries are Rita Panicker Pinto and Olinda Pereira (as per Darpan Portal). It is ranked #7 in the List. Being located in Delhi, it gets featured several times in National newspapers. It also houses an Advocacy and Research Centre. Its 2013-14 Annual report mentions that its members are getting into the School Management Committees, a provision of RCFCE/RTE (the sectarian Right To Education Act). In 2015-16, Butterflies received Rs. 1.4 Crore from Misereor.

  • Tamil Nadu Social Service Society (TASOSS), (TN/76040036) registered as a “Social” organization under FCRA, works under the Tamil Nadu Catholics Bishops Council (TNCBC). According to its website, it works for “Agricultural Labourers, Unorganised workers, farmers, migrants, dalits, adivasis, fisher folk, Women , People with Disability and Children.” From its 2013-14 Annual Report, we learn that Bishop Yvon Ambroise of Tuticorin Diocese is its President. Pages 16 and 17 provides a glimpse into TASOSS’ social activities.

One can note from the above pictures that TASOSS works in collaboration with Caritas and Misereor. We also note that it worked on Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and on information, education & communication (IEC) materials for the Food Security Bill of the then Government of India. We note that it also held a Consultation on Rights Driven Development Agenda. It is to be noted that a large part of societal decay in Bharat over the last 15 years has been due to the stress, advocacy and targeted law-making on so-called Rights of individuals and select groups. It is unsurprising that TASOSS (& organizations similar to it) are in tune with such activities.

In 2015-16, TASOSS received Rs. 1.32 Crore from Misereor.

It may be noted that Bishop Yvon Ambroise was at the forefront of the agitation against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.

  • Next in our list is Centre for Promotion of Social Concerns (CPSC), popularly known as People’s Watch. It is headed by Henri Tiphagne who received the 8th International Amnesty Award in 2016. CPSC works in the area of Human Rights. CPSC’s FCRA registration was not renewed in early 2017 by the Ministry of Home Affairs. More details about CPSC can be found in this blogpost. At its peak, CPSC received Rs. 1.65 Crore from Misereor in 2009 which was about 30% of its total foreign fund receipts in that year. In 2015-16, CPSC received Rs. 2.9 Crore from Misereor.

  • Jan Vikas (GJ/41910132 ) and Institute for Development Education & Learning (IDEAL) (GJ/41910191) are located next to each other in Ahmedabad. They are ranked #6 and #58 in the Misereor recipients List. They also transfer foreign donations among each other (permitted under FCRA). Martin Macwan of Navsarjan Trust is also a Board Member of Jan Vikas. Incidentally, at the same address as IDEAL, exists an organization (same?) called Centre for Social Justice (CSJ). Gagan Sethi who heads the Board of Jan Vikas is also a Vice-Chair of Board of Trustees of CSJ. Activist-lawyer, Vrinda Grover is also a Trustee of CSJ. In 2015-16, Jan Vikas & IDEAL received Rs. 86 lakh and Rs. 94 lakh from Misereor respectively.

  • Laya (AP/10350057) ranks 8th in the List. Based in Visakhapatnam, it also receives funding from EED (which recently merged into Bread for the World, the Protestant humanitarian organization of Germany) and Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO). In 2015-16, it received fresh foreign ‘donations’ of Rs. 3.3 Crore over and above the Rs. 1.7 Crore unspent money (from past foreign remittances) in the Bank. Laya works on environmental issues and its Executive Director, Nafisa d’Souza is also the Convenor of Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change. She is also a signatory to a statement condemning the actions on Lawyers Collective by MHA for alleged FCRA violations. In 2015-16, Laya received a total of Rs. 2.62 Crore from Misereor & KZE.

  • Functional Vocational Training and Research Society (FVTRS), Bengaluru (KA/94421290) ranks 13th in the List. It is involved in ‘skill training’ activities. P.M. Philip is its Executive Director. In 2015-16 it received fresh foreign ‘donations’ of Rs. 6.1 Crore over and above the Rs. 1.0 Crore unspent money (from past foreign remittances) in the Bank. Its primary donor is Misereor. In 2015-16, FVTRS received Rs. 6.1 Crore from Misereor.

  • New Education Group Foundation for Innovation and Research in Education (NEG-FIRE) (DL/231660941) was jointly started by CBCI and Misereor in 1989. It was featured in the phenomenally good Indiafacts article on RTE. NEG-FIRE strongly advocates and supports RTE, a law which applies to only schools run by Hindus. Not just NEG-FIRE, nearly all the FCRA-NGOs receiving donations from Misereor would likely support RTE. In 2015-15, NEG-FIRE received Rs. 7.7 Crore from Misereor.

  • The aptly named Karnataka Regional Organization for Social Service (KROSS) (KA/94421202) is a secular organization in Bengaluru. It is ranked 12th in the List. It is currently headed by the Bishop of Udupi. Its Governing body consists of other Bishops, Parish Priests, Nuns and important members of the laity. KROSS organizes workshop on child rights, women empowerment etc. In 2015-16, KROSS received Rs. 1.2 Crore from Misereor.

  • Rank 98 is Kalpavriksh in Pune (MH/83930431). People may recall that Kalpavriksha organized a petition campaign in April 2015 against Home Ministry’s action against Greenpeace for its FCRA violations. The same can be seen here.

We shall now briefly look at a few specific Misereor recipients with FCRA registration in Delhi.

  • Indian Social Institute (ISI) (DL/231650026) ranks 57th in the list and is a Jesuit run organization. It carries out research on labour, indigenous, tribal, scheduled caste and women’s issues. It also organizes training on women empowerment and legal awareness to NGOs, clergy etc. In 2015-16, ISI received Rs. 39 lakh from KZE.

  • Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) also receives a small sum from Misereor. Headed by Dr. Sunita Narain, its work on environmental issues is well known.

  • Jagori (DL/231650137) works on women’s issues from a feminist point of view. To give you an idea of its work, check out this news story where one of Jagori’s survey work is cited. Donors to Jagori other than Misereor are: Bread for the World (Germany’s Protestant Relief Org), Dan Church Aid (Denmark), Action Aid etc. Although it had an unspent amount of Rs. 1.4 Crore (from past foreign ‘donations’) in 2015-16, it received a fresh inflow of Rs. 3.3 Crore from abroad. We have seen how FCRA-NGOs are sitting on a huge pile of unspent amount in one of our earlier Posts. Interestingly, Pamela Phillipose (Public Editor of The Wire and a columnist of The Indian Express) and Martin Macwan (Navsarjan) are on its Executive Committee. In 2015-16, Jagori received Rs. 68 lakh from Misereor. In 2015-16, Jagori received Rs. 67 lakh from Misereor.

  • Chetanalaya (DL/231650879) is ranked 142 in the list. However, it is a big FCRA-NGO having received close to Rs. 7 Crore foreign funds directly in 2015-16. In the same year, it reports Rs. 2.1 Crore as unspent amount lying in the Bank from past foreign ‘donations’. Chetanalaya is the social action wing of Archdiocese of Delhi. Its profile can be read here. It is registered as an Educational and Social organization in FCRA records. A recent news story narrates how Chetanalaya works for the “Rights of Domestic Workers”. Not surprisingly, Chetanalaya advocates RTE Act-2009. In 2015-16, Chetanalaya received Rs. 20.6 lakh from KZE.

  • Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS), Delhi (DL/231660773) is ranked 161 in the Misereor recipients list. However, it too is a decent sized FCRA-NGO, with Rs. 1.4 Crore fresh inflow from abroad in 2015-16 and an unspent foreign funds of Rs. 2.04 Crore in the same year, accumulated from past inflows. It is an ICSSR recognized institution and is affiliated to the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Amarkantak for awarding Ph. D. degree.

IIDS allows one to do research in the following areas:

Essentially, IIDS specializes in research on “inequalities”. A glimpse into the profile of people associated with it gives one the impression that it is not unlikely to be receiving Government of India grants too.

On the Darpan Portal, IIDS’ Chief Functionaries are provided as Sukhadeo Thorat and Martin Macwan.

Interestingly, there is a “Dalit Foundation” (Rank 221 in the List) in Ahmedabad (GJ/41910341). Its address is given as C-5, Royal Chinmay, Next to Simadhar Tower, Opp. Judges Bungalows, Bodakdev, Vastrapur, Ahmedabad – 380051. Note that FCRA-NGOs, Jan Vikas (Rank 6) and IDEAL (Rank 58) are in C-105 and C-106 of the same building respectively.

Dalit Foundation’s Board is chaired by Sukhadeo Thorat (who is also in IIDS) and its Managing Trustee is Martin Macwan.

People Summary:

  • Martin Macwan is associated with Navsarjan Trust, Jan Vikas, IIDS, Jagori and Dalit Foundation. Given the above profile of Martin Macwan, it is no wonder that the non-renewal of FCRA registration of Navsarjan Trust triggered much uproar among entrenched elites expressed via MSM articles. Martin Macwan received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2000.

  • Sukhadeo Thorat is associated with IIDS and Dalit Foundation.


Thus, we see that, through an extensive network of organizations and individuals, Misereor, a German Catholic organization that is directly funded by the German State among others, carries significant influence on Bharat’s civil society.

The opinion of the Bharatiya public and the legislative and executive actions of the Bharatiya Government are in turn significantly influenced by these organizations.

One may also note that whenever people who are part of the academic and media Establishment refer to the ‘secular fabric of the nation’, this is the nature of the secular fabric they mean.

Additional Reference

  1. The role of Religion in German Development Policy, A publication of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany http://www.bmz.de/en/publications/type_of_publication/information_flyer/flyer/booklet_religions.pdf


We thank an anon individual for crucial inputs into making this post possible. The FCRA Wing of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is also acknowledged for making available online the FC6/FC4 returns, without one having to use RTI.


1.) A lot of care has gone on to compile the data presented herein. While every effort has been taken to avoid errors, in a work of this complexity, human errors are likely and unavoidable. I would appreciate if you point out any such errors you come across, by using the Comment on this Post option. Thank you.

2.) This Post is a compilation from various sources, chiefly from FCRA records available at the FCRA website of Government of India, with additional inputs from mainstream media. Details of chief functionaries have been compiled from websites of FCRA-NGOs (where available) and also from the Darpan Portal of Niti Aayog. This post makes no judgement on the individuals and/or on the entities (NGOs, non-profit Organizations, religious organizations etc.) and/or on their work.

-By @by2kaafi and @zeneraalstuff


* The FCRA amendment introduced by the Government in September 2020 now prohibitsthird-party transfer of foreign contribution, i.e. one FCRA NGO cannot transfer funds to another FCRA NGO henceforth.

(This post was first published on this blog in May, 2017 and is being reproduced with the authors’ consent after minor edits to conform to HinduPost styleguide)

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