The Modi government has inexplicably caved in under Western pressure by renewing the FCRA license of Christian NGO, Missionaries of Charity. The license to receive foreign funds had recently been cancelled by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) based on adverse inputs. MHA typically relies on internal security agencies like Intelligence Bureau (IB) to monitor the functioning of FCRA-NGOs and ensure legal utilization of foreign funds.
This U-turn comes a day after UK parliamentarians in the House of ‘Lords’ slammed Bharat for not renewing the FCRA license of Missionaries of Charity and other organizations. There were calls for the UK to engage with Bharat to reverse the decision.
The House of ‘Lords’ is the upper house of the UK parliament and its members are drawn from the peerage (a feudal system of hereditary and lifetime titles given out by the British monarch), made up of ‘Lords’ Spiritual and ‘Lords’ Temporal. The ‘Lords’ Spiritual are 26 archbishops and bishops in the established Church of England (so much for British secularism). Most ‘Lords’ Temporal are life peers, appointed by the monarch on the advice of the British PM or House of ‘Lords’ Appointments Commission, but they also include 92 hereditary peers (none of them women). Most hereditary peerages can be inherited only by men.
This entitled lot, most suffering from colonial hangover, lined up to ask what Britain was doing to seek to have these funds unblocked, with one, ‘Lord’ Foulkes of Cumnock, suggesting the UK should get multilateral groups like the Commonwealth secretariat involved. ‘Lord’ Alton of Liverpool warned there would be “appalling consequences” for Bharat’s most vulnerable people unless this “iniquitous decision” was reversed.
“The rumour is it is continuing pressure from Hindu nationalism because people might come into contact with Christianity and eventually convert to it. We need to know from the Indian government in writing what is their reason so we can examine the validity of their reasoning,” ‘Lord’ Harries of Pentregarth, whose oral question triggered the debate, thundered. Harries is a retired bishop of the Church of England and former British Army officer. He was the Bishop of Oxford from 1987 to 2006, and a Professor of Divinity from 2008 to 2012.
‘Lord’ Bruce of Bennachie alleged indigenous and government agencies in Bharat do not reach many of the poorest people and asked the UK government to ask Delhi to “explain how those people will be reached if the agencies serving them are withdrawn”.
Missionaries of Charity & ‘Mother’ Teresa
Missionaries of Charity (MoC) was founded by the controversial Albanian-Indian Catholic ‘saint’ Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, aka Mother Teresa. At the time of her death in 1997, she was a highly influential and powerful figure with close ties to top leaders, including dictators like Haiti’s Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, and opinion makers of many countries; MoC was considered by some as the richest religious order in the world, with 4,000 Sisters working at 610 foundations in 123 countries.
As this article states, Teresa’s problematic legacy included forced conversion, gross mismanagement, and pretty bad medical care in her shelter homes. Worst of all, she was the quintessential white person expending her charity on the third world — the entire reason for her public image supported by the powerful Vatican, and the source of immeasurable scarring to the postcolonial psyche of Bharat and its diaspora.
Recently, a MoC shelter home was booked in Vadodra, Gujarat for converting Hindu girl children and hurting religious sentiments, after an inspection by social security & child rights workers. The FIR states, “girls at the home were being forced to read Christian religious texts and participate in prayers of Christian faith, with the intention of steering them into Christianity“. It was further said that a young Hindu woman staying at the home was married off to a Christian man as per Christian traditions without the permission of the district collector, which is mandatory. A Punjabi woman is said to have been converted to Christianity as well after she took refuge in the shelter home.
In 2018, Jharkhand police arrested a woman and detained two MoC nuns for selling infants born to unwed mothers at a shelter run by them. This came to light after a routine inspection by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of Ranchi found that a child had gone missing from the institution. At the time, social workers had demanded that MoC, which has one wing in almost every district of the country, should be thoroughly investigated.
The ugly truth is that abuse of child rights and forced conversions are common in many Christian-run foreign-funded orphanages across Bharat.
According to the 2020-21 annual financial returns filed by the Kolkata-registered MoC on December 13, the total balance in its foreign contribution bank account stood at ₹103.76 crore. It has a whopping 250 bank accounts across the country to utilise foreign funds.
Brouhaha and selective outrage over FCRA licenses
Nearly 6,000 organizations lost their FCRA licences on January 1, either because they failed to renew them or their applications were rejected. An examination of facts would make it clear that no single community, religion or source of funding has been particularly ‘targeted’. All applications for renewal of FCRA licences were processed as per well-established procedure, and after the deadline for renewal applications was extended multiple times.
An MHA official said that the Ministry declined to renew the FCRA registration of 179 NGOs, while 5,789 associations did not apply for a renewal before the December 31 deadline. The deadline for those NGOs who had applied before December 31 and whose application is still under consideration have been given an extension till March 31. All organizations whose FCRA license is deemed expired are free to apply afresh again.
Incidentally, among the NGOs whose FCRA license lapsed are also included three major Hindu religious organizations – Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), Ramakrishna Mission, and Shirdi’s Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST). Other notable organizations whose FCRA license is deemed to have expired on January 1 are IIT-Delhi, Oxfam India, Jamia Milia Islamia, Indian Medical Association, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, India Habitat Centre, Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, India Islamic Cultural Centre, Medical Council of India, Emmanuel Hospital Association, Tuberculosis Association Of India, Vishwa Dharamayatan, Maharishi Ayurveda Pratishthan, National Federation Of Fishermen’s Cooperatives Ltd., The Hamdard Education Society, Delhi School Of Social Work Society, Bhartiya Sanskriti Parishad, DAV College Trust and Management Society, Godrej Memorial Trust, Delhi Public School Society, Nuclear Science Centre in JNU, All India Marwari Yuva Manch, Indian Institute Of Public Administration, Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Foundation, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, and Delhi College of Engineering
It is not known whether these organizations did not apply for FCRA renewal and hence their licenses expired, or they are on the list of 179 NGOs whose renewal application was rejected by MHA.
While the FCRA license cancellation of MoC met with instant outrage in Bharat’s mentally-colonized English-language media and ‘secular’ politicians like TMC’s Mamata Banerjee, who recently oversaw a horrific pogrom against Hindus of her state, expiry of Oxfam’s FCRA license also generated outrage from the same lot.
This controversial UK-based international NGO has been embroiled in a sex scandal, because of which even UK had cut off govt funding for it – it receives a big chunk of its total funding from UK govt and public authorities, and can be considered an arm of UK foreign policy.
Within Bharat, legal rights groups have lodged complaints against Oxfam for running a smear campaign against Assam’s tea industry, and for spreading panic and misinformation during the pandemic among other things. A few years back, when FCRA rules were tweaked to improve monitoring and prevent abuse, Oxfam had led the ‘civil society’ outcry in tandem with ‘secular’ political parties like Congress. Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar, who receives a salary of Rs 54 lakhs per annum, had railed that the amendments would hit Oxfam’s ‘fight against poverty and illiteracy’.
As per a January 1 article in NDTV, the mouthpiece of all such neo-colonial entities, Oxfam India and Oxfam India Trust are in the list of NGOs whose certificates have expired and not in those whose registrations have been cancelled. But in a fresh twist, Oxfam is now claiming its renewal application was rejected. Critics believe this could well be a tactic to smear the government in the court of international opinion.
After the recent MHA exercise, the number of active FCRA-registered NGOs in the country has come down from 22,762 to 16,907. FCRA registration of over 12500 NGOs has ceased in the last few years. Many FCRA funded NGOs have links with powerful Western state and non-state actors, and are involved in advocacy and activism to further foreign geopolitical interests. To get a sense of the scale of money involved, total FCRA inflow from abroad per annum is ~ Rs. 17000 Crore; FCRA unspent cash from past inflows (stashed in Bank FD): Rs. 16000 Crore.
One line of propaganda that can be seen in almost all ELM (English language media) reports on the FCRA issue is “Refusing FCRA clearance has been listed by critics of the government as its way of suppressing organisations whose work or officials are not considered supportive enough of the centre,” or some variant. The reality is that most of these organizations see themselves as above Bharat’s law, as they have links to powerful global (read Western) governments.
But now that the Modi government has reversed its decision on Missionaries of Charity, it remains to be seen if it will reverse the FCRA cancellation of Oxfam and other powerful Western-backed entities too.