Ten months after it was put on the Government’s “prior permission” list for donations, U.S.-based NGO Compassion International (CI), the largest international donor in India, says it will shut down India operations as it is unable to function with the strictures on funding.
The Christian charity has been at the forefront of a clash between the Modi government and the Obama administration. The Trump administration’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sworn in on Wednesday said in his Senate confirmation hearings that he would “look into the issue.”
When contacted this week, government officials made it clear there would be no change in their position, despite a last-ditch effort by CI’s Senior Vice-President Stephen Oakley. He flew to Delhi to meet Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar at a meeting attended by U.S. Embassy officials and asked for strictures to be removed on the organisation that has operated in India for over 30 years, bringing in approximately ?292 crore per year and funds 344 NGOs here.
“Compassion International has been told it will not be taken off the watch list. The representatives were here a few days ago and they were shown evidence of religious conversions being done by NGOs funded by them. There is no rescinding the decision,” a senior Home Ministry official said.
India sticks to stand
The ‘adverse’ reports of two NGOs funded by CI — Chennai-based Caruna Bal Vikas Trust and Compassion East India — were instrumental in putting the foreign donor on the Home Ministry’s watch list, said the official. At the meeting, the Indian side had made it clear that CI, which had been accused of funding NGOs unregistered for religious activity, would get no exemption from the FCRA ruling for ‘prior permissions’, various sources confirmed to The Hindu. Among other regulatory issues, sources said, CI’s own mission statement on its website, which says its aim is for “children in poverty to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults” had raised a red flag with the government.
In a letter to its sponsors for children in India last month, CI, which insists it has not broken any Indian laws, said, “Due to a lack of funding resulting from government restrictions, we will likely be forced to shut down our sponsorship program in India in the next 60 days. It deeply grieves us to think about what it would mean to end all of the relationships between Compassion children in India and their sponsors,” adding that it would give time until March 15 for a ‘resolution.’