Foreign donations to Indian NGOs have surged since the NDA government came to power.
As per figures available with the Home Ministry, which regulates the flow of foreign funds to NGOs and associations in India, the 2015-16 fiscal saw a flow of ?17,208 crore from foreign donors, the highest in five years. There were donations of ?14,525 crore in 2014-15 and ?13,092 crore in 2013-14. In 2012-13, the foreign donations received totalled ?9,423 crore, and in 2011-12, ?10,334 crore.
There are 33,000 NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) that are required to file their annual returns with the Home Ministry, but only 19,000 received funds last year.
Of the 16 major donors, at least 14 are Christian organisations, most of them based in the U.S.
Last year, the Home Ministry put Colorado-based Christian NGO Compassion International on its “watchlist” as it was accused of funding Indian NGOs involved in religious conversions.
The crackdown against the Compassion International, which also figures in the list of the largest foreign donors, led to a diplomatic standoff with the United States. The U.S. Embassy wrote to the Centre, asking it to share evidence to support the allegations.
World Vision International, which is also based in the U.S., sent ?300 crore to Indian NGOs last year. Another U.S.-based donor, Give Two Asia, sent ?105 crore while Canada-based Gospel For Asia sent ?830 crore.
Before it was put on the watchlist, the Compassion International had donated ?292 crore.
Soon after the NDA government came to power in 2014, a massive clean-up exercise was taken up against NGOs registered under the FCRA. In 2015, the Home Ministry notified new rules, which required NGOs to give an undertaking that the acceptance of foreign funds is not likely to prejudicially affect the “sovereignty and integrity of India or impact friendly relations with foreign states and does not disrupt communal harmony”.
Under the annual returns category, the NGOs were asked to give an undertaking that the foreign funds were utilised in such a way that it did not affect the “security, strategic, scientific or economic interest, public interest, freedom or fairness of election to any legislature or harmony between religious, social, racial, linguistic group, caste or communities.”
The Home Ministry has cancelled the registration of over 10,000 NGOs in 2015 for not complying with the norms.
The registration of Greenpeace International was cancelled on the premise that it compromised the country’s “economic security”.
The MHA also cancelled the registration of Sabrang Trust, an NGO run by Gujarat-based social activist Teesta Setalvad’s and that of noted lawyer Indira Jaising’s Lawyers Collective. Ms. Setalvad and Ms. Jaising are known for their critical stand against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.