The Missionaries of Charity’s FCRA renewal controversy sparks up Christmas week

Non-renewal of FCRA, based on “adverse inputs”, means that the charity can’t get funds from a foreign land. But the ministry didn’t clarify those adverse inputs

The Indian government has said that it would freeze foreign funding of Christian missionary groups, threatening an important source of funding for the group’s programs to aid impoverished Indians.

The decision was taken on Christmas evening amid an increasingly hostile environment for their religion in the majority-Hindu country, which is now headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party.

FCRA license renewal cancelled

The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) became law in 2011 to regulate foreign donations to Indian organisations. The aim was to prevent foreign-funded groups from engaging in unlawful activities harmful to national interests.

Thus, non-renewal means that the charity cannot get funds from a foreign land. The home ministry has said that the decision was based on “adverse inputs”. However, the ministry did not clarify those adverse inputs.

Last year, Amnesty International shut its Indian operation after the government froze the non-government organisation’s bank accounts. Greenpeace also shut two of its offices in 2019 for the same reason.

Pertinently, Mother Teresa was born in Macedonia but became an Indian citizen and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her charitable work in the Kolkata slums. She founded the Missionaries of Charity (MoC) in 1950, which runs hospices and orphanages across the world.

The FCRA registration was valid till October 31, 2021, and was extended till December 31, 2021, along with other applications pending renewal, the ministry added. The ministry further said it had not frozen the organisation’s accounts. However, the national bank has said that it had received a request from the MoC itself to freeze the accounts.

Politics about the renewal cancellation

On December 25, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted that she was shocked to hear that on Christmas, the Union ministry froze all bank accounts of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in India. “Their 22,000 patients & employees have been left without food & medicines. While the law is paramount, humanitarian efforts must not be compromised.”

CPM leader Surjya Kanta Mishra also said, “Yesterday, Christmas Day, the Union ministry froze all bank accounts of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. The Govt has frozen all the accounts in India, including cash in hand. Their 22,000 patients, including employees, are left without food and medicines.”

Meanwhile, The Missionaries of Charity stated that the charity’s FCRA renewal application hadn’t been approved. And it would stop operating any bank accounts with foreign contributions until the matter is resolved.

However, TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien shared the statement on Twitter, suggesting the home ministry had put pressure on the organisation to issue the clarification as part of “damage control”.

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