Foreign funds blocked: almost 6 thousand Indian NGOs in same situation as Missionaries of Charity. Other victims of government action include an Association for tuberculosis patients and Oxfam.
The government of Orissa is offering economic aid to the Missionaries of Charity, who tell us from Bhubaneswar: “We are not worried, the Father will take care of our needs.
New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Indian governments stop to foreign funding is not limited to the Missionaries of Charity: as of January 1, almost 6,000 Indian NGOs can no longer access funds from foreign countries.
The news – offering a broader picture of the problem that has come to the fore precisely at the time of Christmas in India – was broken by The Hindu newspaper which cites official documents of the Ministry of Interior in New Delhi.
To be precise, 5933 organizations have lost the status required by the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, the legislation that regulates the possibility for Indian organizations to receive funding from abroad. One figure is enough to give an idea of the impact of what is happening: until December 31, 2021, there were 22,762 active licenses, today there are 16,829. In just a few days, therefore, they have been quartered.
Together with the Missionaries of Charity, there are other high profile victims of this obstacle: Oxfam India, the local branch of one of the best-known international NGOs, released a note on Sunday, January 2, in which it confirms that it is in the same situation and explains that the non-renewal of its license jeopardizes its humanitarian interventions, including assistance on the Covid-19 emergency front currently offered in 16 Indian states. This is a particularly sensitive issue at a time when the Omicron variant is making a comeback with rapidly growing cases of infection in Delhi and Mumbai.
Other organizations affected by the blockade on foreign funding, according to The Hindu, include the Tuberculosis Association of India – an organization founded in colonial times by the British crown for the assistance of tuberculosis patients and now under the patronage of the Indian presidency – and an important network of educational facilities such as the Indian Youth Centres Trust.
The same goes for Jamia Millia Islamia, a historic Muslim university active since the days of Mahatma Gandhi, which has come under the crosshairs, probably for having been at the heart of the protests against the disputed citizenship law in 2019.
It should be added that the situation remains very opaque and confused: the Ministry of Interior has issued a circular saying that the licenses for access to foreign contributions are extended to March 31, 2022. But the document specifies that the extension does not apply to organizations that have already had their applications rejected, as happened for example to the Missionaries of Charity.
In any case, the political intent of this restriction, which is part of the nationalist agenda imposed on the country by the Modi government and which will be paid for above all by the poorest sectors of the country, seems evident.
This is one of the reasons why the application of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act is becoming a matter of conflict in Indian politics. After the recent tweet by Mamata Banerjee, Prime Minister of West Bengal, the government of Orissa has also intervened in support of the structures of the Missionaries of Charity. The head of the local government Naven Patnaik on December 30 sent an order asking local governments to make sure that the orphanages and homes for lepers of the Sisters of Mother Teresa are not in difficulty. “Where necessary,” he wrote, “resources from the Prime Minister’s emergency fund may be used. In Orissa there are 13 centers of the Missionaries of Charity that offer help to a total of about 2 thousand people.”
Speaking from Bhubaneswar Sr. Stany Rose commented on behalf of the Missionaries of Charity saying: “We are not worried: God the Father will take care of our needs. We are grateful to the head of government for the announcement of his support but above all we are indebted to the people of Orissa for the affection and help they have given us all these years.”