Peers slammed India in the House of Lords for refusing to renew the foreign funding licences of nearly 6,000 nearly organisations, including the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa, and Oxfam.
The development comes after the application by Missionaries of Charity to renew its registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) was rejected on December 25 for not meeting eligibility conditions as some “adverse inputs” were received.
About 6,000 organisations lost their FCRA licences on 1 January, either because they failed to renew them or their applications were rejected.
The debate on the matter started in the House of Lords after an oral question by Lord Harries of Pentregarth asking what representations the UK government was making to Delhi about the “blocking of overseas funds for the Missionaries of Charity”.
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock even suggested that the UK should get multilateral groups like the Commonwealth Secretariat involved because “sometimes multilateral organisations can be better than getting a lecture from the UK”.
The peers argued that the Indian government’s move is a threat the life-saving work being undertaken by these organisations.
The Indian High Commission in London said it would not” like to comment on a discussion between Hon’ble Members of the Parliament of the UK”.
In a statement, the Union Home Ministry had said that it did not freeze any account of the Missionaries of Charity but the State Bank of India has informed that the organisation itself sent a request to the bank to freeze its accounts. The organisation clarified that it had advised its units not to operate bank accounts till the FCRA issue was resolved.
In a tweet, crossbench member of the House of Lords Lord (David) Alton, said:
Friends of India in the U.K. Parliament today urged the Modi Government to rethink its decision to withdraw licenses from charities and civil society groups – such as Mother Teresa’s community and Oxfam – threatening their life saving work. https://t.co/QqU0OZ7atH pic.twitter.com/XtPK8I8jvA
— Lord (David) Alton (@DavidAltonHL) January 6, 2022
“The work of Mother Teresa and the charity she founded, the Missionaries of Charity, is renowned throughout the world. What possible reason could the Indian government have for wanting to hinder and block their work,” asked Pentregarth.
“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 Bruce of Bennachie said indigenous and government agencies in India 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”.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, minister for South Asia, representing the UK government, said the UK was raising these issues in constructive manner with the Indian high commission in London, and the Indian government directly, and he was requesting more information so he could analyse the reasons why these licences have been revoked.
Petition in court
The development comes just days after Global Peace Initiative, and its founder evangelist KA Paul, approached the Supreme Court challenging the refusal of the government to renew the registration of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).
The registration was not renewed purportedly on the basis of some “adverse inputs”, the petition argued. “The cancellation of the license of a renowned charitable organisation like the Missionaries of Charity on vague grounds such as ‘adverse inputs’ will have a chilling effect on all other Non- Governmental Organisations,” it said.
The plea has also urged the court to quash the government’s direction to not renew the registration of “close to 6,000 NGOs”.
Naveen Patnaik’s Rs 78 lakh grant
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday sanctioned Rs 78.76 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund (CMRF) to support 13 institutions run by the Missionaries of Charity in the state.
Based on the requests of collectors, the chief minister has sanctioned assistance for 13 institutions run by the Missionaries of Charity spread over eight districts. More than 900 inmates in various leprosy homes and orphanages in the state will benefit from this decision, the CMO statement said.