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No ‘compassion’ for NGO in India leaves Kerry worried

Raising the pressure on the government on the issue of NGOs, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry voiced concerns over the treatment of American NGO Compassion International at the strategic and commercial dialogue held here this week, Indian and American officials present at the meeting confirmed to The Hindu.

Mr. Kerry’s request is the highest level at which the NGO issue has ever been taken up bilaterally, though the government’s action against Christian and climate change NGOs has been a thorn in India-U.S. relations for over six years. Officials say they may reconsider their action after the request.

According to very senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ms. Swaraj told Mr. Kerry at the meeting: “India expects all NGOs operating here to adhere to our rules and regulations.”

However, the government also directed the MHA to look at the case again.

Kerry raised NGO issue with Sushma

According to the officials, Mr. Kerry spoke to Ms. Swaraj directly, asking that India reconsider its move to put Compassion International on its ‘prior permission’ list on March 28, cancelling its ability to transfer funds directly to NGOs in the country.

Asked whether Compassion International could now be removed from the ‘prior permission’ list, a senior North Block official told The Hindu: “We have received the request. We may consider it.”

Mr. Kerry’s request was unusual not just because it was taken up at the highest level, but because he singled out the Colorado-based Christian advocacy group for consideration, out of several U.S. NGOs currently under extra scrutiny by the MHA’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) division. The other NGOs are Mercy Corps, the National Endowment for Democracy and George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

Compassion International had been under scrutiny for transferring funds to a Chennai-based NGO and other non-FCRA- registered NGOs, including one allegedly involved in religious conversions, an MHA official told The Hindu. “We put them on the watch list after monitoring them for many months.”

According to the data with the MHA, Compassion International was the top foreign donor during 2012-13 when it donated Rs. 183.83 crore to NGOs in India, and had been transferring approximately Rs. 150 crores every year since then until it was put on the ‘prior permission’ list.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 4:43:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/No-%E2%80%98compassion%E2%80%99-for-NGO-in-India-leaves-Kerry-worried/article14623228.ece

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