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The Kerry effect: Centre lifts curbs on fund transfers by NGO

The Centre has allowed U.S.-based NGO, Compassion International, to disburse funds to ten NGOs in India, months after it was put on the government’s watch list after security agencies reported that it was funding Indian NGOs involved in religious conversions. The move comes after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had expressed concerns over the treatment of the organisation with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during his India visit in September.

As reported by The Hindu on September 9, Mr. Kerry’s request was the highest level at which the NGO issue was ever taken up bilaterally since the Union Home Ministry placed it under the prior referral category on March 28, cancelling its ability to transfer funds directly to NGOs in the country.

Following observations made by Mr. Kerry, the External Affairs Ministry had also written to the Home Ministry and asked the latter to reconsider its decision.

“We are not removing Compassion International from our watch list; we are only allowing some NGOs to receive funds from them. Each application will be scrutinised before the money is disbursed to them,” said a senior Home Ministry official. Another official said Compassion sought permission to fund around 250 NGOs this financial year. “Curiously all the 250 NGOs Compassion wants to fund are Christian NGOs. We have done our investigations and found that several of them were using these funds to convert people to Christianity. Following this, we decided to place it under scrutiny,” said the official.

Lawmakers’ plea to Modi

Earlier three U.S. Congressmen and a senator from Colorado, where Compassion International is headquartered, had, in a letter addressed to the Indian Embassy in Washington and copied to the Prime Minister, said the action putting funding for the Christian advocacy group on a “prior referral” basis was crippling the NGO’s working.

In all, there are 21 foreign donors under the government’s scanner right now. Of these, eight were put under the prior-permission category during UPA government and the remaining 13 after the NDA came to power. Since the NDA came to power, the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licences of around 10,000 NGOs have been cancelled.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 5:16:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/The-Kerry-effect-Centre-lifts-curbs-on-fund-transfers-by-NGO/article16074133.ece

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