Federation of Indian Christian Association of North America (FIACONA), an advocacy organization working to defend the religious freedom of Christians and other minorities in India accused the Government of India of hampering the efforts of non-governmental agencies (NGOs). The government of India implemented a set of bureaucratic regulations by amending a law called Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in the middle of the pandemic. Christian charities and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across India are required to have permission under this law to receive any donations from overseas.
The new amendment put in place last September mandates the charities to open a new bank account at a particular New Delhi branch of the State Bank of India before March 31, 2021, regardless of where the charity is located or operating from. Though many charities have managed to open this account in New Delhi, they have run into bottlenecks and red tape. As a result they are unable to receive much needed funds to help the suffering people in the middle of this pandemic.
“The current stringent FCRA rules that were put in place by the Government are jeopardizing many donor’s plans to provide equipment like oxygen concentrators and other essential supplies from around the world in providing needed help to hospitals especially in rural areas” said Koshy George, President of FIACONA. “Unless the Modi Government shows more flexibility towards charitable donations from abroad by suspending some of these bureaucratic provisions of the FCRA, more lives would be lost as a result” Mr. George cautioned.
These FCRA regulations were put in place for the purpose of monitoring and controlling minority charitable and educational institutions as part of the Hindutva agenda to minimize their appeal and reduce their influence on the society at-large. The secular NGOs who would not toe the government line also paid a price. However, NGOs affiliated with Hindu nationalist groups continue to collect money from unsuspecting donors in Western Countries and channel their funds mostly towards sectarian work without any hindrance from authorities.
FIACONA appeals to the Government to suspend these rules that created the current impediments and submit them later for a panel review to ease the restrictions on a permanent basis so that the needy will not suffer in a future crisis.