As per a recent report, the Modi government has banned 1,807 NGOs and academic institutions found to be violating laws, from receiving foreign funding in the year 2018. University of Rajasthan, Allahabad Agricultural Institute, Young Men’s Christian Association, Gujarat and Swami Vivekananda Educational Society, Karnataka are among those whose registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act has been cancelled. The effect of this move is to bar them from receiving foreign funding.
A Home Ministry official said, “With the cancellation of the FCRA registration, all NGOs and academic institutions were prohibited from accepting foreign contribution.” The FCRA registration of these organisations are said to be mostly cancelled due to their failure in submitting the annual income and expenditure statement with respect to foreign funding for up to six years despite repeated reminders.
This is in violation of FCRA guidelines which mandate organisations registered under the Act to submit electronically an annual online report along with scanned copies of income and expenditure statement, receipts and payment account, balance sheet, etc., for every financial year, within a period of nine months of the closure of the financial year. Even associations which do not receive any foreign funding during a certain financial year are also required to furnish a ‘NIL’ return for the relevant financial year within the aforementioned time period.
This move by the Modi government is in line with its larger strategy to crack down on NGOs which are conducting their affairs in violation of the FCRA regulations. With an extensive reach in the rural and suburban areas of the country, the activities of NGOs were largely unchecked before the Modi government came at the helm of affairs.
Left to themselves many of the NGOs receiving funds from undisclosed sources actively indulged in anti-development and anti-India work detrimental to the interests of the country. The idea was to serve the vested interests of their foreign donors while hampering India’s goal to reach self-dependency.
However, this free run that some of these suspicious NGOs enjoyed across the country, when it came to pursuing their vested interests, came to an end after the Modi government stormed to power in 2014. Last year, while speaking in the Parliament, the then Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said that the licenses of around 14,000 NGOs had been cancelled by that time ever since the Modi government came to power. These NGOs received foreign funding and were unable to divulge the sources for the funds received over the years despite multiple requests by the government.
The FCRA Act has been used by the government against these organisations which were engaged in nefarious anti-Indian activities. Some examples of well known NGOs’ FCRA license being cancelled include that of ‘Greenpeace India’ in 2015 on the grounds of “prejudicially affecting the public interest and economic interest of the state.” Another such NGO ‘Compassion International’ received the same penalty under FCRA norms. These NGOs were suspected to be engaged in activities which were detrimental to the growth of the country.
Only a couple of months ago, the Modi government had moved to further tighten the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act norms with sedition and forced conversion being the prime focus. The Modi government has now made it mandatory for all office-bearers including the chief functionary of foreign-funded associations and NGOs, applying for registration, a grant of prior permission or renewal of registration under the FCRA to file an affidavit sharing details of their government-issued identity proof. Currently, only the chief functionary is required to make such a declaration under Section 12(4) of FCRA, 2010.
Now with this amendment, the affidavit must declare that the entity seeking registration is not fictitious, has not been prosecuted or convicted for indulging in forced religious conversion or creating communal tensions and is not engaged in the propagation of sedition or found guilty of using funds for various other purposes.
With the move to further tighten the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act norms and the latest report of action against 1,807 NGOs and academic institutions, the Modi government has given a strong message- abide by the rules, don’t use foreign funding for pursuing nefarious designs, or else strict action will be taken. The crackdown against NGOs violating FCRA norms will not abate and such NGOs will not be allowed to go scot-free.