The FCRA licenses for over 6,000 NGOs – required to receive funding from abroad – expired overnight, the Interior Ministry said Saturday morning, days after refusing to renew such a license for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.
Sources from the Interior Ministry said most of the 6,000+ NGOs had not applied for license renewal.
Ministry officials said NDTV reminders had been sent to all NGOs to apply for renewal by Friday 31 December, but many had not done so. “How can permission be given …” asked an official.
In total, more than 12,000 NGOs – including the Oxfam India Trust, Jamia Milia Islamia, the Indian Medical Association and the Leprosy Mission – have lost their FCRA licenses today.
Apart from those mentioned, the dizzyingly long list of NGOs includes Tuberculosis Association Of India, Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts and India Islamic Cultural Center.
Oxfam India and the Oxfam India Trust are on the list of NGOs whose FCRA certificates have expired and not in those whose certificates have been canceled because they either had not applied for renewal or their renewal requests were rejected.
There are now only 16,829 NGOs in India that still have an FCRA license, which was renewed yesterday until 31 March 2022, or until the time of renewal applications (for NGOs that have applied).
According to the news agency PTI, 22,762 NGOs are registered under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act, and they must remain registered (have a license) to receive foreign funding.
All this comes after the Interior Ministry cited “unfavorable inputs” for not renewing the FCRA license for Missionaries of Charity, leaving the group – which runs orphanages and shelters for the poor, sick and needy across India – without access to foreign funds in excess of 250 accounts.
This was weeks after a police lawsuit was filed in Gujarat against the director of an orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity for allegedly trying to convert young girls.
The Interior Ministry also said it had not received a request to review its decision.
Mother Teresa’s charity confirmed that their renewal had been rejected and that “we have asked our centers not to operate any of the FC accounts (foreign contributions) until the matter is resolved”.
Controversy erupted after it emerged that accounts belonging to the Kolkata-based charity group, including those at the State Bank of India, had been frozen.
Opposition leaders, including Bengal’s Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee, rallied into the government, particularly to “freeze” Christmas Day accounts.
Father Dominic Gomes, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Calcutta, also blamed what he said was a “gruesome attack on the Christian community”.
Denying FCRA approval has been cited by critics of the government as its way of oppressing organizations whose work or officials are not considered to support the center enough.