The ministry of home affairs (MHA) has cancelled the registration of around 9,000 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) under the Foreign Contribution Registration Act (FCRA), 2010. After the cancellation, none of these NGOs will be able to seek foreign donations or access their bank accounts to utilise the unutilised foreign contributions.
The MHA order (detailed order) says the cancelled NGOs did not submit to the ministry details of amount of foreign contribution they received, the source from which the money came, and for what purposes the money was utilised for the financial years 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Under the FCRA, NGOs are required to submit these details. The order says in October 2014, notices were issued to 10,343 organisations asking them to submit these details. But, the MHA order says 8,975 of these organisations did not reply to the ministry’s notice, upon which the government decided to cancel their registration. The names of these NGOs have not been made public by the government.
NGOs have defended themselves citing inconsistencies in the FCRA. They argue that certain provisions of the FCRA are not well defined, which provides wide powers to the government. Also, NGOs argue that often their annual returns are not acknowledged by the government, which keeps them guessing until the government issues orders cancelling their registration.
Of these, two per cent (around 43,000) are registered under FCRA. According to the latest annual FCRA report, out of the 43,000 registered organisations, 22,700 receive foreign contribution. The rest either do not get any contribution or have not submitted their annual returns with the MHA. During 2011-12, these 22,700 organisations got Rs 11,546 crore as foreign contribution.
“While it is not proper to make sweeping generalisations, it is necessary to note that the NGO sector in India is vulnerable to the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing,” said the MHA report.
Among the countries, the highest contribution to India in 2011-12 came from the United States of America (Rs 3,838 crore), followed by the United Kingdom (Rs 1,219 crore) and Germany (Rs 1,096 crore).
Among the agencies, during the same period, the US-based, Compassion International, was the largest contributor (Rs 183 crore), followed by another US-based donor agency Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Rs 130.77 crore) and Germany’s Kinder Not Hilfe e. V (KNH) (Rs 51.76 crore).
Compassion International’s website says it works in the area of child development, which is “rooted in Christian child development and child advocacy”. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a Christian restorationist church. While KNH says it is one of the largest Christian organisations in Europe for children’s aid.
How the money is spent
The highest amount of foreign contribution money during 2011-12 was utilised for rural development (Rs 945 crore), welfare of children (Rs 929 crore), construction and maintenance of school and college (Rs 824 crore) and research (Rs 539 crore).
Of the states and Union Territories, Delhi got the highest receipt of foreign contribution of Rs 2,285 crore. It was followed by Tamil Nadu (Rs 1,704 crore) and Andhra Pradesh (Rs 1,258 crore). Among the districts, Chennai received the highest contribution of Rs 889 crore, following it were Mumbai (Rs 825 crore) and Bengaluru (Rs 812 crore).
Among the associations, which reported receipt of foreign contribution, the highest amount of foreign contribution was received by the World Vision of India, Chennai, (Rs 233.38 crore), followed by the Believers Church India Pathanamthitta, Kerala (Rs 190.05 crore) and Rural Development Trust, Ananthapur, A P (Rs 144.39 crore).
World Vision’s website says it is a Christian humanitarian organisation working for the welfare of children. Whereas, Rural Development Trust says they carry out need-based welfare programmes for the rural poor and marginalised sections such as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and persons with disability.