On FCRA & NGOs: Killing the license

News: After 2020 amendment to the FCRA act 2010, NGOs are required to renew their FCRA (Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act) license in order to be able to receive foreign funding. 

Ministry of home affairs (MHA), which looks into these renewals recently denied Missionaries of Charity group (an NGO founded by Mother Teresa) renewal of its FCRA license. 

It has also not yet scrutinised more than four-fifths of the applications of the 22,000-plus NGOs that have sought renewal of their FCRA license.   

What are the issues associated with this present situation? 

If government does not extend deadline by midnight ,all NGOs whose application is yet to be scrutinised stand to lose their ability to access international funding in the coming year. 

NGOs have to prove that their work does not qualify as harmful to “public interest” or “national security”. The 2020 amendment of FCRA act of 2010 has left these terms undefined and ambiguous. This may lead to subjective interpretations on the part of MHA officials.  

Many prominent NGOs like Amnesty International, Greenpeace India, etc. have lost their FCRA licenses in the past few years. 

Many of these NGOs work in very critical fields and most often where state helps fails to reach, like pollution and climate change issues, human rights, child labour and human slavery. They, therefore, have a strong impact on the progress of the nation and welfare of the poor.

Political parties are able to access foreign funds for their campaigns under FCRA while NGOs are denied the same. 

Source: This post is based on the article “Killing the license” published in The Hindu on 31st Dec 2021. 

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