India stops foreign funding to charities under FCRA

Experts from the United Nations requested India on June 16 to repeal their directive under the FCRA (Foreign Contributions Regulation Act), that blocks foreign funding to local charities.

Since the Modi Government took power two years ago, the cell has cut funding to a number of charitable institutions within the country that has led to the appeal from the UN.
According to Government these charitable cells have either been unwilling to openly disclose their books to ascertain the exact amount of funding they receive from foreign donors or the said cells have been identified as using such monies for ‘anti-national’ activities.

To bring perspective, there is no official number to how many not-for-profit associations operate out of the country. The Ministry of India puts the number to be close to 2 million charitable cells. It is difficult to gauge the activities of these social cells while their books remain private.

According to the Government, around 43,500 such charitable institutions were registered to receive foreign donations in the year 2013, of which only less than half of them were willing to co-operate and open their books to scrutiny.

The UN representatives have termed the use of the FCRA to block foreign funding as ‘overly board’. The representatives go on to explaining that the Government has suspended licenses for cells contributing to key areas like sexual minority, conservation of green lands, and help to those with AIDS.

‘Human Rights officials as well as those engaged in acts to help civil society should not be bound by constraints such as limitation to foreign funding’ is what the UN experts continue to say.

While what the UN experts say holds some truth, it is not the fault of the Government for being stringent with regards to large sums of money appearing and disappearing within our economy. Especially when such establishments are unwilling to disclose what the funding goes towards. In light of the many terror attacks the country has faced, keeping untraceable foreign funding out of the country is the only way to be sure it won’t be put to use for ill purposes.


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