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Missionaries of Charity gets back FCRA nod

The Amit Shah-helmed ministry has not revealed what prompted the reversal of its decision
Mother Teresa (L)
Mother Teresa (L)
File Picture

Our Special Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 09.01.22, 12:16 AM

The Union home ministry has restored the licence that allows Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity to receive and access foreign funds, a fortnight after declining to renew it citing “adverse inputs”.

The Amit Shah-helmed ministry has not revealed what prompted the reversal of its decision on the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act licence, just as it had not declared what the adverse inputs had been that prompted it to refuse to renew the crucial document of the Calcutta-headquartered Missionaries of Charity. 

Neither was the fresh decision officially announced. The Charity’s name now appears on the government’s list of FCRA-registered associations and home ministry sources have told the media that the licence has indeed been restored.

The refusal to renew the FCRA licence of the charity had earned the Narendra Modi government widespread condemnation at home and abroad. The move to overturn that decision on Friday coincided with several MPs in the Upper House of the UK Parliament raising the Modi government’s refusal and asking Britain to take up the matter with India.

Sources in the Union home ministry on Saturday said the FCRA licence of the Charity was restored after it submitted “certain documents”.

Speaking to The Telegraph, a security official posted in the ministry said: “Sometimes international pressure works. The new FCRA licence of the Missionaries of Charity will be valid till December 2026.”

Another home ministry official said that with the restoration of the FCRA licence, the Charity would be able to again receive foreign funds and also spend the money from abroad lying in banks. 

The Missionaries of Charity did not officially comment on the restoration. A top official of the organisation, who requested anonymity, told the news agency PTI that the home ministry had restored the FCRA licence from January 7 and “we are happy with the development”. 

“Our service for the poor and distressed continued with the help of our donors and well-wishers in the country when the FCRA registration was not renewed. In the early part of the new year, the news comes as a relief no doubt,” the official said in Calcutta.

On Saturday, Trinamul Congress MP Derek O’Brien appeared to take a swipe at Prime Minister Modi. 

Uploading a screenshot of the Missionaries of Charity featuring on the list of FCRA-registered associations on the website fcraonline.nic, an e-governance initiative of the home ministry, O’Brien tweeted: “The FCRA registration for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity is back. The ‘adverse inputs’ harassed so many and then disappeared in two weeks. The POWER OF LOVE is stronger than the power of 56 inch.” 

Trinamul Lok Sabha member and Goa in-charge Mahua Moitra tweeted: “FCRA licence for Missionaries of Charity reinstated. International pressure? Love & charity prevailed? Or fear losing Christian votes in Goa?”

Goa is among the five states where Assembly elections were declared on Saturday. The coastal state with a heavy Christian population votes on February 14. 

Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic nun who was a Nobel laureate and a Bharat Ratna recipient, had founded the organisation over 70 years ago. It has more than 3,000 nuns worldwide who run hospices, community kitchens, schools, leper colonies and homes for abandoned children.

The decision not to renew the licence had come at a time Christians and their places of worship and education have been facing attacks in multiple BJP-ruled states, many of whom have either passed or are in the process of clearing laws against conversions. Such laws are widely seen as a ploy to target the minority community. 

In a statement on December 27, the home ministry had said the Missionaries of Charity’s application for renewal of FCRA licence was refused on December 25 for not meeting the eligibility conditions and also because of “adverse inputs”.

The FCRA registration was valid up to October 31, 2021, and had been extended till December 31, 2021, along with other applications pending renewal, the ministry had said.

“However, while considering the MoC’s renewal application, some adverse inputs were noticed,” it said.

Civil rights activists have been voicing concern over the Modi government’s continued tightening of grip on the sources of foreign funding over the past seven years as it had cancelled the FCRA licences of hundreds of NGOs on the charge of violating various provisions of the law. They have alleged that the crackdown against the non-profit organisations continues with impunity as the government has been suppressing those whose works are not considered supportive of the current dispensation.

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik earlier this week gave the Missionaries of Charity Rs 78 lakh from the chief minister’s relief fund so that the organisation could carry on with its activities in the state.

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