Compassion International may not be able to provide its services to the poor in India any longer if the Indian government does not remove its restrictions on the organization, the organization announced on Tuesday.
“Due to recent changes to the Indian government’s interpretation and application of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FRCA), Compassion has not been allowed to send funds to its more than 500 local child development projects throughout India,” the organization stated in a press release. “This change has directly impacted nearly 145,000 children registered in Compassion’s program within the country.”
Compassion International began its branch in India in 1968, and has been operating 580 child development centers in the country until the recent changes in the FRCA.
“Sixty-three of Compassion’s partners were denied FRCA approval,” Compassion stated. “Despite repeated requests, the Indian government has not provided an explanation for these denials. Compassion made the difficult decision to end its partnership with the 63 centers, impacting more than 14,500 Compassion children in India.”
The Indian government mandates NGOs to receive prior approval to be able to accept foreign funds.
However, Compassion said on its website that "after months of unsuccessfully trying to obtain prior clearance, we have concluded that the clearance process is fiction. We have never been offered an explanation for this action in the nine months since the order was issued."
"In November, Indian bureaucrats refused to renew foreign funding licenses for Compassion and at least 24 other NGOs - severely disrupting our humanitarian work," Santiago Mellado, the president and CEO of Compassion International, wrote in an op-ed for The Hill.
The Ministry of Home Affairs in India said that the registration of Compassion was not renewed because it was involved in "activities not conducive to national interest."
Indian security agencies claim that the annual $50 million humanitarian fund sent by Compassion to India is used to force conversions. But, the charity's International Operations report submitted to U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs says that a very small portion is used in education, and the rest is used to provide food and humanitarian assistance for children living in dire poverty.
"Using the Indian government's own numbers, just 4 percent of Compassion's funds in India are used for moral and spiritual values education - values which transcend all religions. The remaining 96 percent is the routine but essential provision of food, medicine, clothing, school fees and related humanitarian aid to support tens of thousands of at-risk infants, children and youth living in extreme poverty. Simply put, Compassion's primary mission is to release children from poverty, not convert them," the report notes.
To find a way to continue operations and funding for its work in India, Compassion International has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee regarding the issue, and has urged its supporters to write to their congressmen, providing a pre-written letter.
“We want nothing more than to comply with Indian law and find favor in the eyes of those with the power to authorize our ongoing care to these children who are suffering in extreme poverty,” Mellado said.