Analysing Foreign Funding of NGOs in India

There was a time when crimes were committed by any recognised terrorist organisations or fraudulent enterprises, but no one would have predicted that an NGO could be used to support terror and commit other heinous crimes. For years, India had noticed a large inflow of funds from various foreign sources via NGOs and other organisations. To address the claimed negative impacts of foreign donations, the Ministry of Home Affairs has developed a Prior Approval Route. Now Organizations seeking foreign contributions for cultural, social, economic, educational, or religious activities may get FCRA Registration or receive foreign contributions under the “Prior Approval Route”. 

Close to 19000 NGOs have been barred from receiving foreign funds and several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have had their Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) registration or license, which allows them to receive foreign contributions, either not renewed or terminated. Foreign donations bring approximately ₹16,000 crore to Indian NGOs every year and according to the government, many NGOs are not functioning in the national interest since they are funded by foreign governments and serve foreign agendas. As a result of this logic, their presence in India must be reduced, and the easiest way to do so is to cut off their finance. Given the intricacies of the regulations, it is simple to conclude that these organizations violated a number of FCRA standards. The Act introduced a screening system to ensure that Organizations or their executives do not divert foreign donations to activities that are detrimental to national interests. The idea of a “permanent” registration has been eliminated by the FCRA, in 2010. All previously registered Associations have a five-year validity period. The Act also requires the proactive publication of information regarding foreign contributions exceeding Rs. 1(one) crore received by any NGO in a calendar year.

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Author: Nehashree Verma