While foreign funded NGOs have always been under scrutiny, the introduction of new laws in September 2020 intensified the crackdown. Among the methods used was a harsh penalty for a minor infraction, such as a late filing of an annual return by even one day. In 2021, 65 NGOs lost all their donations to penalties and Rs 22 crore was collected from over 500 NGOs who filed annual returns late due to the pandemic, according to our analysis of five years of government data, which from 2022 was no longer made public.

In recent years Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has cracked down on the foreign funds received by NGOs/ X

By Manu Konchady

Bengaluru: On Christmas day in 2021, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that it had cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence of the Missionaries of Charity, a global Christian NGO, after  receiving “adverse inputs”.

Although the “adverse inputs” were not defined, the Missionaries of Charity later addressed the concerns of the home ministry and the government restored their FCRA registration.  

Since the Missionaries of Charity was founded by the Nobel prize winner and Bharat Ratna Mother Teresa, the actions of the home ministry attracted a lot of attention worldwide

The government was sending a clear message that all NGOs receiving foreign funds would be scrutinised carefully and the prestige, fame, or recognition of an NGO did not matter.  

Along with the Missionaries of Charity, the FCRA registrations of other organisations, including prestigious educational institutions, such as the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and the Jawaharlal Nehru University, were also suspended

Following a brief suspension and some clarifications, the registrations of these NGOs were  restored. 

Thousands of others have not been as privileged and have not escaped a growing crackdown on them by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Effects Of The Crackdown

To empirically study the effects of the crackdown, I scraped data for a five-year period from 2016 to 2021 from the FCRA portal, which previously published information about NGOs receiving foreign funds, including many details, such as the annual returns and the sources of funds. 

The government stopped making such information available from 2022, which is why my analysis is limited to data until that year.

This story was originally published in article-14.com. Read the full story here.