Compassion International has launched a nationwide web campaign in the United States to protect its holistic child development work in India, which is being threatened by the Indian government.
Due to recent changes to the Indian government’s interpretation and application of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), Compassion has not been allowed to send funds to its more than 500 local child development projects throughout India. Since Compassion began operating in India in 1968, the U.S.-based organization has sent nearly $50 million per year in humanitarian aid to India, funding nearly 145,000 sponsored children in some of Indian’s most impoverished and remote regions.
According to Compassion, the new language contained in FCRA has been used by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to target religious charities that express views or engage in activity which is lawful, but contrary to the current government’s ideology. The result, the organization reported, has been a clear chilling effect on the free expression of religion across India.
Sixty-three of Compassion’s 580 partners were recently denied FCRA approval. 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.
Compassion is also unable to fund any of the remaining partners that received FCRA approval. Nor has the organization been able to provide funds to its two branch offices in India — again, with no government explanation. These decisions by the Indian government have put Compassion in jeopardy of having to shut down all of its operations in the country.
"Compassion International is approximately three weeks away from permanently withdrawing its humanitarian operations from India," reported Compassion’s Senior Vice President of General Counsel, Stephen Oakley, in a statement before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday, December 6.
"As the single largest contributor of aid for children living in extreme poverty in India, that is not our desire. Our hope is that this committee will act. Specifically, we ask that this committee demand that the government of India rescind the prior clearance order of MHA so that Compassion can fund the sponsored children under its care," he continued. "Additionally, we ask this committee to demand that the government of India reinstate the FCRAs of Compassion East India and Caruna Bal Vikas so that Compassion may pay its employees in India. Finally, on behalf of Compassion’s 145,000 sponsored children and the remaining 130 million that other NGOs of all faiths attempt to serve, we ask that you use your influence as lawmakers to advocate for those that the Indian government ignores."
As part of its recently launched campaign, Compassion is asking its more than 500,000 supporters to write their Member of Congress, requesting their intervention in the matter. A pre-written letter for sponsors is available on Compassion’s website.
“Since the start of its humanitarian work in India in 1968, more than a quarter-million Indian children and their families have benefited from Compassion’s programs,” noted Compassion President and CEO Santiago Jimmy Mellado in a press release.
“Our desire to continue serving these children has led us to encourage our supporters to request the help of their congressional representatives,” he continued. “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.”
Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with key officials in India on behalf of Compassion. Still, Compassion has been unable to provide funds to continue its child development programs in India.
By NRB Staff
Published: December 15, 2016