New Delhi, Sept. 18, 2019: The Union home ministry has amended rules on foreign funding under which office-bearers, key functionaries and members of NGOs receiving such grants will have to file an affidavit declaring that they had not been prosecuted or convicted in any act of religious conversion and for creating communal tension and disharmony.
In a notification issued by the Centre, individuals receiving personal gifts from other countries with value up to Rs 1 lakh need not inform the government under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), raising the earlier threshold value of Rs 25,000.
The Centre has made it mandatory for office-bearers and key functionaries and members of NGOs to certify that they have not been “prosecuted or convicted” for “conversion” from one faith to another and for creating “communal tension and disharmony.”
Earlier, according to the FCRA of 2010, only the applicants or director-level persons who were seeking permission to receive foreign contribution were required to make such a declaration.
“Now all members of the NGOs seeking foreign contribution are required to give this declaration under oath through an affidavit,” said a ministry official.
The notification, he said, had made it clear that in case of emergency medical aid during a visit abroad by a member of the NGO, the acceptance of foreign hospitality has to be intimated to the government within a month instead of 60 days earlier.
Over the past five years, the Narendra Modi government has tightened rules and procedures to receive and use foreign grants.
Earlier, the home ministry had asked nearly 6,000 of the 13,000 registered NGOs in the country receiving foreign donation to open accounts in nationalised banks so as to ensure constant surveillance of their activities. The move was aimed to keep a close watch on these NGOs who had their bank accounts in cooperative or state government-owned banks.
The government had in the past cancelled the FCRA licence of hundreds of NGOs receiving foreign donations on charges of violating various provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
Sources said the action was taken after the ministry had received reports suggesting several NGOs had allegedly violated provisions of the FCRA by “diverting” foreign funds for purposes other than intended for.
The continuing crackdown on NGOs and the modification of norms follow inputs from the Intelligence Bureau suggesting that some non-profit organisations receiving foreign funding have virtually emerged as new sleeper cells that have the potential to harm national interest at the behest of foreign powers.
The action had earlier drawn accusation from civil society groups that the government was trying to stifle voices of dissent.
At present, 13,000 active NGOs in the country receive foreign funding.