[Editorial Analysis] Killing the licence

Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010
Mains level: Government Policy

Context:

• On Monday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the Missionaries of Charity’s application for renewal of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (amended in 2020) registration was rejected on December 25 for not meeting eligibility conditions and after “some adverse inputs” were received.

• Licences of non-governmental organisations are routinely checked and suspended if the MHA finds any irregularities regarding their working in the country.

The Practice of Rejecting the NGO registration:

• More than four-fifths of the applications of the 22,000-plus NGOs that have sought renewal have yet to be scrutinised. Unless the Government extends the deadline by midnight, all of them stand to lose their ability to access international funding in the new year.

• The NGOs have to prove not only that the source of funding and their usage of the funds is appropriate but also establish that their work does not qualify as harmful to “public interest” or “national security” — ambiguous terms that are left to MHA officials to define.

• So, as many as 2,000 NGOs under scrutiny may be denied a renewal of their FCRA licence as the Missionaries of Charity and its roughly 200 homes around the country have been in this round.

Organizations with suspended FCRA regulation:

• These organizations work in specific “sensitive areas”: pollution and climate change issues, human rights, child labour and human slavery, health and religious NGOs, particularly Christian and Islamic charities.

• Prominent names among nearly 20,000 NGOs to have lost their foreign-funding licences since 2014 include Amnesty International, Greenpeace India, People’s Watch, European Climate Foundation, Compassion International and the Gates Foundation-backed Public Health Foundation of India.

• If the Government has ample evidence to prove that Indians are better off without the work of these internationally renowned organisations, then it has yet to show it.

Problem with the decisions:

• Lack of transparency: the Government gives a more transparent account of its actions against NGOs.

• Actions mirrors Autocratic rule: like those of China and Russia which have used their NGO laws to shut down dissent and criticism.

• Disparity when compared to Political parties: given the relative ease with which political parties are able to access foreign funds for their campaigns through electoral bonds, under the same FCRA that seeks to restrict funds to NGOs.

Conclusion:

• The government needs to bring in more transparency in the procedures adopted in banning the organizations.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the farm laws, consider the following statements:

1. The three farm laws are The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

2. The implementation of these laws was stayed by the Supreme Court on January 12, 2021.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

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