India Denies Funding To Charity Founded By Mother Teresa

Late Monday, the Indian government confirmed their refusal to renew a permit called the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) for the Missionaries of Charity, thus cutting off funding from abroad. It was not immediately made clear why the government refused to renew their license, a government statement on Saturday noted that they received “adverse inputs.” It is unclear at the moment, how the rejection will affect the organization.

The Missionaries of Charity is a Kolkata-based charity founded by Mother Teresa in 1950. Since then, it has become one of the world’s best-known Catholic charities. Currently, the charity has “more than 3,000 nuns worldwide who run hospices, community kitchens, schools, leper colonies, and homes for abandoned children,” according to Reuters. India is home to about 30 million Christians, just over 2% of the population.

The government’s actions come alongside a string of attacks on Christians in India. According to NPR, on Christmas Eve, “Hindu extremists burned effigies of Santa Claus in Agra” and elsewhere “disrupted church services, Nativity plays, and vandalized statues of Jesus.” Far-right Hindu leaders are encouraging violence against both Christian and Muslim populations. Parmatmanand Maharaj, one of such leaders, urged the people to “arm themselves with axes to teach Christians indulging in conversions a lesson” and even went so far as to tell the crowd to “behead them.” Further, the New York Times detailed a conference where “hundreds of right-wing Hindu monks openly called for Muslims to be killed, in their quest to turn India, constitutionally a secular republic, into a Hindu nation.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has also sought to “squeeze foreign funding for charities and other NGOs based in India,” noted BBC, including placing restrictions that froze the bank accounts of Greenpeace and Amnesty International. The government has also accused the Missionaries of Charity of trying to force Hindus to convert, and as a result “at least nine Indian states have planned anti-conversion laws,” according to Al Jazeera.

The actions of far-right Hindu leaders have now drawn into question the secular nature of India’s government. Constitutionally, all people are permitted to practice any religion they desire, but over time this has become increasingly impossible. The recent shift has made religious monitories feel unsafe. It is unacceptable that religious minorities are facing such danger while authorities turn a blind eye to the abuse. It is made worse by the fact that leaders are perpetuating this violence by calling their followers into action. India’s government needs to address the discrimination and persecution religious minorities are facing. The international community should also step up to aid in finding a peaceful resolution that allows everyone to coexist.