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US House to hold hearing on curbs on Christian NGO in India

A powerful Congressional committee will next week hold a hearing on restrictions imposed by the Indian government on an American NGO.

world Updated: Dec 03, 2016 12:38 IST
FCRA
Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (AP Photo)

A powerful Congressional committee will next week hold a hearing on restrictions imposed by the Indian government on an American NGO.

The announcement for a Congressional hearing by the House Foreign Relations Committee came the day Colorado-based Compassion International launched a national campaign against the Indian Government’s decision which it alleged is preventing it from sending funds to its more than 500 local child development projects throughout the country.

“In three weeks, Compassion International - which provides critical tutoring, nutrition and medical services to children in India - could be shut down...” Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said.

“It is my hope that by bringing attention to this issue, 145,000 children will not be tragically denied services they desperately need. And then, relations between the two countries will be even stronger,” said Royce, who is known as one of the best friends of India in the Congress.

He was one of the founders of the House Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans and is its previous co-chairs.

Titled ‘American Compassion in India: Government Obstacles’, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has invited three experts for the hearing.

They are Stephen Oakley from Compassion International, John Sifton from Human Rights Watch and Irfan Nooruddin from Georgetown University.

“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 programmes,” said Compassion president and CEO, Santiago Jimmy Mellado.

“Our desire to continue serving these children has led us to encourage our supporters to request the help of their congressional representatives. We want nothing more than to comply with Indian law and find favour in the eyes of those with the power to authorise our ongoing care to these children who are suffering in extreme poverty,” Mellado said.

Earlier in the day, Compassion International launched a nationwide campaign to protect its holistic child development work in India, where the organisation has operated since 1968.

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, it said.

This change has directly impacted nearly 145,000 children registered in Compassion’s program within the country, the NGO claimed.

The new rules required each of Compassion’s 580 child development centers to submit an application to the Indian government by October 31, 2016, it said adding that 63 of Compassion’s partners were 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,” the media release said.

Compassion is also unable to fund any of the remaining partners that received FCRA approval, it said.