03/15/2017, 09.55
INDIA

India: after 48 years among poor children, Compassion International closes its doors

Nirmala Carvalho

The NGO has lost the license because of allegations of forced conversions. 76% of beneficiaries were Hindu children. The American Association operated throughout India through 589 partners, mostly Christian communities. The Narendra Modi government has imposed stricter controls on NGOs receiving funds from abroad.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - After 48 years of service to India’s poor and abandoned children, today Compassion International is closing its doors because it has been accused of using funds from abroad to carry out conversions to Christianity.

Since its first office opened in 1968 to break the cycle of poverty among children, the American NGO, over the years has established itself as the largest donor among all the associations operating in the country. Every year it distributed $ 45 million to 589 local partners, mostly Christian communities, who took care of more than 147 thousand children.

Commenting on this to AsiaNews, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christian (GCIC), said bitterly: " A sad day for India, when on , on suspicion of engaging in religious conversion. The Colorado-based Compassion International is one of India's biggest donors closes its operations is winding up its operations today, thus leaving the social, economic and educational situation in question".

In a statement on the association's website, it says that "this painful decision affects a total of 147,706 children and 589 local partners since the restrictions began last year. We are encouraging all of our local partners to continue ministering to children and their families in whatever ways they are able” .

In 48 years of programs, the NGO has helped more than 280 thousand children. The association operates in 25 countries worldwide, relies on the support of 7 thousand local Christian communities and provides assistance to nearly two million children. India is by far the largest recipient of donations. The decision to close is part of the crackdown that the authorities in Delhi have imposed on NGOs receiving funds from abroad. Since he took office in 2014 the Modi government has suspended licenses to at least 11 thousand associations, accused of carrying out "activities harmful to the national interest".

The story of Compassion Interntional dates back to February 2016, when the Union Government included it among the category "prior approval" ( "consent") provided by the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010 (FCRA), the law that regulates the acceptance and the use of foreign funds. If an NGO is part of this list, it means that foreign donations cannot be paid directly into bank accounts of the organization, withou the approval of the Interior Ministry.

Members of the association have repeatedly stressed that the allegations of forced conversions are false and that 76% of the beneficiaries are Hindu children. Sajan K George says: "The Religious conversion is a Myth and the bogey of conversion, is to politicize religious sentiments. According to the 2011 released by the Census Registrar of India , Christians are 2.3 per cent of the total population, which is lower than the last census in 2001 was 2.33%; in 1991 2.34% and was 2.6% in 1971”.

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