Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has introduced a bill in India’s parliament to tighten the rules of overseas funding in a move that could adversely affect thou-sands of social workers including Catholic organizations. The government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sept. 20 proposed certain amendments to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FRCA), which critics say aims to help the government tightly monitor organizations and silence criticism.
The amendment proposes to decrease an organization’s administrative expenses from foreign funding to 20% from 50%. It also proposes to link leaders of all organizations to their biometric identity cards called Aadhaar.
The proposal also wants to empower the government to stop the utilization of foreign funds by an organization by ordering a “summary enquiry.”
Opposition lawmakers and social workers see the move as a major step to crush dissent and give government unbridled powers to harass certain voluntary organizations in a country where religious minorities continue to complain of being sidelined.
The amendments are expected to sail through parliament because of the BJP’s majority in the house. But it aims to “crush dissent,” opposition Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said in the lower house of parliament.
His party colleagues and another opposition member belonging to Trinamool (Grassroots) Congress supported him.
“This is an example of big brother watching — that is, the central government keeping an eye on all those receiving foreign contributions. It is mainly directed at minority organizations or institutions,” said Saugata Roy of Trinamool Congress.