Missionaries of Charity-FCRA Row: Creating controversy the ‘secular’ way – Rajiv Tuli

Mother Teresa

Rajiv TuliMissionaries of Charity services might be “great” but the ultimate purpose and intention is to convert people to Christianity. And, the cost paid by we Indians are disproportionately high to their services. – Rajiv Tuli 

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) 1976 regulates the foreign donations of any entity including NGOs, associations or groups. It is mandatory for all such NGOs to register themselves under the FCRA with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which is initially valid for five years and it can be renewed subsequently if the NGO complies with all the norms.

The FCRA registration may expire automatically if not applied for renewal or it can be cancelled by the MHA. The criterion of rejecting the FCRA is violation of the provisions of the FCRA or any adverse inference based on the activities for which the donations have been received.

On 31.12.2021, registration of 5,968 NGO under the FCRA was deemed to have ceased or expired as out of these 5,789 NGOs did not apply for renewal and renewal of 179 NGOs were rejected by the MHA, effectively making them ineligible for receiving any foreign donation.

These 179 NGOs whose FCRA registrations have been cancelled belong to different spheres of social life, religious, cultural, education and so forth. Out of these FCRA violators, one NGO by the name of Missionaries of Charity (MoC) belonged to and affiliated with late Mother Teresa.

A controversy has been sparked and brewed by some of the votaries of secularism by raising minority-card and majority-bogey on the otherwise legal-secular issue of application of law of the land equally to each citizen irrespective of the faith he possesses.

Julio Ribeiro, the former IPS officer, has projected this as an issue of attack on Christianity and the activities of their missionaries. A big issue was created looking at this rejection as part of the larger ideological issue of conversion. One is aghast at observing how one can be so blind to the facts or this is a deliberate attempt to give it a colour of communalism.

For instance, the list of FCRA-rejected NGOs includes Ramakrishna Mission Ashram (Katihar), Divyajyot Ayurvedic Research Foundation (Ahmedabad), Shri Swaminarayan Sarvopari Siddhant Digvijay Trust (Vasna), Bapashri Mehotsav Smruti Trust (Vasna), Vimla Hrudaya Ashramam, (Malappuram), Gurnani Sati and Gokal Charitable Trust (Mumbai), Nageshwara Charitable Trust (Nagpur), Seva Bharathi (Mangalore), and Vivekananda Vidyavarkhsa Sangha Puttur.

None of these NGOs belong to Christianity. So, to create a controversy where it does not exist is the niche of these so-called conscious-keepers of the nation. It is a standard tactic of the secularist to see every action from the spectrum of religion.

Is not it an intellectual hypocrisy to over-blow one name and underplay other names for the same violation?

It is absurd to take out one instance out of 179 ignoring all the others and play a victim card. Should the enforcement agencies first see the religion of an NGO and then proceed on? Is this the equality before the law and equal protection of law?

Now, we discuss the merits of the activities of the NGO in question. Mother Teresa started an NGO in India by the name of Missionaries of Charity. There is an unending debate going on with respect of her “motive of service” since the day she started her activities, which is mainly sourced from foreign donations.

If we come to the objectives and actions of this NGO, there is a big difference in intent and deed. Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, or Mother Teresa as she is now known throughout the world, was one of the most important Catholic Church figures when she was alive and even posthumously.

According to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi’s book, Original Sin, Mother Teresa was believed to have “by far the most cashed up account”. Mother Teresa had so much money in the Vatican Bank that if she had withdrawn the money, the entire Vatican Bank would have emptied. (India Today, November 10, 2007).

Christopher Hitchens called Mother Teresa “a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud,” arguing that “even more will be poor and sick if her example is followed”. She and her MoC were accused of implicitly giving support to corrupt businessmen such as Charles Keating and Robert Maxwell, and received funds in the name of charity from them.

Her MoC has been accused of receiving $1 million from Charles Keating, who was convicted for fraud, racketeering and conspiracy. She had requested the court to show leniency towards him. Michael Stone calls her a moral monster, a sadistic religious fanatic guilty of medical malpractice.

She and her MoC were accused of forcefully converting people on the pretext of “social service”. The institutions run by this NGO are the epitome of controversies.

In 2018, an orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity in Jharkhand’s Ranchi was caught selling a 14-day-old baby. An FIR has been registered against one of the MoC’s charity-run home for girls in Gujarat’s Vadodara city over reports of forced conversion of inmates.

The donations received by these Christian missionaries are directly pumped and aimed at conversion from native religion to Christianism. For instance, these missionaries are posing a big challenge to the religious demography of Punjab in which many of the Sikh-believers in Punjab are converted to Christianity.

According to the 2001 census, Sikhs comprised 59.9 per cent of Punjab’s population while Christians accounted for a mere 1.2 per cent. By 2011, there had been a significant drop in the Sikh population to 57.69 per cent while the ratio of those following Christianity saw an increase of 1.26 per cent, thus making it 2.46 per cent.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has time and again held in various judgements that conversion with inducement of any kind or type is against the Constitution or the right to profess and promote religious freedom.

Evidence with respect of the activities of MoC NGO since the beginning predominantly points to her being an “Angel of Conversion” instead of being a person with selfless service to the sufferer.

The so-called service to humanity has been aimed exclusively to convert the Indians, especially the weaker sections, by providing them with services like education, medical aid and other monetary help. Their services might have been “great” but the ultimate purpose and intention is to convert people to Christianity. And, the cost paid by we Indians are disproportionately high to their services. – India Today, 12 January 2022

› Rajiv Tuli is an independent columnist and political commentator.

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