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World News

Urgent call for prayer as aid funding cuts set to impact millions in India

by Heather Preston

An Indian archbishop is urging Christians across the world to pray as thousands of charities have their overseas funding cut.

Archbishop Joseph D'Souza is urging believers to set time aside each day for prayer after some 12,000 NGOs and charities had their FCRA licenses revoked following a renewal deadline last month.

The All India Christian Council has declared it a humanitarian crisis that it says could leave millions of vulnerable people at risk.

Bishop of Good Shepherd Church and President of the All India Christian Council, D'Souza told Premier he is deeply concerned for both charity workers and the people of India.

"Let's say on average there are 100 workers employed by one NGO, you take 6,000 NGOs, you are talking about 600,000 people who will face loss of job, loss of employment.

"Mother Theresa's charity was refused renewal and that charity was talking about 22,000 workers and helpers being effected. In terms of employment it is a humanitarian crisis.

"And these groups are helping at a time when India has faced the worst health crisis in the covid programme, and they are facing an economic crisis - so literally millions of people are dependent on this support."

The Indian government has failed to provide any information regarding an alternative means of support for those reliant on this aid, according to D'Souza, who warns this could escalate into not only a national issue but a global issue.

The legislation amendment that was introduced last year required charities and NGO's to make a formal application online to renew their FCRA license, something D'Souza claims many charities are not set up to do easily. 

The FCRA regulation was originally introduced to monitor funds being brought into India and to ensure they were not being misused by terrorist organisations and criminals.

D'Souza claims: "As the years have gone by, this law has been used to envelope all kinds of charitable groups and there was this slow propaganda that foreign money is not good for India and would be used against India - which is nonsensical.

"All the major democracies have huge charitable sectors. India is a land of immense need and there is no well-developed charitable sector in India yet."

D'Souza and the Good Shepherd Church are asking Christians to join them in praying for the renewal and reinstatement of FCRA licenses for a number of organisations including OM India Trust, Good Shepherd Community Society, Dayspring and the WEC entities.

"At times like this we are cast on the love and faithfulness of God. Pray that all our workers and their families and all of our beneficiaries including the children and women and our believers will experience the love of God in a real way and practically in their lives. 

"At the same time pray for the Lord to meet the specific needs related to our organisations. Then also remember to pray for the thousands of NGOs who are affected by these decisions," he said.

The All India Christian Council has called for immediate intervention from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"If Modi is committed to India's democracy, he will be concerned about the democratic rights of all citizens, including those in the NGO sector," D'Souza said.

"This is also about his legacy: Surely he doesn't want to be remembered as the Prime Minister that destroyed the charity sector.

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