The Indian government refused to renew the foreign-funding license for a Catholic congregation, Missionaries of Charity. It is one of the world’s best-known charities, founded in 1950 by the legendary Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, honoured in the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Indian Home Ministry said that the reason not to renew the license of Mother Teresa Charity is to receive funds from abroad is that it did not meet the “eligibility conditions” under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act due to “adverse inputs”. However, the ministry did not provide further details.
Extremist Hindus related to the ruling party BJP regularly allege that the non-profit uses its projects to convert people to Christianity. The charity has denied such allegations. The decision brought severe backlash upon the Indian government amid the series of attacks on the Christian faith.
What Mother Teresa Charity Means for India?
Mother Teresa Charity is one of the best-known Catholic charities in the world. It has more than 3500 nuns overseeing projects such as schools, community kitchens, shelter homes for abandoned children, leper colonies, clinics, and hospices. Critics fear that cutting the international funding will put poor minorities in the same predicament, from where the NGO saved them. It works as a sanctuary for many underprivileged and powerless citizens who usually get crushed by the powerful. Congress leader P Chidambaram said that it was a massive insult to the great humanitarian’s memory.
Mother Teresa received Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian efforts and was declared a saint by Pope Francis in 2016, 19 years after her death. However, her charity has been facing allegations since the beginning of December that it was forcing the girls in its shelters to recite Christian prayers.
Critics slammed the allegations as another evidence of discrimination against Christians under the Hindu nationalist government.
Attacks on Religious Minorities in India
Besides Mother Teresa Charity, the Indian government has increased pressure on other NGOs receiving foreign funding for human rights work. Activists have documented increased violence, and discrimination against religious minorities in India since Narendra Modi’s BJP came to power in 2014. According to reports, there are at least 40 cases of violence and threats by far-right activists in the Southern State of Karnataka. Extremist groups also disrupted this year’s Christmas celebrations in various parts of the country. They held protests outside religious gatherings and even vandalized a church in Northern India. In Ambala, they destroyed a Jesus Christ statue standing outside the Holy Redeemer Church.
Vandals also scorched a model of Santa Claus and chanted anti-Christmas slogans outside one church in Modi’s congressional constituency, Varanasi. Now it seems that Hindutva extremists have set their eyes on organizations aiming to protect the rights of minorities.
Christians make up only 2% of the population, but Indian is the second-largest home for the Catholic community in Asia after the Philippines. Indian authorities have been aiming to crack down on alleged conversion campaigns. Recently, several Indian states ruled by BJP have passed or will pass laws banning religious conversion for marriage. Religious tensions have grown under BJP rule with frequent attacks on minorities, especially Christians and Muslims. Last week, monks and politicians tied to Modi’s party held a 3-day meeting to call for genocide of India’s 200 million Muslims.