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India restricts foreign funding for Mother Teresa charity

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India has taken steps to cut off foreign funding to a charity founded by Mother Teresa, a decision that critics described as further evidence of the harassment of Christians under Hindu nationalist rule.

The Missionaries of Charity were founded in 1950 by the late Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who dedicated most of her life to helping the poor in the eastern city of Calcutta. She won the Nobel Peace Prize and was later declared a saint.

His organization runs foster homes throughout India. According to the Hindu daily, he received around $ 750 million from abroad in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

India’s Home Office said that on December 25, Christmas Day, the renewal of the charity’s license to receive foreign funds had been “rejected”.

The statement issued Monday said the reason was “not meeting the eligibility conditions” under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act after “adverse inputs were noted,” without giving further details.

Dominic Gomes, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Calcutta, said the announcement was “a cruel Christmas gift for the poorest of the poor.”

The news came two weeks after police in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, began investigating the charity for alleged “forced conversion” of Hindus to Christianity, a common accusation by hardliners of the Majority religion of India.

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Activists say religious minorities in India have faced higher levels of discrimination and violence since Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Hindu Nationalist Party (BJP) came to power in 2014.

In 2020, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom listed India as a “country of particular concern” for the first time since 2004.

The Modi government rejects having a radical “Hindutva” (Hindu hegemony) agenda and insists that people of all religions have the same rights.

The Indian government has also increased pressure in recent years on non-governmental organizations that receive foreign funding, including human rights groups.

The Missionaries of Charity said in a statement that they had instructed their centers not to use any foreign currency accounts “until the matter is resolved.”

However, the organization rejected reports that their bank accounts had been frozen.

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