Finally, the process for renewing nonprofit licenses is plagued with problems. The forms are onerous and confusing. All organizations must open accounts at a state-owned bank in New Delhi. Even nonprofits with experienced, skilled staff were unable to finish the process because of technical and bureaucratic problems.
A STRANGE IRONY
There is a strange irony at play in this whole situation. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi originally instituted the FCRA in the wake of a violent insurgency by a separatist faction receiving support from the Sikh diaspora. It was designed to prevent overseas financial contributions to groups posing a threat to India’s national security. Yet, over the years, changes to the FCRA have resulted in the exact opposite.
In 2014, New Delhi’s high court found several politicians guilty of violating the FCRA. To shield themselves from retribution, they surreptitiously made changes to the FCRA, through amendments in the annual budget, so that it would not apply to them retroactively. They also redefined ”foreign political entities”, enabling Indian companies linked to overseas corporations to donate to political parties through “electoral bonds.”
A STRONGER FUTURE
Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants India to become self-sufficient, an ideal many Indians such as myself support. It will require sustained investment in areas such as education, health care, economic development, and agriculture, but India has a rich pool of talent and resources waiting to be tapped into. Nonprofits can help achieve this goal, too, particularly as we reckon with the lingering damage of Covid-19.