Foreign funding 2021: A birds-eye view of ground reality

Canceling the licenses of NGOs was a simple process of law that was painted as some "draconian act" of Government by a section of media.

Data Maps    17-Feb-2022   
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In the last few days, a section of media spread wild speculations about the future of NGOs in India. The accusations ranged from targeting Christian NGOs to the Government takeover of foreign funds of NGOs. On this background, it will be interesting and illuminating to have a look at the ground reality.
 The facts and figures of 2021
The foreign contribution regulation act [FCRA] requires every NGO licensed to get foreign funds to submit annual returns of the foreign funds by the year-end. In the year 2021, a total of 14,756 NGOs submitted their annual returns on or before 31 December 2021. The number itself and the fact that many small NGOs complied with the requirement indicates that the process is perfectly feasible for any NGO. 

It is worth noting that out of 6,000 NGOs whose licenses were canceled, almost 5000 NGOs did not even file the annual returns. So actually it was a simple process of law that was painted as some 'draconian act' of Government by a section of media.
These 14,756 NGOs received a total of about Rs 16,000 crore in year 2021. These figures show that despite adverse propaganda, foreign funding to NGOs is actually quite large. But of course, these cumulative figures reveal very little about the creamy section of the NGOs who are in the business of charity and the dominance of the Church lobby in the field of NGOs. As the saying goes 'the devil is in the details'.
Analysis of NGOs and funds
Out of these 14,756 NGOs almost 5000 NGOs did not receive any amount in the year 2021. They have filed returns perhaps hoping for the future. About 2500 NGos have received more than 1 Crore Rs. But there are about 250 NGOs to have received more than 10 Crore in foreign funds in the year. These are the corporate NGOs in the businesss of charity.
These 250 plus the 2,200 NGOs in the range of 1 to Rs 10 Crore. is the industry of NGOs in India. The presence of Christian NGOs in this creamy layer of 2250 NGOs is quite significant. Out of a total of 14, 756 NGOs, about 2500 [17% ] are easily identified as Christian using simple name filters. While out of this 'Crorepati' club of 2250 NGOs almost 30% are Christian NGOs. For example, various diocese [an area containing a number of churches under a bishop's jurisdiction] of Church are registered separately under FCRA. In 2021, 116 Out of 231 dioceses received more than Rs. 1 Crore each, and these 116 dioceses received a total of Rs 150 crore.
With such a dominating presence, even any fair legal action across the NGOs can be easily painted as 'persecution' or 'targeted action' against 'minorities'.
Geographical distribution of NGOs and funds
As we can see from the map the statewise distribution and therefore the impact is uneven. The south and central India dominate the scene.
Actually, the 9 states account for almost 80% of the foreign funds and 11000 [75%] of 14, 576 NGOs. There are social and political implications of this uneven distribution including the angle of religous conversions. In a series of articles, we will examine some interesting big NGOs to understand the implications of this business of charity.
For example, have you heard of the 'salvation army'? This NGO has its own 'commanders' and 'divisions' recruited across India. They have their own 'army ranks' and 'uniforms' etc. But of course, since it is a Christian NGO, no leftist or 'liberal' media or intellectual is going to call them 'fascist'. There various 'divisions' have registered separately under FCRA at 5 places. Together they received about 58 Crore Rs. last year. More light on them in an upcoming article in this series.
Note: To be easy on the eyes, the figures here are rounded off from the exact figures due to which you may see small discrepancies. Those who want to study further may contact us on our social media handles for the actual data. The entire data in this article is sourced from


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