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MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup emphasised that the government was fully committed to the principles of the Indian Constitution. Photo: Hindustan Times
MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup emphasised that the government was fully committed to the principles of the Indian Constitution. Photo: Hindustan Times

US comments on NGO curbs uncalled for: MEA

Foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said the comments of US lawmakers were based on a 'limited understanding of India, its society, its constitution and laws'

New Delhi: India on Thursday reacted strongly to concerns expressed by top US lawmakers over alleged curbs imposed by the Indian government on a Christian charity organisation.

Foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said the comments of US lawmakers were based on a “limited understanding of India, its society, its constitution and laws."

He said India’s credentials of being a vibrant democracy and pluralistic society with a strong civil society were well known and did not need reiteration.

Swarup also emphasised that the government was fully committed to the principles of the Indian Constitution which “underpin the nation of 1.25 billion people as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society with an abiding commitment to inclusion and tolerance."

Top US lawmakers overnight Thursday expressed concern over alleged curbs imposed by India on a Christian charity organisation whose representatives appeared at a Congressional hearing, seeking change in India’s policies related to foreign funding of non-government organisations (NGOs).

Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the powerful House Foreign Relations Committee, was present at the hearing and had expressed concern that recent attempts to regulate foreign funding and enforce taxation laws had made it tough for non profit organisations to work among poor children in India.

“Our attention has been drawn to a recent Congressional hearing in the US regarding placing of an American NGO in the Prior Reference Category by Ministry of Home Affairs. The hearing appears to be based on limited understanding of India, its society, Constitution and laws," Swarup said.

“There is a well-established legal framework for NGOs to conduct their operations in India. This is borne out by the presence of over three million NGOs in the country, one of the largest NGO networks in the world. India welcomes lawful operation of foreign NGOs in India," he said.

“The Government of India looks forward to continuing to work with the US Congress and Administration to foster mutual understanding and deepen India-US bilateral relations," he said.

According to a 2014 government circular, the Indian government’s crackdown on NGOs is based on intelligence reports that some such organisations were working against the national interest.

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