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George Iype | August 16, 2003

Foreign contributions and donations to scores of Indian voluntary organisations, religious groups and charitable institutions have touched a high of Rs 4,535.23 crore (Rs 45.352 billion), though the government has taken strict measures to check the source of overseas funds that many organisations receive.

According to the latest statistics from the Union home ministry, as many as 14,598 voluntary organisations and religious groups in India have received foreign funds worth Rs 4,535.23 crore during the year 2000-2001.

While World Vision International, a United States-based Christian relief and development organisation, is the biggest donor agency for many Indian voluntary groups, the Andhra Pradesh-based Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust is the largest recipient of foreign contributions.

World Vision donated Rs 80.43 crore (Rs 804.3 million) to the Indian voluntary groups, while the Sathya Sai Trust received Rs 88.18 crore (Rs 881.8 million).

According to a senior official at the home ministry, foreign contributions to Indian voluntary organisations and religious have been steadily increasing over the years.

"Foreign contribution to India have come under strict guidelines and rules; but we have not detected any major frauds in the past two years. We believe all this money is going for right charitable and religious purposes across the country," the official told

The provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976 regulate the receipt of foreign donations in India. The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules, 1976 contain various forms prescribed for this purpose.

According to the rules, only an association having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme, after it obtains the prior permission of the Central government, can receive foreign contribution.

The official said 22,924 associations registered under the Act are allowed to receive foreign funds.

But the latest records with the home ministry reveal that only 14,598 associations have filed returns for having received the foreign donations.

"There has been an over 20 per cent rise in the inflow of foreign contributions in the last two years," the official added.

According to the statistics:

  • The United States heads the list of donor countries to India with Rs 1,492.62 crore (Rs 14.926 billion), followed by the United Kingdom -- Rs 677.59 crore (Rs 6.775 billion), and Germany -- Rs 664.51 crore (Rs 6.645 billion).
  • The leading donor agency was World Vision International, USA -- Rs 80.43 crore, followed by Foster Parents Plan International, USA -- Rs 76.37 crore (Rs 763.7 million), and Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, USA -- Rs. 68.11 crore (Rs 681.1 million). The US-based World Vision is an international Christian relief and development organisation that operates in 96 countries.
  • The largest recipient of foreign contribution was Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust -- Rs 88.18 crore (Rs 881.8 million), followed Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society India, Maharashtra -- Rs 74.88 crore (Rs 748.8 million), Gospel for Asia, Kerala -- Rs 58.10 crore (Rs 581 million), and Mata Amritanandamayi Mission, Kerala (Rs 23.19 crore (Rs 231.9 million).
  • Among the states and union territories, Delhi reported the largest amount -- Rs 763.05 crore (Rs 7.63 billion), followed by Tamil Nadu -- Rs 649.45 crore (Rs 6.494 billion), Andhra Pradesh -- Rs 589.52 crore (Rs 5.895 billion), and Kerala -- Rs 360.31 crore (Rs 3.603 billion).

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