US Congressional hearing based on limited understanding of India: Official

New Delhi, Dec 8 (IANS) Following a US Congressional hearing earlier this week regarding an American NGO being subjected to funding restrictions in India by the Home Ministry, a senior official said on Thursday that it was “based on limited understanding of India, its society, Constitution and laws”.

“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 the Ministry of Home Affairs,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in his weekly media briefing here.

“The hearing appears to be based on limited understanding of India, its society, Constitution and laws,” he stated.

Stating there was a well established legal framework for NGOs to conduct their operations in India, he said: “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.”

On Tuesday, the Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing regarding the case of the NGO Compassion International (CI), that has been operating in India since 1968, being subjected to funding restrictions

The NGO’s counsel reportedly told the Committee that the organisation would shut down its operations in India within three weeks if the Home Ministry did not ease its restrictions.

Following this, US lawmakers asked the Indian government to ease restrictions on the Colorado-based NGO.

On Thursday, Swarup said that “India’s credentials as a vibrant democracy and pluralistic society with a strong civil society” were well known and needed no reiteration.

“The government is fully committed to the Constitutional principles 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,” he stated.

“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,” the spokesperson added.