As you visit the website of the NGO World Vision India, you are welcomed with full page photographs of underprivileged kids smiling, one wearing a school uniform and other having a plate full of food in his hand. Both these images include a passionate message to sponsor a kid for making his life better. Plus there are options of crowdfunding various survival needs of the poor kids and grown ups alike, programs to rescue a child, fight HIV and AIDS, sending kids to school and more.
While all these paint a very rosy picture of an organisation making it look like the one which genuinely cares about making the lives of those struggling everyday to survive in the harsh realities of the world easier, the Rajasthan government came under attack online after people were irked at the fact that the government choose to sign an MOU with World Vision. The critics of this alleged, under all this compassion and save the children message, Wold Vision has a hidden evangelist agenda mainly funded by various church groups from around the world. Before we go into this aspect of World vision lets look at some of the reactions critical of the government’s move:
— Sankrant Sanu सानु (@sankrant) November 29, 2016
— Shefali Vaidya (@ShefVaidya) November 29, 2016
The MOU was specifically signed between the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) department of the State Government’s Women and Child Development Ministry and World Vision India in order to curb severe acute malnutrition among kids. Before going ahead, lets look at the exact role the NGO is expected to fulfill. The NGO is expected to assign a nutrition expert to every 5-10 Anganwadi centers who will provide support to the existing Anganwadi helpers, furthermore the NGO will provide infrastructure like salter scales, bathroom scales and IEC materials. Looking at the support required to be provided, as putout by Shefali Vaidya, it does’t seem to look like a job which an Indian NGO would not have been able to do.
Finally coming to the NGO itself. This is how the NGO describes itself at various places:
- “World Vision India is a Christian grassroots humanitarian organisation” [https://www.worldvision.in/About_Us]
- “Our faith in Jesus is central to who we are” [https://www.worldvision.org/our-work/faith-in-action]
- “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.” [https://www.worldvision.org/statement-of-faith]
- “We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.“
- “We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful man, regeneration of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.”
- “World Vision works in partnership with local churches” [http://www.wvi.org/faqs]
- “Educational activities based on Christian values may occasionally be included in World Vision projects” [http://www.wvi.org/faqs]
- “Our commitment is that when World Vision leaves communities, there will be thriving, engaged churches for sustained spiritual and physical transformation.” [https://www.worldvision.org/our-work/faith-in-action#1470869887604-2b2a7064-3ed2]
- On its website (https://www.worldvision.org/our-work/faith-in-action), World Vision suggests donating $18 to provide one Bible that would help “Share the story of Jesus and the glory of God’s work.” It suggests donating $20 or more on a monthly basis to “Help Christian Commitment“
- “World Vision is an expression of the Church in mission on behalf of the poor and oppressed.” (https://web.archive.org/web/20120601000000*/http://www.worldvision.org.sg/st_ourchristainfaith.php)
- “World Vision shares the Church’s commitment to disciple followers of Jesus Christ who bear witness to the Gospel by life, deed, word and sign, with the goal of encouraging people to respond to the Gospel” (https://web.archive.org/web/20120601000000*/http://www.worldvision.org.sg/st_ourchristainfaith.php)
The controversies in world vision global include, sending funds intended for developmental works in Gaza to Hamas, grass root level corruption and more. The extent of influence Christian organisations have on World Vision can be gauged by the fact that back in 2014 they came out with a policy to hire Gay-Christians in same-sex marriages and just two days later retracted ‘under immense financial pressure and criticism from gatekeepers on the evangelical right” as reported here.
Coming to India, World Vision’s Chennai office received the maximum amount of foreign funding among all NGO’s amounting to about 239 crores in 2015. Plus coming to it having an Evangelist agenda, as written here in this Huffpost article, the writer an evangelist student then, who once sponsored a kid in India so that he/she could go to a ‘Christian school’ and talks about the influence religion has in its functioning.
While there haven’t been outright incidents of the organisation engaging in outright proselytizing, they also categorically deny about engaging in the same. But looking at above instances the fact that there would be a Christian influence on the Rajasthan kids which in the long run might resemble mental conversion to a different set of ideas might not be very inaccurate. The matter becomes complicated even further when one finds out that a BJP government which is dubbed as having conservative views when it comes to such issues is openly collaborating with NGO even when its own central government is cracking down on foreign backed NGO’s having dubious funding.