Tearfund forced to end Indian child sponsorship

Tearfund has been forced to end its child sponsorship programme in India after the government there blocked it from doing aid work in the country.

They're among 11,000 aid organisations worldwide prevented from distributing funds. The Indian Government says it's not in its national interest to receive funding.

"We've had to cease sponsorship of, in our case, 1,100 children in India from New Zealand; globally, 145,000 children," Tearfund chief executive Ian McInnes says.

He says for Tearfund the Christian-based charity has been rejected for religious reasons. "This is a step, sadly, towards a more Hindu-nationalist leaning. This is the BJP party that backed Narendra Modi into government," He told The AM Show.

"But it's mean-spirited and it's unnecessary. India's still home to a third of the world's poorest people. The job's not finished yet. Our programme's pretty non-controversial - we do after-school tuition, we provide for nutrition - basic meals, healthcare, vaccinations.

"India's home to 25 million Christians, it's a significant minority. We help churches to reach out to poorer communities around them and help poverty-alleviation programmes."

Mr McInnes says they'll be calling each of the more than 1,000 Kiwi sponsors individually to let them know.

"Many of these supporters have formed a relationship over time with that child writing to and from and providing that crucial sponsorship support that enables them to lift themselves out of poverty, and so for many supporters it's hard for them to hear," he says.

"It's come to such a point that every stone that has been able to be turned has been turned, and we haven't been able to crack this. Lawyers have been involved, ambassadors have been involved in it and we simply haven't been able to move the hurdle."