NEW DELHI • India has ordered an immediate inspection of all childcare homes run by a religious order founded by Mother Teresa after a nun was arrested over an alleged adoption racket.
Illegal adoption is big business in India, with more than 100,000 children reported missing every year, the government says. Many are given up by desperately poor parents but others are snatched from hospitals and train stations.
Police earlier this month arrested the nun and a worker at one of the Missionaries of Charity order's homes in Ranchi, the capital of eastern Jharkhand state, over allegations that at least five infants were sold for potentially thousands of dollars.
The scandal blew up after the local child welfare authorities informed police about a newborn missing from the home, which is meant to care for unwed pregnant women and mothers in distress.
In a statement on Monday, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said all state governments have been asked "to get childcare homes run by Missionaries of Charity all over the country inspected immediately".
She also said all childcare institutions should be registered and linked to the central adoption authority within the next month.
Last December, India's Supreme Court had ordered mandatory registration of all childcare institutions and bringing orphanages under the central adoption system.
Since then, some 2,300 childcare institutions have been linked to the Central Adoption Resource Authority and about 4,000 are waiting to be linked, the government said.
The Missionaries of Charity said it would examine the Jharkhand case. The charity was founded in 1946 by Mother Teresa, a global symbol of compassion who was canonised as a saint after her death in 1997.