THE CAMPAIGN TO STOP FUNDING HATE
An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it........... Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position........... First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. - Mahatma Gandhi

 

 


28 January, 2003 Consider this considered. An analysis of the pro-IDRF "report" titled 'Consider This.'

Deceit as a Core Value: The RSS Method

Introduction

On November 20th, 2002, the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (CSFH) began an effort to convince corporate donors and unsuspecting Indian Americans to stop funding the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), a Maryland based non profit that has systematic and deep links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and affiliated family (Sangh Parivar) of neo-fascist organizations in India. Our Campaign was based on a report, published by Sabrang Communications, Mumbai, and South Asia Citizens Web, France, titled, "A Foreign Exchange of Hate" (FxH). This report documents the links between IDRF and the RSS in some detail, using documentary evidence that, in large part, is authored by the Sangh itself.


RSS Responses This Far

Since the launch of the Campaign, RSS/IDRF supporters have engaged in a vicious counter campaign of abusive name-calling and red baiting. IDRF supporters have also stooped to threatening not only members of the campaign but even media outlets that have covered the issue. Towards the end of December, four write-ups emerged from the RSS/IDRF camp. The first is a piece titled "On Methodology" (OM), authored by a certain Beloo Mehra, that seeks to refute the FxH report on methodological grounds. We have chosen not to respond to this report partly because OM seems to be battling a straw-man of its own making in that it does not address any of the issues raised in the FxH report or by the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate; and also because OM has already been shredded by others on sites such as rediff.com and sulekha.com


The second and third responses by the Sangh Parivar are connected. The first of these - a counter report titled "Consider This", was authored by Friends of India Society International (FISI)1 and published on various web sites in mid-December. Shortly after, a condensed version of the FISI report was issued as a Press Release by a web site set up to advocate for continued funding of the RSS through IDRF, ostentatiously calling itself "LetIndiaDevelop.org". Hence we call this response the CT-LID response. Since, unlike the OM "response", the CT-LID effort is designed to convey the impression of a substantive response to the SACW/Sabrang report and the CSFH, we address that below.


The fourth response - another 'counter report' written by A. V. Chowgule in conjunction with the HVK was published online during the second week of January. We will evaluate Mr. Chowgule's report and provide a formal response in a few days if it is warranted. For now, however, we just note the irony of the Sangh bringing out one of its 'big guns' in defense of the IDRF while energetically trying to distance the IDRF from the Sangh at the same time.


RSS Double Speak: Deceit as a Core Value

The FxH report identifies 184 organizations that have received funds via the IDRF, and does a careful categorization of these organizations along two dimensions: their affiliation; and the kind of activity they fund. The FxH also makes a clear distinction between IDRF Discretionary funds and Donor Directed/Designated funds. The former category includes moneys given to IDRF without the donor specifying where the money goes, and the latter category is for funds that a donor explicitly wishes to send to a charity of their choice and the IDRF only acts as the conduit, albeit it does take a minimum cut of $100 or 10% of the amount - whichever is more. We make a point of explaining this difference as the IDRF supporters seem to have completely missed it.


In large part the CT-LID response is a perfect example of RSS double speak. It conveniently ignores all the recipients of large amounts of funds such as the various incarnations of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Seva Bharati, and others, and instead lists supposed 'problems' with the categorization of ten (of the one hundred and eighty four organizations identified in FxH). And not only does it ignore all the large fund recipients such as Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (so what do they have to say about these?!!), but even when it comes to a minor list of ten organizations, it sidesteps the question of whether the organization is a Sangh Parivar organization by hurling at the reader a random set of facts that have little to do with the contentions made in the FxH report. If the FxH report contended that a certain organization, say "The International Centre for Cultural Studies", Nagpur (ICCS), is a RSS organization, then the ideal way to prove the FxH report wrong would be to directly state that ICCS is not a RSS organization and point to its entirely different lineage. Evidence such as the non sectarian credentials of the ICCS's founder or trustees, the non sectarian content of ICCS's mission statement and programs or the multi-religious/ethnic basis of ICCS's constituents would all be excellent ways to prove the FxH report wrong. The CT-LID report does none of this.


CT1. ICCS: An Analysis of One Case From "Consider This"

For instance, in the case of ICCS, the CT-LID response fails to even assert that ICCS is not a RSS organization but instead points out that ICCS "has established enough credibility with Maoris of New Zealand to be running joint programs with them." This one fact, that ICCS has built some sort of a link with an organization working with the Maori in New Zealand is somehow expected to be ample evidence that this is not a RSS organization! In an age when terrorist groups of all stripes run charities as fronts, and criminals and fundamentalist fanatics forge links with all sorts of community groups in order to 'acquire'respectability (even the Al Qaeda and Taliban strove to acquire credit by helping the CIA and Charles Keating, of the Savings and Loan debacle 'fame', sought to absolve himself of his sins by working with the late Mother Teresa), why should the RSS building links with Maoris be surprising?


Let us look at ICCS in a little more detail. The ICCS's international coordinator, and head of the ICCS in the US is one Yashwant Pathak2 who is also the Sah Sanyojak, Vishwa Vibhag of Sewa International3 and the Africa Zone Pracharak of the HSS4, not to mention the coordinator of Vishwa Bharati, another one of RSS's international fronts5. Further, the ICCS hosts an annual conference, the WCEAT conference. For this conference the Delhi contact is Shyam Parande who is also the IDRF advisor in India and the General Secretary of Sewa International6

These institutional/personnel links should be ample evidence to once again underscore the FxH contention that ICCS is a RSS operation. However, let us also do a quick review of some of ICCS's 'research' interests - and we are not responsible if you hurt yourself laughing. The ICCS research agenda is dominated by the desire to prove that the entire planet has not only been influenced by Hinduism, but all ancient cultures owe their very existence to Hinduism! Their publication record is full of efforts to connect the contemporary spectrum of Hindu gods to every conceivable ancient culture. The ICCS Secretary, Arun Chinchmalatpure, has the following to say under the title India's Cultural Link with Ancient America7:

... Right from the period (sic) of first Spanish historist (sic) Mr. Fray Shahaun (1515AD) till today, a number of scholars have worked over the life of native Americans and some of them almost came to the conclusion that in ancient times people from India and the Indian archipelago migrated to America and developed a great civilization there...

Worship - The archaeologists found many Hindu deities like Shiva, Shiv-Linga, Ganesh, Kali, Sun, Buddha etc. (in similar or slightly different forms) which were worshipped in ancient America. The Hindu God of luck, the Ganesh, was worshipped in Central-South America. Idols of Ganesh have been excavated in plenty in Mexico. This God of the Elephant's trunk is frequently depicted in Mexican manuscripts and in the temple ruins in Central America as the God with a proboscis-like horn, whence water is squirting, and his head is most frequently portrayed on the corners of temple walls, which are always built with reference to the original (sic) points. And idol of 'Ekdant Ganesh' was noticed in the temple at Kopan by great Indonologist (sic) late Dr. W.S. Wakankar.

The 'discoveries' of Mr. Chinchmalatpure do not stop with Ganesh. He finds Hanuman in Guatemala and the Buddha in Honduras and Mexico. The agenda becomes clearer when we examine his statements on "Ceremonies, Beliefs and Customs":

Hindu culture, civilization, custom and belief also dominated ancient America to some extent. Ancient Americans believed in legendary cataclysm, rebirth, four yugas and the concept of two planets like Rahu and Ketu causing solar eclipse. The Hindu doctrine of the ages is preserved in a stone monolith popularly known as the Aztec calendar. This remarkable piece of stone carving is in the form of an immense disc 12 feet in diameter and weights over 20 tons. A festival called Sita-Ram (Situa-Raimi) was celebrated in Mexico during Nav-Ratri or Desserah's period which has been described on page 5867 in the book 'Hamsworth History of the World'. Both in Central and South America, there are found Sati-Cremation, priesthood, Gurukul system, Yagnya, birth, marriage and death ceremonies to some extent similar to the Hindus.


Our interest in pointing to this entirely specious and long ago discredited research is not simply to point to the RSS's hegemonic intents but to point to the fact that the CT-LID response had all this material - about personnel, institutional and research agenda - easily available to them and yet they chose to ignore it and pulled out a marginal fact, without context, about ICCS's 'partnership' with the Maori in New Zealand (without explaining what it is that the ICCS is doing there) as a way of building credibility for ICCS. Can we call this anything other than a deliberate attempt to deceive the reader? Can we call this anything less than deceitful? Are we wrong then, when we conclude that the RSS has made such double speak a mainstay of their method?


CT2. Miraj Medical Centre: Subterfuge as a Strategy of Choice

What is more, it is not even a case that IDRF supporters are such poor researchers that they do not understand what they must look for. The CT-LID response does point to one real error that the FxH report can be accused of. The FxH report erroneously characterized the Miraj Medical Centre as a RSS organization. In this case the authors of the CT-LID report had no difficulty finding the Miraj Medical Centre's links to the Church of North India and the Presbyterian Church of USA. However, even on this count the CT-LID authors make a rather obvious gaffe.

We thank LID for pointing this error out, and thank all the IDRF supporters who have 'independently' found this same error - and none other - after thousands of hours of 'close study', because unwittingly they have helped us greatly. The money sent to the Miraj Medical Center was a Donor Directed/Designated grant and NOT money given at IDRF's discretion - a difference apparently missed by the hordes of IDRF supporters laboring for their great cause of spreading hate. The difference is crucial. The 83% figure given in the FxH report for moneys directed to RSS operations is for the funds that IDRF has control over. The Miraj Medical funds were a directed donation (of a small sum of $2800, which fact also seems to always be left out by the CT-LID authors) and thus IDRF had NO control whatsoever over it. Given this, what the correction of this one error leads to is a reduction in the percentage of funds that goes to RSS operations from within the Donor Directed/Designated funds. It does not in any way reduce the amount or the percentage of money going to the Sangh from funds that IDRF has control over. In other words, no conclusion in the FxH report is changed in any way by the misclassification of Miraj Medical Center. The only difference this correction makes is that the comparison laid out in the report between IDRF support for the Sangh (83%), and Donor Directed/Designated support for the Sangh (10%), is changed marginally in favor of the conclusions of the FxH report. Correcting the Miraj Medical classification results in the amount of Donor Directed/Designated funds going to the Sangh via IDRF actually dipping below the 10% figure listed in the FxH report.

Unable to challenge any of the main findings of the FxH report, the Sangh has come up with Miraj Medical. To make a claim that one small error, which actually helps FxH's case when corrected, invalidates the report in any way is both patently dishonest and a reflection of the fact that the IDRF supporters are clutching at straws (and perhaps that is why they have now resorted to threats).


A Brief Response to the Remaining Eight

The remaining eight cases that the CT-LID response identifies to prove its case against the CSFH campaign all follow the exact same logic of the first case discussed - that of ICCS. In all eight, the CT-LID reports aim is to challenge the classification of the organizations as either RSS operations or as Hindu/Jain organizations on the one hand or to challenge the categorization of a specific organization as involved in Hinduization or the Sangh's distorted version of Tribal Welfare/Education activities. In every single one of these cases, the response has failed to prove that the identified organization is not a RSS operation or a Hindu/Jain institution as the FxH report claimed it was. Given that the strategy used is exactly the same - not contradict the FxH claim but throw in some marginal and distracting fact which, the Sangh hopes, will legitimize the said organization - we will deal with each one in order in a short format.


CT3. Jnana Prabodhini

FxH Category: RSS
CT-LID re-categorization: Does not claim that it is not a RSS organization.
Distracting Facts: Kirloskar Industries, ASHA and AID fund JP.
CSFH Comment: Kirloskar/ASHA/AID funding JP does not make it a non RSS operation. JP was launched and headed by an RSS svayamsevak V.V. Pendse and has a long history of association with the RSS8
. Most recently it has won an awards as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of ABVP9.


CT4. Arpana Research & Charitable Trust

FxH Category: Hindu/Jain
CT-LID re-categorization: Does not claim that it is not a Hindu organization.
Distracting Facts: Does work on "AIDS among other things" and therefore is a health NGO.
CSFH Comment: Entirely misleading fact. While Arpana may do some health related work, that does not stop it from being Hindu. The very first article in its mission statement reads as follows: "Propagation of the Holy Scriptures handed over to Arpana Trust by Param Pujya Ma, according to the Trust Deed executed by Her on 27.8.1962." The scriptures "handed over for propogation" are Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Ish Upanishad, Ken Upanishad, Kath Upanishad, Prashna Upanishad, Mundak Upanishad, Mandukya Upanishad, Swetaswat Upanishad, Chhandogya Upanishad, Brihadaranyak Upanishad, Prayer shastras, Satsang shastra10. Anything wrong with its classification as Hindu?

Further, the FxH reports classification of some organizations that IDRF has supported as "Hindu/Jain" is both to point to the fact that in spite of the diversity of non-RSS, Hindu organizations in India, IDRF has funded very few of them. In other words, IDRF is not just simply broadly Hindu, but most specifically Hindutva.


CT5. Vikas Bharati Bishnupur

FxH Category: RSS/Hinduization
CT-LID re-categorization: Does not claim that it is not a RSS organization.
Distracting Facts: Malviya Trust has funded it. Also various Benares Hindu University personalities are associated with it.
CSFH Comment: How does Malviya Trusts funds or BHU personalities association make it any less RSS? Instead lets consider this extract from the Sewa International's description of Vikas Bharati, Bishnupur11:

Sangh karyakartas entered the hilly regions inhabited by forest tribes in the Bishnupur block of Bihar in 1972. After a year's incessant labours, the project was named as 'Vikas Bharati' in 1973. That little seed has now grown into a mighty tree, its shade bringing succour to people of this region, and its fruit and flower spreading nourishment and fragrance.

The Vikas Bharati stream, which originated in the fountainhead called Sangh, has been quietly flowing towards the ocean called society, gathering many additional streams on the way. Numerous karyakartas have totally identified themselves with the Vanvasi community. Ashok Roy, a Sangh karykarta with high academic qualification, has now become 'Ashok Bhagat.'

Any doubts that this is an RSS operation? Vikas Bharati has been a long term flagship of the RSS.

 

CT6. Swami Vivekananda Medical Mission

FxH Category: RSS/Welfare
CT-LID re-categorization: Does not claim that it is not a RSS organization.
Distracting Facts: Won an American College of Chest Physicians award.
CSFH Comment: What has American College of Chest Physicians got to do with its RSS lineage? One simple fact should set the record straight on this one: The VHP claims it as their hospital12.


CT7. Atma Darshan Yogashram

FxH Category: Hindu
CT-LID re-categorization: Does not claim that it is not a RSS organization.
Distracting Facts: Is a Yoga Centre
CSFH Comment: Yes indeed it is a Yoga Centre. And haven't we heard of many Yoga Centers, that have a well-defined Hindu philosophical bias. Further, the RSS has a long history of using Yoga centers as a vehicle for widening their reach, especially in urban areas. Finally, even if one were to accept CT-LID's contention that this is a non-sectarian organization, all this would do is help the CSFH case as the money sent to Atma Darshan Yogashram was donor designated and not at IDRF's discretion. Let us also not miss the fact that the amount being talked of here is again a small amount, $2,000, just like the $2,800 Miraj Medical misclassification that the IDRF supporters have been howling about for nearly 2 months now. Compare this to what Sewa/Seva Bharati alone received from IDRF: $500,000. And nearly all of this half-a-million dollar amount was part of IDRF's discretionary funds.

 

CT8. Satya Vishnu Charitable Trust and Muni Seva Ashram

FxH Category: Hindu
CT-LID re-categorization: Does not challenge the FxH classification as a 'Hindu' organization
Distracting Facts: The Ashram's founder - Anuben - came from a village in Gujarat and did service.
CSFH Comment: We have no disagreements with their description of Anuben's humble origins and commitment to service. How does this contradict our claim (based on the Ashram's mission) that it is an Hindu organization13. Yet again, the fact that the FxH report categorizes it as Hindu as against RSS is to make visible that many Hindu organizations have nothing to do with the RSS and that in spite of the vast presence of such non-Hindutva, Hindu organizations, IDRF has overwhelmingly supported the Sangh.


CT9. Krishi Prayog Parivar

FxH Category: RSS
CT-LID re-categorization: Does not challenge the FxH classification as a RSS organization
Distracting Facts: Does organic farming
CSFH Comment: Again, a claim to organic farming is no proof that it is not RSS. As a matter of fact a lot of the organic farming KPP seemingly does is along two dimensions - a celebration of the immense powers of cow dung and a rehashing of "visions" of "soil, water and air" in ancient India14
.


CT10. Ambedkar Vaidyakeeya Pratishthan

FxH Category: RSS
CT-LID re-categorization: Does not challenge the FxH classification as a RSS organization
Distracting Facts: A brief four line history of Ambedkar as the father of the Indian Constitution and that Gandhi named Dalits as Harijans.
CSFH Comment: The history lesson does little to distract from the fact that the Ambedkar Vaidyakiya Pratishthan is a RSS operation. Again, the CT-LID authors refuse to look at facts staring them in their face - AVP is the foundation that set up,
and is housed in the premises of, the RSS hospital called Dr. Hedgewar
Rugnalaya15
Any doubts now that it is an RSS organizaton? And of course, needless to say, the RSS, a bastion of upper caste power, has long worked hard to appropriate Dr. Ambedkar as a entry method into Dalit communities.


In each of the ten cases discussed above, including the Miraj Medical Centre (for pointing out which misclassification and thus strengthening our case, we heartily thank IDRF supporters), the claims of the CT-LID authors and the specificity of how they seek to mislead readers should be amply clear. Their basic approach is to stay away from the question of whether an organization identified in the FxH report as a RSS operation is indeed such or not, and then to throw in a set of "facts" - however marginal and arbitrary - that are presented as somehow enhancing the credibility of said organization. In other words, the basic strategy is to promote a sense of being wronged in the mind of the reader through a combination of deliberate acts of omission (side stepping the "RSS or not" question) and commission (by throwing in arbitrary "facts").


Apart from a clear refutation of the CT-LID report, the above discussion is also an instructive lesson on the basic modus operandi of how the Sangh works. The FxH report concluded that IDRF has, by hiding the fact that it is a RSS front and by claiming to be a secular organization, misled both corporations and individuals into giving money. In response to this challenge who comes out in defense of IDRF, yes, the Sangh Parivar. And all the stalwarts of the Sangh Parivar have been able to do is to deploy rumor, subterfuge and bias - all cornerstones of RSS's standard strategy. The Sangh has started many a conflagration with this strategy. What is a report to them?


Facts Not Numbers

The only other claim in the CT-LID response that needs some attention is their trumpeting of the fact that their counter petition, hosted at Letindiadevelop.org (the name itself a prime example of Sangh doublespeak), against the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate has gathered more signatures than the CSFH petition. May we remind the Sangh that the CSFH campaign is not a numbers game. It is a challenge at the level of facts. That the LID petition has 5,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 signatures is only indicative of the fact that the Sangh has a very deep penetration among the Hindu, largely upper-caste, immigrants from India. A quick look at the LID petition signatories proves our point. The signatures in large part reflect the narrow social base of the Sangh's support. In contrast, the CSFH petition reflects the broad spectrum of people from all over the world. Indian Muslims and Christians (the communities most affected by the sectarian hate that IDRF funds), Dalits and backward castes, upper-caste Hindus, and non-Indians of all stripes and religions. The Sangh's dependence on numbers is indicative of a dangerous mindset. It reflects an attitude that cares little about facts and instead desires to just muscle its way through using brute force. It reflects the desire to promote the interests of a narrow social base (that happens to control the bulk of the power and resources) with a narrow and intolerant political ideology. Their diversity is between a false invocation of Gandhi to a strategic use of Godse.


1 FISI is the RSS' International media/PR operation.

15 http://www.cafonline.org/cafindia/india/ngopage.cfm?charityNumber=BAVP 1

 

 

 


 

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