2 February, 2003 Campaign Responds to supporters Concerns. In response to constructive reflections provided by hundreds of supporters, the Campaign poses the critical question: What should be done if criticizing Hindutva has the inevitable and immediate consequence of helping it consolidate its position?
CSFH Responds to Supporters' Concerns
The Campaign To Stop Funding Hate (CSFH) has received much feedback from different quarters. Apart from the hundreds of hate mail letters dispatched by Swamyamsevaks sitting across the US and Canada, there has been a large volume of positive and encouraging feedback with critical reflections on questions of strategy. We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. Such active engagement and a desire to think forward is truly encouraging and we join you in this move forward. Over the next several days the CSFH will respond to these constructive reflections with the hope that it will be a step towards building a unified voice against the communal forces that operate in North America.
At the outset, a clarification on a question that many of the correspondents raised:
What is the relationship between this campaign and the anti-communal forces battling Hindutva in India?
CSFH has worked actively with multiple groups working against communalism on the ground in India. The campaign in the US is a direct response to the need felt by groups working in India to break the myth that Hindutva is entirely outfitted in India while minority fundamentalism is fomented by foreign funding. Many grass root organizations in India are convinced that without the monetary and ideological support of the "successful" NRIs, Hindutva would not be as much of a force as it is in India. Further, after our campaign was launched in the wake of the release of the "Foreign Exchange of Hate" report, we have received overwhelming support from anti-communal organizations and people in India who have found the material very useful. The value of the Campaign for forces in India can be understood by examining the RSS response to the Foreign Exchange of Hate report and to the Campaign in India. The RSS did everything it could to silence the issue as quickly as possible, even questions raised in Parliament were given the most vague responses. Clearly the RSS saw the Campaign as having a negative effect for them in India. This is further illustrated by the rabid and hate filled response of the Sangh Parivar in the US.
The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate is committed to working in close consultation with a broad spectrum of Indian anti-communal forces and will continue to be guided to a significant degree by their priorities.
This brings us to two important concerns raised by some supporters of the campaign. These concerns, while voiced by only a few supporters, are genuine and critical in defining future strategy and therefore need to be addressed.
A. Is the campaign justified in throttling funds that may be eventually going to the marginal communities in India. Will the accusation that "CSFH (and other progressives) have caused a reduction in development funds" do us harm?
The CSFH is committed to the goal of ensuring that support to the marginalized communities is not undermined. We believe, however, that it is a mistake to give in to the equation: No Hindutva equals No development.
Thus the project of ensuring that marginalized communities continue to receive the critical support they need has to be played out in two dimensions: resisting the divisive politics of "No Hindutva = No Development" on the one hand, and an aggressive campaign to ensure that development money reaches the marginalized through non sectarian grass roots based development groups.
B. Will the CSFH Campaign Lead to Consolidation of Hindutva Forces in the US and Canada?
Whether this happens at all or how much of this consolidation happens will be determined by our own role and the direction that the campaign and its supporters take.
The Non-Resident Indian (NRI) community in North America is a group with diverse class, caste, regional and religious backgrounds. What ties them together is an overarching Indian identity. The Hindutva strategy has been to replace this Indian identity with that of Hindutva, i.e. equating Indian identity with Hindutva. Segments of the NRI population which formed the traditional support base of Hindutva in India are susceptible to such a displacement of the national identity. However, most Indian immigrants are ill at ease with the politics of Hindutva.
We must begin by realizing that large sections of those who seem to be swayed by Hindutva in recent years are actually predisposed towards Hindutva even before they left the shores of India. In other words, we should not grieve over the fact that an invisible support base of Hindutva has now become visible. As a matter of fact their visibility will only help us. In other words, we must recognize two possibilities: The first, that what may appear as consolidation at the Hindutva end is in large part the creation of a forced visibility of those who are already consolidated. Second, that large segments of the Indian American community are not pre-disposed to Hindutva and therefore are subject to consolidation along a non-communal developmentalist framework.
The Campaign estimates that corporate sector income of the Sangh is between 15% to 25% of their total revenue. While this indicates there is much more funding that needs to be looked into, to cut such a substantive percentage of their funding base is itself significant. This is why, the Hindutva forces have been crying hoarse about how "the Campaign is going to starve the poor and the dispossessed in India."
We think that the crucial question to ask is this: What should be done if criticizing Hindutva has the inevitable and immediate consequence of helping it consolidate its position?
We have four options: (1) Do nothing and hope that consolidation will not happen. (2) Repeatedly appeal to the good sense of marginal Hindutvavadis and hope that they will not become part of the Hindutva fabric. (3) Risk short term consolidation of Hindutva but have a longer term strategy in place (as in the above explanation) that seeks to alter the lines of consolidation and counter-consolidation (4) fashion a very different set of strategies that would not run the risk of Hindutva consolidation but would still effectively combat the emergent fascism. Within the larger community, we can discern all the above responses.
The CSFH has chosen to take the third route risk Hindutva consolidation/make them more visible and simultaneously mobilize those segments of the Indian American community that have no traditional links with the Sangh towards non-sectarian development funding. Those who feel that this is not the correct response can either take the second option (which is of course the least cost option but also arguably the one that has been the predominant one this far and has not worked) or the fourth option. We in the Campaign are not opposed to such efforts, especially the fourth option. We welcome any such effort and will be willing partners to a discussion along those lines.
What we wish to underscore is that the unfolding of the lines of consolidation and counter consolidation over the next few years will be entirely determined by how far the non-sectarian forces can come together and produce a directed strategy. The CSFH is doing what it can. There are numerous ideas that we, and others working in the US and Canada, have had that we are unable to execute because we lack a large enough volunteer base to do it. So, GET INVOLVED.