| 10 February, 2003 In response to questions on how the campaign serves the cause of stopping hate at the ground level, why funding the RSS is a bad idea even if small amounts trickle to the ground, and whether the Campaign is merely 'Sangh Baiting?'
The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate responds:
Q1: How is the Campaign responding to hate at ground level?
A1: Hate, such as that seen on the ground in Gujarat, is perpetrated through a well organized network that is maintained by abundant logistical and financial support, a substantial portion of which comes from abroad. Exposing and reducing the financial base that supports hate is just one of the goals of the Campaign. The alleviation of hate requires, among other things, building awareness about the conditions that produce and sustain hate. It requires education, networking and disseminating information at various levels of society, within the press, within civil society, within institutions. This is precisely the larger goal of the Campaign.
There are a lot of groups and individuals working on the ground in India who are part of the Campaign’s outreach network. Members of the Campaign have been working in India on a regular and long term basis. For example, some members of the Campaign work regularly with sustainable development policy and projects in village India. However, as members of the Campaign also live in the United States, we consider it equally important for us to focus on the overseas collection of hate money that supports violence and sectarianism in India.
Besides being part of the Campaign, many of us also work actively at an individual level, with multiple groups resisting communalism on the ground in India. To a certain extent, the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate in the US is a direct response to the need felt in India to expose the myth propagated by the Sangh Parivar that Hindutva is an ideology indigenous to India. It also dispels the myth that Hindutva is entirely supported from within India while Islamic and Christian fundamentalism is fomented through ‘foreign’ funding. Most grassroots anti-communal groups and organizations, and analysts, in India have said that without the monetary and ideological support of ‘successful’ NRIs, Hindutva would not be as much of a force as it is in India today. The Sabrang/SACW report went a long way in exposing the deceptions employed by the Sangh Parivar in obtaining money from overseas under the guise of ‘relief and development’.
The value of the Campaign for forces in India can be understood by examining
the RSS response to the Sabrang\SACW report and to the Campaign—both in
India and abroad. The RSS did everything it could to silence the issue as quickly as possible in India. Questions raised in Parliament as to the disposition of funds coming from abroad to Sangh Parivar organizations were given the most vague of responses. Clearly, the RSS saw the Campaign as having a negative effect for them in India and sought to silence it. The rabid and hate filled response of the Sangh Parivar to the Campaign and individuals associated with the Campaign in the US also vindicates our contention that the Campaign makes a relevant contribution to obstructing the Sangh in its drive to spread hate at the ground level in India.
Q2: Is it not true that some of the RSS money gets to the ground? Isn’t cutting off this funding a disservice to the needy?
A2: The CSFH is committed to supporting sustainable development in India.
However, it is imperative to understand that the kind of development financed by the Sangh Parivar only lays the groundwork for divisiveness and sectarianism. The Sangh’s version of development is not sustainable in that it does not build stronger communities, it weakens them by dividing them against each other. Dividing communities against each other also reduces that capacity of these communities to work together to sustain the ecology, the water and forests and agricultural lands that are critical to their survival. As the IUCN inter-governmental panels found, it also impacts the environment adversely. Sectarianism does not support sustainable grassroots development. It does not empower local actions for self-determination, such as the magnificent efforts of over 63,000 villages struggling across India to secure access and rights to forest lands for livelihood and cultural survival. Neither does it support the needs of 375 million of India’s poorest citizens. Effective rural development can only be enacted through a commitment to support local human rights and livelihood needs in ways that are ecologically sustainable, and by building tolerant, democratic and secular communities in village India.
Development must address the structural inequities of caste, class and gender, religion and tribe, to ensure that development projects and aid has the desired effect at the grassroots. To address these inequities is not divisive, as the Sangh contends. Society is already divided between those who have and those who are dispossessed, those with power and those who are marginalized, at local and global levels. To address the conditions that produce these divisions and inequities is essential to healing them. The UN declaration of Development, the World Social Forum, Rio 10+, the Planning Commission of India, the National Ministries of Rural Development, Environment and Forestry, local movements for sustainable development such as the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the Orissa Jangal Manch, the Pani Panchayats, all support the contention that development can be successful only through ensuring the rights of ALL people, not by singling out some based on religion, gender or social status. The participation of tribals in the attacks on Muslims in Gujarat, 2002, was an example of how development aid disbursed on a sectarian basis only facilitates the further disintegration of society, not its development.
It is fallacious to equate the Campaign’s position of ‘No funding for Hindutva’ with ‘No funding for Development’. The project of ensuring that marginalized communities continue to receive the critical support they need can be realized by resisting the divisive politics of Hindutva on the one hand, and on the other, working to ensure that development money reaches the marginalized through existing non-sectarian grassroots based development groups.
Q3: Are we Sangh baiting?
A3: We are not ‘Sangh baiting’ Sangh baiting would imply that we only do
this to get a rise out of the Sangh because we merely ‘dislike’ them for some reason. Such a contention is not just wrong, it is silly. The Campaign is largely an outcome of the horror all of us felt after the Sangh Parivar went on its genocidal rampage in Gujarat. The Sangh presents one of the greatest dangers to India’s existence as a tolerant, pluralistic and democratic society, and its ideology of hate needs to be countered. Since a large proportion of the Sangh’s funding derives from overseas, exposing some of its fund-raising tactics overseas, and the uses of such funds, is necessary.
‘Sangh baiting’ indeed. We all have our personal and professional lives that we would love to give our exclusive attention to, but are compelled by conscience to do this work until the Sangh’s hate can be neutralized.