|"Morale Booster for SFH: UK Charities Commissioner looking into fresh evidence against right wing Hindu fundraising activities; Oracle suspends ties with IDRF, 280 professors petition US corporations against IDRF." December 13, 2002
The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate
P.O. Box 20136 Stanford CA 94309
Date/Time: Friday, December 13, 2002.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MORALE BOOSTERS FOR 'STOP FUNDING HATE' CAMPAIGNERS
- UK CHARITIES COMMISSIONER LOOKING INTO FRESH EVIDENCE AGAINST RIGHT WING HINDU FUND RAISING ACTIVITIES
- ANOTHER SILICON VALLEY GIANT SUSPENDS TIES WITH RIGHT WING HINDU CHARITY IDRF
- 280 PROFESSORS PETITION US CORPORATIONS AGAINST IDRF
In a series of swift developments, the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (SFH) was further vindicated today as the Charities Commissioner of UK announced an investigation into fresh evidence of right wing Hindu fundraising activities in UK; Oracle, another silicon valley giant announced suspension of matching grants to IDRF, the US based charity accused by the campaigners of funneling money to support violent Hindu nationalist organizations in India; and a high power group of 280 professors from various American universities petitioned American corporations against offering financial support to IDRF. In a statement, spokespersons for the campaign Shalini Gera, Angana Chatterjee and Ali Mir, called these developments a morale-booster.
The charities commissioner of UK revealed to the press in London that the commission has initiated an investigation into the fundraising activities of right wing Hindu groups in UK. The commissioner was responding to questions from leading Indian newspapers, following an expose by Channel IV. The television network on Thursday telecast extensive documentation accusing the charity Sewa International (UK), the IDRF's sister organization in Britain, of supporting anti-minority violence in India. It showed how the tribal welfare centers in India (known as Vanavasi Kalyan Ashrams) supported by right wing Hindu groups were used for anti-Christian and anti-Muslim ideological training. Representatives of Channel 4, according to news reports widely published in India said that Channel 4 would be submitting documents to the Charities Commission as fresh "evidence" of the alleged misuse of funds by the largest U.K.- based Indian charity - Sewa International, an offshoot of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) whose affairs are already being investigated by the Commission. Shalini Gera, one of the spokespersons for the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate pointed out these were the same centers supported by IDRF through funds raised from individual and corporate grants in USA. (See Press Release.)
The campaigners claimed another major victory as Oracle, another Silicon Valley giant, followed in the footsteps of Cisco and Sun and withdrew support to the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF). It may be recalled that based on a report titled "The Foreign Exchange of Hate" (available at http://www.stopfundinghate.org), the campaigners had on November 20, charged IDRF with sending money to organizations associated with a violent and extremist movement in India. Since then, several corporations have disassociated themselves from IDRF and many more are in the process of doing so. A spokesperson from Oracle's Corporate Communications department issued a formal statement confirming that Oracle had made matching contributions to IDRF in the past but that "Oracle had no reason to believe the funds would be used for any purpose other than the intended relief." The statement goes on to confirm "Oracle has placed all donations to the IDRF on hold pending further investigation". Angana Chatterji, a spokesperson for the CSFH, said, "We are hopeful that the actions of CISCO, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, send a strong message to organizations like IDRF that funding hate in the name of charity is deceptive and morally reprehensible. IDRF's disaster relief allocations have been sectarian and its participation in the communalization of education dangerous. IDRF, through organizations like the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams and Vivekananda Kendra seeks to Hinduize adivasi communities, exploit divisions among the marginalized, and indoctrinate the youth, to use them as foot soldiers in the larger cause of Hindutva nationalism. Such actions must be condemned in India where recent and horrific violations of minority rights are cause for deep concern."
Meanwhile, the Campaigners received a shot in the arm when a statement supporting their efforts was endorsed by over 280 professors from universities across North America, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Chicago, UPenn, Cornell and Brown. Ali Mir, one of the spokespersons of the campaign said, "this petition is heartwarming as the list of signatories reads like a veritable Who's Who of the academic world in terms of expertise not only on South Asia but in all areas of higher learning." The list of faculty signatories includes several scientists and engineers, professors who hold endowed chairs, as well as leading South Asian Area Studies scholars in the U.S - economists, political scientists, anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers, historians, professors of religion, and professors of literature - who are concerned with the growth of the Hindu fundamentalist movement in India and its increasing use of violence to achieve its ends. (See Press Release by Faculty Petition organizers).
Arjun Appadurai, a professor at Yale University who holds the William K. Lanman Jr. Chair of the International Studies and is the Director of the Initiatives on Cities and Globalization, urged American corporations and individual donors to be discerning: "The safety and dignity of India's minorities cannot be further endangered by misinformed philanthropy in the United States." Commending the 'Foreign Exchange of Hate' report, published on November 20, Appadurai said, "The evidence on which this petition is based meets the highest academic standards and demands the attention of anyone who believes in responsible globalization, democratic pluralism and informed advocacy." Physics and Astronomy Professor Sumit Das from the University of Kentucky says, "it is alarming to see that organizations like this use the money donated by well meaning persons in activities which directly or indirectly support communal outfits." Gauri Viswanathan, Director of the Southern Asia Institute at Columbia University and Paola Baccheta, an Associate Professor of Women's Studies at UC, Berkeley, echoed these sentiments in making a strong plea to donors to be vigilant.
The campaigners maintained that IDRF, which poses as a development and relief charity, is actually a part of the Sangh Parivar, an ultra-nationalist and exclusionary movement that has been accused of orchestrating violence against religious minorities in India including the recent genocidal killing of over 2,000 Muslims in the state of Gujarat. As a result of the Campaign, which was launched in late November, Cisco and Sun Microsystems, and now Oracle have dropped IDRF from their list of eligible charities. None of these organizations will now offer matching funds for any employee donation to IDRF.