FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PROJECT SAFFRON
Last Updated 12/08/02
Q 1. Who is involved in the Campaign
to Stop Funding Hate? Where do your funds come from?
A. We are a diverse group of people of Indian
origin living and working in India, United States, and Europe.
We found each other - via the internet and through personal
contacts - in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots earlier this
year. Among us there are professionals, teachers and students
belonging to various faiths and political persuasions. We
contribute personal time and money to this work and do not
accept any institutional funding from anywhere. We are bound
by one common goal: an India without hatred, where people
are not persecuted because of their faith or political beliefs.
Q 2. Are you opposed to religion ? Are
you opposed to Hinduism in particular?
A. No, we are not opposed to religion. We
abide by the vision of the authors of Indian Constitution,
who envisaged an India where all religions will be treated
equally and all citizens are free to practice any religion
of their choice without fear of persecution. Yes, we are opposed
to Hindutva and Sangh Parivar. Hindutva is different from
Hinduism. Most followers of Hinduism, like the followers of
any other religion are peaceful, non-violent and tolerant.
Hindutva is a political ideology. It advocates use of violence,
confuses nationality with culture and religion, is supremacist
and exclusionary. It believes that only people who support
it should have first class citizenship in India. All others
should be second class citizens. Nazism in Germany under Hitler
said the same thing. We all know what happened when Nazism
was allowed to grow. Sangh Parivar is a loose network of organizations
led by the RSS whose founders were admirers of Adolf Hitler.
Q 3. Why don't you criticize other religious
groups who send money to India?
A. First of all, IDRF is not sending money
to a religious group. It is sending it to the Sangh Parivar.
We are not opposed to religious groups sending money to India,
per se. However, the money that IDRF sends encourages divisiveness
and violence. We do condemn all acts of hate and violence
- regardless of religion or ideology. The reason for our focus
on Sangh Parivar is that we are committed to an India that
is democratic, secular and embodies equal respect to all religions.
Q 4. Is IDRF breaking the law in supporting
Hindutva groups? If missionaries can raise money for Christianity,
Muslims can raise money for Islam, why can Hindu organizations
not do the same?
A. IDRF is misrepresenting itself as a non
sectarian non political organization. But 80 per cent of the
money raised by IDRF goes to organizations belonging to the
Sangh Parivar, a loose network of Hindutva organizations.
It raised $ 3.8 million last year from non-resident Indians
and in matching grants from corporate houses. The donors are
told that the charity will go towards socio-economic development
in India. In reality, it goes to support the activists trained
by the Sangh Parivar employed in various schools, relief centers
etc. IDRF should openly declare that it is a part of Hindutva
ideology. All evidence shows that it is.
Q 5. Does not IDRF support developmental
projects in India? Their records show that they support education,
tribal welfare, healthcare and women and children. Is that
all lies ?
A. The support that IDRF offers to educational
institutions and tribal welfare programs is very selective
and geared towards promoting a specific ideology. Almost all
of the large scale money transfers relating to the Orissa
Cyclone and the Bhuj earthquake have been to Sangh Parivar
organizations in India. Indeed, it has been documented that
money raised for these humanitarian causes was used in a partisan,
sectarian manner, to benefit only the majority community (See
Appendix E of the report, A Foreign Exchange of Hate).
Legally, the IDRF is entitled to donate to any organization
of its choice. The organizations chosen by IDRF however belong
to an ideological set that openly declares that non Hindus
ought to be deemed second class citizens in India.
According to the public records, the majority
of instances where money was sent to truly non-sectarian NGOs
was when donors specifically designated such organizations
as the recipients. Even here, it is important to note that
the IDRF takes a ten percent cut of all such donations and
only accepts such donations if they are over one thousand
dollars. The ten percent 'fee' is generally sent to Vanvasi
Kalyan Ashram or other RSS/VHP projects in India, who turn
around and use it to spread sectarian hatred as has been shown
4 of the report, A Foreign Exchange of Hate).
Q 6. What is wrong with IDRF being part
of Hindutva ideology, especially if they are doing relief
and rehabilitation work and within legal framework ?
note that we are not saying that IDRF is directly funding
the acquisition of weapons. We are saying that IDRF offers
a cover of respectability for funding organizations engaged
in hate campaigns. Its volunteers are all trained political
activists of the Sangh Parivar, and the Sangh creates the
conditions in which communal violence easily springs up. The
Rashtriya Swayamsevk Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad
(VHP), key organizations in the Hindutva movement, are shadowy
organizations which have been banned several times in India
for fomenting communal violence. VHP and RSS workers have
been implicated in murderous activities. Numerous judicial
inquiries have noted the role of RSS in creating conditions
for communal riots. Now, as a matter of strategy, RSS and
VHP operate through front organizations which are legally
registered and function as charities. RSS itself has no legal
status. It maintains no membership rolls. It has no internal
democracy and its accounts are never audited publicly.
Q 7. But Hindutva organizations claim
that it is the missionaries and madarsas which initiate the
problem. Is this not true ?
A. It is mostly not true. There may be missions
which convert. There may be madarsas where hatred is taught.
But there is a difference. Christian missions in India have
also done a lot of educational and medical service. Similarly
there are many Hindu religious missions which do not preach
communalism for instance, the Ramakrishna Missions). India
has a tradition of social work inspired by religion. Mahatma
Gandhi is a great example of how one can learn good things
from all religions. The Sangh Parivar is however different.
Their social work is always motivated by a program of communal
Q 8. How exactly is IDRF misleading donors?
Doesn't it tell contributors through its web-site where the
money is going?
A. Yes, IDRF does put the list of the recipients
of its fund on its web-site. However, merely revealing the
identities of the receiving organizations does not inform
people about the true nature of their activities. As the report
"A Foreign Exchange of Hate" shows, an overwhelming number
of organizations receiving IDRF funding are Sangh fronts.
It took meticulous research to establish this connection.
Most ordinary donors take IDRF's contention at face value
and give their money thinking that they are funding welfare
projects for the poor. They are therefore not aware of the
fact that their money is distributed to support Hindutva's
communal politics. IDRF knows that if it were upfront about
its connection to the Sangh, many decent and fair-minded contributors
would refuse to give it any money. That is why even though
evidence shows overwhelmingly that IDRF is part of the sangh
parivar, it continues to claim that it does not have anything
to do with the Sangh Parivar. We are not objecting to people
giving their money to a cause of their choosing, however reprehensible
that may be. We are concerned that IDRF is collecting this
money under false pretences.
Q 9. How exactly is IDRF misleading corporations?
A. IDRF states that it does not subscribe
to any religious, political, or sectarian agendas. Furthermore,
it claims that it does not discriminate against any religion,
sect, or race in either the collection or distribution of
funds. The facts belie this contention. As the report, A Foreign
Exchange of Hate demonstrates clearly, IDRF does operate in
a sectarian fashion and does send money almost exclusively
to organizations that are not only explicitly religious, but
also subscribe to a divisive ideology that seeks to construct
India as a monotheistic and intolerant state.
Most corporations and donation portals have
criteria and guidelines that make religious and political
organizations ineligible for receiving matching donations.
IDRF has gone to great lengths to conceal its sectarian and
discriminatory agenda and has posed as a development and relief
organization in order to qualify for such grants. This is
deceptive and should give corporations enough reason to dissociate
themselves from IDRF.
It should be also noted here that despite
repeated requests, the IDRF has refused to set up funds for
sectarian violence in India when Muslims or Christians are
the primary victims. This is especially striking when one
realizes that IDRF has made a lot of noise and collected funds
for Hindu victims of communal carnage in other countries,
but never for Muslim victims in India.