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A Foreign Exchange of Hate:
IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva
A Report by Sabrang Communications Pvt. Ltd. (India) / SACW (France)

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Project Saffron Dollar

Stop Funding Hate Campaign Responds to IDRF's Rebuttal

Frequently Asked Questions

Saffron Dollar August 2003
Campaign To Stop Funding Hate

August 6, 2003
Dear Friends,

Thank you for the large number of emails not only supporting the idea of the monthly newsletter, but also offering help. Being a small group of volunteers we can always use your help, and as and when we need it, we will certainly call upon those of you who have offered to help.

The monthly update of the Campaign To Stop Funding Hate (CSFH) will be mailed to you in the first week of every month. Its purpose is to keep you informed of the developments in the campaign and to seek inputs from you. Nine months after the campaign began today we are poised to move in several different directions. Constraints of time and other resources force difficult choices on us. Saffron Dollar # 1 aims to bring you upto date on:

1.Hindutva response to CSFH
2.Corporate response to CSFH
3.Media response to CSFH
4.New directions

1.Hindutva response to CSFH:

IDRF, exposed by the CSFH as a funding conduit for the Sangh Parivar in India, has been unable to refute the charge. But true to the Sangh Parivar design, within the first few days, the virtual Bajrang Dal of the US, known for its admiration of Nathuram Godse, Gandhiji's assassin, mounted a picture of one of the campaigners and the addresses of other members on its black list. Supporters of Hindutva sent hundreds of hate-filled emails to individuals who were seen to be active in the campaign. Attempts were made to harass supporters of the campaign through their employers.

Closely following on these intimidating tactics, the Sangh Parivar set up a counter campaign displaying a picture of Gandhiji and launching a counter signature campaign. (It is only in the twisted imagination of Hindutva that it is possible to appropriate Gandhiji to serve Godse's vision!). Several weeks later, Hindutva began to mobilize academics and
analysts of dubious standing to refute our contentions. While most of them concentrated on labeling the campaign as anti-Hindu, communist, anti-India, pro-Muslim, and anti-US, Ashok Chowgule, a spokesman for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad who authored one of the refutations, candidly admitted that IDRF is part of the Sangh Parivar. He went on to argue that there is nothing wrong with being part of the Sangh Parivar. In a private correspondence with a correspondent, he went so far as to say that the distinction between IDRF and the Sangh Parivar is merely legal. He devoted two entire chapters one each to portray Biju Mathew and Sabrang Communications as anti Hindu. The latest refutation released in India last month several weeks after being first released in the US, picks on
one inadvertent error in the Foreign Exchange of Hate Report, and asserts that IDRF supports poor people in India. In addition to direct and indirect threats of physical violence from various Sangh quarters, office bearers of the IDRF, in concert with different Sangh Parivar organizations, have attempted to intimidate the publishers of the FxH report and members of CSFH with threats of lawsuits both in India and the US. The fourth and the most creative phase of Hindutva appears to be about to unfold now. Late in June, the IDRF website was given a facelift and was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu. This is obviously done in the hope that endorsement by a politician who is known to be Information Technology savvy will give IDRF some
purchase among Indian IT professionals.

2.Corporations' response to CSFH:

The main goal of the campaign is to expose the overseas financing of Hindutva. However, in the process of doing this, we discovered that many American corporations are contributing a sizeable part of the funds generated by Hindutva. These monies come in the form of matching grants to the money donated by Indian employees to IDRF. Thus, some of the campaign's energy was focused on corporate accountability. The campaign contacted over 30 corporations and donation portals, with the evidence provided by the foreign exchange of hate report. Responding to both external media pressure and internal pressure from employees, two IT giants Oracle and Cisco placed their matching grants to IDRF under suspension. As a supporter of the campaign, you can thank yourself for this well-deserved victory! Our campaign with corporations and donation portals mainly focuses on the fact that their giving policy requires their grantees to be secular and non-sectarian, a criterion which IDRF, through its association with the RSS does not meet.

3.Media response to CSFH:

Over the months we have noticed three distinct approaches by the media towards the campaign each driven by an ideological disposition. 1. Positive and critical support came from the progressive and secular minded sections of the media. 2. A very small negative and critical coverage by Hindutva supporters. 3. But a third type of response was supportive of our concern for secularism but critical of our stance towards Hindutva. This last response came from a variety of sources, some concerns about India's national image being sullied in the US, some concerns over offending what was thought to be Hindu sensibilities, and some genuine concern that the campaign was silent on other religious fundamentalisms and the role of money in general in religious propagation.

Some of the questions raised from these quarters were 1. Is there a watertight legal evidence that links IDRF funds to violence in India? 2. What is wrong with Hindus raising their own funds? 3. Why doesnt the campaign investigate Christian and Islamic organizations and their fund raising activities? Such questions do not originate in the media but come from the larger society. Our response was to argue that legal exactitude and formal equidistance from all religions were misleading ideals that overlooked fundamentally unequal power relations. Hindutva is backed by the state in India and it is a self consciously nationalist project unlike Christian evangelism and Islamic fundamentalism. For a detailed campaign statement on this issue read

4.New Directions:

During the last nine months a number of new initiatives have been conceived in response to the challenge of Hindu nationalism both in India and here. These initiatives are inspiring in that they explore new spaces in which resistance can be situated, in institutions of higher learning, in work places, in non profits, in civic institutions and in state institutions and in households. We at the Campaign To Stop Funding Hate take strength from the fact that a group of 320 faculty members in American universities have not only endorsed the campaign wholeheartedly but are actively working on critical educational projects related to South Asia. Similarly a group of developmental organizations are working towards sharing resources and ideas to generate a critique of Hindutva from the standpoint of non-sectarian development. Besides these, India based secular groups are on the verge of publishing a hard copy of the Foreign Exchange of Hate report in India. We welcome these initiatives and hope to see them multiply. We will share with you more news with you as we get to know more about them, and offer suggestions on how you can contribute towards them.