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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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Stop Funding Hate Campaign Responds to IDRF's Rebuttal

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Saffron Dollar September 2003
Campaign To Stop Funding Hate

September 8, 2003
Dear Friends:

In response to the first Saffron Dollar newsletter, several more supporters
have sent in offers of help. We received one request for help in writing
articles to further the cause of secularism. We will try our best to respond to
these emails individually but at the moment we are so strapped for time that we
decided to compile all of them into a resource pool on which we can draw as and
when the occasion presents itself.

So much has happened since the campaign was launched last November that some of
the first few issues of Saffron Dollar will be mainly devoted to catching up
and seeking feedback from you. This issue will therefore brings to you the

1. Spinoffs of the campaign
2. Planning ahead
3. News from India
4. Seeking your inputs


The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate has been misrepresented by Hindutva advocates
as a 'hit and run' operation which only seeks to make accusations. As a matter
of fact, over the months, we have worked diligently towards building a level of
confidence among those who seek to promote secular ideals and progressive
politics. As a result of all this, when the US government sought nominations
earlier this year to the Committee on Religious Freedom, we received requests
from a range of people in Washington for help. As we are a small campaign with
limited resources, we felt that we did not have the mandate to participate in
such a process. However, we investigated some of the names in the nomination
pool, found and highlighted their links with the Hindutva lobby. Overall we
suggested that those working on gender justice and with some background in law
would be good nominees. Although the final selection of Preeta Bansal, came as
a surprise to many observers, we feel that she is a liberal candidate. What
role she will play in the life of the South Asian community will become
apparent only with time. Regardless, the fact that actors in the national
capital sought our opinion and the fact that we were able to preempt the
nomination of some Hindutvawadis underscores an important spinoff resulting
from the campaign.


The campaign to Stop Funding Hate held a retreat in April 2002 to evaluate the
fall out of the Foreign Exchange of Hate report and the subsequent campaign.
Two issues stand out among the many that we discussed over two days. The first
relates to the need to consolidate the momentum generated by the campaign and
build on it. As you can see, this newsletter flows directly out of that
concern. The second relates to the character of this group and its future role.
The overwhelming view was that this campaign should not assume the role of
prescribing specific policies (e.g. corporate policies on evaluating non
profits for funding) and nominations (e.g. selection of candidates for state
and non state bodies such as the Committee on Religious Freedom). We decided to
play the role of catalysts for new political processes. However, this does not
preclude us from sharing our understanding of the principles of public action
and influencing policy guidelines. To that effect, we have decided to encourage
organizations and individuals to integrate concerns of social justice and
identity politics into their perspective. We have been open to dialogue with
anyone who wishes to pursue projects that promote these concerns.


Two separate national initiatives have begun to take on communalism at the
national level. The first is a Delhi based initiative called ANHAD (Act Now for
Harmony and Democracy) which aims to build a secular cadre down to the village
level in some select states across the country. Unlike previous attempts to
build secular grassroots mobilization, ANHAD will attempt to be a minimalist
organization that will provide critical resources to all other organizations
that wish to work on communalism. Since its inception, ANHAD has held workshops
in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. In Gujarat alone in six districts close
to 600 activists were trained in these workshops. Read more about ANHAD:

The second initiative is Bombay based Hum Watan: an organization that will
primarily work on using the Constitutional framework to challenge Hindutva. In
many ways, some of the recent work around the arrest of Pravin Togadia etc. was
done through the initiative of local mass based organizations in Rajasthan such
as Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and civil liberty organizations such as
Peoples Union For Civil Liberties with Hum Watan playing a strong supportive
role and getting the information out and mounting national level pressure.
These initiatives are examples of secularist organizations working on
completely complementary areas without overlap and signify an important turning
point in the history of grassroots mobilization in India.

Meanwhile, we have been receiving disturbing reports about how the Sangh
Parivar has begun to expand its activities in new areas. Dr. Angana Chatterji,
one of the campaign members who spent the summer working in Orissa, reports
that the Sangh's considerable advance in rural and urban Orissa has helped the
BJP consolidate its position in the state, reflected in its gains in the State
Assembly from one seat in 1985 to 41 today. The Sangh mobilization for the Ram
Temple appears to take root among people for whom the absurdity of Ayodhya is a
tale from afar. By 2006, the birth centenary of RSS architect M.S. Golwalkar,
Orissa, the Sangh promises, will be a Hindutva state.

The Sangh has also simultaneously engaged in the forcible conversion of
Christians into Hinduism. In June 2002, the VHP coerced 143 tribal Christians
into converting to Hinduism in Sundargarh district. The Dharma Prasar Bibhag
claims to have reconverted 5000 people to Hinduism in 2002. Deftly manipulating
the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act 1967 which prohibits forcible conversions,
and a 1999 state order prohibiting religious conversions without prior
permission of local police and district magistrates, Sangh Parivar activists,
intimidate religious minorities. The Sangh deliberately confuses the
distinction between the right to proselytize and the use of religion to
cultivate hate. Hindutva propaganda accuses Christian communities of the
former and labels it a crime while justifying its own activities as serving a
higher truth - the righteous action of reuniting Hindus.


As you may be aware, the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate was endorsed by nearly
2800 individuals. Within days of the campaign being launched, Hindutvawadis
launched a counter campaign which mobilized nearly 5000 signatures. While
Hindutvawadis saw this as a show of strength, we have maintained all along that
there is a qualitative difference between the two groups of signatories that
simply cannot be captured by numbers. However, it is important to note that the
Campaign to Stop Funding Hate and the Campaign called Let India Develop
together provoked a total of 8000 individuals to take a public stance. This is
a miniscule proportion of the vocal adult population that has access to the
internet and could have taken a stand either way. We feel that it is important
to know the pulse of this silent public. We therefore invite you to share with
us what some of your friends who may or may not have signed the petition felt
about the debates raised by the campaign. Did the Campaign come up in social
conversations? Did you receive any press coverage sent to you by friends or
others? If you are subscribed to any mailing lists, what were the discussions
like? In our own experience, we have noted responses ranging from a sense of
outrage that religious sentiments were being hurt, through friendly criticism
that the Foreign Exchange of Hate report polarized the community, to bitter and
vicious attacks. While none of these responses matched the warm support that we
received from several quarters, we believe that understanding the source of
these responses will be instructive for our future work. So please take a
moment to write back to us at
Please remember the success of our efforts depends upon your valuable input.