Foreign Financial Networks Of Hindu Fascism
by Subuhi Jiwani
World War 3 Report, January 27, 2003 original
In December 2002, corporations such as Sun Microsystems, Cisco
and Oracle placed holds on their annual philanthropic donations
to the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), a Maryland-based
charity, which claims to "assist in rural development,
tribal welfare, and [issues concerning the] urban poor"
in India. An inquiry was also filed by the UK Charity Commission,
the British government's charity watchdog, into a Leichester-based
charity, Sewa International, which claims to do similar work.
This freeze on charity dollars and pounds is a result of
two reports by the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate and Britain's
Channel 4 respectively. These reports contend that the money
slated for "relief and development" projects in
India--amounting to some $500,000 per year--is, in reality,
being used to finance sectarian violence carried out Hindu
nationalist organizations, including the Bharitya Janata Party
(BJP), the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sahba (RSS), the Vishwa Hindu
Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal, collectively known as
the Sangh Parivar, or simply the Sangh.
Both reports provide detailed anaylses of IDRF and Sewa International,
documenting their affiliations with the Sangh. IDRF founding
members are affiliated with Hindu nationalist organizations
in the US, such as Oveseas Friends of the BJP, VHP-America,
Hindu Swayamsevak Sahba (an RSS counterpart in the US and
UK), etc. The Channel 4 report states that Sewa International
and RSS-Britain share a charity registration number.
Stop Funding Hate states that the nine organizations identified
as beneficiaries of IDRF donations on IRS documents are "clearly
marked Sangh operatives." An investigation into the activities
of one such organization sheds light on the shadow network.
Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, founded in 1952, has set up over 8,000
school projects in several Indian states, including violence-torn
Gujarat, and purports to work for tribal welfare and education.
Its website mentions the importance of "weaning tribals
away from the evil influeces of foreign missionaries and anti-national
forces." Activists charge that the curricula at these
schools is "Hinduized," and perpetuates ugly stereotypes
of Muslims and Christians, characterzing the latter as "anti-national"
enemies. The attempt to incorporate tribals into Hindu society
is a means of enrolling them for sectarian violence, activists
Channel 4 sent a team of reporters to Baroda, a town in Gujarat
severely affected by the VHP-led riots last year, who interviewed
victims and perpetrators of the violence. Their findings reveal
that Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram activists were directly involved
in violence and incited crowds of tribal youth to commit atrocities
against Muslim villagers, and provided them with arms to do
Tribals in Gujarat amount to 15% of the total population--much
higher than the national figure of 8%--but they fall into
the lowest economic strata. Activists working with tribals
and Dalits ("untouchables") have stated that both
groups were bribed to participate in the violence by militant
outfits like the VHP and Bajrang Dal, which promised them
money and political representation in the local branches of
these organizations. Dalits, who have historically been considered
outside the Hindu caste system, are being incorporated into
militant Hindu nationalism in much the same way as the tribals.
Individual donors and corporations seeking to donate through
IDRF can either choose to send their "donor-designated
funds" to a specific organization or project, or can
waive their right to do so. In the latter case, IDRF disburses
funds to whichever organization it sees fit. Ten percent of
all IDRF-desginated funds are directed into the accounts to
Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram.
While IDRF and Sewa International have donated money for
genuine relief work following emergencies such as the 2001
Gujarat earthquake, a majority of IDRF funds are directed
into projects concerning tribal education and "Hinduisation."
Only 15% of IDRF-designated funds go to relief work, 4% into
development and 8% into welfare and health. Stop Funding Hate
claims that none of IDRF's beneficiaries can be affiliated
with any minority community, and that 83% of them have affiliations
with the Sangh.
Stop Funding Hate contends that even the relief work done
by NGOs affiliated with the Sangh is sectarian, exclusively
assisting Hindu victims of natural disasters and poverty.
The IDRF made no attempt to collect funds for vicitms of the
Gujarat massacres of 2002, who were mostly mostly Muslim.
However, it has enthusiastically collected funds to aid Bangladeshi
victims of Muslim-on-Hindu violence, Hindu victims of terrorism
in Kashmir and 9-11 survivors in the US.
Both the IDRF and Sewa International have denied the conclusions
of the reports, with the IDRF denouncing Stop Funding Hate
as a group of Communists committing "intellectual violence
in the name of Mahatma Gandhi." Stop Funding Hate's website
invokes the spirit of the Gandhi's vision of a secular India.
IDRF has issued its own petition, entitled "Stop Hatred
and Let India Develop" to counteract the work of Stop
Funding Hate. The number of signers is growing fast, as is
the slandering of Stop Funding Hate members. Recently, an
article appeared on HinduUnity.org, official website of the
militant Bajrang Dal, which stated that Biju Mathews, a spokesperson
for Stop Funding Hate, was anti-Hindu, "a sympathizer
of fanatic Christian Missionaries and Islamic jihad organizations
in India," and a Communist. His e-mail address was included
in the article, and readers were urged to contact the US Immigration
and Naturalization Service and point out that it is illegal
for a foreign Communist to be living in the US.