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 charge.

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 so.

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, 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.

(Subuhi Jiwani)