U.S. corporates suspend funding to IDRF
The Hindu, November, 25 2002
By Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI NOV. 24. Cisco Systems, one
among the several IT companies in the United States which
contributed funds to the U.S.-based charity, Indian Development
and Relief Fund, has suspended donations to the organisation.
The Cisco and many other U.S. corporate companies, including
Sun Microsystems, AOL Time Warner and Hewlett Packard, were
listed in a report by the ``Campaign to Stop Hate Funding''
which traced the IDRF's links to the Sangh Parivar's organisations
and showed that well over 80 per cent of the funds it raised
went to NGOs affiliated to the Sangh.
In a statement, Cisco said that it was
the company's practice to donate towards relief work for natural
disasters such as the Gujarat earthquake and that it "exclusively
supports government-approved non-profit organisations. At
that time, some of our employees initiated matching gifts,
IDRF was a U.S. government-approved non-profit organisation.
Cisco has since suspended all donations to IDRF while it investigates
these allegations.'' The Sun Microsystems also said that it
had put donations to IDRF on hold awaiting a reply from the
U.S. internal revenue service regarding the organisation.
The IDRF, however, asserted today that
it was a "non-political, non-religious organisation''
which "does not subscribe to any religious, political
or sectarian agenda.'' Responding to the report by the Campaign
to Stop Funding Hate, the IDRF said in a statement that the
allegations were "pure concoction, untruthful and self-contradictory.''
The organisation focussed on five key areas of work: education,
health care, women, children and tribal welfare. It was a
tax-exempt charity registered in the U.S. which had been "the
favoured means for thousands of donors in the U.S.A. who wish
to contribute to various development, relief and rehabilitation
efforts in India.''
Shalini Gera, spokesperson for the Campaign
to Stop Funding Hate said that the IDRF had "failed to
challenge any of the facts laid out in the 91-page report.''
Nor had it explained "why the majority of its funds go
to Sangh-affiliated organisations and only 2 per cent to secular
organisations.'' She said that it had found that the majority
of IDRF's funds did go to ``education'' and ``tribal welfare''
but that "the education and tribal welfare organisations
it funds have been severely implicated in the propagation
Another Campaign member, Angana Chatterji,
said "the question is not whether they are undertaking
charitable work, but if they are doing so to promote ideals
that result in hate and violence.''