by Ali Mir and Satish Kolluri
The Indian American,Vol.1 No.5, December 6, 2002
The events in Gujarat earlier this year made all decent-minded
people hang their heads in shame. The wide-spread looting,
raping and murdering spree based on the notion of the collective
punishment of a community should have no place in civilized
society. That the leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad saw
the riots in Gujarat as part of a self-proclaimed national
experiment is bone chilling to say the least. The forthcoming
elections in Gujarat are being seen as a referendum for a
new kind of society envisaged by the Sangh Parivar where minorities
are reduced to second-class citizenship, women relegated to
house-work, and law and order subordinated to extra-constitutional
authorities and the rule of the mob.
In India, an eight member inquiry commission (the Concerned
Tribunal) headed by former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
V.R. Krishna Iyer recently released a report which is a damning
indictment of the Gujarat administration which played an instrumental
role in the barbaric killings of more than two thousand of
its own citizens. The report specifically identifies Narendra
Modi as "the chief architect of all that happened in
Gujarat after the arson of February 27, 2002 ...his words
and actions throughout the developments in Gujarat show that
he has been openly defying the constitution and indulging
in actions which are positively detrimental to the interests
of the country." Simply put, the riots in Gujarat were
At the same time, another report called "The Foreign
Exchange of Hate"
(available at http://www.stopfundinghate.org)
documents "the links between the India Development and
Relief Fund (IDRF), a U.S. based charity, and certain violent
and sectarian Hindu supremacist organizations in India."
The impeccably researched report establishes a simple point.
While IDRF claims to be a secular and non-sectarian organization,
it actually serves as a conduit to channel money from NRIs
to the Sangh Parivar. The IDRF collects money, ostensibly
for development and relief from well-intentioned donors, solicits
matching donations from U.S. corporations, and sends over
80% of this money to the Sangh. Based on this report, a group
of NRIs have launched a campaign to expose this nexus and
to ask corporations to halt its matching contributions to
an organization that is cozily entwined with groups that have
been implicated in hate crimes.
We are of the opinion that the contributions to the coffers
of the Sangh, which feed a distorted vision of India, are
reprehensible. The flow of money to those Islamic madrassas
that advocate a divisive line or to those Christian missions
that operate through a patronizing and condescending benevolence,
is equally abhorrent. However, we strongly believe that, in
a free society, people should have the right to determine
their own actions and send their money to the cause of their
choosing, as long as the collection and disbursal of the money
is not done deceptively and under false pretences. The IDRF
should formally declare its taste for the Sangh ideology and
cease to pretend that its purpose is development and relief.
Let the chips then fall where they may.
Although the work of the Campaign is very important, the
communalism cannot succeed at this level alone. The only thing
that will eventually make a difference is the desire among
those of us who wish for a secular, inclusive and tolerant
India to stand up and be counted. We cannot allow our ethos,
our history and our aspirations to be hijacked by an extremist
and supremacist movement.