THE CAMPAIGN TO STOP FUNDING HATE

Fund of Controversy

TIMES SAMVAD, December 14, 2002 12:28:53 AM | original | Send a letter to the editor.


IDRF does not discriminate between communities; TCTSFH has an agenda against the sangh and Hindus

Vijay Pallod Regional V-P, India Development and Relief Fund

IDRF focuses on five key areas, education, healthcare, women, children and tribal welfare, and funds India-based, government-approved NGOs. We are caught in the crossfire between right-wing and left-wing politics in India. IDRF has been singled out because we didn't heed leftist pressures to stop supporting NGOs falsely blamed as Hindu extremists. These forces are conspiring to label IDRF as a sectarian organisation.

What we see in the report published by TCTSFH (The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate) are only insinuations, selective use of data posted by IDRF on its website, free-at-will labelling of NGOs as sangh-affiliated. None of the IDRF-supported NGOs has been banned by any government or found guilty of crimes. This exposes the flimsy nature of the report's evidence.

IDRF has never denied association with NGOs - whether or not they are sangh-affiliated - that have received funding from the organisation. The so-called 'affiliation' of an NGO with the sangh is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for receiving IDRF grant. IDRF does not look at anyone's affiliations and ideology while deciding the grants. IDRF does not shun projects by any organisation that is engaged in selfless humanitarian service as long as they meet our mission and satisfy US laws, are approved by the Indian government, and accept our monitoring.

The diverse organisations that IDRF supports are listed on IDRF's website. None of the IDRF-supported projects from these NGOs involve spreading hate or inciting violence. IDRF is not apologetic about its association with these NGOs. Our website has been carrying for years the names of all NGOs with information about their work. We keep our donors informed about what happens to their money. Our annual reports provide all disbursement details. Many of our donors actually visit the supported projects.

TCTSFH claims that 70 per cent of IDRF's funds are used for tribal causes to spread the Hindutva ideology among them. The figures are based on selective use of IDRF's disbursement data and liberal application of the 'sangh' label on NGOs. IDRF rejects the allegations of sectarian discrimination in relief and welfare activities. TCTSFH must know, for instance, that families of Hindu and non-Hindu martyrs of Kargil war were given help without any religious distinction.

In Gujarat and Orissa, families of victims belonging to the minorities, pulled out of the rubble, were also beneficiaries of IDRF-supported projects and relief work. Interestingly, the report writers have described tribals as animists rather than as Hindus. If this is so, why don't they treat our work for them as work serving non-Hindu minorities?

Houston-based IDRF volunteers raised funds for flood victims in Houston last year. That money was distributed by a Catholic charity. Many IDRF-supported NGOs have been receiving grants from the state and the federal governments of India and from American charities like ASHA, AID, and others. If the TCTSFH report was correct, these governments and these organisations would also have to be charged with funding hate! The TCTSFH allegation that Sewa Bharati (Madhya Pradesh) lost its licence is misleading and untrue. Such a statement reflects the report's bias.

Our founders and volunteers represent different faiths, backgrounds and ideo-logies. Our NGOs have been catering to people of all faiths. IDRF workers are focused on the motto 'Service to Humanity is Service to God' and do not mix our diverse ideologies with IDRF work. As can be seen from IDRF's annual reports, we work with many NGOs. IDRF monitors their projects by visiting them from time to time.

Social interaction with the leaders of communities to seek a feedback on the impact of our support is natural.
This does not mean we share the ideologies of all the diverse NGOs that work with IDRF. Such conclusions are malicious in intent.

We have several instances where the minority population has significantly benefited from IDRF's funding. Recently, a grant of Rs 2,50,000 was given to United Volunteers Service Society whose founder and officers are Christian. We have established a website with a 'Let India Develop' petition for IDRF well-wishers
to register their support. Although hackers 'stole' the website to block such show of support, as of December 3, 2002, we had 3,200 signatures.

IDRF does not consider questioning the funding of Christian or Muslim organisations as its mission. TCTSFH has a political agenda against the sangh and the Hindu community. That itself is sectarian behaviour. We are planning to come up with a detailed report to help corporations see the facts. IDRF's credibility will remain high because of our choice of sincere and humanitarian NGOs.

Leftist groups like TCTSFH have little or no credibility and no humanitarian service of any worth is credited to their name. They often mix their ideological hatred with evil political agenda to attack sincere charities like IDRF. (As told to Harsh Kabra)

 

IDRF's supporters are hardcore right-wingers; just how does almost all IDRF funding end up in RSS coffers?

Girish Agrawal, The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (TCTSFH)

Our report shows that IDRF funds key seva vibhag operations of the sangh parivar and that more than 80 per cent of its fund recipients are sangh outfits. The report establishes that this is not an accident: the IDRF was set up as the RSS funding arm in the US.

IDRF does put its list of grant recipients on its website. But that reveals little about their activities. Most donors accept IDRF's contention that they fund development, unaware that their money is distributed to support communal politics. We aren't objecting to people giving their money to their chosen cause, however reprehensible that may be. We are concerned that IDRF is collecting this money under false pretences, cloaking its political affinity.

Most of IDRF project reports are either from the functionaries of the sangh organisations they fund, or from sangh workers visiting the projects as IDRF functionaries. In fact, many of their site visit reports include a visit to RSS or VHP offices in the area. The IDRF and its supporters are hardcore right-wing extremists. Why does a Hindutvawadi believe that labelling their opponent a leftist automatically discredits the opposition? For those with an RSS mindset, once somebody is called a Pakistani, no further evidence is required. Similarly, by calling the opposition leftist, the IDRF feels that their campaign can be discredited. The petition to stop funding hate has now been signed by over 1,700 people. Are they all leftists?

Mahatma Gandhi, when told that the RSS had done some excellent relief work following the 1946 communal
riots, averred, "So had Hitler's Nazis and the Fascists under Mussolini." All violent fundamentalist movements are associated with charities - the Taliban ran schools and orphanages, the Hamas runs hospitals, and the KKK helps American farmers. This is how they build a political base. The RSS has no money of its own, is not registered with the government as a trust, and has no membership rolls. How does it get its work done? This is where we need to see the function of seva vibhag organisations spreading the ideology of hate and creating a mass base.

Several other NRI funding organisations, such as ASHA, AID, ICA, IDS, and others, solicit projects from Indian NGOs. Just how does almost all IDRF funding end up in the coffers of RSS-controlled organisations? We hold no brief for any extremist organisation that teaches hatred. As NRIs, our focus on the sangh and IDRF was precipitated by the sheer scale of the Gujarat pogrom, following which we read reports that NRI funding had played a role there. If Christian or Muslim groups in India ever unleash a similar pogrom against innocents with NRI funding and government connivance,we'll act in the same way.

There are many Hindu religious missions, such as the Ramakrishna Mission, which do not preach communalism. We do not protest such organisations. We raise our voice against the sangh because their social work is part of their core strategy to communalise society. The selective support that IDRF offers to educational institutions and tribal welfare programmes promotes a specific ideology of hate. Almost all of the IDRF's relief money for the Orissa cyclone and the Bhuj earthquake went to sangh organisations. Our report shows that the money raised for these causes was used in a sectarian manner to benefit only the majority community. This is not surprising because the sangh is singularly incapable of doing non-sectarian humanitarian work. The sangh has no interests in socio-economic development. We saw this in Gujarat, where the poor were cynically manipulated towards violence. Why does not the IDRF explain why it didn't help thousands of innocent Muslim Indians ravaged by the Gujarat violence, when it was the first to set up relief funds for every recent disaster in India?

Why should the overwhelming majority of IDRF funds go to sangh organisations, when there are many more non-sectarian development organisations in India? Are these the only ones that IDRF finds doing selfless service? Our report shows that IDRF grant recipients construe everything, from temple constructions to shakhas and renaming towns with Hindu names, as development. We have evidence of the unrest within sangh circles when IDRF floated a sham relief proposal for Indian Hajis killed in a fire in Saudi Arabia. The director of IDRF had to hastily withdraw the proposal and apologise!

IDRF-funded schools teach that Muslims and Christians are foreigners; The parivar has incessantly broad-brushed an entire community for the evils of some people sharing the same faith. It uses the broad-brush to justify its targeting of Indian minorities. If a development organisation, fond of glorious Hindu sayings such as 'Naraseva is Narayan Seva' can't take
a humanitarian stand in the wake of genocide, we believe it has lost any right to call itself a social service organisation. Our target is the sangh and not Hindus. Our report makes very specific allegations against IDRF and we've produced evidence to prove those allegations.
(As told to Harsh Kabra)


2002-2003 THE CAMPAIGN TO STOP FUNDING HATE.