IDRF does not discriminate between communities;
TCTSFH has an agenda against the sangh and Hindus
Vijay Pallod Regional V-P, India Development and
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
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
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)