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Times of India, SUNDAY, MARCH 31, 2002 12:09:33 AM
Overseas booty, inland discord

RASHMEE Z AHMED

LONDON: Fittingly, for a patriotism without passports, the nationalist outpourings increasingly take the shape of e-mails, chain letters for or against a notion.

"I’m receiving dozens every day," says C.B. Patel, editor of London’s Gujarat Samachar, "and they all say the same thing — they protest against the provocative Muslim propaganda."

The alleged propaganda, of course, is all about Godhra and the chain of events before, after and still continuing, remains hotly disputed by expatriate Hindus and Muslims.

Zafar Sareshwala, prominent Yorkshire Muslim businessman from Ahmedabad, admits it is harder to calm the fears of those condemned to live afar.

"People, say Pakistanis, come into the mosques and ask, what are you Indian Muslims doing about defence back in India? We shut them up because we tell our people, it is not Hindus who are communal, it is the Sangh Parivar."

Adds Hasmukh Shah of the VHP UK, "Those Hindus who live outside India are more sentimental about Ayodhya and other issues because they have the economic comfort zone."

So, passionate and pained as they are, does the expat really do little more than feel the anguish of his countrymen, export his feelings of rage and goad a reaction back home?

Unsurprisingly, no one will admit to any more than feeling the pain. Not least, they say, because three Bradford Hindu families lost loved ones in the Godhra train carnage and four Muslim families nearby lost sons in the subsequent riots.

Shah says he and Gujarati Muslim leaders in Bradford, north-west England, have started to meet and discuss the "madness" and the "inevitability of instability unless the sentiments of Hindus are respected".

Sareshwala adds that he is speaking to meeting after meeting of fearful Muslims, counselling courage and faith in India’s laws. "Eighty per cent of the Hindus are secular, I tell them."

If it all sounds unthreateningly like John Lennon’s peace anthem Imagine, there is the flip side. Dark rumours about the monetary and moral support that travels overseas to India from the wealthy, mainly Gujarati Hindu community.

Why else, asks Sareshwala, did L.K. Advani promise the NRIs a real Hindu government would fulfil their dreams? And why did the VHP’s international general secretary Praveen Togadia say the Ram Temple must be built because "overseas Hindus" expected it? Shah of the VHP insists any money sent to India goes "individually, not officially through the VHP".

Who then is sending what and to whom? Shamsuddin Agha, of the predominantly Gujarati, Indian Muslim Federation, alleges that two businessmen in his own east London area have each sent 100,000 pounds to the Sangh Parivar for temple construction.

Others suggest other players and equally large sums. No one offers any hard evidence. But the seriousness of the claims has led to calls in the British House of Lords for a ban on the VHP as a "terrorist organisation".

No one seriously expects it to happen, but overseas funding and support for communal doomsayers of every sort may become yet more impenetrable a loop.

 

PakNews.com, Updated on 2002-08-30 16:08:31
U.S. Based Hindus Funding Indian Terrorism - A Report

A Special Report Courtesy The Information Times
Publisher: Daily Times Wednesday, 31 July 2002

INDIAN DIASPORA FUNDING HINDU EXTREMISM

"In the United States, where substantial funds are raised for Hindu extremist agendas, the U.S. Government must act to ensure that organizations that broker terror should not continue to enjoy their non-profit status within the USA."

by ANGANA CHATTERJI

It is now no secret that the Sangh Parivar, the collective name given to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Bajrang Dal and other Hindu extremist organizations, is exploiting religion (Hindutva) to foment communal violence in India. To this end they are organizing the ultra-right, non-secular and undemocratic forces in India. What is less known is how these forces of injustice and bigotry are funded, especially by the Indian-Hindu communities living abroad.

These [terrorist and extremist Indian-Hindu] organizations receive substantial contributions from Hindus in the United States and elsewhere. The Indian magazine, "Outlook," in its July 22, 2002, issue published an article by A. K. Sen, titled, 'Deflections to the Right'. The piece highlighted a component of the chain of funding that sustains Hindu extremism. The article states that the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF) is one of the more conspicuous charity organizations that raises funds in the United States to support the RSS battalions in India. IDRF lists Sewa International and its counterpart in India. Sewa International and the various organizations it oversees receive over two-thirds of the IDRF funding. Incidentally, Sewa International, in its mission to transform India, states on its website in a section on 'Experiments and Results' with 'Social Harmony' that social consolidation can be achieved through social cohesion. Among other things, the website quotes Manya H. V. Sehadarji, Sarkaryawah of the RSS, as saying: "The ultimate object of all these endeavours is Hindu Sangathan- consolidation and strengthening of the Hindu society."

Hindu extremism, like other xenophobic movements, functions through carefully fashioned exclusionary principles whereby all non-Hindus and dissenting Hindus, identified as Hindu traitors, become second-class citizens. In addition, justification of caste inequities, subordination of Dalits ('lower' caste communities), women, adivasis (tribal) and other minorities, and the consolidation of a cohesive middle-class base are critical to its momentum.

In the United States, where substantial funds are raised for Hindu extremist agendas, the U.S. Government must act to ensure that organizations that broker terror should not continue to enjoy their non-profit status within the USA. It is interesting that in 1999, the VHP failed to gain recognition at the United Nations as 'a cultural organization' because of its philosophical underpinnings. However, the VHP of America is an independent charity registered in the United States in the 1970s, where it has, and continues to, receive funds from a variety of individuals and organizations.

Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Americans of Indian descent must examine the politics of hate encouraged by extremist Hindu organizations in the name of charity and social work. Indians, one of the most financially successful groups in the United States, must take seriously their moral obligation to ensure that their dollars are not funding malice and scrutinize the organizations that are on the receiving end in India. The issue is not whether these organizations are undertaking charitable work, but whether they are doing so to promote separatist and non-secular ideals. Param Vaibhav Ke Path Par (On The Road To Great Glory), written by Sadanand Damodar Sapre, and published in 1997 by Suruchi Prakashan, Jhandewalan, New Delhi, the central publication house of the RSS, lists the 40-plus organizations maintained by the RSS in India for its multivariate programs.

In addition, the VHP and other Parivar outfits aim at the communalization of education through the 'Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram' and 'Ekal Vidyalas' (schools). One strategy is to Hinduize adivasi communities, exploit divisions among the marginalized and indoctrinate the youth, in order to both turn them against one another and use them as foot soldiers in the larger cause of religious nationalism. Such inculcation has had serious repercussions in Gujarat, India, this year where tribals were manipulated into attacking Muslims during the carnage in February and March 2002.

While Hindu fundamentalists do not have a monopoly on religious intolerance in India, their actions are holding the country hostage. Well-organized, widespread and acting in the name of [Hinduism] the majority religion in India, Hindu extremism is positioned to silence diversity through force and terror, the rhetoric of Hindu supremacy and the positioning of minority groups as depraved enemies who must be punished.

Indians at home and abroad must oppose the deep infiltration of the Hindutva brigade into the press, as well as other institutions -- political, military, bureaucratic, civic, business, educational and law and order -- of India. Such infiltration is creating a nation where religious fundamentalists violate the Constitution of India and the state tolerates such violation. While the present BJP regime at the center has overt and close links to organizations within the Sangh Parivar, citizens are assured that secularism and democracy are sacred and secure. The reality is different. The Indian government's handling of communal violence and sanctioning of communal discourse is clear to the observers and threatens to jeopardize India's capacity to function as a nation.

The VHP, in its meeting with Muslim leaders in New Delhi on July 15, 2002, stated that if Muslims agreed to resettle Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir, Muslims in Gujarat would be rehabilitated. The Hindus must understand that issues connected to the democratization of Pakistan, ethical resolutions to Kashmir, or gender reforms within Islam are separate from India's commitment to upholding the rights of minorities or to reforms within Hinduism.

Hindu extremism against Muslims and other minorities in India collapses distinctions that must be made to honour human rights in India. Also, Hindutva's discourse of history posits Hindus and Hinduism as being under siege and preposterously asserts the idea of India as a Hindu Nation. Such revisionist history strategically and hideously poses that a vengeful justice can be found for the crimes of history committed by non-Hindu rulers. Retribution is sought by attacking contemporary Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and others in India.

Hinduism is critical to the fabric of India, as are all the other cultures and religions that inhabit it and frame the imagination of the Indian nations. It will require considerable effort on the part of progressive Indians to conceive a secular nation where religion is indeed separate from the integrity of the state and where pluralism guarantees rights and respect to the religious and non-religious alike. Every Hindu, and every citizen, must denounce that to be Indian is to be Hindu, challenge assertions that a secular Constitution is anti-Hindu and refute the call for a Hindu Nation in India as anti-national. Patriotism and nationalism demand that all social, political and religious groups work for an India free of disenfranchisement, institutionalized violence, corruption and rampant inequities. The Indians cannot permit India's secular and democratic fabric to be irreparably compromised.

[Angana Chatterji is a professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the California Institute of Integral Studies.]

 

Times of India, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2002 10:52:45 PM
Where do RSS funds come from?

NEW DELHI: For the last 13 years, the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), a US-based charity has reportedly misused American corporate philanthropy to fund RSS-affiliated organisations here. For instance, the IDRF obtained vast sums from CISCO, a leading technology company in the US with a substantial number of NRIs on its rolls by saying its activities are "secular" since company rules explicitly prohibit donations to organisations of a "religious" nature.

These are some of the findings presented in a 91-page report by The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (TCTSFH), a coalition of professionals, students, workers, artists and intellectuals. In the first phase of its campaign, "Project Saffron Dollar", the TCTSFH plans to write to large American corporates to guard against funding the IDRF, Biju Mathew, a spokesman for the TCTSFH said.

The report, explaining the dynamics of IDRF's corporate funding, says that as professional Indian migration to the US boomed over the last decade, especially in the software sector, Sangh operatives in large hi-tech firms with liberal giving policies worked to put IDRF on the corporations' list of grantees. They then pushed IDRF as the best and only way to provide funding for development and relief work in India, resulting in other unsuspecting employees, as well as the corporation itself to fund the Sangh in India.

RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav, when contacted, said: "There is no specific organisation which collects funds for the RSS. However, certain projects run by RSS-affiliated organisations do get money from NRIs for specific projects such as the Ekal Vidyalaya scheme (one-teacher schools run in tribal areas). This organisation (that you have mentioned) may have given some money, too. I have not heard much about it."

The TCTSFH report says that though the IDRF claims to be a non-sectarian, non-political charity that funds development and relief work in India, the IDRF filed a tax document (at its inception in 1989) with the Internal Revenue Service of the US Federal government, identifying nine organisations as a representative sample of organisations it would support. All nine were Sangh organisations.

The report also says that 82 per cent of IDRF's funds go to Sangh organisations. It documents the fact that 70 per cent of the monies are used for "hinduisation/tribal/education" work, largely with the view to spreading the Hindutva idealogy among tribals. Less than 20 per cent is used in "development and relief" activities, but the report concludes that since there is a sectarian slant to how the relief money is disbursed, these are sectarian funds, too.

 

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