THE CAMPAIGN TO STOP FUNDING HATE
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Asian Tsunami Disaster Relief - CSFH urges support for the work of credible, non-sectarian organizations. Please give generously, and responsibly! On this page we address questions frequently raised by readers. Please send in your questions to: info@stopfundinghate.org
Press Release

A Foreign Exchange of Hate:
IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva
A Report by Sabrang Communications Pvt. Ltd. (India) / SACW (France)

Mirror Sites
Introduction

Petitions

Stop Corporate Sponsorship of IDRF
Faculty Petition


Project Saffron Dollar

Stop Funding Hate Campaign Responds to IDRF's Rebuttal

Frequently Asked Questions


CSFH Responds to Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is your response to the Sangh criticisms against AID? Why is CSFH supporting AID?
  2. Are the groups that you are recommending all Communist/Marxist variety? Do you have a hidden agenda in promoting some organizations?
  3. Is it true that some of the NGOs you have suggested have inflated salaries and high overheads?
  4. Alright, we agree that the RSS is extreme right. But for Tsunami relief, AID volunteers have been working side by side with DYFI which is an extreme Leftist organization like the Naxalites. Should we not extend the idea of inclusiveness to both these groups at times of crisis like this? Shouldn't we work with everyone who is willing to help the victims?
  5. Why are you trying to prevent IDRF, HSS, VHPA and Sewa International from raising money for Tsunami relief?
  6. But IDRF is raising money for as many as 11 organizations. Do you mean to say that all of these organizations are affiliated to the RSS?
  7. What is wrong with the Sewa Bharati?
  8. Aren't the Tamil Nadu fisherfolk communities largely Christian? What influence can the Sangh have there?
  9. Why are you against Hindu organizations and not against Muslim/Christian groups? (After all, Catholic Relief Services has gotten the largest relief package going.)
  10. OK fine, the IDRF is part of the Sangh and the Sangh is violent at times. But they also do good work during crises such as this tsunami, so why should I not support them in their good work? Are you not obstructing the relief and rehabilitation of people who have been hurt by trying to prevent IDRF, HSS, VHPA and Sewa International from getting donations for the Tsunami relief?

1. What is your response to the Sangh criticisms against AID? Why is CSFH supporting AID?

We are not the spokespersons for AID or for any of the organizations that we listed, so we cannot respond on their behalf. However, the Sangh's attacks on AID do not come as a surprise to us. AID raises funds among the same groups of donors as the Sangh draws on, and the Sangh is notoriously aggressive towards any activity that it cannot directly or indirectly influence.

CSFH is not supporting any single organization- in our press statement, we listed a number of organizations that are secular, and have connections with local grass-roots organizations in India and Sri Lanka. We chose the organizations on our list, including AID, because they have built a credible record of being committed to an inclusive Indian identity.

2. Are the groups that you are recommending all Communist/Marxist variety? Do you have a hidden agenda in promoting some organizations?

In response to appeals from our supporters, and to ensure that donations for tsunami-relief get used for their intended purpose, CSFH provided a list of non-sectarian groups. As we acknowledged then, this was meant to be a representative -- and not an exhaustive -- list. Like we said before: "We do not recommend any particular agency or organization, donors must choose the ones they are most comfortable with."*

Many groups in the list cannot by any stretch of imagination be represented as communist or
anti-religious. Our agenda is to protect and nurture inclusive identities, whether as Indians, South Asians or as people belonging to different religions or not belonging to any religion at all. And we have been upfront about it from the very beginning.*

On the contrary, it's the Sangh's fronts (like the IDRF, Sewa International etc.) that have a hidden
agenda. The Sangh's sectarianism has only a narrow appeal, so its various fronts resort to subterfuge. They have repeatedly followed the strategy of branding anyone opposed to them as communist, anti-India and anti-Hindu. However, we would like to reiterate that Indians opposed to Hindutva are not anti-Hindu or anti-religious. In fact many of them are practicing Hindus, are quite deeply religious, belong to a variety of political persuasions (including Marxism) and are deeply committed to an inclusive Indian identity.

3. Is it true that some of the NGOs you have suggested have inflated salaries and high overheads?

Many of the groups we have recommended operate on shoestring budgets. But CSFH is not in the business of evaluating salary structures of NGOs. The issue at hand is not salary structures of organizations, or cost effectiveness of organizations but their commitment to a certain idea of India.

The biggest difference between the groups we advocate and the Sangh is in the fact that the Sangh advances a political agenda of hate, while the others are firmly rooted in secularism. Think for a moment: Hitler's government invented gas chambers as the most efficient and cost effective way of disposing of Jewish people. Can we evaluate the performance of the SS on the basis of cost effectiveness? What we are suggesting is that voluntary work of the Sangh Parivar affiliates has to be evaluated by a different measure: the long term consequences of their activities to an inclusive society. Or to think of another analogy, despite its claims to the contrary, the Sangh's political front the BJP has proven to be as corrupt at any other political party in India. But our objection to the Sangh is not on grounds of corruption. It was on grounds of its political ideology. So also, our inclusion of a particular NGO in our list is not based on their salary structure but based on its politics of inclusion.

4.Alright, we agree that the RSS is extreme right. But for Tsunami relief, AID volunteers have been working side by side with DYFI which is an extreme Leftist organization like the Naxalites. Should we not extend the idea of inclusiveness to both these groups at times of crisis like this? Shouldn't we work with everyone who is willing to help the victims?

First of all, the list we provided has a number of organizations that do not have any relationship with
the DYFI. So, this is not a simple case of choosing between DYFI and RSS or working both or with none. In our view this 'middle of the road' standpoint suffers from two flaws:

a. Free association - equating AID (a largely secular group concerned with supporting context-sensitive developmental initiatives in India) with DYFI (the youth wing of the CPM a parliamentary political party committed to the Constitution of India) and then with Naxalites (an armed non-parliamentary movement of mostly landless poor in certain parts of India).

b. More significantly, there is no overarching left organization in India that connects all left of center
groups that is remotely comparable to the RSS. The RSS connects a large number of organizations in every social sphere under the banner of the Sangh Parivar. The report Foreign Exchange of Hate was mainly meant to map the organizations which are operating in the garb of charities. One may be opposed to CPM's views on political and economic matters. But we must be careful to distinguish between having objectionable political views and an agenda of hate politics (with the actual capacity to engineer extensive exclusionary programs). The RSS has a program for turning India
into an exclusively Hindu theocratic country. To that extent, the RSS and its affiliates have targeted
minorities and used relief work as an opportunity to sow the seeds of divisiveness. The
consequences of such activities are there for all to see in Gujarat: an intolerant Hindutva led state machinery that incited violence against Muslims resulting in the death of 2000 people.* This cannot be simply wished away by calling it extreme views in the political and economic domain.

5.Why are you trying to prevent IDRF, HSS, VHPA and Sewa International from raising money for Tsunami relief?

We are not "trying to prevent" anyone from donating to any organization they wish to give their money to.  We just want donors to know that by contributing to the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF) or other organizations such as the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Sewa International (SI, not to be confused with Seva Foundation) or the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), they are in effect providing funds to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (sometimes translated as National Volunteer Corps, but most commonly referred to as the RSS).  Now the RSS is not just any sectarian organization, but one that actively spreads anti-minority hatred, has immense reach in India, and a long history of fomenting violence against religious and cultural minorities in India [[1]].

If donors are interested in ensuring that (a) all people affected by the tsunami receive relief and rehabilitation support, irrespective of their particular caste, religion or cultural affiliation, and that (b) relief and rehabilitation work is not used to create long-term divisions and animosity by manipulating communities already made vulnerable by this catastrophe, THEN giving money to sectarian organizations such as the RSS would indeed be a very bad idea.  On the other hand, by giving to organizations that have a track record of being transparent and free of the politics of hate, donors would ensure that their money is used to help people and communities based on their needs rather than based on what their religious beliefs or caste affiliations happen to be.  But of course, if you agree with the RSS' agenda of creating long term communal/caste divisions in the guise of providing relief, we are not the ones you eventually have to answer to.

6.But IDRF is raising money for many different organizations. Do you mean to say that all of these organizations are affiliated to the RSS?

No. Of the long list of Indian organizations that IDRF purports to support, only Sewa Bharati (TN and Kerala), Jana Sankshema Samiti and Vivekananda Kendra are clearly identified as RSS affiliates.  In which case, you may well ask, why do we claim that IDRF raises money for the RSS?  For that, let's take a look at IDRF's history.  

a) CSFH has documented that from the years 1994 to 2000, IDRF raised over $4 million for more than 180 groups.  These groups included a whole spectrum of organizations, including some that were secular.  However, IDRF chose to disburse over 80% of the funds in its control to RSS groups [[2]].  A long list of non-RSS organizations by itself is meaningless if the bulk of the funds are
going to go to member organizations of the Sangh [[3]].

b) Orissa cyclone, 1999:  Right after the Orissa cyclone, IDRF raised money for 18 different organizations of which only 3 were prominent RSS affiliated groups (Sookruti, Utkal Bipanna Sahayata Samiti and Bhau Rao Deoras Rashtriya Seva Nyas).  However, of the $410,700 that IDRF disbursed for relief and rehabilitation efforts following the cyclone, just these 3 RSS affiliates together received over 40% of the funds ($163,000) [[4]].

c) Gujarat Earthquake, 2001:  At the time of this disaster, IDRF raised  $1,352,940 for 17 different groups.  However, in this case again, just one organization -- RSS's main service front, Sewa Bharati -- got over 56% ($760,000) of the total earthquake funds [[5]]

With this history, we can only surmise that this time too, a disproportionately large share of IDRF's funds will go to Sewa Bharati and other RSS-affiliates.  From the very beginning, IDRF has focused almost exclusively on the Sangh groups, listing them in its first press release and then publishing Sewa Bharati reports on its website on a nearly daily basis, each extolling readers to donate to Sewa Bharati.  All of this lends credibility to our claims that IDRF is seeking to line the coffers of the RSS with this disaster as well.

7. What is wrong with the Sewa Bharati?

Before we go into that, it is useful to note that the RSS, the apex organization of the Sangh Parivar, [[6] lacks the most rudimentary features of a legitimate public organization in India, such as being registered with the government, having a bank account, or filing tax returns.  Although it is all over the public space in India, organizationally, the RSS prefers to remain secretive and shadowy and operates in large part through front organizations run by trained swayamsevaks. [[7]] As mentioned in the response to question 2 above, Sangh organizations such as the IDRF have a history of using tragedies to raise funds for RSS activities in India.

That Sewa Bharati is an RSS affiliate is undeniable.  Besides the fact that Sewa Bharati Tamil Nadu is housed in the same office as the Southern Region branch of the RSS, [[8]] it is also the RSS' preferred vehicle for Sewa (service) activities. For instance, if you go to the RSS' homepage (www.rss.org) and click the tab for its Sewa activity, the organization you land with is Sewa Bharati. Elsewhere, the RSS openly declares Sewa Bharati as its main service organization. [[9]] Given all this, IDRF's privileging of Sewa Bharati comes as no surprise.

While Sewa Bharati officially claims its "thrust areas" to be education, health and self help, a brief glance at some of the material published by the RSS [[10]] itself shows that Sewa Bharati's fundamental mission is that of Hinduization. We must be clear that Hinduization, Islamization or Christianization, has nothing to do with relief, rehabilitation or development and should not even be a side effect. Unfortunately, with the RSS, this is often the main effect.

In Madhya Pradesh, where Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (a Sangh organization implicated in the Gujarat pogroms [11]]) and Sewa Bharati Madhya Pradesh were the biggest beneficiaries of IDRF [[12]], the Madhya Pradesh government banned Sewa Bharati for its involvement in the violence against the Christian minority. [13]]  Sewa Bharati has also been banned for planning to "stir racial hatred" in Ayodhya. [[14]]

Given its dubious past, it's clear that any donations to Sewa Bharati will, far from helping the victims of the current disaster, only sow the seeds for a future disaster.

8. Aren't the Tamil Nadu fisherfolk communities largely Christian? What influence can the Sangh have there?

That is exactly where the problem lies. It is true that there is a very significant dalit Christian population among the effected communities, but the Sangh, through its Tamil Nadu front - The Hindu Munnani - has been trying to divide that community along religious lines for the last decade. The Hindu Munnani is most active in Tamil Nadu amongst the fisherfolk communities.

With the funds coming to the Sangh in the name of disaster relief, the Munnani will be able to launch aggressive campaigns against the dalit Christians and the Sangh would have created a new potentially explosive situation just as it did so successfully in Orissa and Gujarat.

Do we want the situation in Kutch to be reproduced in coastal Tamil Nadu? (such as rebuilding temples and crematoriums and not rebuilding mosques and churches; such as discriminating against Dalits and Muslims in the rebuilding of houses). More importantly, the problem has never been of a single instance of discrimination. With such discriminatory use of resources, the RSS entered these villages in Kutch and established itself there with a consolidated power base. This meant that from then on, the RSS, could as part of the daily life of the village mount an aggressive campaign against the minorities, culminating sometimes in open threats and violence.

9.Why are you against Hindu organizations and not against Muslim/Christian groups? (After all, Catholic Relief Services has gotten the largest relief package going.)

We are not against Buddhist or Christian or Hindu or Muslim or Sikh or any other religious organizations.  We are ONLY against organizations that use religious and caste ideology to foment hatred and violence, and the Sangh is the worst offender in this regard.

Various religious bodies, including temple, mosque and church-based groups, are doing tremendous work in the tsunami effected areas without differentiating between followers of different faiths.  In fact we believe that when a catastrophe like the tsunami happens, groups centered around places of worship have more immediate access to the communities they are based in, and are sometimes able to deliver immediate relief faster than anybody else.  In contrast, groups like the RSS use these crisis moments instrumentally to spread hate, anger and the fear of other communities.

While we agree that it is important to oppose all such organizations, not least the fundamentalist Christian and Muslim groups, who wait in the wings to pounce whenever tragedy strikes, it is far more important to confront and expose the RSS in India because it is exponentially more powerful than any other such exclusionist organization.

10. OK fine, the IDRF is part of the Sangh and the Sangh is violent at times. But they also do good work during crises such as this tsunami, so why should I not support them in their good work?  Are you not obstructing the relief and rehabilitation of people who have been hurt by trying to prevent IDRF, HSS, VHPA and Sewa International from getting donations for the Tsunami relief?

We should not let ourselves get fooled by the false dichotomy of "good work" versus "bad work."  The fact is, as explained above, the Sangh becomes particularly active when natural disasters strike, because it sees natural disasters as golden opportunities to gain a hold over communities undergoing tremendous human suffering by performing "good work."   It then stays around and slowly destroys the soul of the community by continually injecting its poison of divisions and hatreds that eventually explode in violence.

Not giving money to the Sangh is in no way going to obstruct the relief and rehabilitation of any of the communities suffering from the destruction wrought by the tsunami.  Please remember that the Sangh does not provide any particular access to any of these communities; there are a host of grass-roots groups who not only have transparent operations and secular values, but also have a long history of working with these communities and do not manipulate or use a crisis situation to advance sectarian agendas.  Donors can find lists of agencies at many sites, including at CSFH's site (www.stopfundinghate.org), of US-based organizations connected to such grass-roots operations in India.  The list provided by CSFH is just a small sample of such groups and includes organizations that have a wide range of people at their helm--from former US President Clinton to business executives to development activists--and are able to deliver relief without sowing the seeds of hatred.  We do not recommend any particular agency or organization, donors must choose the ones they are most comfortable with, but we are certainly saying that the organizations we list, and we cannot stress this enough, will not create conditions of hatred and violence, unlike those affiliated to the RSS.



[1] See http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/indiachr; http://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/india

[3] The Sangh Parivar, usually just called the Sangh, is the 'family' of organizations either directly controlled by the RSS or owing allegiance to it and following its ideology.

[6] See footnote 3.

[7] Swayamsevaks are the volunteers of the RSS.

[9] See H. V. Seshadri, former RSS General Secretary, as quoted in http://www.hindubooks.org/Vision/ch7.html

[10] Ibid.

[12] Together, these two groups received more than half a million dollars, while the rest of the organizations got less than a tenth of that. See http://stopfundinghate.org/sacw/appendixh.html

 

 

 

 

 

 
2002 THE CAMPAIGN TO STOP FUNDING HATE.