Activists Tell Corporations: "Stop Funding Hate" in India

By Subuhi Jiwani

World War 3 Report, December 9, 2002 original

The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate , a US-based group of scholars, artists and activists, has released a 91-page report entitled "A Foreign Exchange of Hate," detailing the channeling of funds donated by US corporations for "philanthropic" work in India into Sangh Parivar, the network of organizations affiliated with the Hindu rightist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sabha (RSS), accused of fueling "sectarian hate in India." The Maryland-based India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF) is accused of redirecting the funds--ostensibly donated for "secular" charities--to Sangh Parivar. (The Times of India, Nov. 22)

Stop Funding Hate spokesperson Biju Mathew said: "Many large US corporations such as CISCO, Sun, Oracle, and Hewlett-Packard 'match' employee contributions to US-based charity non-profit organizations. Unsuspecting corporations end up giving large amounts of money as matching funds to IDRF as employees of these firms direct funds to IDRF." The report states that in 1999 Cisco gave "about $70,000 to IDRF," which, when added to employee contributions, amounts to $133,000 for the 1999-2000 financial cycle. Mathew states that stateside Indians registered as volunteers or "swayamsevaks" for the Sangh advocate "IDRF as the best and only way to provide funding for development and relief work in India, thus causing not only other unsuspecting employees but also the corporation to fund the Sangh in India." (, Nov. 20)

Both Sun Microsystems and Cisco have put their donations to IDRF on hold. The IDRF's immediate response was one of denial, saying that the report was a product of "leftist groups" and that it is "pure concoction, untruthful and self-contradictory." In response to IDRF's rejoinder, Stop Funding Hate said: "If IDRF is indeed what it purports to be, it needs to challenge the report with facts and with a clear articulation of its relationship with the Sangh."

The IDRF has also initiated a " Stop Hatred and Let India Develop "petition, which has collected 3600 signatures "to protest the ongoing intellectual violence in the name of Mahatma Gandhi and the subsequent hate campaign started by Biju Mathew, a 'Forum of Indian Leftists' member and his Communist/Marxist supporters against the IDRF." Stop Funding Hate member Satish Kolluri told WW3 REPORT that "most signatures on the petition are those of Hindus. You cannot find one Muslim signature. The signatures are also those of upper caste, Brahmanical Hindus. This is very reflective of the upper caste, Brahmanical nature of Hindutava or Hindu fundamentalism, itself." In contrast, Stop Funding Hate's petition contains signatures from a variety of religious communities.

Stop Funding Hate states on its website that while it does not agree with the politics of the Sangh or the IDRF, those individuals "who want to send their money to the Sangh Parivar through the IDRF should be able to do so, based on informed consent. Our campaign is directed against the deception that the IDRF employs to cloak its political affinity."

Biju Mathew also points out that the IDRF made no attempts to collect funds for the victims of the VHP-engineered sectarian violence in Gujarat earlier this year. The IDRF has helped to raise funds for Bangladeshi Hindu victims of communal violence, Kashmiri Hindu victims of terrorism and post-9-ll relief efforts in the US. "In all three cases," Mathew said, "the people responsible for perpetrating the disaster were Muslims and the victims largely non-Muslim."