People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 51

December 29,2002

Funds for Minority Bashing

 Exposures Rattle Sangh Parivar


A NEW game has begun. Stung by reports in the media about select American corporate funds flowing in merrily to finance the Sangh Parivar’s hate campaigns, and amid reports that some American corporates have started realising that their charity was being misused and withdrawing when the Gujarat elections were approaching, the Parivar began to target the media and select presspersons along with the retired justices and others who were associated with an Editors Guild’s fact-finding team to Gujarat.

The RSS mouthpiece Organiser, in its issue dated December 1, spoke of the “malicious media” and charged well known journalists like B G Verghese, Daleep Padgaonkar, The Times of India, and Mid Day editor Aakar Patel with following a Marxist methodology. The Organiser analysis was based on a report prepared by the Hindu Vivek Kendra which, according to it, purports to expose the bias in the English media. Attempts have also begun to disturb functions critical of the Sangh Parivar, even in the capital.

What has irked them most, however, is a report titled “US corporates funding hate,” based on tax returns filed by these companies, and published by the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate. The Campaign comprises top academicians and researchers. According to the report, global software major Cisco Systems donated 70,000 dollars in just one year to a US-based Sangh Parivar fund-raising outfit, the Indian Development and Relief Fund (IDRF). The latter has channeled millions of dollars to Sangh Parivar organisations, like the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, linked with anti-minority violence in many states.

According to the report, Cisco’s contribution as per tax submission was 5 per cent of the IDRF’s total cash corpus in 1999. If the contributions of company employees are added, the total works out to 1,33,000 dollars or about 10 per cent. The same holds good for other large US corporations such as Sun Computers, Oracle, and Hewlett Pacard. Unsuspecting corporations end up giving large amounts of money as ‘matching funds’ to the IDRF as the NRI employees of these firms donate to the IDRF, according to observers.

The IDRF, a registered tax-exempt charity, claims to be a non-sectarian organisation raising funds for ‘development’ and ‘relief’ works in India. As a result, it is also listed on ‘Network of Good,’ a charity portal set up by AOL-Tim Warner and Cisco, directing funds to good causes.

The Campaign charged that the IDRF has been channeling millions of dollars to organisations that are connected with the Sangh Parivar and implicated in the worst of communal politics and violence.

According to the IDRF’s own reports, it disbursed close to 4 million dollars between 1994 and 2000 to dozens of Sangh Parivar organisations all over India. In 2000 alone, using US government tax-exemption status for charities, the IDRF collected 1.7 million dollars, mainly from US corporations and Indians in America.

Although the IDRF claims that it supports NGOs engaged in “strengthening the roots of a democratic, secular… India,” 82 per cent of its designated funds were sent to the Parivar’s organisations --- those affiliated with or controlled by the RSS and the VHP. Only two per cent of the organisations it funded between 1994 and 2000 can be recognised as non-sectarian organisations.

As for the Sangh, it has always laid claims to its swadeshi credentials as against the ‘foreign funding’ received by Muslim and Christian organisations. But the said report makes clear the shallowness of the claim as well as the fact that these “foreign funds” of the RSS are used to promote sectarian hatred. A substantial proportion of the IDRF’s fund-raising is done through electronic means. But there is ample evidence that the IDRF is obtaining much of its funds by hiding the sectarian and communal nature of its activities from US corporations.

The IDRF’s strategy to collect funds is simple. As Indian professionals’ migration to the US has zoomed over the last two decades, especially in the software sector, groups of Sangh operatives, in each of the large high-tech firms with liberal aid-giving policies, have worked to put the IDRF on the corporations’ list of grantees. The swayamsevaks within US corporations push the IDRF as the ‘best’ and the ‘only’ way to provide funding for “development and relief work in India,” thus causing not only other unsuspecting employees but also the corporations themselves to fund the Sangh in India, the report says.

What is perhaps morally more reprehensible than individuals directing money to the IDRF, knowing that most or all of it will be used for Sangh activities, is the subterfuge involved in misusing the generosity of well meaning individuals and organisations for securing the hate money, the report further says.

The ideological de facto tie-up with Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany is well known. It is also becoming clear that even the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is active in the US to generate support. Similarly, during prime minister Vajpayee’s official visit to the US, there was a ‘Hindutva Summit’ organised by the VHP and its affiliates. But not so known is the fact that the VHP unit in the UK is being probed. The VHP is reported to have several international branches, with offices in the US, UK and Canada.

There is also another outfit, Overseas Friends of the BJP (OFBJP), which also does the same job.