IDRF Relief Efforts: Sectarian, Not Humanitarian
The IDRF has funded numerous relief efforts in response to natural disasters, communal violence, and other social crises. However, the distributive mechanisms utilized by the IDRF have consistently discriminated against Muslims and other minorities in India. IDRF’s relief efforts are frequently divisive and have supported the further communalization of Indian society. The intentions that motivate such charity raise serious questions about the ethics and efficacy of such funding, and their repercussions.
E.1 Responding to Crises Around the Globe
The IDRF has demonstrated extreme efficiency in raising money for the victims of communal violence, even when the victims were situated outside India. Such a commitment to respond to communal crises would be commendable, but for the fact that its relief efforts are themselves discriminatory. Most recently, it has refrained from funding relief efforts in Gujarat after the communal riots of February and March 2002 where the victims were in large part Muslims. An analysis of the IDRF’s partisan response to crisis makes visible a clear communal agenda.
E.1.1 Relief for Hindus Alone
The IDRF participated in fundraising efforts with the HSS and the FISI in the US to raise money for Bangladeshi Hindu victims of communal violence. Similarly, the IDRF raised money for Kashmiri Hindus victimized by militants in Kashmir. More recently the IDRF announced a donation of $25,000 towards relief efforts following the World Trade Center collapse. In all three cases, the people responsible for perpetrating the disaster were Muslims, and the victims largely non-Muslim. In contrast, to date, the IDRF has not announced any relief for the victims of communal riots in Gujarat in February and March 2002. Given the egregious nature of violence, civil disturbance and damage, death (between 850 and 2000) and displacement (98,000 people in over 100 relief camps) in Gujarat , it is glaring that the IDRF has failed to organize aid or relief efforts in the state. Gujarat 2002 is different from the earlier instances of communal violence that the IDRF did respond to in one simple way: the perpetrators of communal violence in Gujarat were largely the forces of Hindutva and the victims predominantly Muslim. This in itself should confirm that IDRF disburses relief dollars along communal (sectarian) lines. However, there is more specific and directed evidence to support the case. However, there is more specific and directed evidence to support the case.
E.2 The Administering of IDRF Relief
The IDRF’s relief efforts in India have consistently been administered by Hindutva organizations. These relief operations have often denied relief to minority communities and furthered communal mistrust.
E. 2.1 Earthquake Relief
In the Gujarat earthquake of January 2001, the majority of the IDRF’s funds were donated to Sewa Bharati, an organization that we have already shown in this report to be a critical part of the Sangh Parivar. The RSS and other Hindutva organizations administered relief disbursements along communal lines, visibly neglecting Muslim areas. Kuldip Nayar reports on the state of relief in Gujarat as follows:
Some areas where the Muslims live have been purposely left out without any relief or rehabilitation work. The discrimination against them has been open. The press has complained about it. Some newspapers have even cited examples, alleging how the RSS and the VHP activists have "hijacked" relief supplies in the Kutch. The government appears to have connived at such flagrant instances of bias and prejudice.
It has been alleged that the RSS not only excluded relief disbursements in minority areas after the Gujarat earthquake of January 2001, but also disrupted non-Hindu organizations from participating in relief efforts. Scott Baldauf of the Christian Science Monitor states that:
But when Catholic workers from the St. Xavier's Social Services Society arrived at the hospital to provide some help as well, they were chased off with sticks, curses, and threats. “They [the RSS workers] were shouting at us, telling us literally to get out,” says the Rev. Cedric Prakash, St. Xavier's director in Ahmedabad. "In a situation like this, anybody who wants to work and serve must be given the chance to do so. I don't think that any one group should be controlling it.
Further evidence to this pattern comes from reports that in villages with mixed religious populations, the RSS reconstruction efforts consistently involved the construction of a temple and a crematorium but no mosques, churches or cemeteries. Again, the Gujarat earthquake is an instance where some consistent documentation is available on the communal patterns of the IDRF relief funding. Other instances outside of Gujarat, such as after the Orissa cyclone of 1999, where the IDRF-RSS relief efforts were communal, have also some documentation.
E.3 The Instrumental Uses of the Hajj Fire
Given such a consistent pattern of discriminatory funding, even a few isolated instances of the IDRF funds reaching Indian minorities would enable us to hypothesize that the IDRF, in spite of its pro-Hindutva bias does on occasion respond to the sheer human aspect of a calamity. One such event, of a person from IDRF attempting to raise funds for Muslim victims of a tragedy, does exist. In response to a fire during the annual Hajj season (the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia), in which many Muslims from India lost their lives, the IDRF undertook a project to raise money for the victims of the fire. The Sword of Truth, a prominent Hindutva site documents this event as follows:
IDRF…undertook a project to raise funds for the Indian Moslems who had gone to Saudi Arabia for Haj but died in a fire…IDRF immediately hired a man…to raise funds for the dead Mohammedans. When people asked him why was he doing that, …the 'wise guy' …from RSS replied that this was not to really help the Mohammedans but to 'create' a false impression of Hindu generosity toward the Mohammedans. That way…the Mohammedans would vote for the BJP in the coming election…”
Note: We have since heard from the director of IDRF on the subject. He wrote on March 3rd 1998 'I am aware of the attempt made by an the IDRF volunteer to raise funds for the afflicted Indian Hajis in Saudi Arabia…We had investigated and reviewed the episode which had hurt the feelings of many the IDRF well-wishers. I wish to assure you that since that event, we have agreed to new guidelines for any such attempt and I feel confident that such a thing will not be repeated in the future.' 
Such utter instrumentality must have its reasons. In summary let us look at what conclusions the above documentation helps us arrive at:
1. Even the relief component of the IDRF’s funds must be understood as almost entirely sectarian. There is an active intent on the part of the IDRF and the organizations it specifically uses in crisis relief efforts to discriminate against minorities and provide relief to Hindus alone.
2. In many areas of the world, relief is often provided by religious organizations because of the deep seated humanism in many religions. The IDRF on the other hand funds relief not within the ambit of humanitarianism but clearly as part of its strategy of consolidating Hindus.
3. However, it should also be clear that IDRF wants to retain an image of being non-sectarian. This should indicate that not only is IDRF sectarian even in relief, but also misleads donors with humanitarian pretensions.
125. Discriminating against the distressed in a democracy, Kuldip Nayar, Financial Express, February 21, 2001.
126. India rises from rubble with old social divides, Scott Baldauf, Christian Science Monitor, January 31, 2001. http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2001/01/31/fp1s3-csm.shtml
The Foreign Exchange of Hate IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva © 2002, Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai, India, and The South Asia Citizens Web, France