Sunday, November 30, 2008

British Charity & Hindu Extremism - 1

Awaaz — South Asia Watch Ltd, 2004


Section summary

1 - The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS – National Volunteers Corps) is a paramilitary, all-male political organization founded in the 1920s and dedicated to turning India into an exclusive ‘Hindu nation’ based on ‘Hindu strength’ and ‘Hindu unity’. RSS founders were strongly inspired by Fascist and Nazi ideas and the RSS was modeled on Fascist youth organizations. The RSS and its allies have been repeatedly named by judicial inquiries for their role in religiously-motivated violence over several decades. The RSS has been banned three times in India, twice for its role in fomenting religious hatred and serious anti-minority violence. M. K. Gandhi’s murderer was an RSS activist.

2 - The RSS’s world-view is ‘Hindutva’, an extremist anti-minority ideology of Hindu supremacy formed in the 1920s. Hindutva has little relation to Hindu religions. Rather, it is based on the claim that India only belongs to those who ‘share the blood’ of Vedic-Aryans and who consider India as their holyland. Hindutva claims that Indian citizens who are Muslim or Christian are not ‘true’ Indians. If they do not swear allegiance to the RSS’s ideology, they should be treated as foreigners and potential enemies. According to RSS followers, India has to be turned from a secular democratic state in which all citizens are equal into a Hindu nation-state in which Hindus have absolute supremacy.

3 - The RSS has a large ‘family’ (sangh parivar) of closely related organizations that share its aims and world-view. RSS affiliates, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP – World Hindu Council), have been involved in large scale anti-minority violence or hatred, including riots and pogroms in which thousands have died.

4 - The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK (HSS UK) is the UK branch of the RSS and shares the RSS’s aims and ideology. The HSS UK is a registered charity. Sewa International UK (SIUK), though not a registered charity, is the fundraising arm of the HSS UK.

5 - SIUK is directly linked with the RSS and its affiliates, including Sewa International India and Sewa Bharati; the latter is a key recipient of SIUK funds. SIUK’s claim to be a non-sectarian, non-religious and non-political organization that ‘does not provide funds for anything other than humanitarian relief’ is false. Its main purpose is to raise funds for and support a distinct family of organizations associated with the extremist RSS.

6 - Sewa International India and Sewa Bharati are dedicated to building a Hindu nation based on Hindu extremist ideas, glorifying the RSS, recruiting for the RSS and expanding RSS physical and ideological training cells (shakhas) in India.

7 - Sewa Bharati has been openly involved in Hindutva extremist political work in India, including promotion of RSS ideology and politics. The state government of Madhya Pradesh revoked its license because of alleged violence against Christians. Allegations of violence by Sewa Bharati against Christians in Madhya Pradesh continue.

8 - We do not think it is a coincidence that the two Indian states where Hindutva networks, hatred and violence have grown phenomenally in recent years both had natural and human tragedies (the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, the Orissa cyclone in 1999) followed by massive amounts of funding to Hindutva organizations under the guise of humanitarian charity.


I am the first enemy of the Muslims…Killing Muslims was necessary. All Muslims had to be taught a lesson…If the Muslims do not learn, it will be very harmful for them. Harish Bhatt, Gujarat state vice president, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, describing the killing of 2,000 Indians, almost all Muslims, in Gujarat during 2002.

Virtually every judicial commission of inquiry officially appointed to investigate communal riots since Independence and Partition has indicted organizations affiliated with or allied to the RSS/VHP/BD/BJP combine, including the Maharashtra-based Shiv Sena, for their role in violent crimes against India’s minorities. Concerned Citizens Tribunal on the Gujarat 2002 massacres, led by former chief justice of India, V. R. Krishna Iyer.

In India since the early 1980s, there has been a massive growth of violent Hindu extremist political movements and organizations. These organizations follow a supremacist ideology called Hindutva. Hindutva has little relation to the religion of Hinduism. Instead, Hindutva is an ideology formed in the 1920s and 1930s and influenced by Fascism and Nazism. It claims that India belongs only to Hindus and that Hindus are a single ‘race’, people, culture or nation. India has to be turned into an exclusive Hindu nation-state in which minorities have limited or few rights of democratic citizenship. Minorities are viewed by Hindutva organizations as enemies, traitors, polluters and alien foreigners. From their beginning, Hindutva organizations have opposed secularism, freedom of belief and the democratic and tolerant values of the Indian constitution.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, National Volunteers Corps), formed in 1925-1926, is at the core of the family of Hindutva organizations operating in India.

The RSS is modelled on Italian Fascist youth movements that were growing at that time. Its founders (K. B. Hedgewar and B. S. Moonje) and its second leader (M. S. Golwalkar) were all strong admirers or supporters of both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

The RSS is not a democratic organization but based on obedience to and veneration of its supreme leader.

The RSS is not a formally registered society in India and is not regarded as a charity. It claims not to keep any bank accounts and it does not have to pay income tax. The RSS, its women’s and student affiliates, and the VHP are notified under section 5 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 1976 (FCRA) as organizations of a political nature. The Act bans such organizations from receiving any foreign funds, unless they receive prior permission from the central government on a case by case basis.

The family of RSS-spawned organizations is known as the sangh parivar or just sangh (meaning ‘organization’).

The key sangh parivar belief is that India belongs only to Hindus; all other religious communities, and those Hindus who refuse to accept RSS leadership, are considered enemies of the country. The ideology of the sangh parivar is ‘Hindutva’. This is a rejection of the secular and civic idea of Indian nationhood and citizenship in favour of an extremist and discriminatory idea of an exclusive ‘Hindu nation-state’, called a Hindurashtra.

The RSS’s key method of recruiting and organizing cadres is called sangathan – the consolidation of all Hindus under its hate-driven ideology in order to create a Hindu nation-state. RSS volunteers working to build the ‘Hindu nation’ are called swayamsevaks and RSS workers / activists are called karyakartas.

The RSS is organized through cells called shakhas in which uniformed members undergo military drills, physical, ideological and weapons training, and prayers to its saffron flag. In RSS shakhas, images of Hindu Gods or Goddess are absent. The ‘god’ of the RSS is the ‘Hindu nation’ and members are required to venerate the RSS’s first two supreme leaders, K. B. Hedgewar and M. S. Golwalkar.

Hindutva organizations have repeatedly flouted the law, acted illegally, undermined judicial processes and the criminal justice system, infiltrated the federal state, and systematically targeted and massacred Indian citizens who are Muslims or Christians.

Since the late 1960s, the RSS has been repeatedly named in judicial commissions and enquiries into serious incidents of religiously-motivated violence in India. This included the murder of M. K. Gandhi by Nathuram Godse, an RSS propagator. The RSS has been banned three times in independent India, twice because of its association with violence and hatred. Over the past two decades, there have been very serious incidents of violence against Muslim and Christian communities by Hindutva organizations, including the VHP, the RSS, the Gujarat BJP and the Bajrang Dal. These incidents include the killings in Bhagalpur in 1989, in Bombay in 1992–1993 and in Dangs district, Gujarat from 1997 and 1998-1999. Over 5,000 Indians were killed in these various events.

Table 1: Sangh parivar and violence[1]

Location / Date Estimated number killed, where known Sangh parivar indicted by:
Bhiwandi 1970 78 Justice D.P. Madon Commission: ‘The organization responsible for bringing communal tension in Bhiwandi to a pitch is the Rashtriya Utsav Mandal [an arm of the Jana Sangh, the then RSS political wing].’
Jalgaon 1970 43 Justice D. P. Madon Commission, as above.
Tellicherry 1971 251 Justice Joseph Vithyathil Commission: ‘It was only after the RSS and the Jana Sangh set up their units … that there came a change in the situation. Their anti-Muslim propaganda, its reaction on the Muslims … and the communal tension that followed prepared the ground for the disturbances.’
Jamshedpur 1979 127-137 Commission of Inquiry: ‘The dispute on the route of the procession became sharp and agitated reactions from a group of persons … who systematically distributed pamphlets to heighten communal feelings and had organizational links with the RSS.’
Kanyakumari 1982 Justice Venugopal Commission: ‘The RSS methodology for provoking communal violence is: a) rousing feelings in the majority community by propaganda… b) deepening fear in the majority community by a clever propaganda that the [minorities’] population is increasing… c) infiltrating into the administration… e) spreading rumours to widen the communal cleavage…’
Bhagalpur 1989 At least 918 Commission of Inquiry, Majority Report of Justice Ram Chand Prasad and S. Shamshul Hasan: ‘The climax was reached when the BJP and VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) workers led by their leaders demonstrated…’
East Delhi 1992 19 People’s Union for Civil Liberties: ‘The December 11 incidents… [were] a vicious police operation carried out with communal bias, with so-called Hindutva activists and local [thugs] with a view to unleash terror on members of the minority community.’
Bombay 1992 – 1993 At least
1,700 Human Rights Watch: ‘The violence in Bombay emerged out of an organized and systematic ideological campaign directed primarily against India's Muslim minority… During the preceding months, a movement … including the BJP, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Shiv Sena, had called for the construction of a temple on the site of the [Babri] mosque as an integral move in their struggle for Hindutva, or Hindu rule.’
Gujarat 2002 2,000 Concerned Citizens’ Tribunal (chaired by former Chief Justice of India V.R. Krishna Iyer): ‘The leadership of large mobs running into thousands was provided by easily identifiable elected representatives of the BJP (including cabinet ministers), and others from the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and the RSS...’

The Gujarat pogroms in 2002 were the most chilling illustration of the rise of Hindutva. From 27 February 2002, at least 2,000 Indian citizens, the vast majority Muslim, were killed – most over the course of three days – and over 200,000 displaced in the worst violence seen in India over the last decade. The pogrom was concentrated in the towns and villages of Gujarat. The violence continued for several months and involved the active cooperation of RSS leaders that head the Gujarat state government. It followed the killing of 58 Hindus on a train just outside Godhra town in Gujarat, reportedly by a Muslim mob. The Gujarat carnage was unprecedented in its brutality, its planning and methodical execution. The violence included the systematic rape and mutilation of women and girls, the killing and burning of adults and children and the destruction and arson of homes, businesses and property.

The carnage was condemned by numerous governments, the European Union and human rights organizations worldwide. Numerous Indian and international human rights reports directly indicted the RSS and its affiliates in the violence. In April 2002, a Human Rights Watch Report concluded that:

The groups most directly involved in the violence include the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP), the Bajrang Dal, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that heads the Gujarat state government.[2]

A survey in 2002 by Citizen’s Initiative, Ahmedabad of almost 2800 Muslim families affected by the violence named these same organizations as involved in the carnage[3]. Similarly, in 2002, a Concerned Citizens Tribunal headed by Justices V.R. Krishna Iyer, Hosbet Suresh and P.B. Sawant detailed extensive eyewitness testimony that named these same organizations for involvement in the atrocities[4].


British citizens were victims of RSS and VHP-inspired violence: three members of the Dawood family from Yorkshire, on holiday in India, were killed during the Gujarat carnage in 2002. The Indian RSS also has highly active organizations working in the UK. They have spread RSS ideology, provided extensive financial and political support for Hindutva organizations in India, and attempted to gain influence among Hindus in the UK, especially among youth. They have received support from political parties, local authorities, education authorities, MPs and members of the royal family. The UK organizations pretend to be simply religious or cultural organizations that represent Hindus and they attempt to disguise their links with political extremism in India. Several UK organizations raise funds from the general public in the name of charity and channel them to RSS front organizations in India. UK organizations linked to the RSS include:

Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS UK, a registered charity, charity number 267309), the UK branch of the RSS.

Sewa International UK (SIUK, the fundraising and ‘service project’ of HSS UK) which raises funds for RSS projects in India.

Kalyan Ashram Trust (KAT, a registered charity, charity number 261327) which raises funds for RSS ‘tribal’ projects in India.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK (VHP UK, a registered charity, charity number 262684), the UK branch of the Indian VHP.

Overseas Friends of the BJP (OFBJP UK), which provides support in the UK for the BJP political party which is part of the RSS family.

The close relation between the HSS UK, the VHP UK and the Indian RSS is described in Section
5. The following table shows how the HSS UK family of organizations exactly parallels the Indian RSS and its affiliates.

Table 2: The UK & Indian sangh parivar

Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK

Initiated 1966, registered as charity in 1974, charity registration number 267309
Key decision making bodies are annual Akhil UK Pratinidhi Sabha, and three monthly Central Executive Committee (KKM)
Key training event for workers is annual Sangh Shikshak Varg
Has around 75 weekly shakhas, attended by around 1500 members called ‘swayamsevaks’
Reverence and devotion to saffron flag, K. B. Hedgewar and M. S. Golwalkar
Has same hymns and prayers, and celebrates same festivals as RSS
Considers Indian RSS head as its supreme leader
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (India)

Formed in 1925-1926 as paramilitary male organization
Key decision making bodies are Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha and Central Executive Committee (Kendriya Karyakari Mandal)
Numerous Shikshak Vargs (training camps for instructors)
Branches are called ‘shakhas’ – daily physical and ideological training cells attended by several million members called ‘swayamsevaks’
Reverence and devotion to saffron flag, K. B. Hedgewar and M. S. Golwalkar

Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK

Formed 1971, acquired charitable status in 1972, charity registration number 262684
Branch of VHP India operating in UK, part of Vishwa Hindu Parishad international section
Has 12 UK branches
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (India)
Vishwa Hindu Parishad India – Overseas section
Vishwa Hindu Parishad International

VHP formed in 1964 as RSS ‘religious’ affiliate
VHP at forefront of anti-minority campaigns and violence in India

Hindu Sevika Samiti UK

HSS UK women’s affiliate formed in 1975
Structure mirrors HSS UK
Key training event for workers is annual Samiti Shikshak Varg
Has about 30 weekly shakhas attended by around 500 women and girls
Rashtra Sevika Samiti (India)

RSS women’s affiliate, formed 1936
Structure mirrors RSS
Organizes Samiti Shikshak Vargs

Overseas Friends of the BJP UK

Formed 1991
Lobbies for UK support of Indian BJP
Friends of India Society International

Formed in mid-1970s during ‘emergency’ period in India
Supports various sangh parivar-linked political projects
Bharatiya Janata Party (India)

Political party formed in 1980 by RSS activists
Senior leaders are RSS members

Sewa International UK

Formed 1991, became private limited company in 2002, company number 04482628
Uses the charity registration number of HSS UK, 267309
‘Service project of HSS UK’
Key fundraising for Indian RSS affiliates
Sewa Bharati (India) / Sewa International (India)
Gram Bharati (India)

RSS ‘service’ & rural project wings
Vidya Bharati (India)
Saraswati Shishu / Vidya mandirs
Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation (VHP)

RSS / VHP education projects / schools
Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (India)

RSS adivasi (‘tribal’) projects

Kalyan Ashram Trust UK

Registered as charity in 1970, charity registration number 261327
Established to raise funds for Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram projects in India

National Hindu Students Forum UK

HSS UK student affiliate, formed 1991
Shares address of HSS UK, key activists also HSS UK members
Largest body of Hindu students in UK
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (India)

RSS student affiliate
Largest body of Hindu students in India

Hindu Sahitya Kendra

Formed in 1984
HSS UK literature dissemination outfit
Hindu Vivek Kendra (India)

Hindutva literature dissemination

Deendayal Research Institute

Ideological unit
Named after senior RSS worker, ideologue and founder of a Hindutva political party in 1950s
Deendayal Shodh Sansthan (India)

Ideological unit
Publishes journal Manthan
Named after senior RSS worker, ideologue and founder of a Hindutva political party in 1950s

Hindu International Medical Mission

HSS UK medical affiliate
National Medicos Organization (India)

RSS medical affiliate

Figure 1: HSS UK annual training camp 2001. Images of RSS founder Hedgewar, RSS second supreme leader Golwalkar and RSS map of India at front


Yet another development is the establishment of an international organization titled SEWA INTERNATIONAL which now has branches in many countries. Sewa International will look after the interests of seva [RSS service] related issues not only in the respective countries where they have chapters but also take up GLOBAL level care of sewa [service] work carried out under the Sangh [RSS] ideology [5].

Hindusthan is Hindu Rashtra—K.S. Sudarshan. The Sarsanghchalak [supreme leader] of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Shri K.S. Sudarshan has chalked out a systematic approach to be adopted by Sangh swayamsevaks [RSS members] to reach out to the last person in the village through various developmental programmes and bring them all within its organizational fold…The Sarsanghchalak [RSS head] emphasised the need for special efforts to expand the Sangh [RSS] network in the remote parts of the country. He pointed out that various political parties realised the significance of Hindus getting united, which could ultimately change the very contour of the nation’s polity.[6]

Sewa International UK (SIUK), formed in 1991, is the ‘service project’ of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, the UK branch of the RSS. SIUK has become in a short space of time a high profile organization that raises funds for what it says are welfare, education and development projects in India. It claims to be a non-sectarian, non-religious and non-political humanitarian organization. It presents itself as working for the good of humanity, focusing on education, poverty and natural tragedies in India. It is widely presented as simply an Indian or Hindu charity. SIUK has received the support of royalty, MPs and councillors, lord mayors, many local authorities, schools, large companies, prominent individuals, voluntary and community groups and members of the South Asian communities. SIUK received considerable coverage in the UK in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that centred on Gujarat state in 2001. It said it raised £4.3 million for Gujarat earthquake relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction. It has also raised funds for various other service and educational activities in India. SIUK is not a charity, but uses the charity registration number of the HSS UK (267309) to collect donations from the general public. It is also a limited company (company number 04482628, date of incorporation 11 July 2002.) The company registered address is the Leicester office of the HSS UK[7].

Our point is not about whether SIUK funded service activities in India, or whether or not these have benefited individuals. Nor does our argument concern the detail of the financial accounting procedures of SIUK. We show in this report that the main purpose of SIUK is to raise funds in the UK for RSS projects in India in order to directly help the expansion of the extremist RSS’s networks across Indian society in line with the long term political and sectarian aims of the RSS. SIUK was established primarily to raise funds for one clear, distinct political family of organizations entirely related to the RSS. The vast bulk of SIUK efforts are directed to the principal aim of furthering the extremist RSS’s goals. One of SIUK’s slogans is ‘service to humanity is service to God’. We think a much more accurate slogan would be: ‘fundraising for RSS service networks to create a Hindu nation’.

In response to a Channel 4 News report in December 2002 which said that SIUK had raised funds for an organization, the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA), that was directly involved in the Gujarat carnage, HSS UK and SIUK stated:

HSS and Sewa International denies all the allegations and will whole heartedly continue to help the Charity Commission with its on-going enquiries, in order to clear its name of ALL the biased and malicious allegations that have been raised. HSS and Sewa International confidently and unequivocally states that it does not provide funds for anything other than humanitarian relief and rehabilitation. Sewa International has never sent money to any parties with the intention of spreading communal violence or hatred, either directly or indirectly. Recent reports which centre totally on the communal violence in Gujarat bear no relevance to any of the relief work or projects supported by Sewa International.[8]

HSS / SIUK denied they had the intention of funding organizations for the purposes of hatred and violence. This is an easy denial to make. However, given the seriousness of the Channel 4 allegations, HSS / SIUK did not make the relevant denial – that organizations they fund and support have not been involved in hatred or violence. HSS / SIUK also state that the violence in Gujarat during 2002, which directly involved the VKA, bears no relevance to projects it supports and funds, which include the VKA. HSS / SIUK do not make the important denial – that the VKA has not been involved in violence or hatred. We do not think it is a coincidence that the two Indian states where Hindutva networks, hatred and violence have grown phenomenally in recent years both had natural and human tragedies (the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, the Orissa cyclone in 1999) followed by massive amounts of funding to Hindutva organizations under the guise of humanitarian charity.


…Sewa International is not an RSS-backed organization. The allegation is totally false and misleading, Sewa International is a Sewa Project of HSS. A malicious propaganda is going on against Sewa international by the Left wings of UK[9].

In an interview in 2002, the vice-chair of SIUK denied that it is ‘backed’ by the RSS. However, this interview was from Organiser, the main Indian weekly of the RSS. In fact the Indian RSS considers SIUK to be an integral part of work and mission. There are numerous strong ties between SIUK and the Indian RSS that occur through:

Direct links between SIUK and the RSS
Strong, extensive links between the HSS UK and the RSS (described in Section 5)
Links with Sewa Bharati, the RSS service affiliate in India
Links with Sewa International India, which coordinates international fundraising for and publicises RSS and VHP projects
Various other ties between SIUK and other RSS affiliates
The former Indian RSS supreme leader, Rajendra Singh gave a talk titled ‘code of guidelines to workers’ to HSS members in north London on 24 April 1995. The first guideline is to Sewa International on its areas of priority[10]. If SIUK is not backed by the RSS, why would the most senior RSS figure in the world consider it his remit to provide codes of guidance for it?

RSS publications list SIUK and the Kalyan Ashram Trust UK as examples of the RSS (sangh) organizations the UK or as ‘sangh work abroad’[11]. An RSS brochure published on the occasion of the World RSS Camp held in Gujarat in December 1995 describes the activities of the HSS UK, Sewa International, Kalyan Ashram Trust UK, the VHP UK and other UK organizations as part of the RSS’s Hindutva mission in the UK[12]. One article in this RSS publication is authored by the SIUK vice chair who discusses the Ayodhya temple campaign in the UK. (The Ayodhya temple campaign is a political VHP/RSS project which led to the illegal destruction by Hindutva mobs of the Babri mosque at Ayodhya in 1992 and which led to bloody riots throughout India.) The RSS’s ‘service department’ similarly states that Sewa International is an RSS project working under the sangh’s ideology[13].

The former HSS UK full-time worker, Ram Vaidya, one of two sons of M.G. Vaidya, a senior RSS figure and media spokesperson, came to the UK in 1999 to evaluate the work of HSS UK and expand and consolidate HSS work in Europe. In a report to the HSS UK central executive committee on 13 May 2001 in Coventry, he made recommendations regarding SIUK work around the Gujarat earthquake that stressed the need to expand HSS physical and ideological training cells (shakhas) and undertake charitable work with ‘detached involvement’[14].

The VHP UK Manchester branch newsletter also stated ‘Sewa International (UK) is a service project of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (UK) which is working closely with the RSS and VHP in India to provide aid to the victims of the earthquake.’[15] SIUK’s anniversary report on its earthquake work includes a message of support from ‘Mananiya K. S. Sudarshanji’ – the ‘venerable’ K.S. Sudarshan, who happens to be the supreme leader of the Indian RSS[16].

The SIUK vice-chair also co-wrote a report on the Gujarat earthquake of 2001 with two very senior RSS officers. This celebrated the RSS and its members, and stated that:

It is indisputably impossible to fathom the import of the training being imparted to the Swayamsevaks [RSS members] through RSS shakhas [cells]. Challenges faced during the natural or other calamities provide the right testing ground for the thus trained Swayamsevaks. The disaster management skills exhibited by the Swayamsevaks [RSS members] and Karyakartas [RSS activists] during the most difficult and painful hours in Gujarat right after the dreadful tremors, is an excellent case in study.[17]

SIUK’s website shows extensive associations with RSS projects, though the RSS itself is rarely mentioned. The email address listed for the contact person for Sewa Bharati Gujarat, a key recipient of SIUK funds, begins ‘rssgujarat@’[18]. Similarly, Sewa Bharati Gujarat’s letterhead states it is ‘Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Inspired’. SIUK’s address is the HSS UK Leicester office, which was itself inaugurated by the former RSS supreme leader, Rajendra Singh in 1995. The SIUK / HSS headquarters is called ‘Keshav Pratishthan’, named after the Indian RSS founder, Keshav Baliram Hedgewar.


SIUK is closely associated with Sewa International India. On the latter’s homepage (, SIUK and the US-based India Development and Relief Fund, and only these two, are listed as ‘associated organizations’[19].

Sewa International India, based in New Delhi, is an openly ideological and political project that promotes RSS and Hindutva ideas. It was formed by the RSS, promotes international fundraising activities for RSS and VHP projects in India, and promotes RSS projects among Indians outside India. The main purpose of Sewa International India is to organize all Hindus under RSS ideology. Its website states that the ultimate aim of all its work is Hindu sangathan – the ‘consolidating and strengthening of Hindu society’ and the need to ‘constantly seek unifying factors and jettison divisive factors’[20]. Its website extols the RSS and its leaders and celebrates the work of RSS members. It is very closely related to Sewa Bharati, the RSS’s service wing, and its website is virtually exclusively focused on Sewa Bharati and RSS projects. The general secretary of Sewa International India is Shyam Parande, who is also in charge of the RSS external affairs cell. His mailing address is listed as the RSS headquarters in Nagpur[21]. In December 2000, he confirmed that HSS UK and therefore SIUK are branches of the Indian RSS[22].


Sewa Bharati is the main recipient of funds from SIUK. It is the RSS service affiliate, founded in 1979. It became very important after 1989, when the RSS decided to expand its service sector. The senior vice president of Sewa Bharati, New Delhi, D. V. Kohli said, ‘We make no secret of the fact that we are members of the RSS’[23]. Sewa Bharati Madhya Pradesh was implicated in violence against Christian communities, leading the state government to revoke its license to operate there[24], and its role in violence against Christians continues[25].

Figure 2: Homepage of Sewa Bharati showing RSS founder Hedgewar and the RSS map of ‘India’ with the RSS saffron flag held (bizarrely) by the goddess ‘Bharatmata’,

Figure 3: Another Sewa Bharati website showing RSS founder Hedgewar and second RSS supreme leader Golwalkar.

Sewa Bharati runs a very large network of RSS service projects in India. These often overlap with those of Vidya Bharati (the RSS education and schools network), the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (the violent RSS affiliate working among ‘tribal’ groups), ekal vidyalayas (VHP-organized ‘one-teacher schools’) and other projects of the VHP. The key question is not whether RSS affiliates provide services to groups, some funded from the UK and US, but about the aim, nature and ultimate political purpose of such services. The fundamental aim of these projects is to penetrate communities through service activities in order to promote RSS ideology and organization. For example, Sewa International India’s website[26] shows how work undertaken by Sewa Bharati is explicitly based on political recruitment for the RSS, expanding the RSS physical and ideological training (shakha) network and training new workers for the RSS. Its work in a slum in Uttar Pradesh is described in the following way:

The Sangh has a tradition of converting strangers into friends, friends into Swayamsevaks [RSS volunteers], and Swayamsevaks into karyakartas [RSS activists]…Soon some fifty students from ten Bastis [slums] also started attending. Different classes had to be organized. After the day’s tuition, the Bhagwa Dhwaj [RSS saffron flag] is hoisted and the Prarthana [RSS prayers] too takes place. On Sundays, a regular full-fledged Shakha [RSS cell] is conducted… Sewa, Sangh and Hindutwa [service, the RSS and Hindu supremacism] could thus enter the Basti [slum]. After this, the karyakartas [activists] of Sewa Bharati and Sangh started visiting the Basti frequently. As a result, two residents of the Basti have now become full-time karyakartas [activists] working with Vanvasis [the RSS term for adivasis, the ‘tribal’ peoples]. Even when the Bahujan Samaj Party [Dalit-Muslim political party] fever gripped the neighbourhood, hundreds of youths of this region held aloft the flag of Hindutwa [Hindu supremacy]. Even now, a daily Shakha [RSS cell] takes place in the AmbedkarPark, where the attendance averages 30-35.[27]

Similarly, Sewa Bharati Madhya Pradesh, speaking about ‘tribal’ groups, said:

I hope you will kindly agree that, even one girl taken over today by us and brought up in environment prevailing in our institutions will not only bring herself above, but also surcharge the atmosphere in her tribe besides her own family. It may appear unbelievable, but it is even numerically true that one single such girl, will grow in to 500 or more such males and/or females, having the precious ancient culture of this divine land i.e. BHARAT, endeared at their hearts.[28]

Sewa Bharati’s work is openly linked to the need to build a ‘Hindu nation’. The former all-India head of the RSS service wing said:

Bharat is a Hindu Nation…The deprived masses of poor and ignorant of our society also have an inherent strength and ingenuity in them to contribute to the all round development of our Nation. Once they are awakened they get back their lost personality. They are to be welded together to form the backbone of the nascent Nation.[29]

Sewa Bharati has also openly engaged in political activity with the RSS and the VHP. For example, on 17 January 2002 at Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh, a large Hindu gathering aimed at ‘tribal’ groups was attended by the supreme leader of the RSS, K.S. Sudarshan who warned ‘Christian missionaries’ to halt their activities. Sadhvi Rithambara, the inflammatory VHP representative also attended this meeting. An RSS publication stated that ‘As a result, on 17 January the whole area was filled by the upsurge of Hindutva-inspired Vanavasi [‘tribal’] brothers, sisters and mothers’[30]. Sewa Bharati described how the purpose of this event was to convert ‘tribals’ into RSS followers.

Sewa Bharati started its activity at about 5 years back with a single OTS (One Teacher One School)…Behind the success of Hindu Sangam is the devotion and hard work of 350 Ekal Vidyalayas [one-teacher schools], and 250 whole time workers of Sewa Bharati. They travelled continuously to practically every village for 3 months and visited about 3 Lakhs 25 thousand [325,000] families and established a place of worship by putting a photo of Bajrangbali (Shri Hanumanji). They also taught them how to worship and also made them learn and sing Bhajans [Hindu hymns]…Similarly, Bhagwa [RSS saffron] flags were also hoisted on practically each and every Tribal house…The gathering, in agreement time and again encouraged the speakers by shouting slogans such as ‘Jai Shri Ram, Jai Hanuman, and Keshav ki jai jai [victory to the RSS founder] – Madhav ki jai jai [victory to the RSS’s second leader]’ etc. The patriotic feeling was also quite evident as the slogan Jai Bharat Mata ki [Victory to the Holy Motherland!] was also frequently heard from the crowd…The whole environment in and around Jhabua was pervaded with the enchantment of the slogans in praise of Shri Ram, Shri Hanuman and Bharat Mata. The whole city was full of saffron flags.[31]

The political importance of Sewa Bharati’s work among ‘tribal’ groups also became clear through the involvement of the BJP in this same event.

The much publicised congregation - the idea of which is said to have been conceptualised at the RSS meet in Nagpur in early 2001 – was organized by Sewa Bharati – an RSS outfit…Though initially, the BJP kept away from the campaign, later it joined hands with Sewa Bharati and the top BJP leaders including its state president Vikram Verma attended a meeting at Jhabua on January 6 to work out arrangements for the Hindu Sangam [gathering]. The BJP's interest in the campaign is seen as an attempt by the party to get a foothold in the tribal areas of the state something which has been eluding it so far.[32]

Sewa Bharati has also been involved in political campaigns with the VHP.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad today demanded that foreign missionaries working in India should go back to their respective countries as they were involved in forcible conversions and also in stoking insurgency in the North-East…In a simultaneous development, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh today decided to fully back the nationwide campaign launched by Swadeshi Jagaran Manch [RSS ‘nationalist’ development affiliate] to raise public awareness among the people about the threat posed by multi-national corporations. As part of this campaign, the RSS and its frontal organizations such as the Bharatiya Janata Party, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh [RSS labour affiliate], Bharatiya Kisan Sangh [RSS farmers affiliate], Sewa Bharati, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad [RSS student affiliate] and the VHP will join the Chetna Yatra organized throughout the country by the SJM.[33]


[1] Our purpose here is to demonstrate that the RSS and its family have repeatedly been indicted for violence over several decades; this is not to exonerate the police or other political parties who played a major role in several of these incidents.

[2] Human Rights Watch, ‘We have no orders to save you’: State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat, Human Rights Watch, New York, April 2002 Vol. 14, No. 3(C). Human Rights Watch, Compounding Injustice: The Government's Failure to Redress Massacres in Gujarat, Human Rights Watch, New York, July 2003 Vol. 15, No. 3 (C).

[3] Citizens Initiative Ahmedabad, Ten hard facts: survey of victims in Ahmedabad, (Period of survey: 4 – 13 March, 2002), Citizens Initiative / Centre for Social Justice, 2002.

[4] Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crime Against Humanity: an inquiry into the carnage in Gujarat, volumes I and II, Concerned Citizens Tribunal / Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai, 2002.

[5] K. Suryanarayana Rao (All-India RSS Service Head), Seva Disha – Building an Integrated and Self-Reliant Society, Chennai, 1997,

[6] Manik Madhukar Kher, ‘Hindusthan is Hindu Rashtra’, Organiser, 1 February 2004. The three-day camp at Raipur was attended by the VHP, Bajrang Dal, the RSS student affiliate, ABVP, and the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram.

[7] As at December 2003, the status of this company at Companies House UK was listed as Proposal to Strike Off’. Current Appointments Report for Sewa International Limited, Companies House, London, compiled 29 December 2003.

[8] Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK & Sewa International UK, ‘Statement’, 4 March 2003,

[9] AL Sharma, ‘Sewa International encourages social integration, not social division’, The Organiser, 29 December 2002.

[10] S. Tattwawadi, Sarsanghchalak Goes Abroad: a collection of lectures delivered by Prof. Rajendra Singh on foreign land, Suruchi Prakashan, 1995, p.9.

[11] S. Tattwawadi, Sarsanghchalak Goes Abroad: a collection of lectures delivered by Prof. Rajendra Singh on foreign land, Suruchi Prakashan, 1995, pp. 77-78.

[12] Sanghshaktih Vijetreeyam, Antar Rashtriya Sahyog Pratishthan, Ahmedabad, 12 December 1995. The other organizations listed are Hindu Sevika Samiti UK, FISI, NHSF, OFBJP, the Hindu Marathon, Bharat Vikas Parishad International UK and the Hindu International Medical Mission (HIMM UK).

[13] K. Suryanarayana Rao (All-India RSS Service Head), Seva Disha – Building an Integrated and Self-Reliant Society, Chennai, 1997,

[14] Sangh Sandesh, May – June 2001, vol. XII, no. 3, p. 20.

[15] VHP UKManchester Branch, VHP Newsletter, April 2001, Issue 20, p. 4.

[16] Sewa International UK, Gujarat Earthquake – 26 January 2001 Anniversary Issue. One Year After, undated, p. 5. The other three messages of support were from an SIUK officer, a member of the House of Lords and a UK Gujarati organization.

[17] ‘Report of the visit to Earthquake struck Gujrat by Sewa Team comprising of Dr. Yashwantji Pathak, Sah-Sanyojak Vishwa Vibhag, Shri Arjun Lalji Sharma, Sewa International UK and Shri Shyam Parande on 5-7th February 2001’,

[18] GujaratState Disaster Management Authority, Coming Together, September 2001.




[22] Deepshikha Ghosh, ‘Rediscovering their Religion’, India Abroad, 8 December 2000,

[23] Edward Luce and Demetri Sevastopulo, ‘Blood and money’, Financial Times, 20 February 2003.

[24] Sudha Ramachandran, ‘US firms linked to extremist Indian cause’, Asia Times, 10 January 2003.

[25] T. J. Rajalakshmi, ‘Terror in Jhabua’, Frontline, 14–27 February 2004.

[26] is the Indian site, is the UK site.


[28] Vishnu Kumar, ‘Sewa Bharati Madhya Pradesh’, 25 July 2000,

[29] K. Suryanarayan Rao, ‘Concept of service – sewa and worship’, Sanghshaktih Vijetreeyam, Antar Rashtriya Sahyog Pratishthan, 21 December 1995, p.30.

[30] RSS Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (RSS general council) resolution, Bangalore,17 March 2002, reprinted in J. Dayal (ed.) Gujarat 2002: untold and retold stories of the Hindutva lab, volume 1, Media House, Delhi, 2003, pp. 1139-1140.

[31] Vishnu Kumar, Sewa Bharati Madhya Pradesh, ‘Adarniya Bandhuwar’, 23 January 2002,

[32] Sanjay Sharma, ‘Stop conversions, RSS chief warns missionaries’, Sify News, 18 January 2002.

[33] ‘Quit India, VHP tells missionaries’, Indian Express, 1 October 1998.

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