Monday, December 1, 2008

British Charity & Hindu Extremism - 4

IN BAD FAITH? BRITISH CHARITY & HINDU EXTREMISM
Awaaz — South Asia Watch Ltd, 2004

http://www.awaazsaw.org/ibf/index.htm


SECTION 4: OTHER RSS PROJECTS SUPPORTED BY SIUK


http://www.awaazsaw.org/ibf/section4.htm


Section summary

1 - Each of the ‘supported projects’ which SIUK promotes through its website are RSS projects. This is not disclosed by SIUK to the general public or donors. From HSS UK literature it appears that every Indian organization supported by SIUK is an RSS affiliate or is promoted because it is linked to the RSS.

2 - SIUK and the Kalyan Ashram Trust UK, a registered charity, raise funds for the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA), an RSS organization responsible for considerable violence against Christian and Muslim groups, including during the Gujarat carnage in 2002.

3 - The bulk of £260,000 raised by SIUK for Orissa cyclone relief after 1999 went to a key RSS front, the UBSS. The HSS UK said the funds would be channeled through RSS volunteers. It also said it funds organizations that get their workforce from the RSS.

4 - SIUK’s fundraising for Orissa cyclone relief has been used to finance and expand the extremist RSS’s affiliates and networks. Both the Orissa cyclone and Gujarat earthquake appeals demonstrate a pattern in which a natural tragedy is used to enable the dramatic expansion of RSS institutions, especially educational ones, in the afflicted region through the use of funds from overseas.

5 - In members’ newsletters, HSS UK / SIUK often speak of RSS affiliates in the same breath as the RSS itself. If this amounts to funding the RSS, the VHP, the RSS women’s wing or the RSS student wing, then it is a potential violation of FCRA regulations. Since the RSS has manifestly political aims, any foreign funding of the RSS or of organizations that are undertaking the work of the RSS under another name can be seen to contravene the spirit of the FCRA.

6 - The main education projects SIUK (including through its ‘Sewa Education Aid’ wing) raises funds for are RSS and VHP affiliates. These extremist education projects have a strong political purpose for the RSS and the VHP, particularly in educating children and the young into accepting a pro-Hindutva, anti-minority view of Indian society.

7 - SIUK raises substantial funds for ‘one-teacher schools’. These are strategic political projects run by the violent and extremist Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Sewa Bharati, Vidya Bharati and other RSS / VHP affiliates.

8 - Over a three year period, we found mentioned in HSS UK literature a few thousand pounds donated by SIUK to non-Indian causes.

KALYAN ASHRAM TRUST UK

The Muslims are also trying to create chaos in these communities, either by enticing these tribals or by raping the tribal girls by force. The Kalyan Ashram at Sidumbar is trying to put a stop to these activities of Muslims as well as Christians...The workers of Kalyan Ashrams are required to give a tough fight to the Christian missionaries because they keep on harassing the local residents.[1]

Kalyan Ashram Trust (KAT UK) is an HSS UK project formed in July 1970. It is supported by SIUK but is also an independent charity (charity registration number 261327). It has the same address as the HSS UK. Its key focus is on the adivasi (‘tribal’) populations of India in order to ‘bring them into the mainstream of our society’, ‘mainstream’ being an RSS word for its view of Hindu society. The RSS and VHP ‘tribal’ projects are extremely important and the activities of the KAT UK are part of this political enterprise. KAT UK’s gross income between April 1996 and April 2000 has remained low (the highest gross income shown at the Charity Commission website is £35,496 for the financial year starting April 1998). While KAT income is limited, SIUK also raises funds for similar projects.

Both these organizations have a clear agenda in mind: fundraising for the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA), an RSS affiliate which has been involved in anti-Christian violence in Gujarat and elsewhere since the late 1990s and which was involved in considerable anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat during the carnage in early 2002.

Several independent investigations have linked the VKA and its activists to anti-minority violence in India. Human Rights Watch reported in October 1999 that there was a link between attacks on Christians and the activities of the Kalyan Ashrams. Similarly, an important Channel 4 News investigation in December 2002 provided extensive evidence of VKA involvement in the Gujarat 2002 pogroms. Channel 4 interviewed a Hindutva activist who said that a VKA leader in the Baroda area of Gujarat, had organized attacks on Muslim villagers during 2002.

He threatened the villagers saying that if they didn’t join in provoking the Muslims and burning them, they would also be treated like Muslims and burnt. And he said the government is on our side, nothing will happen to you. So the Kalyan Ashram activists gave the villagers bows and arrows and revolvers and such arms.[2]

Fifty–six people were killed in the village in just a few days and hundreds more injured. Twenty nine mosques were destroyed and thousands of villagers were driven from their homes. The local police also accused this VKA organizer of leading 2,000 tribal people in another large attack. This same VKA organizer was said to be working directly for the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Gujarat coordinating ‘educational’ projects for tribal groups. The Channel 4 team further reported that ‘In village after village, we spoke to several victims who blamed the violence on Kalyan Ashram.’ A retired Supreme Court judge, P.B. Sawant, who sat on a citizens’ tribunal on the 2002 Gujarat carnage, told Channel 4 that:

The organization called Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram through which the tribals are being indoctrinated into communal philosophy was roped in and all those who were trained there were also enrolled for violence…The communal violence that erupted as well as the communal indoctrination which has been going on, all these activities were being funded by this money that came from Sewa International.[3]

ORISSA CYCLONE 1999

[In Orissa] development and education are key vehicles through which conscription into Hindu extremism is taking place. After the cyclone of 1999, relief work undertaken in a sectarian manner by RSS organizations granted the sangh [RSS] a foothold through which to strengthen enrolment…In Gajapati district, RSS and BJP workers torched 150 homes and the village church in October 1999. A Dalit Christian activist said, ‘RSS workers tell me that Christianity brought colonialism to India, and I am responsible for that legacy. How am I responsible?...In June 2002, the VHP coerced 143 tribal Christians into converting to Hinduism in Sundargarh district.[4]

Excluding the Gujarat earthquake appeal, the largest amount raised by SIUK seems to have been for the Orissa cyclone in 1999 (£260,000).

Sewa International launched Orissa Cyclone Appeal to help the victims of one of the worst cyclones known to the man kind. Nearly £100,000 has already been pledged which is being collected and sent to fund the relief work. Sewa International is channeling these funds through the well disciplined volunteers of RSS in India. RSS is today the largest voluntary organization in the world. It has established credibility by providing relief work to victims of earthquake in Maharashtra, cyclone in Gujarat, flood at Morvi in Gujarat, aircrash in Haryana and train accident in Punjab irrespective of victims’ caste, creed or religion. [5]

SIUK claims that the RSS is non-discriminatory. Yet the RSS glorifies, worships and idolizes figures in its cells (shakhas) such as M. S. Golwalkar who strongly believed in the supremacy of the caste system (‘a supreme and scientific social order’) and who wanted India to be turned into an aggressive Hindu nation in which minorities had ‘no rights whatsoever, not even citizens rights’. After the Gujarat carnage, the general secretary of the major RSS affiliate, the VHP, called for all Muslims to have genetic testing to show that they do not have ‘Arab blood’[6]. In 2002, the RSS threateningly said that the safety of minorities lies in the 'goodwill of the majority'. Can the RSS provide services without discrimination to groups it already considers to be alien foreigners, polluters and traitors? SIUK also states the RSS is simply a voluntary organization. This is an attempt to normalize and habilitate a dangerous paramilitary organization devoted to creating an exclusive Hindu nation. There is also slippery way in which the HSS UK / SIUK glorifies the RSS while seemingly talking about RSS affiliates. The RSS is credited above with relief work in Maharashtra, Morbi and Gujarat, yet these same three natural disasters are mentioned in connection with Sewa Bharati’s work (see Section 3). Did the RSS undertake this work or Sewa Bharati? Or is this an admission that they effectively one and the same?

HSS UK also admits in its members’ newsletter that charitable funds pass from SIUK to RSS volunteers. The main beneficiary of the Orissa appeal was the Utkal Bipanna Sahayata Samiti (UBSS), stated to get its workforce from the RSS. In 2000, the HSS UK reported:

We began our tour [of Orissa] with the presentation of a cheque for Rs 1,400,000 (£200,000) at the inauguration ceremony of a youth hostel by ABVP [RSS student affiliate]. The cheque was made payable to Utkal Bipanna Sahayata Samiti (UBSS), one of Orissa’s leading Non-Government Organizations. It was established in 1982 and has a network of volunteers from all walks of life. It enjoys patronization of the RSS from where it gets disciplined workforce.[7]

UBSS received £200,000 from SIUK in 2000. The address of the UBSS in Orissa is the same as that of the RSS (Sanskriti Bhavan, Chandi Mandir Marg, Cuttack 753008). Other SIUK beneficiaries of the Orissa appeal were Vidya Bharati, the RSS education affiliate and, apparently, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the RSS student affiliate. The HSS UK also stated that seventy Saraswati Shishu Mandirs (RSS schools) were to be ‘rebuilt’ and the RSS supreme leader inaugurated one of these. Both the Orissa cyclone and Gujarat earthquake appeals demonstrate a pattern in which a natural tragedy is used to enable the dramatic expansion of RSS institutions, especially educational ones, in the afflicted region through the use of funds from overseas. In Orissa, the 1999 cyclone, followed by floods and then a drought, were important factors that enabled the RSS and VHP to massively expand their organizations and schools. There is a very large and increasing number of RSS and VHP fronts in Orissa. The growth of these organizations in Orissa has also led to considerable violence against minority groups. In 1999, Graham Stewart Staines and his two young sons were burned to death by a Hindutva mob led by a Bajrang Dal activist who had also attended RSS cells (shakhas)[8]. Orissa is seen as the next ‘Hindutva laboratory’ after Gujarat [9] .

A final point needs to be made about SIUK funding in relation to Orissa, a point also relevant to its funding of Sewa Bharati Gujarat. SIUK funds RSS fronts such as the UBSS, seemingly also the ABVP’s (the RSS student wing) hostel in Orissa, and Sewa Bharati. HSS UK / SIUK state that they channels funds through RSS volunteers and to organizations which get their workforce from the RSS. They often speak of RSS affiliates in the same breath as the RSS itself in a way that suggests HSS UK / SIUK are aware either that there is a real ambiguity in where the RSS institutionally ends and where its affiliates start or that these particular affiliates are for all practical intents and purposes the same entity as the RSS. If this amounts to funding the RSS, the VHP, the RSS women’s wing or the RSS student wing, then it is a potential violation of FCRA regulations that prohibit these organizations from receiving funding from abroad, unless they receive specific prior permission on a case by case basis decided by central government[10]. The intent of the FCRA is to prevent foreign funding from interfering in India’s political process. Since the RSS has manifestly political aims, any foreign funding of the RSS or of organizations that are undertaking the work of the RSS under another name can be seen to contravene the spirit of the FCRA.

SEWA EDUCATION AID

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has now embarked upon a plan to start its ‘Ekal Vidyalaya’ (single teacher schools) in the border areas to prepare the local people for countering anti-national activities by infiltrators and subversive elements. Such schools were till now being run in remote forest areas and north-eastern states with the aim of creating awareness among the tribals and the poor and preventing their conversion to Christianity by missionaries.[11]

There is considerable venom against Christianity and Islam in the books …taught at the Shishu Mandirs and Ekal Vidyalaya [one-teacher] Schools…The Social Studies, grade IX text of the Gujarat Board has a section with a sub-heading, ‘Minority Community’, that labels Muslims, even Christians and Parsees, as ‘foreigners’. One statement on Christianity in a Shishu Mandirs and Ekal Vidyalaya School book regards the ‘conspiratorial policies of the followers of this religion’ to be the cause of ‘partition of India’. It goes on to say, ‘Even today Christian missionaries are engaged in fostering anti-national tendencies in our country because of which there is grave danger to the integrity of present day India’. [12]

Under the name Sewa Education Aid[13], SIUK raises funds for one-teacher schools (ekal vidyalayas) with the following stated aims:

To combat illiteracy and bring education facilities to the mass rural population, Sewa international has initiated ‘One Teacher Schools’ in which a local educated youth is trained and employed as a teacher to run a non-formal school of about 40 children. No capital is required to start such schools. The teacher also becomes a focus of community leadership within the village by generating a sense of pride in the Indian culture and heritage. 30 one teacher schools are clubbed into a ‘cluster’ for the purpose of efficient administration and proper supervision. Each cluster covers about 60 villages. 70 such clusters have been planned for Bihar, 10 clusters for Orissa and 7 clusters for west Bengal.[14]

The amounts raised and the number of one-teacher schools sponsored by Sewa Education Aid are not insignificant. For the year ending March 2000, Sewa Education Aid had raised over £166,000 (HSS UK reported a target of £200,000), spent almost £85,500 and had a remaining balance of about £162,000[15]. The number of ‘sponsored children’ had grown from twelve in 1994 to over three thousand in 2000. Work was being undertaken in eleven Indian states, with forty seven one-teacher schools sponsored. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham was also stated to have launched an appeal for £10,000 for Sewa Education Aid[16]. The HSS UK Trustees Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2001 shows total funds under direct charitable expenditure for Sewa Education Aid of over £78,500 and a again a balance of almost £162,000. It says that Sewa International sponsored two hundred and thirty-five children and thirty-five one-teacher schools[17]. At 31 March 2002, total funds for Sewa Education Aid under donations had increased to about £175,000 and the balance was almost £300,000[18]. Significantly, the HSS UK trustees report for that year also stated that the previous ‘sponsor a child’ scheme of Sewa Education Aid was being scaled down in order to be replaced by the one-teacher schools scheme.[19]

The material taught in one-teacher schools is based on that used in all RSS and Vidya Bharati schools and was described by India’s statutory National Council for Educational Research and Training as ‘designed to promote bigotry, religious fanaticism and outright communal chauvinism based on RSS and VHP agenda in the name of inculcating knowledge of culture in the young generation’[20].

The formally private one-teacher schools (ekal vidyalayas) are strategic RSS projects run by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Sewa Bharati, Vidya Bharati, Bharat Kalyan Pratishthan (the VHP fundraising front) and other RSS affiliates. One-teacher schools are presented in the UK as simply literacy projects for poor and neglected ‘tribal’ groups. However, in India the RSS and the VHP have been explicit about the political purpose of these schools (as indeed have senior RSS leaders in their visits to the HSS UK). One-teacher schools are usually based in adivasi (‘tribal’) areas, in border regions, in slums and in the north-eastern states of India that contain autonomous ethnic movements. Their prime purpose is not to provide literacy and humanitarian development but to inculcate Hindutva ideology among the next generation of ‘tribal’ children, educate them to oppose other religious or independent influences, convert them to the RSS version of 'Hinduism' and extend the RSS’s penetration into all areas of civil life in India. It is also a relatively inexpensive way for the RSS to penetrate adivasi civil societies. One effect of Hindutva adivasi projects has been a change from previously unusual but now clearly visible participation of some adivasi groups in violence against Christians and Muslims in Gujarat, Orissa and elsewhere.

The VHP considers the purpose of these schools in the border regions as being ‘to prepare the local people for countering anti-national activities by infiltrators and subversive elements’ and to oppose the influence of Christianity among ‘tribal’ people[21]. This is part of a fear propagated by the RSS and its current leader K. S. Sudarshan that the presence of other religions in India will mean ‘Hindus will become a minority by 2060...It is essential that we be extremely vigilant over all the efforts to divide Hindu society.’[22] He therefore stressed the strategic importance of such schools for the RSS[23]. Similarly, the previous RSS leader Rajendra Singh stated during a talk to the HSS UK in 1995 that one-teacher schools have reaped political benefits for the BJP and can be used to oppose autonomous political movements in ‘tribal’ areas.

The number of [converts to Christianity] is increasing greatly leading to the creation of an atmosphere of fear…a few years back, the scheme of ‘one teacher schools’ was introduced…The effect of this scheme is visible in the Jharkhand region. The Jharkhand movement had popularised a secessionist demand as in Nagaland and Mizoram. But in the last elections the BJP candidate, who was supporting the demand for a Vananchal state as against secession got more votes than the Jharkhand party.[24]

BHARATIYA SHIKSHA SAMITI

This is a project aimed at providing education for children from the Hindu population (mainly Kashmiri Pandits) of Jammu and Kashmir ‘who have been persecuted by Pakistani-sponsored terrorism’. What SIUK does not mention is that Bharatiya Shiksha Samiti is part of the RSS’s Vidya Bharati, a sectarian education network based on inculcating RSS ideology among schoolchildren. Vidya Bharati’s work in Jammu and Kashmir arose from a meeting of its general body held in 1988 which had the aim of instilling ‘self-confidence, courage and the national spirit’ among Kashmir’s Hindus. By ‘national spirit’, Vidya Bharati means Hindutva. Vidya Bharati said its schools were necessary because all government-run schools in Jammu and Kashmir were ‘instilling anti-nationalism in the minds of the new generation in the name of imparting religious education’. In other words, Vidya Bharati opposed state secular education of Indian schoolchildren in Jammu and Kashmir. Vidya Bharati also said RSS-run schools were necessary to counter the madrassas run by the Jamaati-i-Islami. Hence, the Bharatiya Shisksha Samiti was given the responsibility of organizing Hindutva education in Jammu and Kashmir[25]. Textbooks published by Bharatiya Shiksha Samiti describe the mobs who illegally demolished the Babri mosque at Ayodhya as ‘national heroes’[26].

SWA ROOPWARDHINEE

This project (whose title in the form given by SIUK refers to the ‘enhancement of one’s self-image’) is described in SIUK’s website as a project for ‘all round rural development’ which works with Vigyan Bharati to cater ‘to the educational and cultural aspects of school children in the fringe villages of Pune City.’ The website also describes several development activities undertaken by Swa Roopwardhinee, including ‘water supply for irrigation and human consumption’ the promotion of ‘good health and well being’, ‘cattle wealth’, ‘eliminate adult literacy’ [sic] and ‘upliftment of women’[27]. When the US-based Campaign to Stop Funding Hate exposed Swa Roopwardhinee as an RSS associated project funded by IDRF[28], the campaign received a rebuke from Hindutva supporters who claimed it was nothing more than an adult literacy and slum development project. However, Sewa International India’s website lists the purpose of Swa Roopwardhinee as ‘motivations for social discipline, character formation, dedication to build Bharat through selfless social service, and lists other activities as ‘supplementary objectives’[29]. The former are unmistakably RSS phrases – ‘character formation’, for example, invariably means attending a cell (shakha).

Vigyan Bharati, the organization that SIUK works with in the Swa Roopwardhinee scheme, calls itself a ‘science council’. The ‘inspirer, motivator, philosopher and guide of Vigyan Bharati’ is the supreme head of the RSS, K. S. Sudarshan[30]. Vigyan Bharati was established in 1992 following a conference in Jabalpur which resolved to promote the compulsory study of Sanskrit for all university research students, and urged governmental educational institutions ‘to take appropriate steps for inclusion of a true picture of the cultural and scientific heritage of India in all text books of primary, secondary and collegiate level in order to inspire the younger generation with national pride and self confidence’[31]. It publishes a journal (Vigyan Bharati Pradeepika) that promotes views about the ‘scientific’ foundation of ancient Indian culture as part of its Hindutva ideology.

PRABHODHINI GURUKULA

SIUK describes the Prabhodhini Gurukula thus:

Gurukula school was started in 1995 in Hariharpura, a humble village in Chickmagalur district of Karnataka state in southern India. Gurukula is imparting education based on Indian Cultural heritage and values. The need of the hour in India is to look at alternative approaches in education which helps the individual to develop knowledge/skills and attitudes which has its base in Hindu culture. This we believe will develop an individual who has responsibility towards self/family/society and the country. [32]

In another dismissal of state secular education, it also states that:

The current system of education in India in schools has been found to be not suitable. It is linked to western values and not based on the culture and values of the land. Consequently the education imparted is not conducive to building up a self reliant and self respecting society. [33]

Prabhodhini Gurukulas, so-called child centered schools, are a relatively recent development in the RSS’s educational activities, alongside its shishu and vidya mandirs and the VHP’s one-teacher schools. The gurukulas are organized by the Hindu Seva Pratishthan and the Jana Seva Vidya Kendra, both RSS affiliates from Karnataka. The Vikasan Foundation promotes and raises funds for the gurukulas. The aim of the education imparted in the gurukulas is given as ‘physical, mental, moral and spiritual development’, ‘promotion of self discipline and self reliance’, ‘elevation of national fervor’ and ‘creation of a healthy and harmonious society’[34]. SIUK is raising funds for an RSS project that seeks to elevate ‘national fervour’ (militant Hindutva) – a strange charitable purpose. Additionally, each of the goals are RSS phrases. For example, ‘physical, mental, moral and spiritual development’ is about the RSS approved form of physical and ideological training. Similarly, ‘a healthy and harmonious society’ refers to the RSS concepts of ‘samajik samarasta’ and sangathan, in which what are seen by the RSS as divisive factors or Hindu ‘disorganization’ are to be eradicated.

The content of the education in the gurukulas is based on what RSS affiliates consider to be Hindu or Vedic principles. These educational activities run counter to the principles of national state education in India based on non-sectarian, secular goals that educate children about India’s multi-religious diversity, not an exclusive and glorified Vedic or Hindu greatness. The principles of RSS gurukula education include ‘Sanskrit taught as a mode of imparting cultural values’ and therefore ‘No reliance on alien language systems’, and ‘Understanding India's struggles through the objective study of its long and eventful history’ and ‘Not studied as sad stories of defeat and subjugation’[35]. Ramesh Rao, a US academic and ardent defender of RSS education states

These gurukulas incorporate lifestyle and cultural agendas, including the nurturing of a strong sense of patriotism, that are aimed at molding a strong, happy, intelligent, and disciplined citizen who believes and leads a simple lifestyle.[36]

He describes one of the daily activities at a girls’ gurukula in Karnataka as ‘Samiti praarthane (group prayer, saluting of the flag)’. It is not said whether the children were made to salute the flag of the Indian nation or the saffron flag of the RSS, but the accompanying photograph shows unmistakably the salute of the RSS shakhas.


Figure 12: ‘Bharat Mata Poojan’ at a Karnataka gurukula for girls. Source: Ramesh N. Rao, ‘Gurukulas - where children aren't merely schooled’, 13 April 2001

www.suleka.com/expressions/column.asp?cid=111795.

DEVI AHALYABAI SMARACK SAMITI

This project is a memorial society named after a Hindu personality (Devi Ahalyabai) who is glorified by the RSS women’s affiliate because of her duty to Hindu religion. The Samiti run a girls’ hostel in Nagpur called Vanvasi Kanya Chattravas (tribal girls hostel), part of a network of women’s projects organized by the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, a violent RSS front that also works closely with the VHP[37]. The aim of the project is the so-called development of selected vanvasi (‘tribal’) girls. In the RSS and VHP worldview, the adivasi populations are seen to have strayed from Hinduism, have adopted other religions (especially Christianity) and require conversion to the RSS world view. Adivasi populations are also seen as potentially subversive by the RSS (mainly because of a range of secessionist and autonomous adivasi movements in India, particularly in the north eastern states), and hence have to ‘be protected’ from subversion and ‘integrated into the national mainstream’. Adivasis are also seen as numerically important for their recruitment potential. The RSS project is not about the protection and preservation of indigenous peoples’ rights, beliefs and cultures, but an attempt to substitute these with its ideology. Similarly, the RSS views the independent forums and activism of adivasi groups as a threat to its idea of a united ‘Hindu nation’.

THE SCOPE OF SIUK AID

Information on SIUK donations to all, not just Indian, causes is not available in comprehensive form in annual reports of SIUK or HSS UK. Therefore, we scanned the ‘Charity News’ and ‘Sewa International’ section of the HSS’s bimonthly newsletter, Sangh Sandesh, since this is the only publication available that gives information on HSS UK activities, including its charity work. We looked at all issues of Sangh Sandesh between March – April 1999 and May – June 2002. This was a complete set bar one missing issue (March – April 2002). The issues covered a period of over three years, and should therefore give a fair representation of the kinds of organizations SIUK supports. The summary findings are given in Appendix 3. Assuming that this is an accurate representation of SIUK’s sponsored organizations and donations, where amounts are indicated the highest single amount SIUK is listed as having donated to a clearly non-RSS cause is £800, with a typical amount being £400 - £500. The total amount we found listed in Sangh Sandesh as donated to such causes over the 3 year period is just over £6,000. If there existed other sizeable or substantial SIUK funding to non-RSS organizations over the three year period analyzed, we were unable to find any further information about this in the newsletter.

Aside from the Gujarat earthquake and Orissa cyclone appeals, SIUK has raised funds for various other natural disasters and conflict situations. This has included the Maharashtra earthquake and drought relief in Gujarat and Rajasthan. It has also made smaller donations to several UK groups, mainly medical organizations and charities. Donations were also made to the Turkish Embassy Earthquake fund (£401 found in period analyzed), the Ethiopia Refugee Crisis appeal and the war in Kosovo (£501 found in period analyzed). The latter can be construed as donations to ‘Muslim’ causes. However, we believe the adoption of some non-sectarian activities is strategic and can disguise the fact that the vast bulk of fundraising by SIUK is for RSS affiliates. SIUK’s website also mentions an appeal for Afghanistan earthquake relief and the America Disaster Fund.

Other organizations mentioned under ‘Charity News’ or the work of SIUK are the Sanjeevni Sharda Kendra, an RSS organization which the VHP UK charity correspondent visited during a trip that also included meeting the Jammu and Kashmir VHP; Sanskar Bharati, an RSS ‘cultural’ organization that has attempted to become the authoritarian judge of what is or is not Indian and Hindu culture[38]; and the Akhil Bharatiya Poorva Sainik Seva Parishad, an ex-soldiers association and a key recipient of funds raised by SIUK under its ‘Kargil Martyr’s appeal’. Two other supported projects listed on its website include: Bharatiya Nivarak Sangh Ashram, a leprosy colony in Madhya Pradesh formed under the inspiration of the second RSS supreme leader, M. S. Golwalkar, and whose educational activities for ‘tribal’ children are conducted in association with the RSS’s Vidya Bharati; and Aruna Chetna, a project for disabled children in Karnataka, run by an RSS affiliate, the Hindu Seva Pratishthan.

CONCLUSION

SIUK and the HSS UK, the latter a registered charity, state repeatedly and unequivocally that they are charities raising funds in the UK for humanitarian projects aimed at needy populations, particularly the most marginalized of India’s populations, the ‘tribals’ and dalits. If a fair comparison was made with actual humanitarian organizations working for equality, social justice, anti-discrimination and genuine need among dalits and adivasis in India, we believe that the projects SIUK funds would clearly demonstrate the political and ideological agenda of the RSS and VHP.

Most striking of all was the behaviour of these organizations in the wake of the Gujarat carnage in 2002 which left 2,000 dead and over 200,000 displaced and languishing in miserable refugee camps. The response of SIUK, the HSS, the VHP, the National Hindu Students Forum and every other UK Hindutva group to appeals for humanitarian relief was silence. This was despite considerable coverage of the carnage in the UK media and desperate major appeals by secular Gujarati NGOs. This is not surprising: the majority of the victims of the carnage were Indian citizens who were Muslim. They were victims of organizations such as the VHP, RSS and VKA whose work the HSS UK, the VHP UK and SIUK promote and glorify.

All funds raised by SIUK for the Gujarat earthquake appeal were for Sewa Bharati, a major RSS affiliate. The overwhelming bulk of funds we found in other HSS UK sources were for RSS affiliated organizations. Virtually all the organizations in India that SIUK supports or sponsors are RSS affiliates. We did not find mention of a single secular non-RSS linked NGO working in India that was funded or sponsored by SIUK. For non-Indian causes supported, we found over a three year period that a small amount was donated by SlUK.

SIUK and the HSS UK could have stated explicitly in their campaigns that they are fundraising from the UK public virtually exclusively for RSS organizations in India. They could have informed the UK public of the aims, ideology, organization, history and nature of the RSS so that potential donors could decide whether or not they wanted to give funds for such activities. They did not undertake either of these two crucial tasks, essential for facilitating informed choice among potential donors. By not stating that it is raising funds almost exclusively for extremist RSS affiliates, SIUK is deceiving the public. We conclude that the main purpose of SIUK / HSS UK fundraising is to channel funds to RSS organizations in India, including to organizations repeatedly singled out for involvement and culpability in hatred, intolerance and violence in India.

[1] S. H. Ketkar, Amrut Kumbha of Service Streams, Ekta Prakashan, Pune, quoted in A. K. Sen, ‘Deflections to the Right’, Outlook, 22 July 2002.


[2]Jonathan Miller, ‘Funding Gujarat extremists’, Channel 4 News, 12 December 2002, UK.

[3] Jonathan Miller, ‘Funding Gujarat extremists’, Channel 4 News, broadcast 12 December 2002, UK. The term ‘communal’ is used in India to refer to sectarian hatred or discrimination based on religious, caste and other factors.

[4] Angana Chatterji, ‘Orissa: a Gujarat in the making’, Communalism Combat, 2 November 2003.

[5] Sangh Sandesh, November – December 1999, vol. X, no. 6, p. 16.

[6] 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, Annexure 10.

[7] Sangh Sandesh, March – April 2000, vol. XI, no. 2, p. 3.

[8] The Hindu, 8 May 1999.

[9] Angana Chatterji, ‘Learning in Saffron: RSS schools in Orissa’, Dissident Voice, 13 November 2003; Angana Chatterji, ‘Orissa: a Gujarat in the making’, Communalism Combat, 2 November 2003; Pralay Kanungo, ‘Hindutva's Entry into a “Hindu Province”: early years of RSS in Orissa’, Economic & Political Weekly, 2 August 2003.

[10] AccountAid India, FCRA – AccountAble Handbook, AccountAid India, New Delhi, 2002, p. 105, p.110, p.140.

[11] ‘VHP plans schools in border areas to counter infiltration’, Hindustan Times, 9 May 2001. See also ‘VHP plans meet to counter conversions’, Indian Express, 27 January 1999, which reports on a meeting in Gujarat of the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and other groups at which the one-teacher schools were discussed.

[12] Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK, Trustees Annual Report and Accounts, Year ended 31 March 2001, p.13, p.4.

[13] In 1999 the HSS stated that Sewa Education Aid had acquired premises, under a short-term lease, which would function both as its offices and the local (Leicester) office of the newspaper Gujarat Samachar. Sangh Sandesh, July - August 1999 vol. X, no. 4, p.18.

[14] http://www.sewainternational.com/education.htm



[15] Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Trustees Annual Report and Accounts Year Ended 31 March 2000, p. 11.

[16] Sangh Sandesh May - June 2000 vol. XI, no. 3, p. 14.

[17] Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK, Trustees Annual Report and Accounts, Year ended 31 March 2001, p.13, p.4.

[18] Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK, Trustees Annual Report and Accounts, Year ended 31 March 2002, p.10, p.14.

[19] Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK, Trustees Annual Report and Accounts, Year ended 31 March 2002, p.3.

[20] C. Palmer and M. I. Baig, ‘Creating Indian version of Taliban thru Hindutva Madrassas’, The Daily Mail, 10 April 2003, http://dailymailnews.com/200304/10/news/101.html


[21] Hindustan Times, 9 May 2001.

[22] ‘Address of RSS Sarsanghchalak Shri K.S. Sudarshan delivered on Vijaya Dashami 04-10-2003 at Nagpur’, http://www.hssworld.org/usa/


[23] Kalyani Giri, ‘An RSS Officer and a Gentlemen: interview with Sri K. S. Sudarshan. President of RSS’, March 2000, http://www.hssworld.org/usa/houston_interview.html


[24] S. Tattwawadi, Sarsanghchalak Goes Abroad: a collection of lectures delivered by Prof. Rajendra Singh on foreign land, Suruchi Prakashan, 1995, pp. 54-55.


[25] http://www.vskgujarat.com/like_minded_organization/vbprint.html

[26] K. N. Pannikar, ‘Shourie is wrong’, Asian Age, 7 July 1998.

[27] http://sewainternational.com/swa.htm


[28] http://www.stopfundinghate.org/



[29] http://www.sewainternational.org/m-swa.html



[30] http://www.vigyanbharatipradeepika.org/beginning.htm



[31] http://www.vigyanbharatipradeepika.org/institution.htm



[32] http://www.sewainternational.com/projects.htm



[33] http://www.sewainternational.com/projects_more_info.htm?id=16



[34] http://www.vikasan.org/aboutus.htm


[35] http://www.vikasan.org/principles.htm

[36] Ramesh N. Rao, ‘Gurukulas - where students aren't merely schooled’, 13 April 2001, http://www.sulekha.com/expressions/column.asp?cid=111795



[37] Anosh Malekar, ‘Winds of Change - RSS at 75: RSS may get a new boss next month’, The Week, 20 February 2000.

[38] N. Vyas, M. Dasgupta and J. P. Shukla, ‘The unmasking of an ugly agenda’, The Hindu, 6 February 2000.

1 comment:

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