Wednesday, July 09, 2014

$55 million "channeled" to Sangh Parivar in 2001-12: US report released by South Asia Citizens Web

A Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh shakha in US
By Our Representative
A new report prepared in the US is likely to further fan the on-going controversy around the Intelligence Bureau (IB) accusation that foreign-funded NGOs’ campaign in India has undermined India’s growth rate. The report, “released via South Asia Citizens Web”, has alleged that between 2001 and 2012, five Sangh Parivar affiliates in the US – India Development and Relief Fund, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of America, Param Shakti Peeth, Sewa International, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America – “allocated over $55 million dollars to their programme services”, and these funds were “largely sent” to Sangh Parivar groups in India.
Titled “Hindu Nationalism in the United States: A Report on Nonprofit Groups”, and dated July 8, 2014, the report, interestingly, avoids giving any author of the report – in lieu of the author, it says, “J.M. us.hindu.nationalism@gmail.com”. To justify its controversial allegation, it claims to have compiled “publicly available tax records, newspaper articles, and other materials on non-profit groups in the US-affiliated with the Sangh Parivar from 2001 to 2014, documenting a segment of the projects and priorities of US-based Hindu nationalism.”
Saying that this is only a part of the effort by the Sangh Parivar “over the last three decades toward Hinduizing India”, the report runs into 54 pages and gives well-researched and minutest of details complete with citations of the organizations funding and supporting the Sangh Parivar. Saying that the Sangh Parivar affiliates in the US have been seeking to advance “the status of Hindus toward political and social primacy in India”, report admits, this has “continued to gain ground in South Asia and diasporic communities”, as reflected in the recent Lok Sabha polls.
The report says, the Sangh Parivar affiliates receive “social and financial support from its US-based wings, the latter of which exist largely as tax-exempt non-profit organizations in the United Stattes.” These are identified as “Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), Sewa International USA, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation-USA,  the Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party - USA (OFBJP)”, and so on.
Accusing the Sangh Parivar for intensifying propaganda around “Hindu nationalism”, the report believes, the US-based Sangh Parivar-affiliates’ view is coloured with “multiplied forms of discrimination, exclusion, and gendered and sexualized violence against Muslims, Christians, other minorities, and those who oppose Sangh violations, as documented by Indian citizens and international tribunals, fact-finding groups, international human rights organizations, and US governmental bodies.”
Main spots in the US where Sangh Parivar affiliates allegedly do activities
Giving details about the activities of the Sangh Parivar affiliates in the US, the report states, “Sangh-affiliated youth and family programmes, such as those held by the HSS and the VHPA, have concentrated their classes, camps, events, and materials on Hindu cultural identity. As of May 2014, there were 140 HSS shakhas (chapters) in the United States listed on the HSS website. Between 2002 and 2012 the HSS and VHPA have collectively spent more than $2.5 million on youth and family programs.”
The report further says, “Literature used by such programs often prioritize a version of history and culture that highlights the Sangh Parivar leadership of India and Brahminical (upper-caste) narratives and practices, while diminishing the struggles and contributions of lower caste and non-Hindu communities.” The South Asia Citizens Web is a network of human rights organizations operating since 1996, and claims to support “dissent in South Asia and beyond”.
Detailing how the Sangh Parivar’s US affiliates have tried to influence American academia, the report says, “In 2009, Sangh-affiliated Hindu Students Council (HSC) student groups were present on 78 US and Canadian university and college campuses, including those of Duke University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGill University, New York University, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Stanford University, Syracuse University, University of California at Berkeley, Irvine, and San Diego, University of Ottawa, and University of Texas at Austin and Houston.”
It adds, “Hindu nationalist groups have increasingly inserted themselves into curricular, administrative, and financing arenas in academic and educational institutions, specifically in the disciplines of history, religious studies, Indology and other fields. Particular projects include the establishment and operation of a religious college, the Hindu University of America, at least one religious studies conference (World Association for Vedic Studies), and funding institutions, such as the Infinity Foundation and the Vivek Welfare and Educational Foundation.”
Further, it says, “From 2001 to 2013, the Infinity Foundation gave more than $1.9 million to researchers, academic associations, and academic departments around the world, including the Association for Asian Studies, California Institute of Integral Studies, the Center for the Study of Developing Societies, Columbia University, Harvard University, Melbourne University, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Rutgers University, University of Hawaii, and the University of Texas at Austin.”
Pointing towards how the Sangh-affiliated organizations have emerged as “leaders in Indo-American communities”, the report lists following “major events” it organized:
a) OFBJP co-hosted a luncheon on Capitol Hill in early March 2002 with two other major Indian-American organizations, “while BJP-ruled Gujarat witnessed mass killings of Muslims”.
b) OFBJP members and Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) were among the leadership that “sought to host Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as an honored guest speaker in 2005.”
c) In the California textbook controversy of 2005-2006, the Vedic Foundation and the HSS’ educational wing, the Hindu Education Foundation, “led an effort to insert edits into California textbooks that foregrounded Hindu nationalist priorities and downplayed gender and caste oppression in Ancient India.”
d) Since the textbooks controversy, the Hindu American Foundation has become “a voice for Hindu nationalist interests to US politicians.”
The report recommends the need for “further investigations to explore possible legal culpability of US-based Sangh groups and members in Sangh-led violent acts in South Asia; possible violations of 501(c)(3) regulations and restrictions; and the involvement of other US-based groups and individuals in supporting violence perpetrated by Hindu nationalist groups.”
It also says that “more investigation” should be carried out in “other funding channels from the US; whether the monies collected were allocated to the purposes reported to the Internal Revenue Service; and the effects of funding recipients’ work.”

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